ME Research UK recognises that the cure of disease and the alleviation of human suffering is the central purpose of research funding. Like most medical research charities, ME Research UK has formal research policies and procedures in place to facilitate best practice. They are integrated into our formal Operational Plan and our Internal Control and Reporting Systems. The elements of the research policies and procedures include the following.
Peer review is used in the allocation of grants and awards by ME Research UK. Our Scientific Advisory Panel consists of independent professional scientists from a range of specialisms whose remit is to help to review the quality of applications. Applications are assessed on scientific merit, taking into account factors such as scientific relevance, timeliness, relationship to other published work, and value for money. Peer review is also used to evaluate the success of completed research. ME Research UK also has provision for obtaining the opinions of external referees who are not on the Scientific Advisory Panel.
Formal research application assessment process
Prospective applicants are encouraged to make an initial informal enquiry since — as professional researchers ourselves — we recognise the large amount of work that goes into preparing a formal application. On receipt of a full application on a ME Research UK research application form (available here), the application will be sent to relevant external referees and Scientific Advisory Panel members for peer review, which includes a standardised scoring system to facilitate decision-making.
At present, ME Research UK has one grant funding stream which considers applications for both smaller grants (intended for pilot studies and seed-corn projects concerned with novel aspects of research into ME/CFS) and larger grants for more ambitious projects, subject to annual review.
Policy on University funding
ME Research UK endorses the position of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) as regards university funding. The basic elements of this position are that the government funding agencies have the primary responsibility of providing for the general biomedical science base in the UK, enabling medical research charities to make best use of the public’s support. Accordingly, ME Research UK, like other charities, will normally pay only the identifiable direct costs of research in universities.
Ring-fencing of research funds
ME Research UK has separate General and Research accounts to allow donors to specify the broad area in which their donations are to be used. As the principal aim of ME Research UK is to commission and fund scientific investigation into the causes, consequences and treatment of ME and related conditions, donations paid into the Research Fund can only be used for research.
Use of animals in medical research
ME Research UK does not currently fund research involving animals, and has no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.
ME Research UK-sponsored projects will be conducted in accordance with the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by local research ethics committees. Read the Declaration of Helsinki here.
Dissemination of results
We expect the results of ME Research UK-sponsored projects to be published in professional scientific journals, and for reports of the findings to be submitted to ME Research UK. Summaries of the results will be published on our website with links to the relevant scientific journals.