Joint National Funding Call Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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GOSH Charity and Sparks National Funding Call 2021/2022 - FAQs.

FAQs PDF (.pdf) (889.6 KB)

1. Why do Sparks and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) have a joint funding call?

In February 2017, Sparks joined Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity under a subsidiary model. Both organisations have a shared passion and commitment to support paediatric research. Through this partnership we aimed to drive more funds and awareness into paediatric health research across the UK. As part of integrating our activities we combined our national funding rounds into a single joint national funding call in child health research and have jointly funded four research calls. At the beginning of 2021 Sparks merged fully with GOSH Charity, which means that the 2021/22 edition of the national call is fully funded by GOSH Charity.

2. What is the remit of the call?

We are inviting project grant applications for paediatric health research studies focusing on complex or rare diseases. The call will support research across the spectrum of medical conditions affecting the foetus, neonates and children directly, as well as pregnancy disorders that affect the child. This year, we will also continue to consider applications seeking to understand how COVID-19 affects children, particularly in the context of pre-existing diseases or conditions. Qualitative and mixed-methods research projects, including healthcare management and service delivery for specific childhood diseases/conditions or groups of closely related conditions, are also welcomed.

All projects must aim to improve understanding of the disease or associated conditions or to improve outcomes for the affected child. Research proposals will be expected to have the potential to lead to new medical developments, such as diagnostic tools or novel interventions, with a clear articulation of the route to clinical application through a combination of clinical and laboratory-based research.

If you are unsure whether your work would fit the remit of this call we encourage you to contact the GOSH Charity Grants team through .

3. Who are our research partners and is the process for applications in these areas different?

We are proud to continue partnering with a number of rare disease organisations this year: The Norrie Disease Foundation, Acrodysostosis Support and Research, Krabbe UK, Myotubular Trust, Kawasaki Disease UK and Ewing’s Sarcoma Research Trust. These partnerships offer us the possibility of making joint awards in these specific disease areas. Applications in research partner areas will not have a separate application or assessment process. All applications fitting the remit of the call, including those focusing on one of the research partner areas, will be assessed in open competition.

4. Is this funding call open to researchers across the UK or just researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health?

This is a national funding call and is open to independent researchers from institutions across the UK proposing original research within the established remit.

5. Do I need to have a co-applicant from Great Ormond Street Hospital and/or UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health to apply?

No. For this funding call you do not need to have a co-applicant or collaborator from Great Ormond Street Hospital or UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health to be eligible to apply.

6. Is the majority of this funding awarded to researchers at the Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health? Do you have information about success rates for funding applications?

No, funding is awarded nationally and based exclusively on the quality of the proposed work. The tables below show the distribution of internal versus external applications for each of the four preceding calls, as well as overall success rates:

success rates for funding applications

7. Will I be able to request funds to organise a conference?

We allow applicants to request up to £5,000 toward the organisation of conferences and scientific or clinical workshops in support of rare diseases which bring together clinicians, families and scientists to share insights and inspire scientists with the experience of families and clinicians. If invited for a full application, applicants will have to provide justification for the event they are organising, an outline of their plans and to provide a detailed breakdown of associated costs. If successful in securing the award, applicants will also be expected to provide updates on progress and information regarding the results and impact of the event. Please note that plans for the conference or workshop must be aligned with the overall proposed research project, and that this cost must be part of the total award of up to £250,000 and not an extra cost. Further guidance for applicants is included within the application form. Note that this may or may not be included as part of the optional PPI pilot scheme that we are running for the first time this year (please refer to the questions concerning the scheme below).

8. How will funding decisions be made?

Applications will be managed by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is a member of the AMRC and as such, we ensure the research we fund meets the highest possible standards of quality, accountability, transparency and openness. The application will involve a two-stage process, an initial outline application and, if shortlisted, invitation to a full application that will include external peer review.

Full applications and respective reviews will then be considered by the Charity’s Research Assessment Panel (RAP), who will make the final decision according to various criteria including remit, quality, feasibility, impact and value for money. The Panel is made up of the following members: Professor Pamela Kearns (Chair of the Panel, University of Birmingham), Professor Rosalind Smyth (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor Eamonn Maher (University of Cambridge), Professor Raj Chopra (Apple Tree Partners), Associate Professor Tim Collier (London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine), Professor Veronica Swallow (Sheffield Hallam University), Dr Li Chan (Queen Mary University of London), Professor Caroline Wright (University of Exeter), Professor Carl Goodyear (University of Glasgow), Professor Rafael Yáñez-Muñoz (Royal Holloway University of London) and Professor James Boardman (University of Edinburgh). The Panel also includes two lay members: Yvonne Parry and Baroness Margaret Jay. Shortlisting of outline applications will be made by a subset of the RAP.

9. What is the timeline for the application process?

The deadline for outline applications is 5pm, Wednesday, 7 July 2021. Applicants will be notified in early September 2021 if they have been shortlisted to the next stage. The deadline for full applications will be in early October 2021. If you are invited to submit a full application, you will be informed of the final funding decision in March 2022.

10. Is there an upper limit on the amount of funding I can apply for?

As in previous years, this funding call is making up to £2 million available to spend on project grants. As in previous years, we anticipate a high number of proposals from a wide range of different investigators in institutions across the UK. Therefore, applicants are asked to carefully consider their request for funding and whether it represents good value for money. The charity would not expect individual applications to exceed £250,000 for a duration of up to 36 months.

11. Is there a limit on the number of applications I can submit?

Researchers may only submit one application as the principal applicant, so we recommend that you submit your strongest project proposal. You may, however, be named a co-applicant in other applications to the same call.

12. Can I talk to you about my research before I apply?

Yes. If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact the Grants team at Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity on .

13. How do I apply?

To start your outline application please click here and follow the instructions on the Grants Management System website. The deadline for outline applications is 5pm on Wednesday, 7 July 2021.

Please allow sufficient time for internal approvals prior to the deadline as there is a two-stage process for submission. Signatories and co-applicants must be invited to participate in the application prior to submission. Once the application has then been submitted, it will go to signatories for final sign off. Please note that this sign off must occur before the final deadline of 7 July 2021. 

Additionally, you should allow ample time for your application – particularly its financial details – to be reviewed by your host institution’s research office or equivalent entity.

14. Do I qualify as an early career researcher for the purposes of this call?

To be eligible for the award as an early career researcher the applicant must:

- Hold a salaried, academic research post;

- Be in their first independent position at group-leader level;

- Have sufficient time remaining in their current post to complete the awarded project.

And must not:

- Have received substantial research funding as a Principal or Co-Investigator exceeding £150,000 prior to application to the call, including direct costs but excluding the Principal Investigator’s salary, overhead and indirect costs.

Should you be unsure as to whether you are eligible to apply as an early career researcher, please contact us through .

15. Will my application be prioritised if I am an early career researcher?

One of the objectives of this call is to promote the establishment and retention of talent in child health research, and we are therefore particularly interested in supporting projects from early career researchers. If you are an early career researcher, your application will be prioritised over an application from an established researcher only if it is deemed equally competitive according to the multiple criteria considered by the Research Assessment Panel (i.e. if it receives an identical score as competing applications). Your early career researcher status will only be considered at the final award decision stage.

16. Will my application be more likely to be rejected if I am not an early career researcher?

We are committed to supporting high-quality research regardless of career stage. We anticipate that only a small fraction of applications will come from early career researchers. Additionally, those applications will be submitted to the same peer review process and assessed through the same set of stringent criteria by the Research Assessment Panel. It is therefore unlikely that you will be rejected on the basis that you are not an early career researcher.

17. Will my application be more likely to be funded if my project falls under one of the Research Partner areas?

No. If an application falls under the remit of one of our Research Partners, the shortlisting, peer review and Research Assessment Panel decision processes will be identical to all other applications. If your application receives a fundable score and is deemed competitive, the co-funding arrangements with the research partners will be formalised after the award decision is made (i.e. the Research Partner will only have the option to co-fund a relevant application if it has been selected for an award). Meeting the requirements of any of our Research Partners will not be used as a criterium to score applications.

18. What costs will the award cover/not cover?

The award will cover:

- Salaries for research staff (including post-doctoral research assistants, research assistants, research nurses, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists, etc…)

- Consumables

- Experimental animals

- Equipment up to £10,000 for one single item and with a justification of why the item cannot be used/borrowed from elsewhere (higher-value equipment should be discussed with the Charity’s Grants team before applying, but would generally be expected to be co-funded to 50% by the applicant's Institution)

- Funding for attending relevant conferences (we would consider funding of up to one UK/European conference per year and one international conference during the lifetime of the award and based on a well-justified need)

- Funding for organising a conference or workshop in a relevant rare disease area (up to £5,000)

- Any other direct costs of research

The award will NOT cover:

- Salary of the Principal Investigator/team leader

- Consultant programmed activities

- PhD studentships

- The Apprenticeship Levy

- Medical costs or any other costs that should be covered by the NHS

19. Is it mandatory that I take part in the Pilot Scheme for Support of Public & Patient Involvement (PPI) Activities?

No, you are not required to propose PPI activities along with you research project. However, if it is clear that your project would benefit from PPI, then we would encourage you to include such activities regardless of whether you believe the Pilot Support Scheme would be helpful to you. Through the scheme, we hope to encourage investigators to experience the full benefits of PPI to their research, particularly for those who lack experience in that domain. We therefore urge all applicants to take advantage of this unique opportunity to obtain expert advice and guidance from PPI experts from Genetic Alliance UK, Congenica and additional experts that may be co-opted to support the scheme. GOSH Charity is committed to place PPI at the centre of all the research it supports, and it is therefore likely that a dedicated PPI plan will be required from every research proposal seeking funding from us in the future.

20. I am already planning PPI activities as part of my proposed study. Am I required to participate in the Pilot Scheme for Support of PPI Activities?

No. You may propose a PPI plan without taking part in any of the activities associated with the Pilot Scheme, particularly if you already have experience running such activities or are already actively engaged with a network of patients, families or other members of the public. If you do include a PPI plan outside of the Pilot Support Scheme, that component will be assessed by the Research Assessment Panel in the context of your whole application along with all other aspects.

21. If I choose to take part in the Pilot Scheme for Support of PPI Activities, what are acceptable PPI activities that I can propose?

If you choose to include a PPI plan as part of you research project there are a number of activities that you can include, regardless of where your project stands along the basic-to-translational axis. Examples would be:

- Workshops or talks with groups of patients or families to explain and/or get their views on the research project or the benefits of a certain type of research to get to therapies and cures at any point in the future;

- Participation in research dissemination events attended by either patients, families or the general public;

- For projects where human subjects are required, activities to explain the benefits of participating in the research project with the aim of recruiting participants and obtaining their direct feedback;

- Workshops or meetings to obtain input and feedback from patient or family groups which will help the researchers design and/or refine their research projects and research questions with a view to achieve greater impact and patient benefit.

If in doubt of whether your plan would be a good fit to the scheme, please contact the Grants team directly ( and we will be able to advise you further, and put you in contact with our PPI partners if necessary. Note that in the outline application form, there will be an optional section with a 300-word limit for you to summarise your PPI plan. If you do get shortlisted to the full application stage, you will be advised on how best to develop that plan for maximum benefit/impact for both the research team and the targeted patients/public. The exact details of how the scheme will be run are currently being finalised but are likely to include workshops with applicants invited to submit full applications and one-to-one coaching sessions for awardees once their projects are initiated.

22. If I choose not to participate in the PPI Pilot Scheme, will my application be less competitive than those that propose PPI activities?

No. The assessment of your application will not be negatively impacted if you choose not to participate in the PPI Pilot Scheme. However, please keep in mind that our Research Assessment Panel, and particularly its lay members, will still assess every application for its potential for patient benefit and, for certain types of projects, a PPI plan may be seen as a route to achieve that (e.g. those with clinical components or closer to end users/beneficiaries), in which case the lack of a PPI plan may be considered a weakness.

23. I have no prior experience of organizing PPI activities as part of my research. What resources are available to help me design an effective PPI plan?

There are a number of excellent online resources that can help you get started with planning an effective PPI strategy to complement your research project. The following table lists some resources compiled by Genetic Alliance UK to help get you started:

Resource Link Notes
Outcomes of Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) All completed PSPs to date are linked to from this page. They represent research questions that have been demonstrated to be of value to patients and clinicians.
New guidance on PPI for lab-based research Comprehensive and extremely helpful guidance for lab-based researchers who may struggle to see how PPI could apply to their work.
NIHR INVOLVE resources Guidance and support for setting up PPI, including what to cost for, how much to budget, etc.
Generation R
A children’s and young people’s (CYP) group that interacts with and advises researchers on involving CYP.
Summary of difference between qualitative research and PPI, from experts at TwoCan Associates See table below

Genetic Alliance UK has also produced a table (below) summarising the key differences between qualitative research and patient and public involvement in health and social care research, which is a common question for researchers embarking on PPI activities for the first time. The table is intended as a prompt to stimulate reflection and discussion, rather than a definitive guide for planning involvement activities.

Compiled by Bec Hanley, Kristina Staley, Derek Stewart, Rosemary Barber, August 2019

Qualitative research project Involvement in a research project
Research question Aims to answer a research questio Aims to help select and refine a research question
Practical approach Follows a chosen method based on theory Researchers and patients/public exchange views in a way that suits both
People involved Seeks views from a defined sample Seeks a range of perspectives from people with diverse experiences
Ethical approval Requires ethical approval Needs to reflect ethical practice but does not normally need ethical approval [2]
People’s input Seeks people’s input as data to answer a research question Seeks people’s input to inform and influence decisions about how research is designed, undertaken and disseminated
Power Only researchers have the power to make decisions about how the project is run Patients, the public and researchers share power to make joint decisions about how the project is run, based on their combined views
Use of findings Generates findings that may have wider application Generates insight and learning that may be specific to the researchers and patients/public involved and their particular project

Table References:

[1] Doria et al. (2018) Sharpening the focus: differentiating between focus groups for patient engagement vs. qualitative research. Research Involvement and Engagement, 4:19. [2] Health Research Authority Best Practice Guidance on Public Involvement: (2019)