Environmental Microbiology & Human Health Announcement of Opportunity

Closing date for Full Proposals: 16:00 on 17 July 2014

Only those proposals that were successful at the Outline Proposal stage of the programme were specifically invited to apply for funding at the Full Proposal stage.

Call for Full Bids: Notes for invited applicants (PDF, 234KB)

Closing date for Outline Bids: 16:00 on 24 March 2014

Outline Bids are invited for a new four year NERC research programme on Environmental Microbiology & Human Health. This £4·9m programme is co-funded by the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) (part of the Ministry of Defence) and has an additional "top-up" fund of £250k from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for a relevant project and £250k from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for a relevant project.

This programme has the vision of providing the scientific evidence to support fast and efficient identification of pathogenic/allergenic microorganisms and biological material in environmental media which can be used in appropriate tools and models for the protection of public health.

This directly relates to the delivery of the NERC Environment, Pollution & Human Health theme from the 2007-2012 'Next Generation Science for Planet Earth' NERC strategy, as well as the 'Resilience to Natural Hazards' and 'Managing Environmental Change' challenges identified in 'The Business of the Environment', the new NERC strategy published in November 2013.

This call is for research grants which address the vision of the programme. Applicants should note that all those intending to submit a proposal to this call are required to submit an Outline Bid for each project. There are two topics for this call:

  • aquatic microbiology
  • bioaerosols

There is £1·8m available for the aquatic microbiology topic and it is expected that two grants will be supported, each of up to £900k at 80% FEC for three years. The FSA may also contribute up to £250k additional funding "top-up" for (an expected) one project in this part of the call that addresses outcomes of importance to the FSA (ie the total funding that can be applied for as part of this project will be £1·15m).

Defra may also contribute up to £250k additional funding for (an expected) one project in this part of the call which addresses areas of interest to Defra (ie the total maximum funding that can be applied for as part of this project will be £1·15m). Where there may be some overlap in FSA and Defra interests, applicants should note that they can only apply for a maximum of £1·15m. It is not a requirement to apply for either the FSA or the Defra "top-up" money, as the primary assessment criteria is the fit to the priorities of the call and science excellence.

Applications will be supported on freshwater and/or coastal microorganism(s) that have an impact on human health and must cover:

  1. enhancing the speed, accuracy and reproducibility of detection and sampling methods, with particular interest in cutting edge and novel techniques; and
  2. demonstrating the use of the enhanced techniques for process studies.

For the "top-up" FSA funding, FSA eligibility rules will apply; this means that organisations not normally eligible for NERC funding may be included in the proposals. For the "top-up" Defra funding, eligibility will be broadened to include Defra's executive agencies.

There is £2·4m available for the bioaerosols topic, which is co-funded by Dstl. It is expected that two grants of up to £1·2m at 80% FEC for three years will be supported:

  • One of the grants supported will cover research specifically in the area of airborne bacteria and/or viruses that may impact on human health. Applicants will be expected to second an individual into Dstl for a period of time to understand defence related work in this area.
  • The other grant supported is expected to fund research on other outdoor health-impacting bioaerosols, such as pollen, fungi, spores, phytoplankton and plant and insect fragments.

Bioaerosol applications must cover:

  1. enhancing the speed, accuracy and reproducibility of detection methods (possibly including improved molecular methods and sequencing techniques and/or address the problem of counting non-viable organisms), with particular interest in cutting edge and novel techniques; and
  2. demonstrating the use of the enhanced techniques for process studies.

Completed Outline Bids must be submitted to the programme email address: by 16:00 on 24 March 2014.

For all Outline Bid proposals, the Principal Investigator must submit a completed Outline Bid form.

Outline Bid form (Word, 185KB)

Announcement of Opportunity (PDF, 288KB)

Applicants should be informed in May 2014 if they are to be invited to proceed to the Full Bid stage, at which time more detail will be provided on Full Bid requirements.

All applicants having submitted a successful Outline Bid for their project will be invited to submit a Full Bid. Full Bids must be submitted using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Closing date for full proposals: July 2014 (date tbc)

For more information please contact:

Application process and programme enquiries
James Box
07928 525444

FSA
David Alexander
020 7276 8949

Defra
Victor Aguilera

Dstl
Adrian Baker