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Pump Priming Fund

"How can we better understand the role of the skin microbiome in ageing and its effect on health and how can we improve age associated symptoms via the skin microbiome?" 

SMiHA's pump priming fund is designed to help support research and early stage researchers within the field of the microbiome and skin ageing address this research focus question.

Our network is focusing  on two main themes:  

  • Understanding the role of the skin microbiome in healthy ageing 

  • Identifying causation of changes within the microbiome with age and in turn work towards improving the ageing outcomes 


The network pump priming grant aims to support these themes via different activities: 

  • Researcher support 

  • Engaging with other networks and societies within the field 

  • Sharing of resources/data/expertise 

  • Establishing and strengthening interdisciplinary collaboration 

  • Establishing guidelines and standard operating procedures 

  • Contribution to claims regulation within the field 

  • Public engagement and awareness 

  • Generation of new scientific approaches 


We’re delighted to announce the BBSRC have awarded the SMiHA network a one-year additional funding stream that will provide additional resource until March 2025. First round of pump priming is available from 1st December 2023-  20th June 2024. See details below on how to apply.

Funding available

SMiHA pump priming fund is intended to facilitate:

  1. Pilot Research Grants. Two grants are available up to £10,000 for pilot research projects to be carried out through researcher collaboration between institutions. 

  2. Research Facilitation Grants. Four grants up to £5,000 to facilitate research projects including small equipment and purchase of services such as sequencing and also relevant training courses.

  3. Travel grants to enable researchers to attend relevant conferences and events. Up to £1000 for international and up to £500 for UK

  4. Networking grants up to £400 to enable researchers to attend events run through UKANet, with the aim of building links with the other ageing networks.


If you have a particular question regarding the scope of the funding, please contact Prof Andrew McBain


Submit the following to Prof Andrew McBain

  • Short CV (max 2 pages) including your current post and details of your University/Institute/ Company and list of 5 relevant publications including oral and abstract presentations at scientific meetings  

  • State which award you are applying for

    • Pilot project award​ (up to 10K)

    • Facilitation award (up to 5K)

    • Travel grant

    • UKANet networking grant

For the Pilot Project Grant​. Please provide:-

  • A proposal that is written by the applicants, with a 100-word abstract. The proposal should not exceed 1500 words and should include relevant references to published literature (references do not contribute to the word limit).  

    • The research proposal should have sufficient information to allow evaluation of the planned research activity. Primary social research will be considered   

    • Include a description of how your current research and career development will benefit from the award (max 500 words).     

  • A supporting statement by the head of the current laboratory, school or department (name of current department and institution). Email is acceptable 

  • A supporting statement by the head of the host school (name of host school and institution). Email is acceptable 

  • A project timeline: start date and end date, and simple plan, agreed with host lab 

  • A budget request – this can contain realistic estimates of costs for travel, accommodation, cost-of-living expenses for the duration of any proposed visit(s), modest consumables, facility access costs are acceptable, e.g. time on equipment at the host laboratory 

Criteria for assessment includes: 


  • A clear vision for the strategic contribution the applicant will make to the research and innovation landscape of SMiHA network (Please see SMiHA sandpit outcomes mindmap here

  • Demonstration of how the proposed activity will engage with, and contribute to, the wider national and international research and innovation landscape

  • Demonstration of clear and feasible project delivery plans and outputs, including consideration of risks and mitigation.  

  • Consideration of whether the project will deliver data for use in a larger grant application  

  • Evidence that two UK institutions are involved in the project.

For the Research Facilitation Grants. Please provide:-

  • Details of the equipment or service or training course (with a relevant quotation or price) you wish to purchase

  • A budget request

  • A description of how this equipment, research service or training will help in you research.

For the Travel Grants. Please provide:-

  • Details of the conference you wish to attend (name, city, dates)

  • A budget request

  • Confirmation that you have submitted an abstract/poster/oral poster

  • Acknowledgement that you will write a blog (max 500 words) for the SMiHA website based on your attendance

For a UKANet networking grant. Please provide:-

  • A proposal identifying an event or training session hosted by one of the other 10 UKANet networks that you propose to attend

  • A budget request

  • Details of how this activity will benefit your own research

  • Acknowledgement that you will write a short blog (max 500 words) for the SMiHA network website based on your attendance



Subject to the number and quality of applications received, SMiHA reserve the right to limit

funding to one per research group/lab at any particular institution. 



  • To encourage collaboration within the UK research community focused on the skin microbiome and ageing that could lead to new consortia for grant funding submission and new partnerships with industry  

  • To promote skills development in researchers and to help early career researchers develop in the field  

  • We particularly encourage cross-disciplinary training opportunities 



  • Travel and accommodation for a research visit to another University or to a company to aid future collaborations between teams/institutions  

  • To attend a relevant skills-based training course   

  • To attend a conference or other UKANet event

  • Modest laboratory consumables

  • Social research costs

  • Consumer outreach costs


  • Applicants should be members of the SMiHA network (join via  

  • Post-doctoral researchers, PhD students (year 2 or above) or graduate clinical fellows. 


  • Projects, attendance at events and conferences must be completed and fully reported by 3rd March 2024.


  • Applications will be assessed by an appointed SMiHA network committee against the following criteria :.  

    • The basis of knowledge and skills transfer to further the network aims  

    • The potential to support the academic career of the applicant.  

    • Potential to  build capacity for skills in the field of ageing in the UK  

    • Benefit of the award to aid the applicant’s scientific career.

    • Liklihood of future collaborative working  



 As per BBSRC guidelines all awards will be funded at 80% Full Economic Cost (FEC)


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