Grants for translational research: from bench to bedside

The last decade national and international funding agencies operating in the life sciences have earmarked an ever larger part of their resources for translational research, i.e. the “translation” of basic scientific findings in a laboratory setting into potential treatments for disease. One of the reasons behind this shift away from basic research, is the exploding costs of healthcare for the aging western society. In addition, a clear political message is voiced by elected representatives worldwide to dedicate tax payers moneys to causes in medical research that have clear societal utilization, applications and relatively short term valorisation. To reach the goals in terms of product development and implementation, public-private partnerships have been encouraged by most funding agencies.

Translational research funding by EU and NIH

Below, we list a few of these opportunities for academic researchers that either work in translational research in public research institutes and/or work closely together with companies active in biotechnology and the life sciences. The questions addressed can come from either the clinic or from research laboratories and can often include costly clinical trials. Generally, their combined aims are to develop or test new diagnostic tools, techniques or therapies or to develop strategies to prevent disease and stimulate (mental) health.

Horizon 2020 ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’

The European Union (EU) allocated almost 80 billion euros to a 7-year programme, Horizon 2020, that runs from 2014 till 2020 to stimulate scientific research throughout the union.

  • The programme ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ within Horizon 2020 is open for submissions of research projects performed by international consortia consisting of universities in collaboration with hospitals and/or health industries.
  • It aims at better health for all and supports the development of new, safer and more effective interventions.
  • Calls are published with themes as diverse as: personalised medicine, innovative health and care industry, Infectious diseases and improving global health, digital transformations and cybersecurity in health and care. Many of these calls are open for translational research approaches. Read more.

Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

Another EU funded programme that specifically is aimed at public-private partnerships is called the Innovative Medicines Initiative.

  • The current call (IMI2 – Call 14) is open for applications on the following topics: targeted immune intervention for the management of non-response and relapse, non-invasive clinical molecular imaging of immune cells, development of a platform for federated and privacy-preserving machine learning in support of drug discovery and Centre of excellence – remote decentralized clinical trials.
  • The indicative total budget is € 85 million from EFPIA companies and IMI2 Associated Partners and € 82 million from the IMI2 JU.
  • Deadlines are Stage 1 submission June 14tth 2018, stage 2 submission December 11th 2018.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health is the major funding agency for health research operated by the American government. It funds a large number of initiatives dedicated to translational research and clinical trials. Here, we list two of these opportunities that are now open for non US based entities and can be applied for by either research institutes or companies:

  • NIH R01: National Cancer Institute’s Investigator-Initiated Early Phase Clinical Trials for Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis. The funding is $2,5 million for direct costs of a 5-year clinical trial, deadlines 5th July and 5th November 2018. De deadline for letters of intent are 30 days earlier. Read more.
  • NIH R01: Academic-Industrial Partnerships for Transition of Technologies for Diagnosis and Treatment. Maximum budget not specified, deadlines July 5th and November 5th 2018. Read more.

There are also many private US foundations that fund translational research, often focussed on funding research on a particular disease or disorder. Examples are the Muscular Dystrophy Association of America, the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation and many others. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Translational research funding opportunities in The Netherlands

In Europe most national research councils fund programs that are dedicated to translational research. The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) has currently running three such programmes covering the period 2003 till 2020 with a total budget of more than € 51 million:

  • Translational adult stem cell research;
  • Translational gene therapy research;
  • General programme on translational research.

New calls are expected to open for submissions later this year.

In many countries translational research is also funded by private foundations focussed on funding research and clinical trials for specific diseases. In The Netherlands there are many such foundations for example, The Dutch Heart Foundation, Princess Beatrix Muscle Foundation, ​The Dutch Cancer Society, Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation, Stomach Liver Intestinal Foundation, and others.

Our expertise

Hezelburcht advises translational researchers at many different research institutes and biotech companies to apply for Dutch and international grants. We will be happy to advise you in selecting and applying for the most suitable funding instrument in your specific field of research.


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