MRC/DFID African Research Leader Scheme 2018

The MRC and the UK Department for International Development is now accepting proposals for the prestigious African Research Leader awards. This MRC/ DFID jointly funded scheme aims to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa by attracting and retaining exceptionally talented individuals who will lead high quality programmes of research on key global health issues pertinent to SSA.

The African Research Leader (ARL) should be supported by an enthusiastic local research environment and by a strong linkage with a UK partner. The ARL scheme seeks to support African researchers already based in sub-Saharan African countries and those individuals currently working overseas who wish to return to Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Award

The awards provide support for up to five years and should not exceed £750k in total.

The grant package includes a potential contribution to the African Research Leader’s salary (up to 100% in the first year), funds for a programme of research and support for collaborative activities between the African and UK institutions.


  • The scheme is open to talented and enthusiastic African investigators working in all biomedical and health research areas within the MRC/DFID remit on global health.
  • Candidates will be high-calibre, early-mid career researchers who show clear ability to cultivate a dynamic and innovative research group, likely to attract increasing international recognition and external funding by the end of the award.
  • Candidates will have completed a PhD, will be well-qualified for academic research having spent at least the last 3 years in active research, be building a track record of independence in their selected field and demonstrating promise as a future research leader.
  • Outstanding ARL candidates who do not have a PhD but who are educated to Master’s level and have substantial research experience, as evidenced by their publication record, may also be considered in exceptional circumstances.
  • Researchers who already have a well-established record of securing significant international research grant funding, or have reached a level of seniority e.g. professor or head of department, should not apply to this scheme. These individuals may apply at any time as a co-investigator together with a UK-based principal investigator to any of our response mode funding schemes.
  • Priority will be given to applications that address the key health problems relevant to national and regional health needs and hence best conducted in SSA.
  • Applications from women are particularly encouraged.

The African Research Leader will be nominated by a UK based principal investigator as part of the partnership between the African and UK institutions. The application must be submitted by the UK institution.

See the complete assessment criteria.


Strong applications will meet the four key elements of the scheme, namely:

  • a talented ‘rising star’ African Research Leader candidate
  • a high-quality research programme proposal,
  • a research-conducive academic African environment / institution,
  • a firm partnership with a UK partner institution (where the principal investigator is based).


Full applications should be submitted using the Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) Systemopens. Access Je-S guidance for information about the Je-S System, including tips and guidance on system navigation and details of the requirements for each document section.

Your application will consist of the online Je-S proposal form and the following attachments to it:

  • Cover letter (optional)
  • Separate CVs and List of Publications for PI, Co-Is and each named researcher
  • Case for Support (maximum 19 sides of A4; refer to guidance)
  • Justification of Resources
  • Pathways to Impact
  • Data Management Plan
  • Supporting letters (PDF copy of signed letters, please use Je-S attachment type ‘Letter of Support’) from:
    • The Vice Chancellor or equivalent at the African research institution, to include a) declaration that it is a Government-owned/not-for profit institution; b) a statement about the lack of research funding available at the institution and c) formal confirmation that the institution agrees to the roles and responsibilities as detailed in the application (mandatory).
    • The UK placement organisation confirming their willingness to host the Research Leader’s proposed training visit plus details of the proposed placement using the placement template (if appropriate) – as one PDF.
    • Key stakeholders e.g. Ministry of Health (if appropriate).

Please read the MRC Guidance for Applicants, which will provide you with the page limit for the attachments and guide you through the standard processes for preparing a proposal, costing your proposals and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research.

Deadline: February 27, 2018

 For more information, visit MRC/DFID African Research Leader Scheme.