What we support
Research questions should generate knowledge that leads to a shift in understanding or delivers new insight into how human life and health work. We welcome proposals that may have a clinical or societal impact or have translational potential, but the focus should be on discovery research.
This includes research into the:
- fundamental processes that underpin biology, to understand more about how human life works
- complexities of human health and disease, including clinical and population-based approaches
- burden of disease and its determinants, where this brings new and transformational knowledge
- development of methodologies, conceptual frameworks, technologies, tools or techniques that could benefit health-related research
- needs, values and priorities of the people and communities affected by disease and health disparities
- social, ethical, cultural, political, economic and historical contexts of human health and disease.
We don’t know where the new ideas that will transform research on health, life and wellbeing will come from, so our remit in Discovery Research is broad.
Applications can be related to our three health challenge programmes of Mental Health, Climate and Health, and Infectious Disease but this is not a requirement and doesn’t affect our assessment. For an idea of the diversity of research in our remit, read about our recently funded projects.
We support research from a broad range of disciplines, including:
We support research based on humans (patients, healthy volunteers and populations) and designed to answer questions about health and disease. This includes the study of biological samples and personal data as well as the development of clinical phenotyping (biomarkers or technologies) to understand pathogenic mechanisms.
We support studies in humans where the aim is to identify mechanisms of physiology, pathophysiology or disease, including studies of existing treatments/prevention strategies to understand underlying mechanisms (biological or social) or validate a mechanistic hypothesis. This includes studies where new mechanistic insights may enable future development of novel therapeutic or diagnostic approaches. We also support proof-of-concept evidence of the validity and importance of new discoveries or treatments including the use of novel readouts or technologies for early evaluation of clinical efficacy or pathogenic mechanism.
We support all disciplines and study designs (observational sciences, trials or intervention designs) where the aim is to bring new understanding of the social and/or biological processes underpinning heath and disease, including understanding why interventions work. We also support proof-of-concept studies that may lead to future large-scale interventions.
We support research which seeks to generate knowledge about the needs, values and priorities of the people and communities affected by disease and health disparities. We also support research which aims to understand health and wellbeing in their historical, social, cultural, political, economic and ethical contexts.
Research can involve observational, experimental or theoretical approaches. It can be carried out in the laboratory, office, clinic or field. We particularly welcome applications that bring together different disciplines to tackle problems creatively and with new perspectives.
Who we fund
We fund individuals at all career stages and teams of researchers.
Our schemes are open to lead applicants based in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and low- and middle-income countries (as defined by the OECD) and co-applicants from the rest of the world if applying as part of a team.
We are keen to encourage applications from low- and middle-income countries. We have made changes to our funding schemes and remain open to international applications.
What we don't support
We will not fund proposals that are not grounded in discovery research.
- Large clinical trials and population interventions where the main purpose is to develop, test or implement a drug, product or intervention. Intervention designs can be used if they bring understanding of biological and/or social mechanisms of health and disease.
- Compounds, tools, technologies or methodologies predominantly to be used for diagnosis, treatment or improving clinical care. Proposals may have potential for clinical or translational impact, but they should also benefit health-related research.
- Proposals involving primarily implementation science.
- The study of animal diseases, including in food production animals, that are not transmissible to humans or not considered a model for human biology or disease. The study of zoonotic disease is only in remit where the aspects studied are relevant to humans (transmission or disease).