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Global Challenges Research Fund

Funding cutting-edge international research that promotes the economic development and welfare of people in developing countries.

Meet the scientists addressing global issues

  • Antimalarial drug resistance

    Dr Okell is testing whether a new drug being used to prevent pregnant women contracting malaria in Kenya and Malawi could accelerate drug resistance.

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  • Epidemics and globalisation

    Dr Lowe aims to help public health bodies predict epidemics of disease by understanding the relationship between climate, human activity and mosquito-transmitted infections.

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  • Land use and biodiversity

    Dr Newbold is investigating how changes to land use and the climate will affect biodiversity in the future.


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  • Parasitic worms

    Professor Grencis and a team in Uganda are investigating whether parasitic worms protect us against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.


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  • Sustainable water use

    Professor Hilal is working with his counterpart in Malaysia to increase sustainability in the palm oil industry by reducing the amount of water used in production and by turning waste water into a resource that can be used again.

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What is the aim of the Global Challenges Research Fund?

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) aims to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries by funding international research.  The three key themes are:

  • Equitable access to sustainable development
  • Sustainable economies and societies
  • Human rights, good governance and social justice.

The Royal Society is working with the national academies and UK research councils to fund research that addresses the global challenges faced by developing countries.  Through the funding we will:

  • Fund exceptional research programmes and researchers that are addressing global challenges
  • Promote international collaboration between researchers in the UK and those in key partner countries
  • Build research capacity in developing countries
  • Support the next generation of research leaders in developing countries.

What organisations are involved?

GCRF is a five year £1.5 billion fund which is part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) focusing on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries selected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC).

The overall strategy is being delivered through a range of grant schemes run by the four national academies and eight UK research councils.  An overview and guidance is available for potential applicants.

What does the Royal Society offer?

The Royal Society is using GCRF funds to launch new grant schemes and enhance the support offered to our early career researchers.  The schemes are for exceptional researchers to address the key global challenge themes.  

  • International Collaboration Awards enable outstanding researchers in the UK to partner with the best research groups in developing countries on projects that address issues faced by developing countries.
  • We are supporting future research leaders working in areas directly relevant to the GCRF themes through our University Research Fellowship and Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.
  • Challenge-led Grants provide three years of support for Research Consortia composed of one UK partner and up to three international partners working collaboratively on interdisciplinary research relevant to development challenges.

Closed schemes:

  • Challenge Grants were for our Research Fellows to form international collaborations and address global development issues.  This scheme is now closed.

New grant schemes will be launched throughout the five year fund.

Any applications will need to comply with the ODA GCRF guidelines.

The Royal Society is also delighted to be working with the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences to deliver several other GCRF programmes as part of the Academies’ GCRF Resilient Futures Initiative. These programmes include the Networking Grants, led by the Academy of Medical Sciences but open to applicants across all academy disciplines, and the series of interdisciplinary and international Frontiers of Development symposia led by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The first Frontiers of Development Symposium was held in Rwanda in February 2018 and the 2nd Symposium will be held in July 2018 .

Our GCRF programmes