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International Development Research @ Cambridge


This programme is intended to generate world-class, cutting-edge research which addresses key questions on strengthening and and improving health systems in developing nations. It is part of the Health Systems Research Initiative, funded by the Department for International Development (DfID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust (WT).

Following an excellent response to this programme from the research community, funding has now been secured for an annual call under this initiative until 2021.

The programme’s aims are to fund methodologically rigorous, high-quality research that will:

  • Generate evidence on how to strengthen and improve health systems for people living in low- and middle-income countries
  • Use a health systems approach to inform the delivery of evidence-based interventions or structural changes. Proposals must demonstrate how interventions relate to and affect wider elements of a health system such as governance, financing, health workforce, information systems, service delivery etc., and
  • Provide evidence that is of direct relevance to decision makers and practitioners in the field.

The research team must include co-investigators from the target LMICs; projects with principal investigators from LMICs are strongly encouraged.

The programme offers two funding streams: research grants, and foundation grants. The duration of a research grant is usually up to 3 years, with a maximum duration of 5 years. Small and larger-scale projects are invited.  As a guide, applicants should note there is approx. £4m available for Research Grants under this call. Funders would like to fund 5-10 projects.

The duration of foundation grants is between 12-18 months, with a maximum budget of £200k each. The purpose of a foundation grant is either:  

  • to conduct preliminary studies needed before a full research grant proposal can be designed, this can include work to evaluate existing interventions or pilot and feasibility work to inform plans for future research, or
  • to explore possible health system innovations, under-researched areas or creative approaches that have the potential to be developed further; however, such proposals should also have practical applications and should not be purely conceptual.

Recipients of Foundation Grants will not automatically progress to full-scale research projects after their grant has ended. They will be expected to apply for a full-scale research project through the standard competitive process.


For further information on this call, and application processes, please see the source website here.

Welcome to Cambridge Global Challenges

Cambridge Global Challenges is the Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, with a particular focus on the poorest half of the world’s population.


Join the Strategic Research Initiative

Register to Cambridge Global Challenges here.


Learn about the support we provide 

Information on how Cambridge Global Challenges can support your research is shared here.


Contact us

Programme Manager (Sara Serradas Duarte):​