What we do and don’t fund in discovery research

We support bold and creative discovery research that has the potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing.

What we fund 

We don’t know where the new ideas that will transform research on health, life and wellbeing will come from, so what we fund in discovery research is broad.  

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.   

We fund 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 support research from a broad range of disciplines, including:

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.

What we don't fund 

We will only fund proposals that are grounded in discovery research. 

Examples of things we will not fund include:

  • 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, including understanding how or why interventions work, or to establish proof-of-concept.
  • The development of compounds, tools, technologies or methodologies predominantly to be used for diagnosis, treatment or improving clinical care. The primary focus should be the benefit to health-related research although proposals may also have potential for clinical or translational impact.
  • 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).
  • Stand-alone resources (including databases) except as part of a proposal where generating a new resource or enriching an existing resource is required to answer specific research questions.

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.