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Apply for our Data Science Award

Our data science programme is a novel funding stream with the potential to drive forward huge advances in mental health research.

The MQ Data Science Award allows investigators to produce a well-defined piece of work and expand the use of data resources for mental health research while at the same time further developing the skills base in this complex field. 

It will enable successful awardees to obtain pilot data or proof of concept needed in order to obtain follow-up funding from other sources.

For this funding programme we are especially interested in applications that focus on the following:

  • Research questions in children and young people’s mental health and mental health over the lifespan
  • Proposals which include academic and non-academic partners
  • Proposals which include collaborations across the four countries of the United Kingdom

The budget dedicated to this in 2018 is £ 200,000. Up to £50,000 will be made available per award, and we expect each project to last between 6 and 24 months. MQ plans to make grant awards in this programme annually, subject to funding availability.

Applications for the 2018 Award are closed. Award winners are expected to be announced in Summer 2018.

Please contact MQ directly for any queries regarding this funding opportunity or the application under

A sample copy of the application form is also available in a word document format, which candidates are welcome to use it as a drafting tool if they wish. A PDF version of the application guidance is also available to download here [PDF].


Funding eligibility criteria

Project requirements

  • The project must address a question relevant to mental health.
  • The project should, directly or indirectly, improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care options, and lead to a better understanding of mental health and illness.
  • The project should make use of existing UK data resources in an innovative way
    • Existing data resources could include routinely collected data (health, social, educational, or other administrative data), data from longitudinal studies, tissue banks, etc., or naturalistic data streams.
    • Projects that seek to enrich existing data e.g. through linkage, or projects that develop new tools to collect, access, or query the data are also eligible
  • International collaborations are eligible, provided that UK data resources are a key component of the project.
  • Applicants must explain how they will be able to access the designated data resources and/or to perform linkage studies as needed within a secure platform for analysis. They must give assurance that if a proposal is successful the dataset(s) would be accessible within a reasonable time frame. MQ reserves the right to make the release of funding contingent on data access within 9 months of the award date. 

Applicant requirements

  • Applicants must:
    • have a proven track record in commercial, clinical or other research and development, equivalent to 3 years full-time;
    • or have a PhD, DPhil, DClinPsy, MBBS or MD;
    • or have research experience equivalent to 3 years full-time postgraduate research.
  • Applicants may come from any discipline including, but not restricted to: molecular biology, neuroscience, data science, psychology, psychiatry, education, anthropology, social sciences;
  • Applications are permitted to have up to two Co-Principal Investigators, but one host institution must be nominated as the lead organisation for contracting purposes.

 Host institution requirements

  • Applicants can be based at an academic institution or at an independent research organisation with appropriate facilities to carry out the research, for example a government department, NHS trust or for-profit company.

Use of funds

Funds may be used for any of the following:

  • Start-up funding for a specific project, transition funding for a current project, co-funding with other funding sources

  • Direct research costs, e.g.
    • computing costs
    • data access costs
  • Salary support:
    • for the applicant themselves;
    • for research staff as appropriate.

Please note, indirect costs, such as non-specific estimated costs, including estates costs, library costs, finance and HR costs, are not eligible for funding.

Key dates

The deadline for submitting applications is the 22nd of January 2018 at 17.00.

We will inform applicants if they have been selected for shortlisting in February 2018, and announce the funding decision in April 2018.


All applicants must:

  • Applicants must complete and submit their application in English via MQ’s electronic application system.

  • Applications must be submitted within the stated deadline and must be complete.

  • Applicants must provide their ORCID identifier. The ORCID identifier links all research and publications carried out by the applicant.

  • The final section of the application needs to be completed by the Applicant’s Head of Department (or equivalent). Applicants are encouraged to access the online application form and invite their Head of Department to complete the relevant section as soon as possible.

  • If applicants would prefer to draft their applications offline, we have made a Word version of our application form available here.

Selection process

Selection process

The MQ Data Science Awards are made following a one-stage selection process. Applicants are invited to submit an application outlining their research proposal.

The selection process involves the following steps:

  1. Eligibility will be checked by the MQ research team according to the following list. Projects scoring ‘no’ on any item, will be excluded at this stage.
    1. Application form completed as specified
    2. Budget within 50K
    3. PI has PhD (or equivalent), or else equivalent research experience (three years full time)
    4. The host institution is eligible (i.e. an NHS trust or other healthcare provider, a university, or other research organisation with demonstrable track record in producing research).
    5. Access to necessary resources and data can be expected within six months of the award date, incl. regulatory and ethical approvals Use of / enrichment of UK data resources
    6. Mental health relevance
    1. Eligible applications will be shortlisted by the MQ research team and the Data Science Committee. A small number of applications will be selected for full review.
    2. Selected applications will be allocated to committee members for review. MQ will also seek comments from at least 2 external reviewers for each proposal. Committee members will judge proposals according to the following aspects:
      1. Applicant’s publication and grant funding history – relative to their field and stage of career
      2. Team’s expertise and strength of the institutional environment
      3. The relevance of the project’s aims and hypotheses to transforming mental illness, and the potential to reduce the disease burden
      4. Are the design and methods appropriate for the research aims?
      5. Is the plan for data processing and statistical analysis clearly described, fully thought through and appropriate?
      6. The potential to have a positive impact on patients/society both in the short and long term
      7. Any other strengths of the proposal
      8. Is the project considered feasible?
    3. All reviewed proposals will be discussed at the committee meeting and final funding decisions will be taken jointly by the committee members.

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