Target Validation Pathfinder Grant

The Target Validation Pathfinder Grant scheme provides funds for small, translational research projects that show potential for an application to the Dementia Consortium or collaboration with the ARUK Drug Discovery Alliance.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has developed two strategic initiatives to support the discovery of new therapeutics for dementia, covering preclinical target validation and early phase drug discovery.

The ARUK Drug Discovery Alliance (DDA) is a network of Drug Discovery Institutes (DDIs) embedded within the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and University College London. The DDA will take advantage of new science in neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia from within the academic Institutions and elsewhere and rapidly translate this to novel drug discovery projects and/or novel biomarkers with clinical or diagnostic utility.

The Dementia Consortium brings together ARUK, LifeArc and five pharmaceutical companies, Abbvie, Astex, Eisai, Lilly and MSD, to support drug discovery and pharmacological validation of novel molecular targets and expedite the development of new drugs for dementia. The Dementia Consortium provides funding, resources and expertise both to increase the number of, and capitalise upon, new drug targets emerging from across the academic sector. LifeArc is a life science medical research charity that helps bridge the gap between early stage research and commercial application through its dedicated drug discovery laboratories and 70+ scientists with expertise across early stage small molecule and antibody drug discovery. Any promising drug targets will then be made available to any of the Pharma partners.

There are both similarities and differences between the work of the Drug Discovery Alliance and the Dementia Consortium. ARUK wishes to see different options available for researchers and their individual preferences or circumstances.

It is recognised that researchers may have promising data / projects which are too preliminary to progress with either the Drug Discovery Alliance or the Dementia Consortium. The Target Validation Pathfinder grant scheme (TVPG) is designed to support translational research that shows potential for an application to the Dementia Consortium or collaboration with the ARUK Drug Discovery Alliance, but would benefit from funding for preliminary, early-stage target validation work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach.

Duration: Up to 12 months.

For more information about any of the grant schemes or the application process please contact the Research Team research@alzheimersresearchuk.org or 0300 111 5555

The lead applicant and point of contact must be based in an academic/research institution, either in the UK or abroad. Co-applicants from small and medium enterprises are permitted.

If the project requires ethical approval and/or Home Office licences or equivalent, the award is dependent upon the requisite approvals being granted.

The Lead applicant is expected to have a contract (fixed term or tenure) which covers the proposed duration of the grant. If the Lead applicant does not hold a tenure appointment, the application must include a co-applicant that does.

Applicants seeking to obtain preliminary data before a collaboration with one or more of ARUK’s Drug Discovery Institutes are required to hold early discussions with either one of the DDI Chief Scientific Officers (CSOs) regarding the suitability of the target and the data that is necessary to obtain before further work is initiated. A letter of support for the TVPG work plan will be required of the collaborating DDI CSO(s) with the application.

Applicants aiming to gain preliminary data to support an Expression of Interest submission to the Dementia Consortium are not required to obtain a letter of support from LifeArc. However, applicants will be asked to justify how the outcomes of their proposals would fit within the remit of a future Dementia Consortium project.

TVPG applications will be viewed favourably if they follow a rejection from a prior Dementia Consortium submission where the feedback encouraged further experimental work to support their proposal.  In such cases, the Consortium feedback will explicitly suggest applying for a TVPG to address the points raised and this feedback should be cited in the TVPG submission.

This scheme is not designed to cover:

  • Pilot projects with no translational endpoint that could be taken up by one of ARUK’s regular grant schemes
  • Bridging funds for staff between posts/funding (ARUK Network members can apply to Network Support grants)
  • Extensions of current ARUK project grants (ARUK Major Project grant holders can apply to Extension grants).

Clinical trials and add-ons should be applied for through the Global Clinical Trials Fund. Drug discovery and development work should be applied for through the Dementia Consortium or through ARUK’s Drug Discovery Institutes.

Applications are made via our grant application website.

Grant schemes only appear on this website when the round is open and we are accepting new applications.

View an example Target Validation Pathfinder Grant application form.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities and follows their guidelines for best practice in peer review. Grants are awarded entirely on scientific merit in relation to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s remit and on the basis of open competition. The quality of the application and applicants is the key determinant of outcome, although the strength of the dementia research environment within the institution is also considered.

For applications reviewed at GRB meetings:

Discussion in meeting

Each application is allocated to two GRB members, based roughly on their areas of expertise. The two members will present the application to the rest of the Board, including any relevant information from external reviews or applicant responses. A short discussion will follow before the GRB score the application. Applications for each grant scheme are ranked by their average score and recommendations for funding are made.

Trustee meeting

Those applications recommended for funding by the GRB are presented to the Trustees for final approval.

For applications reviewed outside of GRB meeting:

All GRB members are asked to read the application and associated documents and give a yes/no decision for whether or not the application should be funded giving comments.

Teleconference

A subgroup of the GRB hold a teleconference to discuss the application and the comments raised and a decision is reached.

Trustee meeting

Those applications recommended for funding by the GRB are presented to the trustees for final approval.

The terms and conditions of grant differ for each grant scheme and contracts are drawn up individually once the grants have been awarded.

All grant holders are expected to report on the progress of their project on a regular basis. Read more about our reporting requirements on the measuring impact page.

Up to £50,000

This can cover staff salaries, equipment, animals, running costs, or any combinations of these.

Key Dates

  • 15/11/2017
    Applicants will be notified of a decision early February 2018
  • 24/01/2018
    Applicants will be notified of a decision within two months
  • 18/04/2018
    Applicants will be notified of a decision early July 2018
  • 04/07/2018
    Applicants will be notified of a decision within two months
  • 14/11/2018
    Applicants will be notified of a decision early February 2019