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Medical Research Council Grants

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 16 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Medical Research Council Grants

The Medical Research Council (MRC) supplies grants for research. This research can be into any aspect of medical science. It can take place in hospitals, universities, UK MRC institutes and in MRC research centres in Africa.

MRC receives its finance from public funds. The aim of the council is to promote medical research that improves healthcare.

The research may involve work conducted solely in a lab. Or it may cover clinical trials. The research can also study any disease.

Ultimately, MRC wants to create skilled medical researchers and encourage discussions about medical research with the public. It also works to improve and spread the sort of technology and knowledge that advances the quality of life in the UK and that increases the country’s economic competitiveness.


MRC has complete independence in its choice of which research to support. At any one time, there are approximately 3,000 researchers with MRC grants.

Recent annual grant awards have amounted to more than £225 million in the UK. MRC used this money across 400 or so projects.

In addition, annual support for research institutes and units has been around £355 million. And MRC has given £68 million to medical fellows and postgraduate students for training.

Grant Schemes

MRC has created 12 grant schemes to distribute such large amounts of money.

The Research Grant Scheme is one of the most important. This funds biomedical science research in NHS Trusts and UK universities.

The Methodology Research Programme, with a budget of £60 million, encourages the development of methodological theories and tools. These give medical research a solid base to start from.

The Joint Funding Arrangements for Clinical Trials promote the effective trialling of new medicine and medical techniques.

A separate grant scheme supports Early Stage Trials. These are usually part of experimental medicine.

The other MRC trials grant scheme is the Global Health Trials Programme. This works with other grant bodies such as the Global Health scheme and the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) scheme.

Programme Grants provide money to enable medical scientists think in long term and renewable ways.

The Discipline Hopping Grant fosters better relations between engineers and those involved with medicine.

The New Investigator Research Grant supplies essential funds for new non-clinical and clinical researchers. The researchers can use the money to set themselves up as independent principal investigators.

Partnership Grants are for those who intend to work together on research activities.

Translational Stem Cell Research Grants are part of MRC’s commitment to stem cell solutions and improved regenerative medicine.

A Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme helps turn research into practical ways that benefit patients.

Finally, MRC’s Industry Collaboration Award (MICA) also aims to change research into actual results that improve healthcare. This grant scheme takes a flexible approach to funding. It encourages academics and industry to come together to explore the practical possibilities of medical studies.


With such a wide range of grant schemes, potential applicants may struggle to decide what may benefit a research project most. Applicants should therefore speak to MRC about any proposals. MRC can then assist with the grant claim process.

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