No members found


UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP2) – Strategic Call for Proposals

We are holding a web seminar on Monday 25 March at 12:00 GMT to provide information on the scope and eligibility of the UKRMP2 Strategic Call as well as to answer questions. Register your attendance on the Innovate UK event page or for more information, please contact: Dania.Grant@mrc.ukri.org

On this page:

Up to £3 million is available for translational research projects that will enhance the UKRMP investment to help further realise the exciting potential of regenerative medicine research. In particular, this call is seeking to fund projects that address translational bottlenecks, such as safety science, and add value to the core programmes of the UKRMP. This opportunity is also aimed at helping new groups connect to the Platform, and it is anticipated that the majority of funding will be allocated to principal investigators (PIs) outside the current UKRMP Hubs.

The UK Regenerative Medicine Platform (UKRMP) was established in 2013 by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to address the key translational challenges of regenerative medicine.

A £17 million tranche of funding currently supports the second phase of the Platform (UKRMP2), spanning the period 2018 to 2023. UKRMP2 is structured around three Hubs complemented by three cross-cutting immunological projects. Together, this interdisciplinary and integrated activity provides a world-leading programme to promote the development of regenerative therapies.

To enhance the impact of the Platform, the UKRMP sponsors, in partnership with JDRF (the type 1 diabetes research foundation) and the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society), are inviting proposals for high-quality, collaborative research projects which will directly connect to the Hubs and build or extend Platform capabilities in addressing the key challenges in translational regenerative medicine.

Applications are welcome for projects which expand or link across core Hub science themes (such as pluripotent/engineered cells, cell environment, smart materials) and/or provide interconnectivity between cross-cutting elements (for example safety, manufacturing, quality control immunology) and Hub science themes.

It should be noted that rather than directly pursuing clinical trials, the Platform is seeking to unlock scientific knowledge and produce tools, reagents and approaches applicable to a broad range of diseases. Organ or disease-based exemplars will be required to provide a level of focus and proof of concept; however, they should not constitute the primary focus of the submissions. In addition to current Hub exemplars (Parkinson’s disease, megakaryocytes, liver disease, cartilage, lung repair and eye disease) which are considered close to clinical application, proposals with direct applicability to type 1 diabetes and MS are particularly encouraged, reflecting the key partnership with JDRF and the MS Society in this call.  Additionally, the area of ‘safety’ is a strategic priority and applications are encouraged for projects focused on the development of analytical methods required for cell therapies across the Platform or charity disease indications.

Background

Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary approach spanning tissue engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials (scaffolds and matrices), nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology. It may involve:

  • transplantation of stem cells, progenitors or tissue
  • stimulation of endogenous repair processes
  • using cells as delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents
  • engineered cells/synthetic biology.

Regenerative medicine has already provided significant medical advances in areas such as the treatment of anaemia, skin regeneration for burns patients and treatment of diabetic ulcers. There is the potential to go much further with next-generation products offering treatments with long term benefits or cures. The underpinning science is progressing rapidly, yet there are a number of developmental challenges which need to be overcome if we are to successfully translate promising discoveries for the benefit of patients as well as the UK economy.  These are elaborated upon in the 2012 document A Strategy for UK Regenerative Medicine.

As a response to these translational requirements, and to ensure that research addressing regenerative medicine connects seamlessly from discovery science through to clinical and commercial application, the research council sponsors established the UKRMP with the goals of:

  • establishing interdisciplinary research hubs with the critical mass and expertise to address key knowledge-gaps in the translation of stem cell and regenerative biology towards application
  • providing the novel tools, platform technologies and engineering solutions needed for therapeutic development
  • creating a world-leading and fully connected national programme to pull through excellent discovery science in support of the commercial development and clinical delivery of regenerative medicine products.

The first £25 million tranche of funding supported five interdisciplinary and complementary research Hubs and five disease-specific programmes which ran from 2013-2018 and made strong inroads into the key challenges. A further £17 million of funding now supports phase 2 of the Platform (‘UKRMP2’) which started 1 April 2018 running until 2023. UKRMP2 has an evolved and consolidated three Hub structure (£12 million) that captures and builds on the strengths of the UKRMP1, and which continues to address the key challenges and opportunities in regenerative medicine.

The scientific themes of the three Hubs are as follows:

  • Pluripotent stem cells and engineered cells (PSEC) Hub
    Director: Professor Roger Barker, University of Cambridge
  • Engineered cell environment (ECE) Hub
    Director: Professor Stuart Forbes, University of Edinburgh
  • Acellular/smart materials – 3D architecture (Smart Materials) Hub
    Director: Professor Molly Stevens, Imperial College London.

The key topic areas of quality control (of cells/differentiation and product analysis), immunology, safety and manufacturing are elements which cut across all three Hub themes.

Further details on these Hubs can be found on UKRMP: Hubs.

In addition to the three Hubs, three projects which cross-cut, integrate with and enhance Hub activities by addressing the immunological issues of regenerative medicine have also been funded (£2.6 million). The three projects are as follows:

  • Defining the role of tissue-resident immune cells in alveolar epithelial cell regeneration
    PI: Professor Ling-Pei Ho, University of Oxford
  • Immunogenicity test platform – in vitro and in vivo
    PI: Professor Giovanna Lombardi, King’s College London
  • Universal cells to overcome HLA barriers in regenerative medicine
    PI: Professor Waseem Qasim, University College London.

The following schema summarises the current structure of UKRMP2:

Graphic showing the current structure of UKRMP2

Aim of the UKRMP2 strategic call

The UKRMP2 strategic call will build upon the existing UKRMP investment and fund a small number of cutting-edge regenerative medicine research projects which extend and/or build on Platform capabilities in addressing the key challenges in translational regenerative medicine. Overt connectivity to one or more of the Hubs, and complementarity to the UKRMP programme as a whole, is required for successful applications. The challenge to be addressed, and the deliverable(s) from the project, must be clearly articulated.

This call will support pre-clinical research projects which focus on tractable challenges on the path towards translation. While in-human studies are not anticipated under this call, bids should nevertheless clearly identify their place in the translational pathway towards clinical application.

Applications are welcome for projects which link and/or expand across core Hub science themes and/or provide interconnectivity between one or more cross-cutting areas. The goal of the Platform is to unlock scientific knowledge and produce tools, reagents and approaches which are applicable to a broad range of diseases. Organ or disease-based exemplars provide a necessary level of focus within the Hub programmes, and applicants under this call should similarly identify a clinical exemplar that will ultimately provide proof of concept. In addition to current Hub exemplars (Parkinson’s disease, megakaryocytes, liver disease, cartilage, lung repair and eye disease) proposals with direct applicability to type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis are particularly encouraged, reflecting the key partnerships with JDRF UK and the MS Society in this call.

Supporting projects that address ‘safety’ considerations related to the development of regenerative therapeutics is a strategic priority.  Applications are particularly encouraged that focus on the development of analytical methods required for regenerative therapies relevant to the Hub and charity disease indications, for example potency assays that are credible and replicable, quantitative pre-clinical/clinical imaging technologies and marker technologies with the sensitivity and capability to answer key questions at the cellular level, cell bio-distribution, toxicity. Additionally, bioinformatic approaches which unify or deconvolve currently available outputs to allow stop/go safety decisions are also welcomed.

The UKRMP2 strategic call includes a compulsory ‘Intention to Apply’ stage. This is for administrative purpose only; feedback will not be provided other than confirmation that the proposed bid is within scope and can be submitted.

Early conversations with the Hub Directors and their teams are recommended in shaping proposals.

Back to top

Partnership with JDRF and MS Society

Applications to the UKRMP2 strategic call are particularly encouraged for projects with direct applicability to type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, acknowledging partnership with JDRF and the MS Society that will enable joint awards to be made with the research council sponsors, subject to internationally competitive standards being achieved.

Brief details of each charity’s strategic priorities under this call can be found below. Applicants seeking support in these areas of potential joint-funding are encouraged to contact the charities and research councils to discuss their plans further.

JDRF

JDRF exists to find the cure for type 1 diabetes and through their work they seek to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes by reducing the burden of living with the condition incrementally until a cure is found. JDRF funds research at every stage of development from discoveries to clinical trials.

Through this initiative, support is available for impactful research projects in type 1 diabetes linking to or exploiting aspects of the science progressed through the Hubs. JDRF 2018-2019 strategy describes seven research programmes reflecting how JDRF aims to support research and catalyse therapeutic developments to find a cure, prevent and better treat type 1 diabetes.

Applications in line with JDRF metabolic control, beta cell regeneration or beta cell replacement programmes will be considered a priority for this call as these areas fit well with the aims of the Hubs. JDRF believes this partnership provides an opportunity to develop projects and collaborations that could develop further beyond the UKRMP Hub structure and timeline.

For further information, contact: Dr Caroline Schmutz

MS Society

The MS Society has a bold ambition to stop MS, and with that ambition comes the need to build on the advances and knowledge we’ve gained through funding high-quality research that will have an impact on people affected by MS.

With over a dozen treatments on the market with an immune modulatory or immunosuppressive effect, it is important to tackle not only the immune component of the condition, but also the neurodegenerative component. Strategies in identifying neuroprotective pathways, including myelin regeneration, hold promise in slowing and ultimately stopping progression in people with MS.

Applications that complement the MS Society’s Research Strategy will be considered a priority.

Further information can be found on the MS Society Research webpage and by contacting Dr Sorrel Bickley.

Impact

The pathway to impact for this type of research in health is often longer and more complex than that seen in other sectors. Given this, there is a need for researchers working in this area to consider more carefully how they will undertake their work in a manner that maximises the opportunity for impact to arise from it.

Applicants must consider which impact and translation topics relate to their proposed programme of work and, if they are relevant, describe in their Pathway to Impact section how they will be addressed throughout the award. There is no expectation that researchers will undertake all impact activities themselves nor is there an expectation that researchers will develop extensive expertise in all areas. However, applicants should consider what skills, knowledge and expertise are required and how these will be brought to the project through collaboration, training, consultation or other means.

Understanding of the pathway to impact in health and the incorporation of appropriate and specific impact activities will form part of the assessment of proposals. A well-considered and appropriately resourced Pathways to Impact plan will be seen as a considerable strength.

Funding available

  • Approximately £3 million will be available under this call;
  • A minimum of 60% of the budget will be allocated to proposals led by PIs from outside the current Platform
    • It is expected that any proposals from within current Hubs will be led by PIs who are not leading core activities
  • Awards may be for up to three years; it is anticipated that the scale of each award will be in the region of £300,000-£600,000
  • The earliest proposed start date cannot be before 01/11/2019 and latest start date cannot be later than 31/12/2019
  • Awards will be administered by the MRC and subject to MRC terms and conditions
  • Awards jointly-funded with charity partners will be administered by the MRC. Supplementary terms will apply to these jointly funded awards to address partnership needs. This will include specific terms covering acknowledgement of funders, reporting requirements, public engagement and intellectual property/commercial exploitation. Further details are available on request (see Contacts and guidance).

Support available

Applications may include requests for support for a period of up to three years, which can include:

  • salary component for the principal investigator and co-investigators
  • support for additional posts – research, technical
  • consumables
  • equipment
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs.

Project-specific costs relating to proposed impact activities such as user and public engagement, coordination and collaboration costs to bring the research closer to application and patients may be included.

Support for international partnerships is available where it can be demonstrated that this will bring specific advantage and significant added value to the proposal in addressing the aims of this call. It is anticipated that such partnerships will be underpinned with evidence of existing collaborative working with the UK consortium members. The direct costs for work undertaken at an overseas organisation are admissible and should be discussed with the UKRMP programme manager before submission of the application.

The normal MRC resourcing rules apply; please see the Guidance for Applicants – Resourcing.

Support not available

Funds cannot be requested for infrastructure and core administrative services (secretarial, finance, personnel, computing support, estates and building maintenance) covered by the indirect cost component of FEC from RC funds.

For awards jointly funded with JDRF or the MS Society, indirect and estates costs will be calculated in agreement with the principles of funding agreed between UKRI and the Association of Medical Research Charities. This upholds the principle that whilst UKRI will provide support under the full economic costing model, charity funds within the joint award may only be used to support direct science costs.  Applications should therefore be costed as usual practice for MRC’s standard awards.

Funds cannot be requested for training awards, including studentships and fellowships.

It is unlikely that clinical trial activity would be encompassed within the call framework, and due to the complex nature of such applications, submission to other schemes offered by MRC and other funders would be more appropriate. However, should clinical trial activity be considered achievable within the call framework (including budget and timeframe), early discussion should be held with the UKRMP programme manager.

Back to top

Eligibility

Submission of an ‘Intention to Apply’ is an eligibility requirement – please see ‘Application and assessment procedure‘ below for further details.

For administrative purposes, applications will be led by a single UK academic institution or independent research organisation approved by the research councils. Applications from throughout the UK are eligible.

The normal MRC eligibility rules apply; please see the Guidance for applicants and the UKRI website.

Partnerships with industry are encouraged if appropriate. Applicants considering establishing collaboration with an industrial partner(s), are advised to refer to the guidance on MRC Industry Collaboration Awards (MICAs).

Application and assessment procedure

Intention to Apply

All applicants are required to submit an ‘Intention to Apply’ by e-mail to the UKRMP mailbox (UK.RMP@mrc.ukri.org), by 16:00 GMT+1 Thursday 11 April 2019.

The Intention to Apply will allow the funders to ensure that proposals are aligned with the remit and strategic intent of the call, and to initiate early activities in preparation for assessment. No feedback will be given other than confirmation that the proposed bid is within scope and can be submitted.

The Intention to Apply should be top level and a maximum of two sides of A4 (Arial 11pt, 2cm margins, no less than single line spacing). This should briefly address the key strategic needs and challenges, setting out the proposal’s aims and objectives (using the information required for the full submission as a guide to critical issues) and identify the lead and key partners of the proposed research team. It is recognised that final proposals are likely to continue to evolve right up to the application deadline, so they need not be restricted to the precise description provided within the abstract, although the final proposal must fully reflect its core elements. A project budget should be provided (identifying total estimated staff/investigator costs, non-staff costs and indirect and estates costs only). A more detailed breakdown is not required until full submission, nor is there a need to provide specific justification for the resources requested at this stage. However, the full proposal is expected to be within ± 10% of the amount indicated in the Intention to Apply.

Applicants who do not submit an Intention to Apply will be ineligible to submit a full application.

Submissions to the call

The deadline for full applications will be 16:00 GMT+1 Thursday 9 May 2019.

Applications must be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system and must be led by UK institutions eligible to receive UKRI funding.  

Proposals will be externally peer reviewed following MRC’s standard review processes before being considered by an expert review panel in September 2019 which will make funding recommendations. Final funding decisions will be ratified by the contributing funding partners and announced in October 2019.

General guidance

Please follow the general guidance for completing an application in the MRC Guidance for Applicants. This will guide applicants through the standard processes for preparing a proposal, costing proposals and how to address any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. The case for support must not exceed eight sides of A4 (Arial 11 pt), including references and governance. Applications exceeding the page limit will be rejected.

Applicants considering collaboration with an industrial partner(s) are advised to refer to the guidance on MRC Industry Collaboration Awards (MICAs). A MICA form and Heads of Terms may be required as supporting documents in this case.

Case for Support

Please complete your case for support around the following headings:

  1. Aims and objectives
  • Describe the critical translational challenge to be tackled by the proposal; the gap(s) in knowledge, and how the proposal will address these and contribute to the development of therapies in the longer term.
  • Outline how the proposal will integrate with and provide added value to ongoing Platform objectives and activities to deliver the strategic aims of the UKRMP.
  • Describe the added value of the project over and above the current research activities of its constituent members, including what is transformative and different from ‘business as usual’ by scope and reach.
  1. Science excellence and delivery
  • Provide detail of the research to be undertaken. Outline how the programmes of research will be developed and contribute to the aims and objectives of the relevant Hub(s).
  • Identify how the proposal is innovative and will transform current progress towards human health benefit, including detail of the positioning of the proposal relative to other (academic or commercial) therapeutic approaches being pursued in the area.
  • Describe the PIs/CoIs/groups and/or industrial partners involved and their expertise and contributions.
  • Describe the environment(s) in which any researchers from outside the current Platform will operate and explain how this will add value to the research objectives and operation.
  • Outline the end-user groups that need to be engaged, for example, linkage to clinicians/surgeons, manufacturing capabilities, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.
  1. Leadership, management and governance
  • Provide an overview of how the research programme will be developed and managed, in accordance with the nature of the proposal and relationships with Platform partners (cross-site working, work-package relationships etc.), to provide evidence of the programme’s likelihood of achieving a successful outcome.
  • Consider the ‘next steps’ towards human application that are required if all aims and objectives of the proposal are completed, including regulatory aspects where relevant.
  • Provide metrics – deliverables and milestones of progress including a Gantt chart; note that applicants will be asked to identify up to four key milestones (out of the expected broader set identified in the case for support) which will be described in more detail in a Hub Deliverable and Milestone Template_FINAL which is a required attachment for proposals in this call.

In addition to the case for support, all full applications require a completed proposal form accompanied by a number of mandatory attachments. These include:

  • CVs (up to two sides of A4) for named researchers
  • Publications (one side of A4 per named person)
  • Pathways to Impact document (up to two sides of A4)
  • Justification of the resources requested (up to two sides of A4) including justification of any out-of-the-ordinary costs such as higher salaries, high experimental costs for example sequencing
  • Statements of support from any project partners (no page limit) – where applicable
  • Data management plan (up to three sides of A4)
  • Methodology and experimental design (up to one page as a supplement to the case for support) – strongly recommended

In addition, the following documents must be included under ‘other attachment’ types in Je-S:

  • Milestone Form, addressing the metrics and milestones – Applicants will be required to identify and detail up to four key milestones, out of the expected broader set of objectives identified in the case for support (see separate attachment)
  • Gantt Chart (maximum one side of A4)
  • MICA form and heads of terms if applicable (For more information see MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA)).

See the MRC guidance for applicants for further details.

Assessment

The assessment will take account of the scientific opportunities and capabilities presented. Consideration will be given to the:

  • significance of the therapeutic challenges to be addressed
  • novelty, importance and timeliness of the research
  • ability of the investigators to deliver the translational research proposed
  • strength and clarity of collaborations and end-user engagement
  • the nature and level of integration within Platform activities and additional value provided by the proposed approach
  • appropriateness and quality of the project management structure proposed
  • quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities
  • value for money
  • likelihood of impact
  • ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

In addition to the standard MRC and UKRI terms and conditions, applicants undertaking research involving human stem cell lines must adhere to MRC supplementary terms and conditions for MRC grants introduced in the context of stem cell research – see MRC additional terms and conditions: section AC13.

All awardees will be required to annually submit reports to MRC’s Electronic Valuation System (Researchfish). For those applications which are jointly funded with JDRF and MS Society, additional reporting requirements may apply.

Further details are available from the UKRMP Science Manager.

Back to top

How to apply

Completed proposals must be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system by the lead host institution’s administrative department, after they have completed their section of the Je-S form. To ensure that applications are submitted in time, please give the administrative department advance notice of potential applications and the submission date. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

For the purposes of this call, when filling in the Je-S application details, applicants should ensure that they:

  • Select council: MRC
  • Select document type: Standard
  • Select scheme: Research Grants
  • Select call: UK Regenerative Medicine Platform May 2019.

Please note: All mandatory sections on the application need to be completed.

Key dates

Timetable Task deadline
Call launch 5 March 2019
Applicant webinar Late March 2019
Submission deadline for intention to apply 11 April 2019 16:00 GMT+1
Submission deadline for full applications 9 May 2019 16:00 GMT+1
Funding decision September/October 2019

Contacts and guidance

Guidance can also be sought from:

Guidance and support for using Je-S is provided by the Je-S helpdesk. Contact details for this service are as follows:

Email: JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk

Phone: 01793 44 4164 *Staffed Monday to Friday 9:00-17:00 (excluding bank holidays and other holidays)

Out of hours: leave a voicemail message

*Phone calls that cannot be answered during working hours will be redirected after 30 seconds to voicemail. The helpdesk will normally return your call within three hours.

Detailed online guidance for Je-S is also provided on the Je-S website, together with a series of frequently asked questions. There are also help pages on the Je-S system itself to accompany each section of the application form.

Back to top