MND Research for Beginners: how does research funding work?

The research we fund only happens because people like you give so generously to our work.

It’s our duty to ensure your money only goes to projects of the highest calibre, with the best chance of success. That’s why we have a rigorous internal and external review process, involving our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP) and Healthcare Research Advisory Panel (HRAP).

Putting the call out

Every year we set a research budget – usually around £3 million – and invite researchers to apply for a grant, at first with an initial brief summary application. We send all the applications out to three members of the research advisory panel, who are thoroughly checked to make sure they don’t have any conflicting interests with the applicants.

These advisory panel members review the applications, provide their comments and score the application. At this stage some applications are rejected, and all others go through to the next round.

Successful candidates are then invited to submit a full application, including details of their affiliations, collaborators and any previous funding, as well as their theory and the preliminary data to support it. This is then sent to three external reviewers,  not on the advisory panel, who provide comments. At this point the applicant is given the opportunity to revise their application for final submission.

Each submission is then presented to either the BRAP or HRAP panel (depending on whether the project concerns biomedical or healthcare). The BRAP panel consists of 10 reviewers who are neuroscientists and clinical neurologists with particular expertise in MND research – as well as two of the Association’s trustees – and meet twice a year. The HRAP panel meet as often as is needed throughout the year.

Each reviewer on the panel is nominated a grant application and becomes the spokesperson for that project. It’s their role to defend the application and lead the discussion on their respective merits. The whole panel then marks each application and together they rate them A, B or C.

These scores are used to select the best applications to be recommended to the Board of Trustees for funding approval.

What makes a good application?

Most applications need preliminary data to get approval, as this provides evidence to back up the theory. However, a completely new idea could get funded if there is solid and substantial theory behind it.

What does funding pay for?

Funding covers necessary expenses, such as salaries, purchase of specialist equipment, chemicals and computer software. All costs have to be itemised and justified. Once a grant is up and running applicants must provide evidence for all their spending

Where does research take place?

The Association only funds research at leading academic research institutes and hospitals.

What type of research is funded?

We support different types of grants:

PhD Studentships – which fund a student to complete a doctorate

Specific project grants  – for Biomedical Research Projects and Healthcare Research Projects

Grants to fund academic positions – such as Clinical or Non-Clinical Research Fellowships

The research we fund could involve anything from basic laboratory science through to clinical management and clinical trials. You can see a list of research we are currently funding here.

How do you know if a project has been successful?

We measure success on research results and papers being published. Researchers have to submit reports every year, providing a full update on each project. The panel then reviews the progress and determines if funding should be approved for the next year.

Thank you to the Cure Finders community

We’ll continue to search out the best, most promising projects – so that one day we may cure MND. Your support and dedication will get us there.

Get in touch

Need support?

Contact MND Connect on 0808 802 6262 to get expert advice from our team.

We’d love to know what you think…

Email curefinders@mndassociation.org to let us know what’s working, what’s not - and what you’d like to see more of at Cure Finders.

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262