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International Development Research @ Cambridge


The UK cross-council AMR initiative and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are inviting proposals to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs under the umbrella of the Newton Fund. This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research partnerships focused on addressing the growing global burden of antimicrobial resistance, specifically antibacterial resistance in China.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially resistance to antibiotics, is a growing problem that does not respect national borders. We are facing a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics without an increase in new antibiotics or, alternative treatments. The upsurge in resistance is driven by a complex interplay of biomedical, animal, social, cultural and environmental factors. It is clear that an international and interdisciplinary approach is needed to tackle these challenges and make a step change in addressing AMR.

In December 2015, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as part of the UK Cross Research Council AMR Initiative, and the NSFC launched the China-UK AMR Partnership Initiative. In 2016, this initiative supported six new research partnerships looking at ways of tackling the rise of antibacterial resistance. These Chinese-UK partnerships brought together leading researchers from both countries, and from multiple research disciplines, to better understand the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria, develop new interventions, and improve health and agricultural systems.

Building on the success of this initiative, in November 2017, the call sponsors held the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs workshop in Shanghai, China, to provide partnering opportunities and scope this present initiative. The workshop brought together Chinese and UK-based researchers to explore field needs, national strengths and areas of potential complementarity. A summary of workshop proceedings, including a list of attendees, can be found in the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs Workshop Report. The current initiative is being run alongside a second, parallel call on China-UK AMR Innovation, led in the UK by Innovate UK and the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

This initiative will provide funding for collaborative Partnership Hubs focussed on addressing the challenge of antibacterial resistance (AMR) with the aim of:

  • Enhancing existing partnerships and developing new partnerships between the UK and China in the area of AMR and in particular antibacterial resistance (ABR).
  • Supporting large-scale, interdisciplinary collaborative research.
  • Supporting the mobility and exchange of UK and Chinese researchers to enhance links between researchers in both countries.
  • Strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and China.

In order to address the breadth of the ABR challenge, build on the existing China-UK collaborations, and complement the parallel China-UK AMR Innovation callopens in new window, the following topics are in scope for this call:


  • Drivers of ABR – eg, understanding the range of drivers and selective pressures of resistance in the Chinese context, to identify where upstream mitigating action to modify the drivers can prevent or reduce the burden or prevalence of ABR.
  • Pathways for human and livestock exposure – eg, understanding and predictive modelling of acquisition, evolution, persistence and transmission of ABR between environment, animals and humans, and within and between communities and hospitals, to identify effective strategies for diagnosis and infection/disease prevention.
  • Impacts of ABR – eg, quantifying the burden (environmental, animal and human), social, and economic costs of ABR, to identify the risks, costs and benefits of local interventions.
  • Responses – eg, drug discovery and alternative treatments/interventions, where a broad interdisciplinary approach is taken.

A Partnership Hub is not a physical entity, but rather an agreed collaboration, and a way of working together. The successful Partnership Hubs will be jointly funded by the Newton Fund and NSFC. Each Partnership Hub will develop one node in the UK and one node in China. Each node may comprise a consortium of researchers/research groups, from multiple research disciplines, from one research organisation or more than one organisation. Each Partnership Hub may choose to include separate, but integrated, work packages across the Partnership Hub.

In total, up to £8m will be made available for this initiative on the UK side with up to 10 million RMB per Partnership Hub from NSFC. The UK contribution will be made available to the UK collaborators to fund the UK component of the Partnership Hub. UK based applicants may request £1m - £2m at 80% FEC to cover the UK component of the research projects.

Projects must start on or before 1 January 2019 in the UK and on the 1 January 2019 in China. Projects must be three years in length in the UK and four years in China and so must have completed by the end of December 2021 (UK) / December 2022 (China).


For further information please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs and apply here.

The MRC are leading the UK side of this collaboration on behalf of all the UK Research Councils (Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) utilising Newton funding.

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