MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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Breast Cancer Now: Project Grants Now Open

The first round of Breast Cancer Now Project Grants are open for applications. Project grants are aimed at established researchers who have a strong track record in their field, and who want to work in one of the charities priority areas. They are also committed to supporting new investigators in breast cancer research and encourage applications from talented researchers at the start of their independent career.

Award Amount: Up to £230,000

Duration: One to Three years

Deadline: Tuesday 3rd March 2020

The aim of project grants is to support scientific excellence and innovative research into breast cancer including improvements in; prevention, detection and treatment of all forms of breast cancer, welcoming applications from all disciplines.

It is expected that the awards will enrich scientific understanding and expertise in breast cancer research with the grants committee assessing applications based on the research plan, clear relevance to breast cancer research and the perceived outcomes that will lead to significant advance in understanding breast cancer and it’s impact.

For further information about the scheme please visit the Breast Cancer Now website.

If you would like to apply for this scheme then please contact your Research Development Team.

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CRACK IT Launch Event

The 2019 CRACK IT Challenges will be hosting a launch event on Wednesday 11th September 2019. The event will take place from 11am – 3:30pm in Central London.

This free event will be a chance to:

  • Learn more about this years challenges.
  • Meet the sponsors and network with potential collaborators.
  • Find out what makes a good application.
  • Deliver a lightning talk on your work (apply by 28th August)

You must Register by 4th September to attend. To register for the event please complete the registration form (below) and email it to:

There are three challenges this year that have been identified by NC3R’s and their sponsors:

  • Transgene Track: Development of sensitive, absolute quantification method for tracking AAV gene therapies and CAR-T cells in vivo.
  • CleanCut: Animal free tumourigenicity assessment of genome edited human haematopoietic stem cells.
  • Sharp and to the Point: Developing needles for high throughput and critical compound administration in mice.

For more information on the programme please visit the NC3R’s website.

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The Health RAG is here!

The Health Research Accelerator Grant is now open for applications!

The Health Research Accelerator Grant is a joint initiative between Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester.

The scheme is targeted at academics across the Health Research Centres (Manchester Met) and the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (UoM) to forge a collaborative partnership.

These awards provide pump-priming funds to allow collaborating researchers from the two institutions to obtain preliminary data that will ultimately feed into an application for external funding.

Award Amount: £10,000

Duration: 12 months

Deadline: Friday 29th March, 5pm

Research teams must consist of an academic from each institution from within the health research centres or faculty – please read the guidance for full eligibility criteria.

Application Form

Please send your completed application to:


Further Information

If you require any further information on the scheme or have any queries please contact

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Latest Opportunities from NIHR


Health Technology Assessment Programme (HTA):

19/07 Anti-TB Drug Hepatotoxicity and Treatment Reintroduction

Programme Development Grants

Competition 24

Programme Grants for Applied Research

Competition 29

Public Health Research Programme

19/01 Improving Health and Wellbeing for People who are at Risk of or Exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

19/02 Interventions that Reduce Harmful Substance Use With a Focus on Novel Psychoactive Substances

19/03 Systems Approaches to Local Influences on Food Choices and Diet

19/04 Community Focused Approaches That Mobilise People as Assets

Joint NIHR and Medical Research Council Opportunity

Global Maternal and Neonatal Health 2019 – Outlines.

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Pre-call Announcement: Health Research Accelerator

Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester will be joining forces once more to bring the next, much anticipated, round of Health Research Accelerator Grants (HRAG).

The scheme is targeted at academics from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at University of Manchester and from the Research Centres for Health at Manchester Metropolitan; Integrated Health and Social Care, Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine and Centre for Bioscience.

The awards will provide pump-priming funds to allow the collaborating researchers from the two institutions to obtain preliminary data that can be used for the basis of an external funding application.

The award will be a maximum of £10,000 and must be spent within 12 months of the award being made.

The call for applications, and further details on the scheme, will be released in February 2019.

Time to start making connections with our friends down the road!

If you have any queries please contact the HRAG mailbox:

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Wellcome – New Areas in Development

The Wellcome Trust are exploring two new areas in development to investigate what impact their involvement could have and decide whether these should be taken forward as new priority areas.

Data for Science and Health

What can Wellcome do to drive innovative and imaginative uses of data to improve science and health? They’ll be looking to transform three key areas:

  • Access to data. They wish to improve access e.g. by helping to make datasets more interoperable, or simplifying complex regulatory frameworks. Researchers can access the data they need for their research.
  • Diversity of the Workforce. Datascience does not have adiverse workforce, this could be due to researchers with different skillsets not having the opportunity to collaborate.
  • Public confidence in data use. Nuilding up public trust around new uses of data so that everyone can benefit.


Snakebites are one of the most neglected health problems in low and middle income countries, between 80,000 and 140,000 people die each year from being bitten by venomous snakes with 400,000 left with life changing disabilities. Wellcome will be investigating:

  • Reviving and stabilising the market for effective antivenoms.
  • Accelerating research and innovation to improve existing antivenoms and develop alternatives.
  • Working with funders, researchers and policymakers and industry.

More details will follow about the programmes of work – keep an eye on the Wellcome Trust website for more details.

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Guest Blog: Motor Neurone Disease Awareness month

Emma Hodson-Tole As part of Motor Neurone Disease Awareness month we asked Dr Emma Hodson-Tole, Reader in Neuromusculoskeletal Integration in the School of Healthcare Science, to do a guest blog about the work she is doing at MMU.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease with approximately 5,000 sufferers in the UK (incidence is 2-3 per 100,000 people). It is a terminal disease which affects the motor neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and spinal cord. As the motor neurons die, the central nervous system becomes unable to communicate with the muscles, which leads to weakness and muscle wasting. This in turn affects the ability to perform many different movements including walking, talking, eating, drinking and breathing.  There is currently no cure for MND, so care focuses on managing symptoms to enable the best possible quality of life.

MNDAIn the UK the Motor Neurone Disease Association is a charity devoted to MND care, research and campaigning. Each year the charity dedicates the month of June to raising awareness of the disease and highlighting key facts to as many people as possible. This year they have launched the Voice campaign, motivated by the fact that 80-95% of people with MND will experience communication problems, which will significantly impact their quality of life and their friends and family. Among other activities researchers, funded by the charity, have contributed to an on-line blog detailing aspects of their work (

Here at MMU the charity is supporting a project aiming to develop quantitative assessment of ultrasound images as a tool to support diagnosis of the disease. The current diagnostic test for MND involves recording electrical activity from muscles, using a needle electrode, to identify the small involuntary contractions (called fasciculation and fibrillations) that characterize the disease.  Although they are not dangerous, many patients find the needles painful and unpleasant.  The technique can only be applied to a limited range of muscles and, once a diagnosis has been made, clinicians are often reluctant to repeat the measurement too many times.  This means it is difficult to follow the time course of the disease or quantify the benefits of any treatments that may be developed in the future.The small contractions can however also be seen in ultrasound images, just as ultrasound is used for screening unborn babies, and this offers the possibility of stress free examinations which can be applied to a wide range of muscles and can be repeated as often as needed for clinical or research purposes. A further advantage of ultrasound imaging is that it can provide a picture of the distribution of abnormal activity in the muscle as it enables assessment of a large portion of muscle, whilst needle techniques can only assess a very small region at a time.

The multi-disciplinary research project brings together members of the School of Healthcare Science (myself, Prof. Ian Loram, Dr. Pete Harding and Kate Bibbings) with colleagues in the School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology (Dr. Nicholas Costen) and our clinical collaborator Dr. Nicholas Combes (Consultant Neurophysiologist, Preston Royal Hospital) supported by a team of Specialist Care MND nurses.  We are currently in the first phase of the study, recruiting participants who have been diagnosed with MND. They will undergo the needle based examination combined with ultrasound imaging to provide a data set from which we can develop computer code to identify which patterns of muscle tissue movement relate to the different types of twitch which are recorded during diagnosis. In the second phase of the project we hope to test our approach to identify the potential for providing clinicians additional information to help them in the diagnostic process. Leading from this work we hope to further develop the imaging process to provide clinicians with a means of sensitively quantifying progression of the disease. Such a tool would be valuable method of supporting evaluation of the effectiveness of any new drug interventions which are developed. In addition, the techniques may have application in supporting diagnosis and monitoring of other diseases or injuries which affect nerves or muscles (e.g. trapped nerves).

Whilst our work will not be able to provide a cure for MND, we hope that it will contribute to improving some experiences sufferers may have to go through. Obviously no patient wants to be diagnosed with MND, however a great deal of distress, both to the patient and their family, can be caused by uncertainty and an early diagnosis would be a considerable help.  It also means that specialist help and referral could be made earlier and patients would have more time to achieve personal goals and put personal affairs in order.

The support provided by the MNDA is vital for the progression of our work and the work they do is critical for raising both awareness and funds to support a wide range of research projects. If you are interested in learning more about MND or contributing to their fundraising efforts more information can be found here:

Further information a range of research projects being completed within the Cognitive Motor Function research group at MMU please visit: or if you would like to discuss any aspects of our MND related work please contact me: Emma Hodson-Tole