The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Canadian Stem Cell Network (SCN) are pleased to announce round 2 of the MRC-SCN UK-Canada Exchange Program Awards, which will provide funding for travel and skills exchange between regenerative medicine researchers in the UK and Canada. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2023, at 5 p.m. (sender’s local time), or 4 p.m. GMT (for applications submitted via Je-S, see below). Successful applicants will be notified by early December.
About This Program
As part of MRC and SCN’s on-going partnership, which started in 2022, the MRC and SCN are each investing up to $180,000 CAD/£112,000 GBP over two years to support new and developing collaborations between the UK and Canada’s researchers in regenerative medicine, encouraging the sharing of techniques and skills through a reciprocal exchange program.
The purpose of the UK-Canada Exchange Program Awards is primarily to provide new skills to researchers, including MSc/PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, technicians, and newly independent investigators, and to build new links between UK- and Canada-based scientists. The awards can be used for travel, accommodation, and site visits or conference attendance in either country, and will serve to add value to the research taking place in both countries by facilitating closer collaboration.
- Eligible exchange researchers/scientists include graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants or research associates, and newly independent investigators (within five years of their first independent academic research appointment). Newly independent investigators can apply as both the exchange researcher/scientist and the named Principal Investigator (PI).
- Applications between two labs that were previously funded for an exchange will be accepted; however, the project summary must include a justification for the second exchange and how it will strengthen the ongoing collaborative activities.
- An exchange researcher/scientist is not eligible to participate in the program if they have also participated in this exchange program in the previous year.
- If a large volume of applications is received, SCN and MRC may choose to prioritize those applications from PIs who have not previously been supported to maximize the distribution of funding.
- SCN and MRC will support the travel of Canadian and UK exchange researcher/scientists at $15,000 CAD/ £9,500 GBP per researcher. Each proposal must have the support of one Canadian PI and one UK PI, with each lab acting as either host, visitor, or both. Proposals can be for the travel of two researchers, one from each lab (bidirectional); or one researcher (unidirectional). Bidirectional exchanges between two labs are encouraged and preferred.
- Exchanges are expected to be 6-12 weeks in length.
- Exchanges should be relevant to regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine is the branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. Regenerative medicine includes the generation and use of therapeutic stem cells, tissue engineering and the production of artificial organs. Research applications that are focused on cancer must be regenerative in nature and/or use stem cells for addressing the proposed problem. Interdisciplinary projects with relevance to regenerative medicine are welcomed.
This funding is available to support the following collaborative activities:
- Travel for researchers in either direction, including transportation and meal costs while traveling
- Accommodation costs for the duration of the exchange
- Visits/access to facilities
- Conference attendance (subject to approval by SCN/MRC)
- Other collaborative activities may be supported on a case-by-case basis
Exchange awards are not a vehicle for supporting research projects and these awards cannot be used to fund:
- Salary costs
- Items of equipment
- Other research costs including consumables
- Ordinary living costs, e.g. meals.
- Funding will be delivered to participating Canadian institutions from SCN and to participating UK institutions from MRC.
- Exchange personnel will be responsible for finding and securing their own suitable accommodations for the duration of the exchange. SCN/MRC will support eligible accommodation costs.
- Each application must be submitted jointly with the support of one named PI in the UK and one named PI in Canada. Each PI can be acting as exchange host, sending an exchange researcher/scientist, or both.
- UK named PIs must meet the eligibility criteria for MRC funding. Canadian named PIs must meet the eligibility criteria for Tri-Agency funding.
- Eligible exchange researchers/scientists include graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants or research associates, and newly independent investigators (within five years of their first independent academic research appointment). Newly independent investigators can apply as both the exchange researchers/scientists and the named PI.
- The project that is the focus of the exchange must have been peer-reviewed and funded by a granting organization/agency in Canada (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, or SCN) or in the UK (e.g. UKRI, Wellcome, medical research charities). The project must be currently within the funded period or have ended within the last two years (i.e. projects with funding end dates prior to September 1, 2021 will not be eligible).
- The host and exchange researcher/scientist are responsible for ensuring they obtain permission from the host institution (including all relevant training, e.g. health and safety) for the exchange researcher/scientist to access institutional facilities associated with the host laboratory, and for following all institutional rules and guidelines for the duration of the exchange. Arrangements should be made for facilities access in advance of the exchange wherever possible.
- Applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with necessary visa requirements for the travelling exchange researchers/scientists as early as possible to avoid delays to the visits should their application be successful.
|Call opens||September 5, 2023|
|Closing date for proposals||October 31, 2023|
|Assessment of proposals||November 6-24, 2023|
|Grant awarded||Early December, 2023|
|Expected project start||January 1, 2024 – March 15, 2024|
All those interested in applying must submit an application form by October 31, 2023 at 5 p.m. (sender’s time). Completed applications consist of:
- Completed application form
- CVs of both lead investigators (one from UK, one from Canada) and of any exchange researchers/scientists, including 1-page publication list
- Proof of a previously peer-reviewed and funded grant by a granting organization/agency in Canada (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, or SCN) or in the UK (e.g. UKRI, Wellcome, medical research charities) including project abstracts and funding period dates
All complete application packages should be sent to Ellie Arnold (trainingSCN@stemcellnetwork.ca) and Holger Apitz (Holger.Apitz@mrc.ukri.org). The submitting PI should also copy their Canadian or UK counterpart on the submission email. The copied PI should then reply stating their support for the submission.
All applications claiming UK costs, including bidirectional applications, must also be submitted through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. Please note that the submission deadline for applications submitted by Je-S is October 31, 2023 at 4 p.m. GMT.
- You will not be able to submit your application until the opportunity opens in Je-S on 18 September 2023.
- Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.
- All principal investigators and co-investigators involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S.
- Any principal investigators and co-investigators who do not have a Je-S account must register for one as soon as possible and at least 7 working days before the opportunity deadline. This is to allow for the account activation and verification by the research organisation. This includes international co-investigators, who must have an active Je-S account and it is the lead UK based research organisation’s responsibility to ensure that this is the case.
- You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.
- The project that is the focus of the exchange must have been previously peer-reviewed and funded by a granting organization/agency in Canada (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, or SCN) or in the UK (e.g. UKRI, Wellcome, medical research charities).
- Applications will be evaluated jointly by SCN’s Training and Education Committee and MRC’s Head Office on the following:
- The value added to regenerative medicine and stem cell research in the UK and in Canada.
- The benefits and future joint research likely to accrue from the collaboration.
- The long-term potential of the collaboration.
- The novelty and impact of the training opportunity and expertise of both partners.
About the MRC
Promoting stem cell research, regenerative medicine and advanced therapies is a priority for MRC and the UK government, and MRC is committed to supporting research in this area, towards improving human health. In addition, the MRC has a leading national role in training future research leaders across a range of biomedical, clinical and health disciplines, and we are a signatory to the concordat to support the career development of researchers. The development and movement of talented people and their ideas is critical to the success of the UK research and innovation system, and MRC supports international partnerships to tackle important and challenging research goals.