Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund
The Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund (MLSTF) is open to all University of Oxford researchers and provides consolidated internal proof of concept funding for translational medical and life sciences projects.
The 2023 round has now closed.
Building on the success of the previous Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund (MLSTF), the University has received further funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to continue the scheme. MLSTF supports proof-of-concept projects at the earliest stages of translation. It funds researchers to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of a translational approach. This fund does not support exploratory basic science.
MLSTF is a consolidated fund comprising devolved funding from MRC, with some additional aligned funding. In 2023, the project managed fund will be approximately £1.4M to ‘pump-prime’ the translation of novel therapeutics, devices, diagnostics and other therapeutic interventions (including ‘repurposing of existing therapies’) toward clinical testing.
The Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund and the Oxford Biomedica Innovation Fund will continue to run under the umbrella of MLSTF in 2023. In addition, we are pleased to confirm facilitated co-funding opportunities with CRUK, the BBSRC IAA and the University Challenge Seed Fund.
The Fund supports goal-oriented translational research projects with a strong scientific rationale and which meet a clear and important translational medical need. Projects should also demonstrate distinct advantages over competing translational approaches that are in development or are already available in the marketplace. Projects should aim to provide sufficient preliminary data to establish proof of concept, strategic merit in a translational context, or the viability of a translational approach (i.e. to provide confidence in the underlying concept, before seeking more substantial funding from other sources), such as MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS), or equivalent schemes from other funders, or from industry. An explicit outcome of the award of MLSTF is that projects should subsequently be strong candidates for external follow-on translational funding.
To be competitive, the project proposal should identify a critical path for generating preliminary proof-of-concept data that supports moving to the next stage of translation. The project should be milestone-based with clearly articulated and quantifiable markers, which will form the basis of a rigorous monitoring process that will take place throughout the project's lifetime. All modalities of therapy and diagnostics including engineering/medical technology and bioinformatics approaches are welcomed. The research areas under which applications have been supported in the past include infection, immunity & AMR, vaccine science, oncology, neuroscience, mental health, rare diseases and regenerative medicine.
Applications demonstrating academic-industry collaboration are particularly encouraged, principles and policies of a MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) should be followed, with heads of terms being agreed with partners prior to application submission. Please contact your local Research Services team who will be able to assist with this. Where the partner is an existing or prospective spinout, there must be a strong and clear case that the proposed project is a new stream of work and not additional development of the initial technology that was licenced to the spinout. It should also be clear that the spinout is the most appropriate company to support this particular project. A clear statement of how conflict of interest will be managed must be included.
It is envisaged that the available funds will finance in the region of 16-18 projects, with the Translational Research Office (TRO) providing project management support for the scheme and projects where appropriate.
Funding available from MLSTF will be up to £75k per project; awards will be made from MLSTF for direct costs only. Whilst a ‘match’ contribution is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. The cost of individual projects in this case can be up to £150k with applicants being required to demonstrate at least 50% matching from another source of the direct costs awarded.
In the instance of co-funding strands, if your research scope falls within the interest areas of Novo Nordisk, Oxford Biomedica or Cancer Research UK, an expression of interest form (EOI) will be required. In this instance, the relevant partners will be contributing up to 50% of the £75K per project. Please see below for more details.
Applicants should note that the University Challenge Seed Fund will open on Thursday 6 April and the Oxford University Innovation (OUI) will accept applications based on a first-come-first-served basis. The call will close on Wednesday 24 May 2023. The OUI will stop reviewing applications sent after this date. In this instance, two separate proposals would be submitted to each scheme (UCSF, MLSTF) and would be reviewed by their respective committee members. Researchers should engage with both the TRO and OUI to discuss potential match funding models.
Projects should be in the region of 6-12 months, with funding for 12 month projects requiring full justification. Awards must commence within 2 months of the award being issued. All projects must be completed within 1 year of the start date and/or in line with overarching MRC grant conditions. Please ensure that your project is scheduled accordingly and that the timeline is appropriate to the objectives and milestones set out.
Please note funding will not support: entire translational projects; bridging funding or PhD studentships; continuation of normal research grants; and costs relating to protection of intellectual property. Please also note that PI or co-applicant salary is not an eligible cost. Awards will be managed from the Translational Research Office on behalf of the University. Applications, scores and reviewer comments may be shared with other internal University panels to ensure maximum value for money. An award condition is acceptance of a ‘mid-term’ review meeting with the Translational Research Office and a panel of experts to discuss progress made towards milestones.
Please note that this year we have introduced a new rule imposing a cap on the maximum number of applications that are allowed per applicant to be two applications named as PI or co-PI. A maximum of two applications are permitted per research group and therefore it is expected that an internal triage is performed within research groups in order to select the best applications to be submitted to the scheme.
Research priority areas for Oxford Biomedica, Novo Nordisk and CRUK will be presented at our launch event, at The Translational Research Symposium on Thursday 23 March. This will provide potential applicants opportunity to discuss their proposals and ask questions in-person with research scientists from Oxford Biomedica, Novo Nordisk or CRUK. The full programme and link to register for the event will be circulated soon.
Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund
The Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund will be running for the fourth consecutive year. Projects addressing unmet patient need in diabetes and other cardiometabolic disease (obesity, cardiovascular, liver and renal disease) as well as within the field of rare endocrine and rare non-malignant blood diseases are eligible to apply for this stream. High priority will be given to projects that will identify and/or robustly validate novel targets in relevant diseases and to projects using computational approaches. Researchers with relevant programmes of activity are strongly encouraged to apply to this stream.
Oxford Biomedica Innovation Fund (OXBIF)
The Oxford Biomedica Innovation Fund will be running for the third consecutive year alongside MLSTF. Projects focusing on the development of the platform for Advanced Medicinal Therapy Products are encouraged to apply here. Oxford Biomedica are particularly interested in platform technologies such as lentiviral vectors, AAV, and lipid nanoparticles with a particular interest in vectorology, cell line development and process development. Researchers with relevant programmes of activity are strongly encouraged to apply.
Applying to Novo Nordisk or Oxford Biomedica Innovation Funds
To facilitate the co-development of projects with an appropriate Novo Nordisk researcher or an Oxford Biomedica researcher, Oxford-based investigators should submit a non-confidential Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Translational Research Office (TRO) by 1pm on Monday 3 April. This EOI should provide a summary of the proposed project, including a summary of supporting background data, objectives and proposed outcomes of the project and a justification for support explaining how your proposal is aligned to the priority areas of Novo Nordisk or Oxford Biomedica as identified above. Please use the relevant online submission forms below.
Submit an Expression of Interest to the Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund
Submit an Expression of Interest to the Oxford Biomedica Innovation Fund
It is anticipated that Novo Nordisk and Oxford Biomedica will each be co-funding two projects through this scheme in 2023. Intellectual property rights arising from NNIF-supported projects and OXBIF-supported projects will vest in the University of Oxford, with Novo Nordisk or Oxford Biomedica having a time-limited first right to negotiate an appropriate commercial licence. For further information please contact the TRO, email@example.com.
Co-funding with Cancer Research UK
The TRO is pleased to announce the continuation of the CRUK co-funding strand this year. This funding will specifically support the translation of CRUK-funded research projects ONLY. Applicants will have an opportunity to leverage CRUK’s Project Development Funds after authorisation by CRUK at the EOI stage. A key requirement for this funding strand is that the funding would need to be used to deliver key go/no-go experiments for filing a patent and/or a key inflection point to enable the next step in translational development/commercialisation. It is expected that the investigator would be willing to openly co-operate with Cancer Research Horizons (CRUK’s technology transfer office) to develop the IP strategy of the novel technology. This EOI should provide a summary of the proposed project, including a summary of supporting background data, objectives and proposed outcomes of the project and a justification for support explaining how your proposal is aligned to the priority areas of CRUK as identified above.
Submit an Expression of Interest to the CRUK Project Development Fund
To facilitate the co-development of projects with CRUK, Oxford-based investigators are instructed to contact the TRO (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule in an informal EOI discussion with CRUK between Thursday 2 - Thursday 23 March. A representative from CRUK will also be present at the Translational Research Symposium on Thursday 23 March should potential applicants wish to interact further. If selected, applicants will be encouraged to submit an application to the MLSTF call and this will be reviewed by both CRUK and MLSTF panels (deadline: Tuesday 9 May, 1pm) to leverage funding from both schemes.
Co-funding with BBSRC IAA
For life sciences researchers with underpinning research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), there is an opportunity to access some BBSRC-IAA funding. Please contact the TRO to further discuss eligibility for funding through the BBSRC-IAA.
Any researcher from the University holding a contract extending to at least the end of the proposed project may apply, assuming they have host departmental approval. Applicants should clarify their eligibility with departments, and departmental approvers are required to check eligibility of their applicants before advancing any applications.
The Committee welcomes applications from Early Career Researchers and applicants seeking to establish individual research careers should they fit this criteria.
The 2023 round has now closed.
Application, selection and award process
Applicants should complete an online application through IRAMS, which requests information about the principal applicant and any co-applicants or editors, a lay summary (non-confidential), a financial breakdown of your proposal (X5 report must be appended) and a case for support form uploaded to the IRAMS application system. You must incorporate all requested components of the case for support into one document (see below) and upload this in the template provided on IRAMS as a PDF.
Guidance in the form of quick reference guide documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on Research Support pages.
Please note that applications must be reviewed and approved in IRAMS by a Departmental Approver before they will be reviewed by the Committee; the advertised application deadline is the deadline for final submission to the MLSTF Committee. Departments may set an earlier internal deadline to allow for departmental review, so please check with your local admin team and submit your application to your Departmental Approver in advance of the advertised deadline.
Case for support
A case for support (four pages max.) and CVs (one page max. each PI & CoI) for all applicants named in the application must be appended to the IRAMS application form in addition to a comprehensive Gantt chart (1 page max). The case for support must include:
- A 250-word abstract of the proposal requesting MLSTF funding;
- Project objectives and proposed outcomes, including information about proposed development milestones and potential next steps following completion of the project to include, for example, sources of follow-on funding, plans for commercialisation;
- A timeline for your project, aligning with milestones to demonstrate that these are realistic both in terms of the objectives set and the time necessary to achieve them; identification of ‘critical path’;
- A justification for support explaining how your proposal is aligned with the remit and objectives of the Fund;
- Details of any industrial engagement in your project and plans to advance this;
- IP status: Are third parties involved and how will IP be managed with respect to these collaborators?
- A description of any matched funding secured.
Download a Case for Support application form
How projects will be assessed
Projects will be assessed on:
- strength of rationale;
- quality of science;
- un-met medical need;
- future commercial opportunity;
- IP position;
- likelihood of developing a full proposal to be submitted to the MRC DPFS award scheme, or similar follow-on funding schemes, within the required timescale and budget.
Should ethics and/or home office approvals be required for the projects, priority will be given to those applications that already have these in place.
Applications will be reviewed by the MLSTF Committee, chaired by Dr Nessa Carey. Please note, the Committee membership comprises both internal academic and external commercial experts to ensure robust, vigorous review in line with funder recommendations. All external members are required to sign a CDA prior to reviewing applications.
The panel meeting is anticipated to be held on the week commencing Monday 12 June. Applicants will be notified by Saturday 15 July of the outcome. Award letters will be sent out by August 2023. Work must commence within 2 months of the award letter or otherwise agreed with the TRO.
All potential applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed projects with the TRO: email@example.com.
Support videos are available on the TRO website.
The TRO can also assist with finding suitable collaborators and sourcing appropriate support and expertise through the Experts in Residence (ExIR) programme. The TRO have also produced a brochure containing information on the current Experts.
Applicants are also encouraged to discuss their proposal with Oxford University Innovation (OUI) well in advance of submission. OUI will be able to advise and support on the industry engagement and IP aspects of bids as well as the potential for match funding through the UCSF scheme. Figure 1 summaries the proposed MLSTF, Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund, Oxford Biomedica, and CRUK application process.
For any further information regarding this scheme please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2023 round has now closed.
For enquiries about the MLSTF or to discuss your application please contact a member of the Translational Research Office.
Dr Nessa Carey, Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Medical Sciences Division
- Professor Esther Becker, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (Co-Chair)
- Dr Claire Brown, Oxford Science Enterprise
- Professor Andrew Carr, Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences
- Dr Laura Ferguson, AstraZeneca
- Professor Antony Galione, Department of Pharmacology
- Professor Bill Haynes, Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford
- Professor Fadi Issa, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences
- Dr Yatish Lad, Oxford Biomedica
- Professor Helen McShane, Nuffield Department of Medicine
- Dr Heather Roxborough, Health Tech Oxford Science Enterprises
- Professor Eleanor Stride, Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences
- Dr Gillian Tannahill, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
- Professor Paresh Vyas, Radcliffe Department of Medicine
- Dr Simon Warner, Oxford University Innovation
- Dr Mike Whelan, CEPI
- Dr Jan Wolber, GE Healthcare
- Professor Matthew Wood, Deputy Head Division (Innovation)
- Kirils Bistrovs
- Dr Deepak Kumar
- Dr Rhiannon Roberts
- Dr Kavita Subramaniam
- Deborah Thomas
- Michelle Wilson
All secretariat members are members of the Translational Research Office, Medical Sciences Division
Developing a novel dengue vaccine
Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval (Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine) was awarded funding for his project to develop a new vaccine against dengue fever.
Modulating circadian rhythm disruption
Dr Sridhar Vasudevan (Department of Pharmacology) received funding to investigate a series of drugs which could be used to modulate and treat circadian rhythm disorders.
Developing slow-wave activity saturation as a marker of depth of anaesthesia
Dr Katie Warnaby (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences) received funding to develop a new technique for measuring depth of anaesthesia in patients.
funded projects 2020
- Endosomal escape technology to maximise the therapeutic potential of brain-targeted EVs conjugated with siRNA via GAPDH in Huntington's disease, Matthew Wood (Department of Paediatrics, Medical Sciences Division)
- Neurostimulator with Artefact-free Recording of Electrophysiological Signals (NARES) for Closed-loop Stimulation, Huiling Tan (Medical Sciences Division)
- Making Novel T cell Receptor Therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia And Other Cancers, Paresh Vyas (Medical Sciences Division)
- MAGNETO: Magnetic Actuators and Neural Engineering for TMS Optimisation, Timothy Denison (Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division)
- Application of an ultra-deep paired antibody sequencing platform for drug discovery in acute and persistent viral infections, John Frater (Medical Sciences Division)
- Developing the anti-cancer therapeutic compound NBS037 to an IND filing and Phase I human trial, Karl J Morten (Medical Sciences Division)
- Biased agonism of GPR84 as a novel dual anti-inflammatory and pro-repair mechanism, Angela Russell (Medical Sciences Division)
- Circulating Placental DPPIV Positive Extracellular Vesicles as a Biomarker for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, Manu Vatish (Medical Sciences Division)
- Single-cell multi-omics as a technology platform for therapeutic target discovery in poor prognosis leukaemia, Adam Mead (Medical Sciences Division)
- Oligonucleotide therapy for DMD cardiomyopathy via a patient derived cardiomyocyte screening platform, Matthew Wood (Medical Sciences Division)
- Chimeric Bicyclic Peptides for Targeted Delivery of Antisense Oligonucleotides, Richard Raz (Medical Sciences Division)
- The Fit for Labour test: risk stratification at the onset of labour to provide clinical decision-support to labour management, Antoniya Georgieva (Medical Sciences Division)
- A Smart Infant Monitoring System (SIMS): A fully automated, real-time system that measures pain and can predict physiological instability following acute procedures in neonates, Aomesh Bhatt (Medical Sciences Division)
- A novel pathway for therapeutic targeting in cardiometabolic diseases, Ellie Tzima (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Medical Sciences Division)
- Development of CRISPR gene therapy for Stargardt disease, Robert MacLaren (Medical Sciences Division)
- AI-Based Covid-19 Diagnostic Tests using Routine Clinical Data, David Clifton (Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division)
- Translational development of an outer membrane vesicle vaccine against gonorrhoea, Christine Rollier (Medical Sciences Division)