May The Fourth Be With You – PhD Studentship Applications

Spring has finally sprung and so it’s now time to open our online summary application form for our next round of research grant applications.

This round is for PhD studentship applications, for projects starting in October 2013. The deadline for summary applications is Friday 4 May 2012.

Attracting promising researchers
Through our successful PhD studentship programme we have a track record of attracting and funding promising young scientists to develop their careers in MND research. Since 1998 we have funded 30 studentships, 12 of these are currently ongoing.

We need to continue to develop the UK basic research capacity by attracting more young scientists to develop careers in MND research. We can do this by funding PhD studentships.

Funding the best of the best
As with all of the research projects funded by the MND Association, our rigorous application process allows us to ensure we only fund studentships of the highest quality and of direct relevance to MND.

The way that we fund research starts with a summary application, which is a concise outline of the proposed project. After the deadline date has passed a decision is made as to whether the summary is relevant to ‘classical’ MND and the project aims fit with our Research Strategy. If the summary does not fit, it’s rejected. If all criteria are met, the summary is reviewed by our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP).

The reviewer’s comments and scores are then assessed using a two thirds majority rule. Each reviewer scores the summary application. A score under 50 is classed as unsuitable for funding, if it’s over 50 then the applicant is invited to submit a full application.

We hope this year holds an exciting round of PhD studentship applications!

More information:

For further information please see the Prize PhD Studentship Flyer or visit our website

NEW Grants Round……..NEW way of Applying!!!

Today is a big day for the research grants team as we are launching our online summary application form for researchers applying for biomedical* project grants and PhD studentships.

*Biomedical projects are laboratory-based. They aim to identify potential causes of MND, increase scientific understanding of the mechanisms of motor neurone degeneration and develop potential new treatments.

This new system will streamline the summary stage of our application process, making full use of our grants management system allowing all submitted summaries to be uploaded straight into it, minimising the amount of manual data input which is currently required.

Importance of consistency
Consistency in the information provided by applicants will increase as the new online form stipulates exactly what we need to know about the projects. Each summary will be pulled into a template, providing uniformity with layout and information on each project. This will make it easier for our group of MND experts made up of clinicians and scientists, called the Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP), to review each application and come to an informed decision as to whether we should consider funding it.

Applicants will be able to return to their summary as many times as needed before submission. Also, more than one summary application can be submitted per applicant, with a log of their summary applications being listed on the online system for the applicant to view. This will make the process of submitting a summary application to us smoother for researchers.

Maintaining high standards
Each application for MND Association funding undergoes rigorous review by independent scientists and our independent biomedical and healthcare research advisory panels. By evolving our summary application process to use an online system, we are able to ensure that our high standards are maintained and that we are using our time efficiently and effectively to fund high-quality research.

Only one in five research applications is considered of a high enough standard for funding, but through our rigorous process we can provide our donors with the assurance that they are supporting the ‘very best of the best’ MND research. We’ve recently received our certificate of best practice from the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), of which we are a member, for our peer review system in which they stated that we are: “considered as setting the standard for best practice within the audit”. You can read more about this in a blog article by Dr Brian Dickie.

I’m a researcher and I want to use your snazzy new online system to submit an application for MND research funding…
If you are a researcher and want to apply for a research project grant or PhD studentship please go to our website and click on the research summary application link. 

The deadline for the next biomedical research grants round is Friday 21 October 2011

Record breaking number of summary applications received

As posted recently, we are just starting our next research grant application round – and the number of summary applications received broke the record set a year ago.

We received 26 applications – 5 for PhD studentships and 21 for projects (requiring more experienced scientists).  These cover a wide range of areas, including genetics and cell-based research building on recent discoveries, further development of animal models, and the search for potential new treatments for MND. 

Only one application didn’t fit our criteria, so the remaining 25 will each be reviewed by three members of our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP).  This left Natasha very busy last week sending out packs of summaries to BRAP members, as well as logging all the applications on our IT systems, and acknowledging their receipt to the applicants. 

When all the reviews are returned later this month, the reviewers’ scores will be used to determine which applicants are asked to submit full research proposals.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of our research funding grants round – in the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more about our current portfolio of research projects then please visit our ‘research we fund’ section of our website.