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Grant calls pending a decision

Grant round 2024

Our 2024 Grant Round is closed. The following documents are relevant to the call:  

The following is information relating to the content of the call

The 2024 grant call offered funding for PhD studentships and project grants (including up to three-year project grants and shorter, proof-of-principle projects such as pilot studies of up to one year) that have relevance to one or more type of muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition. We will fund research across the breadth of conditions supported by the charity, including rare and very-rare conditions. Please refer to the list of conditions supported by Muscular Dystrophy UK. If you want to make an application for research into a neuromuscular condition that is not listed here please contact us on researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

At the present time, specific funds are available for projects related to facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), limb girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) and LMNA congenital muscular dystrophy and we would especially welcome applications in these areas. This should not dissuade applicants who are applying for funding for research into other conditions as all applications are subject to the same review criteria.  

We will invest in research that increases our understanding of neuromuscular conditions and that promotes the development of potential treatments. These may be basic, pre-clinical or clinical projects, but must be in line with our Research Strategy. We also welcome applications for research that will have a direct, positive impact on the quality of life of people with neuromuscular diseases or will help to establish best practice in symptom management. This could include, but is not limited to, social or psychological research or projects with a focus on exercise, physiotherapy, fatigue or chronic pain.  

Please refer to our Research Strategy for further information about the aims and objectives of the charity, which must be reflected in your application. If you are unsure whether your research fits the criteria or our remit, please contact the research team at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

The deadline for submission of the online application is3pm on Wednesday 17 January 2024. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.Please note that applications can be submitted at any time prior to the deadline. After online submission you must send us a copy of your application signed by the principal- and co-investigators, and by your Head of Department and institute’s research office. This should be sent by email to researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org no later than 7 February 2024.   

We welcome applications from early-career researchers (defined as researchers who possess a PhD who have not yet gained, or are transitioning to, an independent research career) as well as existing principal investigators. 

Each applicant can submit up to one grant application per grant type; multiple grant applications for the same grant type will not be accepted. If you currently hold a Muscular Dystrophy UK-funded project or studentship grant, you may still apply in this round. A single resubmission of a previous Muscular Dystrophy UK application is permitted. 

Please note, whilst we are only able to fund principal applicants who are based in the UK, we strongly encourage international collaborations. 

Please ensure you use the correct form for your application; we reserve the right to reject applications that are submitted using the wrong form type. If you are unsure of which form to use please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

All applications in our annual grant round are subject to the policies outlined in our research policies which covers the requirements for HRA-approved clinical research and animal research and the NC3Rs

PhD Studentships 

Grants for 4-year PhD studentships are available. The charity will fund stipend, consumables and fees. We will fund stipends and fees up to UKRI rates and consumables to a maximum of £8,000 per year. When applying for a studentship please take into account any annual increases in stipends and fees. Start dates of awarded PhD studentships are for entry no later than October 2025. 

The charity will not fund a year of general training as part of a studentship. We will, however, consider funding for training if it can be demonstrated that this will further the project and give the student grounding in the techniques they will be using. We will not fund equipment on a studentship grant. 

Please refer to the guidance for completing PHD applications

Project grants 

We welcome proof-of-principle and project grant applications from early career researchers as well as existing principal investigators. Applicants can only apply for one of the following: 

  1. Grants for 2–3-year projects

The charity will cover any combination of salary and consumables up to a maximum of £75,000 per year. For one-year grants please see the proof-of-principle projects below. 

  1. Grants for up to 1 year for proof-of-principle projects

If you are applying for a shorter grant of up to one year, for example to show proof of principle in a pilot study, the charity will cover up to £30,000 for salary and consumables. In this case, please apply using the project grant application form; we will not require as much detail to be given in the text boxes as for a full project grant application. 

Please refer to the guidance for completing project grant applications.

Please note: If you are looking for support for an infrastructure grant, such as a patient registry, please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org to discuss potential funding opportunities outside of the grant round.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted using our online application form, which is accessed by a secure login.

  • If you have used our online system before, go to the Smart Simple login page. Please login and update your profile before starting your application. 
  • If you are new to the system, please register as an applicant on the registration page. After that you will be able to log in and select the grant round and type of grant you wish to apply for. 
  • If you work at an institution which is not already listed on our system, you may need to contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org to help you create a profile.  

Please also refer to our Terms and Conditions (PhD studentship or project grant) and guidance for applicants (PhD studentship or project grant), which are also accessible when you are logged into the online system; please select Help – Support Documents from the home screen. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

The application process 

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 application and a plain English application. 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 plain English application contains a less detailed proposal, written in non-scientific language and goes to our Lay Research Panel, which consists of people affected by muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition. The plain English application consists of questions that the Lay Research Panel believe are most useful for helping them to prioritise the projects. The plain English application should exist as a stand-alone piece as the Lay Research Panel do not receive the scientific application. 

If you would like to be notified of upcoming calls or have any questions about available funding opportunities email the research team to be added to our circulation list researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org.

Annual grant round expert review procedures Applications are sent to experts worldwide 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 then 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 be given a deadline for their response. 

The plain English applications are assessed by our 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 plain English application. 

The applications are first sent to both the Medical Research Committee and Lay Research Panel for triage. The Medical Research Committee members will include the peer reviews and applicant responses in their assessment at the triage stage. Following review, members of the Medical Research Committee and Lay Research Panel will score the applications on a scale of one to three. 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. 

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 our 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 this report has been received and approved by our 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 us 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. 

Our research team 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 us. 

Please also read our grant FAQs for further information or email our research team researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org. 

More information

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Our grant FAQ’s and top tips for writing your plain English application.

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