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Open Grant Calls

We fund groundbreaking research to change the future of muscle wasting conditions. Our open grants are listed below.

Strategic Programme grants in neuromuscular research 2024

We are pleased to announce that we are offering funding for strategic Programme Grants of up to £1 million and up to five years’ duration. We particularly encourage proposals that focus on innovative research challenges that will lead to significant shifts for people living with muscle wasting and weakening conditions. Through these awards we want to facilitate collaboration and strengthen the impact of research and innovation for the community. We continue to be grateful to our incredible community of donors, supporters and fundraisers who enabled us to raise the funds to generate this call.

We are currently in a position to fund at least one project and possibly more subject to strategic fit, quality of application and available funds. The call will open for research proposals on Friday 31 May 2024. The deadline for submission of the online application is 3pm on Thursday 3 October 2024.

Before applying, please ensure you refer to following webpages:

Researchers who are interested in applying are encouraged to contact us at  researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org to ensure the application fits the remit of the call.

Programme grant applications must meet the following broad criteria:

  • Proposals must address at least one neuromuscular condition supported by Muscular Dystrophy UK. Applications may be strengthened by a focus on multiple conditions, but this is not a prerequisite for the application to be considered for funding.
  • Applications must demonstrate relevance to Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Research Strategy and must benefit the wider UK neuromuscular community.
  • The host university must have a clear strategy for neuromuscular research.
  • There must be a significant financial or ‘in kind’ commitment from the university as part of the planned partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK. For example, through the provision of posts or other key elements of the programme, or by seeking additional support from other sources, e.g. industry etc.
  • Applicants must clearly articulate how the strategic programme would build on existing Muscular Dystrophy UK or other support for research into neuromuscular conditions to add value to these investments.
  • The grant should support researchers with a shared interest in neuromuscular conditions to collaborate and deliver world-leading research and will lead to high-impact translation to benefit patients.
  • Applications should include strong national (and where relevant, international) collaborations.
  • The proposal must have clear research goals, milestones and strong leadership.
  • Applications with a clinical focus or element must demonstrate how people with lived experience of neuromuscular conditions will be engaged. In such cases, applications would be strengthened if you can demonstrate the people with lived experience of relevant neuromuscular conditions have been involved in designing the planned work.
  • We will invest in research that increases our understanding of neuromuscular conditions and that promotes the development of potential treatments. Applications for this strategic funding can cover a range of basic, pre-clinical and clinical projects, but must demonstrate a coherent theme.

See the guidance for the call which gives more detailed criteria.

Whilst we are only able to fund principal applicants who are based in the UK, we strongly encourage international collaborations. Applications may be strengthened by a demonstration of wide collaborative networks within the field of neuromuscular research.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted using our online application form, which is accessed by a secure login. The online application form will be available from 17 June 2024. 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.

  • 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 and guidance for this call, which are also accessible when you are log into the online system; please select Help – Support Documents from the home screen.

The deadline for submission of the online application is 3pm on Thursday 3 October 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 three weeks after the submission deadline.

The decision-making process

Muscular Dystrophy UK staff will review programme grant applications to ensure eligibility and alignment with the call’s remit. Applications will then be sent to at least five reviewers who will be selected from the international community of experts, based on their relevant research experience and ability to comment on the proposal. Applicants will be given the opportunity to respond to reviews.

The application will be considered by a panel of experts in the field of neuromuscular research and people with lived experience of muscle wasting and weakening conditions selected from our Medical Research Committee and our Lay Research Panel respectively. The panel will score applications and only applications that meet the minimum quality threshold will be considered for funding. The panel will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees and applicants will receive a decision letter in Late March 2025.

Other relevant policies

Other policies relating to research applications can be found here

  • Additional Requirements for HRA-Approved Clinical Research
  • Animal Research and the NC3Rs

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

Improving quality of life 2024

We’re pleased to announce that we are trialling a new grant scheme for research proposals that relate to our strategic theme “Improving Quality of Life”. This call opened on Friday 12 April 2024. The deadline for submission of the online application is 3pm on Wednesday 12 June 2024. 

Before applying, please ensure you refer to following webpages 

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

We’re currently offering funding for small projects of up to 12 months’ duration, and for consumables only of no more than £10,000. Research applications should specifically address an unmet need or offer an innovative solution to a problem that would improve the quality of life of people with neuromuscular conditions. 

We appreciate that the pathway to deliver a product (or solution) to the target population is complex and that this funding alone will not be sufficient to take it ‘to market’. However, we expect applicants to outline the pathway that their product/solution will take to benefit lives of people with a muscle wasting condition and have a clear plan to achieve a specific a milestone on this pathway. 

Strong applications will engage people with lived experience of the condition(s). 

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 that we support. If you want to make an application for research into a neuromuscular condition that is not listed here contact us on researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org

Applications can relate to any aspect of research that may lead to an improvement in the quality of life of people with neuromuscular conditions. Our community has specifically highlighted the following areas of research as being important:  

  • Improving accessibility. This could include research that provides novel solutions to improves access to public or other spaces or public transport 
  • Mental health & psychological support 
  • Assistive Technology or physical aids 
  • Lifestyle (exercise or diet) 
  • Fatigue 
  • Physiotherapy 
  • Pain management 
  • Hydrotherapy 

We’re interested in funding in these areas, but will consider any application for research in any area that will lead to improvements in quality of life for people with neuromuscular conditions. 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’re unsure whether your research fits the criteria or our remit, contact the research team at researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org. 

The deadline for submission of the online application is 3pm on Wednesday 12 June 2024. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline. 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 your institute’s research/finance office. This should be sent by email to researchgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org no later than 26 June 2024. 

We welcome applications from any researcher or allied healthcare professional who is engaged in research. 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) are also welcome. 

We’re only able to fund UK-based applicants for research in UK institutions or hospitals. 

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

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 and guidance for applicants, which are also accessible when you are logged into the online system; please select Help – Support Documents from the home screen. 

How applications will be assessed 

Applications will initially be assessed by members of our Research Team. Queries to applicants will be dealt with in the first two weeks following the application deadline. Applicants may be asked to make amendments to their applications. 

Applications will be considered by a committee made up of researchers who have expertise in clinical research into neuromuscular disease and people with lived experience of a neuromuscular condition. The Committee will consider applications according to their quality, impact and potential for productivity. Each Committee member scores each application and these scores are used to determine which applications are fundable. Applications that do not meet the quality threshold will not be funded. 

The committee will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees who will make the final decision on whether applications should be funded. Decisions on grant applications will be available in early-mid November.

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. 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

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. 

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

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. 

More information

Grant calls pending a decision

Information and updates on our closed grant calls.

Advice applying for a grant

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