Applying for a research grant

Applying for a research grant n.sutherland@m… Wed, 05/26/2021 - 14:57

This includes research into more than 60 different types of muscle-wasting conditions. The charity has an application process in place that involves a rigorous international peer review and a panel of lay experts to ensure that we fund high-quality science that is relevant to people with muscle wasting conditions.

You can find out about the different funding schemes that Muscular Dystrophy UK offers here. For more information on how to apply and to see what calls are open, please read our apply now page.

Grant funding process

The application process

Muscular Dystrophy UK has one grant round per year and generally releases a call for applications in the autumn. Applications for PhD studentships, project grants and shorter proof-of-principle grants are made online through our secure online application system. The grant rounds will normally open on the system at least three months prior to the deadline. Once the electronic deadline has passed, no further applications will be accepted for that round.

Applications comprise of a scientific description and a lay summary of the planned work. The scientific part of the application is a detailed description of the project and its costs as well as any ethical considerations, such as the use of animals or human samples. The lay application contains a less detailed proposal, but written in lay English and goes to our Lay Research Panel, which consists of people who are affected either directly or indirectly by muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition. The lay application consists of questions that the Lay Research Panel believe are most appropriate for helping them to prioritise the projects. The lay summary should exist as a stand-alone piece as the Lay Research Panel do not receive the scientific application.

Anyone interested in applying for a grant should refer to information on the call(s) for that year; these will be posted on our apply now page. If you would like to be notified of upcoming calls you can contact the Research Team to be added to our circulation list (researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org)

Please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org with any queries about our available funding opportunities.

Additional requirements for HRA-approved clinical research

From 1 October 2018 additional requirements are in place for funding clinical research.

For all clinical research that needs Health Research Authority (HRA) approval (refer to criteria for HRA approval), a Schedule of Events Costs Attribution Template (SoECAT) will need to be completed, approved and submitted with the grant application.

You will need the assistance of a local AcoRD specialist to complete and approve the SoECAT form (find your local AcoRD specialist) before including the approved form in your grant application to us.

We strongly recommend you contact your local AcoRD specialist as soon as you know you are planning a piece of clinical research, to allow sufficient time for completion and approval of SoECAT before the grant application deadline.

The SoECAT is being trialled as a way of addressing past challenges of getting excess treatment costs paid efficiently and on time, with the aim of streamlining clinical research in the NHS (read more about excess treatment costs, the SoECAT form and guidance for completing it). Having this information at the point of application will allow MDUK to accurately assess the costs associated with the study. The change is being made nationally and will affect all HRA-approved research.

If you have any questions please contact us. You can also get assistance with your research application from the NIHR CRN.

Animal Research and the NC3Rs

Please refer to the NC3Rs’ ARRIVE guidelines when designing animal experiments and ensure you report animal-based studies in accordance with the ARRIVE guidelines. Grant holders are required to implement the principles found in the the NC3Rs’ guidance document, Responsibility in the use of Animals in Bioscience Research. For more information and guidance about the use of animals in research see the NC3Rs website.

If the research involves use of higher animals (cats, dogs, equines, pigs, non-human primates), the proposal will be sent to NC3Rs for specialist peer review. This will be in addition to the regular scientific peer reviews of the application.

Muscular Dystrophy UK supports the Association of Medical Research Charities’ policy on animal research – please refer to our position statement on animal research.

The review procedure

The applications are sent to experts world-wide for peer review. We aim to receive reviews from three external reviewers for each application. The referee reports are sent to the principal applicant for comment. The applicant will have one week to respond to the queries raised or provide clarification. Principal applicants will receive an email notifying them when the peer reviews are available and giving a deadline for their response.

The lay summaries of the applications are assessed by the MDUK research team and members of our Medical Research Committee and/or scientific advisor to the Lay Research Panel to ensure that the content is true representation of the scientific application. They will also be assessed by members of our Lay Research Panel for a ‘readability check’. If the Lay Research Panel feels that the application is too technical, applicants will be asked to re-write or add clarification to the lay application.

The applications along with the peer reviews and applicants’ responses are sent to the Medical Research Committee for review. If a high number of applications is received a triage process may be implemented. In this instance members of the Medical Research Committee and Lay Research Panel will review the applications and score them on a scale of one to three. The Medical Research Committee members will include the peer reviews and applicant responses in their assessment at the triage stage.  Applications will be triaged based on the combined average scores from the Medical Research Committee and Lay Research Panel members. All Lay Research Panel and Medical Research Committee members will have the opportunity to restore an application to the shortlist.

Shortlisted applications will be considered at the annual Lay Research Panel and Medical Research Committee meetings.

Our assessment panels

Lay Research Panel 

Our Lay Research Panel is made up of people who are affected either directly, or indirectly, by a muscle-wasting condition. A physiotherapist and neuromuscular care advisor also sit on the Panel. There is also a Scientific Advisor at Lay Panel meetings who does not have voting rights but answers any scientific questions the Panel may have.

The Lay Panel does not judge the science behind the projects but assesses the relevance and importance of the project from the perspective of someone affected by a muscle-wasting condition.  At the meeting the Panel members consider the shortlisted applications and score each application from zero to six. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Lay Research Panel sit on the Medical Research Committee to provide feedback and ensure that the Lay Panel’s perspective is included in the consideration of the applications. These representatives also vote on the funding decisions taking the average score from the Panel meeting to the scientific meeting. The information you provide in the lay application will therefore form a significant part of the awards process. The Panel does not receive the scientific application, therefore the lay summary should act as a stand-alone piece. Failure to provide sufficient and understandable information in the lay summary could lead to rejection of the application.

Failure to provide sufficient and understandable information in the lay summary could lead to rejection of the application.

The members of the Lay Research Panel do not have a scientific background so please do not use scientific terminology or jargon. Please also refrain from including references to material that is not available to the general public. Your lay summary will be screened by the Panel prior to the meeting; you will be asked to rewrite the lay application if it is too technical. Please see the guidance we have produced with the Lay Research Panel on writing a lay summary of your application.

Medical Research Committee

The Medical Research Committee is formed of up to 16 scientific experts and two representatives from the Lay Research Panel. The Committee normally meets in late Spring/ early Summer to examine all the information from the application, Lay Panel and peer reviewers as well as the applicants’ responses.

Each Committee member scores each shortlisted application from zero to six; these scores are used to determine which applications are fundable.

Recommendations for funding are made based on the average score of each application and the charity’s strategic priorities given the available budget. These funding recommendations are presented for approval at the summer meeting for the Board of Trustees.

Acceptance of awards

Once the final decision on funding has been made, applicants will receive an email notifying them of the outcome. Following this notification of outcome all principal applicants will receive a summary of feedback based upon comments from the peer-reviewers, Lay Research Panel and Medical Research Committee. Successful applicants will receive an award letter.

Successful applicants can accept their awards via the online grant management system. A grant activation form must be submitted online and a signed electronic copy sent to the MDUK research grants management team. The grant activation form must be completed prior to the start date of the grant and no monies will be backdated if this form is not received in time. Project grants must start within six months of receiving the award letter.

Grant monitoring

The Principal Investigator is required to complete an annual progress report. Subsequent funding will not be awarded until receipt of this report and approval of this report by MDUK’s Medical Research Committee.

Principal Investigators are also required to submit outputs and impact data annually through the ResearchFish system.

On termination of the grant, the Principal Investigator is required to complete an End of Project Report, which is to be received by MDUK within two calendar months of receipt of the report template from MDUK. Failure to submit will result in the final payment being withheld until submission of the report and may affect future grant applications.

The Research team at MDUK monitors the content of annual and final reports and may contact the grant holder to request further information or clarification. The Principal Investigator will be required to provide follow-up information on the research after completion of the project as and when requested by MDUK

Please also read our grant FAQs for further information or get in contact with the research team at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org .

Apply now

Apply now n.sutherland@m… Wed, 05/26/2021 - 15:02

For the details of the call please see Grant Round 2021

Due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity, funding available for new grants to be awarded in 2021 is limited. We have therefore made the decision to release a restricted funding call for 2021. We will be able to award up to a single, 12-month grant per the specific conditions listed in the call.

We are also delighted to continue our SMA PhD Partnership with SMA UK. As part of this partnership, MDUK and SMA UK will support one 4-year PhD studentship in 5q SMA research as part of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s grant round 2021.

All applications will be sent for international peer-review and will be reviewed by our Lay Research Panel and Medical Research Committee. The Medical Research Committee will sit in October/ November 2021. Its recommendations are discussed by the charity’s Board of Trustees, which meets several times a year. You will be informed of the decision as soon as possible after the Board of Trustees meeting. For more information please see Applying for a Research Grant.

We recognise that the timing of this year’s Grant Round is different from previous years and we hope that we will be able to return to our normal grant round timing for the 2022 Grant round.

Guidance For Applicants

To apply you will need to submit the following:

  1. An application using our online application form, by the given deadline
  2. A signed copy of the scientific application by email, which can arrive up to three weeks after the above deadline

Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

The following points should be considered when submitting your application:

  • If you wish to apply for a Muscular Dystrophy UK research grant please be aware that the principal investigator must hold a contract which extends beyond the duration of the grant at an institution approved by Muscular Dystrophy UK. Muscular Dystrophy UK generally only funds UK-based research although international collaboration is encouraged; when there is an exception to this it will be announced in the grant call.
  •  If you currently hold a Muscular Dystrophy UK-funded project or studentship grant, you may still apply. Each applicant can submit up to one application per grant type in a grant round. Multiple applications for the same grant type will not be accepted.
  •  We welcome project and proof of principle applications from early career researchers. Researchers should have a research degree e.g. PhD, MD or the equivalent for non-UK countries OR, if an allied health professional, should have a post-graduate degree (PhD, mPhil or Masters degree) and/or demonstrate significant experience with trial procedures, conducting research and monitoring its progress.
  •  A single resubmission of previous MDUK grant application is allowed and should be indicated as such in the relevant field in the application form.

Remit

  • Due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity, funding available for new grants to be awarded in 2021 is limited. Please refer to the call for the conditions included in the 2021 Grant round remit
  • It is important for applicants to view their research strategically and explain how this proposed research fits with the charity’s Research Strategy in the relevant question in the application form.
  • In the development of diagnostic tools, there must be clear evidence of the exploitation route and pathway to adoption.
  • Research to develop animal models must demonstrate a clear route to a therapeutic application. We will only fund the creation and phenotyping of new animal models when there is no alternative available
  • Research projects collecting natural history data should be multi-centre and of sufficient duration and size to collect relevant and useful data. It is important that there is a harmonised approach across the field and applications should include international communication and/or collaboration. They should include multiple outcome measures (and where possible include multi-system measures) to be of maximum value to researchers and funders. The application should include a plan for financial sustainability in the longer term.

 

Before applying, please also see our:

Grant FAQs

Research Strategy

-Terms and Conditions (project grant or PhD studentship)

-Guidance for completing the online application form (project grant or PhD studentship)

If you are unsure whether your research fits within our strategy and current criteria, please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

External Jointly- Funded Calls- Doctoral Fellowships

Due to budgetary constraints, we are not currently able to support Clinical Research Training Fellowships through our partnerships with the Medical Research Council or the National Institute for Health Research.

Grant FAQs

Grant FAQs n.sutherland@m… Wed, 05/26/2021 - 15:05

What is the remit of Muscular Dystrophy UK?

The remit is to increase ‘understanding of the underlying causes of disease, develop potential treatments and improve the quality of life of people living with neuromuscular conditions’. Please refer to our Research Strategy for more information.

How can I apply?

Anyone interested in applying for a grant should refer to the information on the call(s) for that year; these will be posted on our apply now page. Details of our grant rounds are generally announced in the Autumn. Please note, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 grant round was announced in March 2021, we hope to return to our normal timing for the 2022 grant round. If you would like to be notified of upcoming calls you can contact the Research Team to be added to our circulation list (researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org). Applications are made online through our secure online application system.

Who can apply for a Muscular Dystrophy UK grant?

  • Funding is available for those undertaking research in all disciplines relating to conditions which fall within the remit of Muscular Dystrophy UK conditions. 

Principal applicants must hold a contract which extends beyond the duration of the proposed grant period at an Institution approved by Muscular Dystrophy UK. We are only able to fund research within the UK at the present time, although international collaborations are encouraged. Any exceptions to this will be made known when the grant call(s) are announced – please check the apply now page for more information.
  • We welcome project and proof of principle applications from early career researchers. Researchers should have a research degree e.g. PhD, MD or the equivalent for non-UK countries OR, if an Allied Health Professional, should have a post-graduate degree (PhD, MPhil or Masters degree) and/or demonstrate significant experience with trial procedures, conducting research and monitoring its progress.

How are grants selected for funding?

Muscular Dystrophy UK employs a strict international peer review system to ensure that the research we fund is of the highest quality. Muscular Dystrophy UK also utilises expert committees, a Committee of scientific and clinical experts – the Medical Research Committee – and a panel of people directly or indirectly affected by muscle wasting conditions- the Lay Research Panel.

If a high number of applications is received a triage process will be implemented prior to the committee meetings. In this instance members of the Medical Research Committee and Lay Research Panel will review the applications. Shortlisted applications will be considered at the annual Lay Research Panel and Medical Research Committee meetings.

At the scientific meeting, each member, including two lay research panel representatives, grades applications and the average score for each application is calculated.

Funding decisions are made based on the average score of each application and charity’s strategic priorities given the available budget. Read more about our funding process.

What types of grants are available?

  • The types of award being offered may change each year depending upon the priorities of the charity. More information can be found on the ‘apply now’ page.
  • If you are looking for support for an infrastructure grant, such as a patient registry, please contact us to discuss potential funding opportunities outside of the Grant Round.

How many grants are awarded each year?

There is only one application round per year. The number of grants funded each year varies, depending on the amount of free monies available for the year and on the cost of the grants being considered. Muscular Dystrophy UK endeavours to fund as many projects as possible in order to maximise the potential of the grant portfolio.

What is the success rate for applications?

From 2017 to 2019 the average success rate of grant applications was approximately one in four.

Is it possible for an individual to hold more than one Muscular Dystrophy UK grant?

Yes. Muscular Dystrophy UK does not limit the number of grants held by any individual. However, each applicant can only submit up to one application per grant type in a Grant Round. Multiple applications for the same grant type will not be accepted.

Are resubmissions accepted to the Grant Round?

One resubmission of a previous Muscular Dystrophy UK grant application is allowed to the grant round. This should be indicated, along with the amendments to the original application, in the relevant field on the application form.

Does Muscular Dystrophy UK cover recruitment costs within the grant award?

We do not cover recruitment costs. These should be covered by the employing institution/university.

Does Muscular Dystrophy UK pay for maternity cover and sick leave?

Muscular Dystrophy UK does not pay for maternity leave or sick pay. This is the responsibility of the employing institution.

Does Muscular Dystrophy UK pay for travel to conferences?

Due to limited funding, Muscular Dystrophy UK does not provide funding for travel to and attendance at conferences.

Does my application need Health Regulatory Authority (HRA) approval?

  • From 1 October 2018 additional requirements are in place for funding clinical research. For all clinical research that needs Health Research Authority (HRA) approval (refer to criteria for HRA approval), a Schedule of Events Costs Attribution Template (SoECAT) will need to be completed, approved and submitted with the grant application. You will need the assistance of a local AcoRD specialist to complete and approve the SoECAT form (find your local AcoRD specialist) before including the approved form in your grant application to us. See more information here.
  • We strongly recommend you contact your local AcoRD specialist as soon as you know you are planning a piece of clinical research, to allow sufficient time for completion and approval of SoECAT before the grant application deadline.

Does the applicant receive feedback about the peer review?

Once the applications have been sent out for peer review, the referee reports are sent to the applicant for comment. The applicant has one week to respond, and the response is considered at the meeting of the Medical Research Committee along with the reviewers’ comments, the full application and the comments of the Lay Research Panel.

What happens if the grant does not start on the correct date?

  • Project and proof of principle grants should start within six months of the award date.
  • It is important that the MDUK research team is consulted with regards to changes in the start date of the grant. As soon as you know that the start date is changing, please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org

What happens when the grant ends?

Muscular Dystrophy UK requires that an ‘End of Project’ report be submitted within two months of termination of the grant. This is specified within the Terms and Conditions of the grant and thus non-compliance may result in payment being withheld. This may also affect the Principal Investigators chances of obtaining another grant from Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Top tips for writing a research lay summary

Top tips for writing a research lay summary n.sutherland@m… Wed, 05/26/2021 - 15:11

What are research lay summaries and why are they important?

Lay summaries help to communicate research to a non-specialist audience. They describe research in plain English and are meant for people who are not researchers.

At Muscular Dystrophy UK, a lay summary is required as part of the funding application process and will be reviewed by our Lay Research Panel. A well written lay summary allows our Lay Research Panel to participate fully in the decision making and is an important part of the assessment process.

Lay summaries are important for disseminating research findings to the public and can also help to make your research accessible to professional audiences outside of your immediate field of research.

Top tips for writing a lay summary

We worked with our Lay Research Panel to share some ‘top tips’ to consider when writing a lay summary*:

Do’s:

  • Consider who you are writing for and why
  • Put the research in context and explain which gap the research is filling- how does it fit into the bigger picture? Why is it needed?
  • Keep it short and succinct; use short sentences (20 words or fewer)
  • Provide definitions or a glossary for technical terms if you can’t avoid them
  • Use good sentence structure and grammar
  • Use bullet points to clearly introduce the key aims and objectives of the proposal
  • Provide a clear justification of costs in applications
  • Ask someone who does not have a scientific background to read the lay summary – do they understand it?

Don’ts:

  • ‘Waffle’ or be vague
  • Use long, complex sentences
  • Use acronyms, abbreviations or scientific jargon; if you have to use technical terms, provide a clear explanation
  • Forget to explain why this research is important – ‘so what?!’

*These tips were written with lay summaries for grant applications in mind, but many will be applicable to lay summaries written for a different purpose.

More useful resources and guidance to help you write your lay summary can be found on the INVOVLE website.