Research Excellence Awards: Third call for applications

The British Heart Foundation is pleased to announce a call for applications for a third round of Research Excellence Awards (REAs), to run from Spring 2019. 

The REA scheme was launched in 2006, with a second round in 2012, to provide flexible medium-term funding to a few centres with a critical mass of outstanding cardiovascular researchers. The purpose was to help keep UK cardiovascular science at the forefront internationally, by catalysing productive multi-disciplinary research efforts, leveraging additional significant investment from institutions and other funders, attracting and nurturing future research leaders, and enabling the agile exploitation of new ideas and opportunities in basic and translational cardiovascular research.

The underlying purpose of the third REA competition remains the same. However, a key change is that applicants are expected to explicitly define specific area(s) where they consider themselves to be currently or potentially world-leading and to explain how the award will be used to enhance research progress in these area(s). The defined area(s) may be fairly broad but should be tractable.

Competition outline:

This is a new competition that is open to current REA holders and new applicants.  Awards will be for 5 years from April 2019. The maximum award will be £6 million for successful bids that demonstrate multi-disciplinary excellence across a spectrum of cardiovascular science and aim to deliver world-leading research progress in multiple defined areas. Smaller bids that focus on delivering world-leading research progress in a specific area of unmet need, where the host centre can demonstrate pertinent scientific excellence, will also be considered. The level of award to each successful applicant will be commensurate with the number and scope of the area(s) submitted and considered world-leading by the review panel.

Each application should be from a single UK institution. Co-investigators from other national or international institutions may be included, provided their scientific contribution is substantial and clearly described.

REAs are intended to provide flexible funding to nurture innovative and ambitious multi-disciplinary research that addresses significant questions with translational potential, in defined area(s) of cardiovascular science. They are not intended to be used diffusely across the normal activities of a centre, to top up existing funding or to undertake research that could be supported through conventional research funding schemes.

Applications should be submitted to Philip Matusavage, Research Grants Manager, as a single PDF attachment ([email protected]), by close of day on 23 April 2018. Any pre-application queries about the scheme may be addressed to one of the Associate Medical Directors for Research, Professor Metin Avkiran or Professor Jeremy Pearson (please email [email protected] in the first instance).

Application process:

Applications should be made by completing the brief cover form RE (obtained by email from [email protected]), which identifies the Award Director and Co-investigators and the Finance Officer responsible for administering any award, and providing additional information as below:

  1. The Award Director’s overall strategy for the science that will be undertaken (max 3 pages).

  2. Definition of the area(s) where the centre aims to deliver world-leading research progress, through the deployment of established multi-disciplinary scientific excellence (max 2 pages per area, plus 1 page of references).

  3. A list of the co-investigators, with a description of their scientific contributions to the defined area(s) (max 2 pages). Applications should list only those investigators who will contribute world-leading expertise towards the achievement of the centre’s research aims.

  4. Description of current and anticipated institutional or other funding resources and existing research facilities available to support and add value to the award, including any engagement with additional local, national or international foci of research excellence (max 2 pages).

  5. A letter from the Dean or equivalent, providing evidence of institutional commitment to the Award Director and co-investigators and a description of the institution’s overall strategy for supporting research in cardiovascular science and medicine (max 2 pages).
  6. An explanation of how the award will maintain or establish the centre’s identity, e.g. through educational programmes and seminars (max 1 page).

  7. An estimated breakdown of costs and written justification (max 2 pages). Funds can be requested for salaries and research consumables, but not for buildings or refurbishment. Budgets should be indicative and imaginative in how funds will be used, with the emphasis on enabling research or training that could not easily be funded by more conventional schemes; Award Directors will be allowed substantial flexibility in their allocations post-award.

  8. Short CVs of the proposed Award Director and each named co-investigator, to include large scale research grants and top 10 publications (both since 2012), h-index, evidence of international standing and experience of research training provision (max 2 pages each CV).

Applications will be assessed by an international review panel, which will make recommendations to the BHF Chairs and Programme Grants Committee.Applicants should give special consideration to defining in relevant sections of the application:

  • The area(s) where the centre aims to deliver world-leading research progress towards patient benefit, through the deployment of established scientific excellence.
  • How the award will enable such progress in a manner that cannot be achieved through conventional research funding schemes.
  • How the award will be used to engage expertise outside traditional biological sciences towards achieving the centre’s defined aims.
  • How the award will stimulate recruitment and retention of high-quality researchers in pertinent fields.
  • If and how the centre will collaborate with other national or international centres with synergistic expertise to accelerate and enhance research progress.
  • How the centre will engage with its university technology transfer organisation to protect intellectual property and facilitate appropriate commercial partnerships.
  • How the centre will prioritise the distribution of REA funds.

Key dates:

23 April 2018: Deadline for submission of applications.

August 2018: Invitation to interview of short-listed applicants (Award Director plus up to 3 co-investigators) and feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

10-11 September 2018: Interviews (at the BHF) by an international panel.

November 2018: Awards announced.

April 2019: Start date for awards.