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NEWS22 Apr 2019NEWS

UK-Malaysia Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases


The MRC and the Ministry of Education (MoE) of Malaysia are pleased to invite research proposals to the Newton Fund’s UK-Malaysia Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases.

This initiative will provide funding for high-quality collaborative research projects focused on addressing non-communicable diseases in Malaysia.

In total, up to £5 million will be made available for this initiative: up to £3 million from the UK and up to MYR 10 million from Malaysia.

Researchers planning to submit to this scheme are asked to submit a short Expression of Interest through our online survey. The deadline for expressions of interests is Friday 3 May 23:59 GMT+1.


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are emerging as the leading cause of death globally, including in Malaysia. This is due to many changes in socio-economic determinants of health such as globalisation of trade, lifestyle changes, shift of socio-demographic patterns, improved economic affordability and ease of travelling, economic transition and movement of unhealthy products, all leading to behavioural changes and increased metabolic risk factors.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015 conducted by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) reported that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contribute to an estimated 73% of total deaths in Malaysia. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the biggest contributor to Malaysia’s morbidity rate with an estimated 35% of deaths occurring in individuals aged less than 60 years.

Comparison to previous NHMS analysis indicates that Malaysia has an increasing ‘at risk’ population. The prevalence of diabetes in Malaysia had increased from 15.2% in 2011 to 17.5% in 2015. MoH has made projection that by year 2025, diabetes prevalence will be about 31.3% for adults of 18 years of age and above (representing approximately seven million Malaysian adults with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes). Even more alarming than diabetes prevalence, is that the ratio for diagnosed to undiagnosed diabetes remains at 1:1. High-quality research and development for the prevention and control of NCDs is one of NSPNCD main objectives, hence this call is timely in addressing and achieving Malaysia’s target for NCDs.

Objectives and scope

This initiative has been launched under the Newton-Ungku Fund and as such all projects must be collaborative in nature and focused specifically on addressing research of relevance to Malaysia and the Malaysian population.

Under this first MRC-MoE initiative, research proposals must specifically address one or more of the following diseases:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes.

The funders are welcoming research proposals across the spectrum of research activities including, but not limited to, basic discovery research, epidemiology, understanding the mechanisms of disease, novel detection and diagnosis, development of therapeutics/interventions. Proposals must fall within the remits of both funders.

Research proposals must seek to generate scientific outcomes of relevance to the prevention, treatment, management and/or control of the above-listed diseases in Malaysia.

The purpose of this call is to support research projects; however, the funders are also encouraging projects that incorporate elements of capacity building within them.

Therefore, it is crucial that all applications are of specific relevance to the Malaysian population. It is the responsibility of the applicants to demonstrate how the research proposed meets the ODA criteria.

For queries relating to the scope of this call, please contact:


Projects must start in both the UK and Malaysia by December 2019. Projects may be up to two years in length and so must have completed by 31 December 2021.

Funding available

MRC will make up to £3 million in total for this initiative. The MRC contribution will be made available to the UK collaborators to fund the UK component of the collaborative research projects. MRC will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% FEC.

MoE will make up MYR 10 million available to fund the Malaysian collaborators.

It is expected that this funding will support up to 10 joint projects depending on the number and quality of proposals received.

For further information, please read the scheme-specific guidance for applicants.


This call will fund partnerships between UK and Malaysian-based researchers working in the area of non-communicable diseases. It is important to note that:

  • the funding agencies will not play a brokering role in this call
  • the proposal should be developed by a UK PI and a Malaysian PI.

All proposals for this call must meet Newton Fund requirements. In particular, proposals must be compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding rules. For further information see the Newton Fund ODA page.

For support under this call, applicants must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency:

MRC and MoE

For the UK participants, standard UKRI eligibility criteria will apply. Research organisations (ROs) that are eligible to apply to the MRC, for example MRC units and institutes, may apply to this call.

Principal investigators may only submit one application to this scheme as principal investigator, but may be involved in more applications if listed as a co-investigator.

Research organisations eligible to apply are public universities and private universities. Researchers based in other ROs can be a co-investigator but not eligible to apply as a principal investigator.

The funders are not seeking to fund partners outside of the UK and Malaysia through this initiative. Please contact if you are planning to involve co-investigators from a third country in your proposal.

Further eligibility details for this research call can be found in the scheme-specific guidance document.

Assessment and decision-making process

To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will be:

  • significance and impact of the research
  • scientific rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the research
  • design and feasibility of the project plan
  • partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, quality of the project management structure proposed; the added value of the UK-Malaysian collaboration
  • quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities
  • value for money for Malaysia and UK science
  • ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

In addition, applicants must describe how the proposed research is ODA compliant [approximately 150 words]. This section will be made publicly available. For further information on ODA, please see the UKRI guidance.

Applications will be assessed for ODA-compliance before the peer review process and will not be assessed if the funders do not feel the proposed work is ODA compliant.

Eligible applications will be externally peer reviewed, and applicants will be offered the opportunity to provide a written response to these reviews.

Following this process, applications will be assessed by a joint MRC-MoE review panel. Funding decisions will be made through a joint process.

Key dates


Closing date for investigators to indicate their intention to submit a proposal

3 May 2019

Deadline for investigators to submit proposal

29 May 2019

Panel meeting

W/C 7 October 2019

Grants begin

December 2019

How to apply

In order to identify peer reviewers and convene assessment panels in advance, it is important that researchers indicate their intention to submit by completing an expression of interest (EoI) form by 3 May 2019. Examples of the questions asked are highlighted in annex 2 in the scheme-specific guidance for applicants.

Full applications must be submitted by UK PI’s on behalf of both UK and Malaysian PIs to the MRC via the Je-S application system by 16:00 GMT+1 on Wednesday 29 May 2019.

An identical application must be submitted by the Malaysian PI on behalf of the UK-Malaysian Research Partnership for administrative purposes to the Malaysia Greater Research Network System (MyGRANTS) within 14 working days after the deadline for full application. The format/template differs from the proposal form but must be filled as close as possible to reflect the proposal submitted to Je-S.

The Newton-Ungku Fund

The Newton Fund builds scientific and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the research councils, the UK National Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

For further information, visit the Newton Fund homepage and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund

Contacts and guidance

Please refer to the following guidance documents:

For further information, UK applicants should contact:

For further information, Malaysian applicants should contact:

UK Newton Fund diabetes cardiovascular disease non-communicable diseases