Health Systems Research Initiative Launches Eighth Call

The Health Systems Research Initiative is a joint venture by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Wellcome Trust to support research intended to generate practical measures to improve health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Funding is in place for an annual call under this initiative until 2021.

The programme aims to fund methodologically rigorous, high quality research that will:

Generate evidence on how to strengthen and improve health systems for people living in low- and middle-income countries.

Provide evidence that is of direct relevance to decision makers and practitioners in the field, linking health systems with defined outcomes (eg health, confidence, financial protection).

Demonstrate an appreciation of current theories and frameworks in health systems research.

Where focussed on a particular aspect of the health system, proposals must demonstrate how interventions relate to and affect wider elements of the system such as governance, financing, health workforce, information systems, service delivery, etc.

Two types of grant can be applied for:

Research Grants – usually up to three years, with a maximum duration of five years, for larger-scale projects.

Foundation Grants – for projects up to a maximum of 24 months and to conduct preliminary studies needed before a full research grant proposal can be designed (can include work to evaluate existing interventions or pilot and feasibility work to inform plans for future research) or explore possible health system innovations, under-researched areas or creative approaches that have the potential to be developed further. Such proposals should also have practical applications and not be purely conceptual.

The scheme welcomes research that identifies and addresses a range of health systems topics including questions related to governance, structure, institutions, social policy, health workforce, financing, private sector, civil society, information systems, products and technologies, supply chains, service delivery and so on.

Priority is given to research that benefits the most vulnerable populations and/or those in poorly resourced settings. The funders are aiming for a significant majority of research projects within the portfolio to focus on low-income countries.

Researchers can be based in either UK or LMIC based organisations with demonstrable research capacity. Principal Investigators (PIs) must be employed by an eligible institution either in a low- and middle-income country or the UK. All proposals must include Co-Investigators from the LMIC in which the research is taking place.

The funders welcome multidisciplinary, collaborative and multi-country/multi-site applications as well as focussed in-depth applications, including those driven by social science questions.

Between £3 million to £4 million will be available for this call. Funding can cover all research costs that are attributable to the project. For example, appropriate percentages of the investigators’ time, scientific, technical and administrative staff including statisticians, research nurses etc, consumables, items of equipment, data/sample handling and archiving and travel.

Research grant proposals must be submitted by the deadline of 19 January 2021.

The call for smaller foundation grants will open in early 2021.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.