Ageing across the life course interdisciplinary research network

Apply for funding to develop a new interdisciplinary network for ageing across the life course research.

You must be:

  • eligible for UKRI funding
  • at lecturer level (or equivalent) at a UK research organisation.

The network is expected to:

  • address a challenge related to ageing across the life course, from pre-conception to old age
  • increase collaboration between a range of disciplines and stakeholders, including non-academic communities.

Funding lasts two years. We will fund most networking activities at 100% full economic cost.

Up to 25% of the budget can be used by the network for ‘pump-priming’ activities, for example, small feasibility studies. These activities are funded at 80% full economic cost.

BBSRC and MRC seek to establish a group of challenge-led, interdisciplinary research networks that will bring together novel and diverse groupings of researchers and stakeholders. The aim is to enhance collaboration, building interdisciplinary communities and knowledge exchange in the field of ageing research.

Research in this area has tended to take a reductionist view, focusing on single aspects of the ageing process. There is now a need to integrate expertise and knowledge across disciplines in order to deliver a better understanding of the trajectories that underpin the ageing process across the life course.

Integrative approaches leveraging the expertise of molecular, cellular, organismal and population level research offer the potential to identify key ageing pathways, biomarkers and intervention strategies.

Linking across disciplines will enable a broad spectrum of researchers to work together to understand how we might:

  • increase healthspan and quality of life in old age
  • address health inequalities
  • strengthen overall resilience.

Applicants are therefore encouraged to include a diverse range of disciplines and stakeholders to ensure the outcomes and impacts of work undertaken by the network are maximised, including representatives from:

  • environmental sciences
  • physical and engineering sciences
  • economic and social sciences.

Wider engagement with stakeholders from industry, the charity sector and individuals with lived experience is also encouraged.

We strongly encourage applicants to think creatively and to form networks around key challenge areas in the ageing field.

Applicants may wish to consider aligning their network to one of the research themes listed below, but these do not represent an exhaustive list:

  • the mechanistic basis of lifespan and healthspan
  • ageing immune system
  • cognitive health
  • extrinsic factors that impact on healthy ageing.

These awards can be used flexibly to support a range of relevant and justified activities and should be used in such a manner as to best address the challenge.

Exclusion criteria

We will not fund networks that are:

  • focused solely on age-related disease or pathologies
  • based solely on existing collaborations or existing networks.

Outcomes and outputs

Your network should:

  • build a new interdisciplinary ageing research community, by:
    • drawing in a broad range of disciplines
    • attracting new expertise and partners to strengthen the UK ageing research base
  • increase collaborations between:
    • academic communities
    • industry
    • policy makers
    • charities
    • health practitioners
    • civil society
  • integrate ageing research communities to:
    • gain new knowledge
    • broaden science disciplines
    • develop a more holistic approach to ageing research
  • understand barriers to research innovation
  • ensure widespread inequalities across the life course are considered and addressed
  • deliver a tangible output relevant to the challenge being addressed (for example, white paper, framework for future activity, position statement)
  • position collaborative groups to apply for future research funding opportunities.


Strong leadership and an inclusive approach to bringing innovation, building capacity and a diverse collaborative research community must be demonstrated.

A proactive and enthusiastic leadership team is an essential component of a successful network.

Networks should be inclusive and open and may grow and develop over the period of the award where this is relevant to the challenge.

Network management and governance

The network director must be the PI of the application. The network must have a co-director who must be a Co-I of the application.

The PI and Co-Is should all be involved in the management of the network and should have defined roles. A network manager is strongly encouraged

External advisory group

The network must have an external advisory group. The external advisory group should act as a ‘critical friend’ to the network, providing unbiased advice and support.

The membership of the proposed external advisory group should be detailed in the full proposal and include cross-sectoral and stakeholder representation. An expanded table of initial external advisory group members should be submitted using the template provided (see ‘additional information’).

No salary costs should be requested for members of the external advisory group.

Eligible costs

Salaries and support costs

The director of the network should be the named PI on the proposal and under full economic costing (at 80% of full economic cost) may request funds to cover their salary costs for the time spent developing and directing the network.

Requests can also be made for:

  • one co-director who will be named as the Co-I to assist the network’s director in this role
  • up to four other Co-Is.

It is envisaged that staff costs will not form the majority of costs of the proposal and should be reasonable.

Costs can be requested for an appropriately skilled network manager (full or part-time) to be responsible for activities such as:

  • the day-to-day network management
  • event coordination
  • website development for the network.

As a community support role, the salary of the network manager can be requested at 100% fEC.

Recruited network managers or other administrative staff must be based permanently at an eligible UK institution in order to be eligible for salary costs.

No general estates and indirect costs should be claimed in association with the network manager’s role.

No other salary costs should be included.

These costs should be justified in the ‘justification of resources’ document.

Salary costs for members of the external advisory group or network members should not be included in the proposal.

Network events

Costs for supporting and facilitating network meetings and events can be requested at 100% fEC. These costs should be justified in the ‘justification of resources’ document.

No general estates and indirect costs should be claimed in association with network events.

Salaries and network event costs will represent the ‘core grant’.

General estates and indirect costs are not eligible for inclusion in the ‘core grant’ except where they relate to the PI or Co-Is salaries.

Costs requested at 100% fEC should be detailed in the ‘100% full economic cost exceptions spreadsheet’ (see additional information section below) and entered under the ‘exceptions’ heading on the Je-S form.

Pump-priming funds

Pump-priming funds for allocation by the network should also be requested. The amount should be indicated and justified in the ‘justification of resources’ document.

These funds can be used for a range of projects, including:

  • feasibility studies
  • proof of concept studies
  • generation of preliminary data
  • method development
  • tool or technology development
  • desk-based studies.

It is envisaged that these funds will help to support the development of new interdisciplinary partnerships and foster the development of new approaches between network members.

Pump-priming funds will be funded at 80% fEC by the funders and should be allocated at 80% fEC for each project by the network’s host institution. It is anticipated that individual pump-priming awards will not exceed 25% of total requested cost.

The total amount requested for the pump-priming activities, including a component to cover estates and indirects, should be entered in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading on the Je-S form.

Ineligible costs

You cannot request:

  • salary costs for members of the external advisory group or network members
  • international travel and subsistence
  • overseas costs
  • equipment
  • relocation costs
  • publication costs
  • cost of any time spent in quarantine as a result of travelling on this grant
  • macro-coordination costs (to be decided separately).

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