Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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 MLSTF supports proof of concept projects at the earliest stages of translational research. This fund does not support exploratory basic science. 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. Funding is also available for other additional support initiatives on existing projects, including market analysis.

The MLSTF is a consolidated fund comprising devolved funding from MRC and Wellcome.

The MLSTF Committee, comprising members of the Medical Sciences Division and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, as well as external members, will allocate funding to successful projects from across the University.

The Call for proposals and a copy of the Case for support form (also available through IRAMS) can be found here:


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. Whilst MLSTF 2020 will support projects addressing unmet clinical need across all modalities, we are actively encouraging applications in AI/Data science for health as well as innovative proposals for therapies and diagnostic tools targeting COVID-19.

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.


Novo Nordisk LogoThe Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund is a pilot programme for 2020 which will run under the umbrella of MLSTF. Projects addressing unmet patient need in diabetes and other cardiometabolic disease (obesity, NASH, atherosclerosis, heart failure and chronic kidney 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. Proposals should have or aim for strong human relevance (such as the use of human data, genetics and cells/tissues).  Novo Nordisk are also interested in novel therapeutic modality development and drug delivery technologies, including technologies for oral delivery of peptides and proteins, technologies for intracellular delivery or tissue targeting of drugs as well as novel gene therapy approaches. Researchers with relevant programmes of activity are strongly encouraged to apply.

To facilitate the co-development of projects with an appropriate Novo Nordisk researcher, Oxford-based investigators should submit a non-confidential Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Translational Research Office (TRO) by 12pm on 12 May 2020. 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 Novo Nordisk priority areas identified above.

Funding provided will be in line with MLSTF, up to £75k per project with awards being made for direct costs only. It is anticipated that Novo Nordisk will be co-funding two projects through this scheme in 2020. For further information please contact the TRO. For further information on the Novo Nordisk Research Centre at Oxford see here.


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. Match funding from industry is especially encouraged; it is anticipated that half of the funding available will be awarded to projects able to demonstrate an industry match. Any industry contribution should be costed in line with University policy.

Applicants should note that the University Challenge Seed Fund is currently open for applications (closing date: 14 May 2020). Researchers should engage with both the TRO and Oxford University Innovation to discuss potential match funding models.

Projects are expected to be no more than 12 months in duration and must have a start date that allows project completion in advance of March 2022. Please ensure that your project is scheduled accordingly and that the timeline is appropriate to the objectives and milestones set out.

The 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.


The MLSTF comprises funding from MRC Confidence in Concept and Wellcome. Applicants are not required to identify the component part of this fund they are targeting, however they are welcome to do so if they feel their proposal fits very clearly with one. The Committee will decide which source of funds to allocate to successful projects and this will be communicated to applicants on award notification.

It is envisaged that the available funds will finance in the region of 12-15 projects, with the Translational Research Office providing project management support for the scheme and projects where appropriate.

Opportunities to leverage match funding through University Challenge Seed Fund should be exploited through an additional application to the UCSF funding stream, closing date 14 May 2020.

The Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund is part-funded by Novo Nordisk.

PIs must be University employees holding a contract of employment which extends beyond the lifetime of the proposed award and can be hosted by any department of the University. Researchers holding honorary or visiting positions are not eligible to apply but can be named Co-Is or collaborators.  Applicants should clarify their eligibility with their 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 independent research careers.

Questions about development of projects for submission to the MLSTF should be directed to the Translational Research Office ( Applicants are also encouraged to discuss their proposal with Oxford University Innovation well in advance of submission. OUI will be able to advise and support on the industry engagement and IP aspects of bids.

Please submit your application via the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS). IRAMS 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. 

The online application form in IRAMS requests information about the principal applicant and any co-applicants or editors, a lay summary, a financial breakdown of your proposal (X5 report must be appended) and a case for support uploaded to the IRAMS application system. You must incorporate all requested components of the case for support into one document and upload this in the template provided on IRAMS as a PDF.

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.

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 development of 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.

The deadline for submission of applications through IRAMS is 5pm on Monday 15 June 2020.

All researchers applying to the Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund must complete an Expression of Interest form and submit to the Translational Research Office by 12pm on Tuesday 12 May 2020. Applicants will be contacted by Friday 15 May to arrange 1:1 meetings with Novo Nordisk or with further instruction to apply directly to MLSTF.

The deadline for submission of applications to MLSTF and the Novo Nordisk Innovation Fund through IRAMS is 5pm on Monday 15 June 2020.

For enquiries about the MLSTF or to discuss your application please contact a member of the Translational Research Office (see here for specific contacts).

Please note that the membership of the MLSTF Committee is currently in transition and the information below is subject to change


Professor Matthew Wood (Deputy Head of Division, Innovation)


Professor Andrew Carr (Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Sciences, MSD)

Professor Antony Galione (Department of Pharmacology, MSD)

Professor Helen McShane (Nuffield Department of Medicine, MSD) (Co-Chair)

Professor Eleanor Stride (Department of Engineering Science, MPLS)

Professor Paresh Vyas (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, MSD)

Dr Nessa Carey (Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, MSD)

Dr Toni Day (Expert in Residence, Organox)

Dr Laura Ferguson (AstraZeneca)

Dr Bill Haynes (Novo Nordisk)

Dr Lachlan Mackinnon (Oxford Science Innovations)

Dr Andy Pearce (GlaxoSmithKline - GSK)

Dr Mike Whelan (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations - CEPI)


Dr Paul Ashley (Oxford University Innovation)

Dr Caroline Jenkins (Translational Research Office, MSD)

Dr Deepak Kumar (Translational Research Office, MSD)

Dr Anne-Sophie Schillinger (Translational Research Office, MSD)

Dr Sarah Wagstaffe (Translational Research Office, MSD)


Dr Caroline Jenkins (Translational Research Office, MSD)

Dr Deepak Kumar (Translational Research Office, MSD)

Dr Anne-Sophie Schillinger (Translational Research Office, MSD)



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)

View our previously funded projects