When Action for A-T was first established, we did not have the resources or experience to evaluate research applications ourselves. We developed a partnership with Sparks, a leading UK children’s medical research charity and research we funded was managed through them. We used their internal peer review process in addition to external feedback from scientists with A-T expertise to evaluate research applications. We also co-funded research with the expert team at the A-T Children’s project (ATCP) in the USA. We are now in a position to evaluate research applications ourselves whilst continuing to maintain our partnerships and jointly fund projects with others.
We aim to have two grant round applications per year. Grant round funding and deadlines will be advertised on the Action for A-T website and other websites. Research calls will also be sent out electronically to researchers.
Applications are considered for high quality biological science or translational research projects that may lead to treatments and cures for A-T from applicants in the UK and worldwide. Grants are usually awarded for one to three year projects.
UK based projects will be prioritised for funding.
We also retain flexible funding so that we can jointly fund research with others during the year and are able to respond quickly to important emerging information and techniques.
OUR RESEARCH SELECTION PROCESS
If the proposed research is within Action for A-T’s remit, researchers will be invited to submit a full research grant application. Applications will then be sent for external peer review. We will identify external scientific experts to give detailed written feedback on research applications. A minimum of two external reviewers with scientific expertise in A-T and/or with expertise in the area of research proposed in the application are sought. Applicants are given the chance to read and respond to the external scientific peer reviewers’ comments and all of this information – application, external reviewers’ reports and applicant’s response is given to our Research Advisory Committee (RAC) for consideration and assessment. The RAC is Action for A-T’s internal peer review committee, made up of independent experts with a wide variety of expertise who assess applications and make recommendations for funding to the board of Trustees. The Trustees will make the final decision, based on the RAC’s advice and the funds available.
Grants will be reviewed and awarded within 4 months.
Funded projects are appraised through the evaluation of our annual reports. When research is conducted in the UK, our Research Manager will visit the research site where possible. The impact of the research we fund will be measured in terms of achievement against original research goals; publication in highly-rated journal of key research findings and review by peers at the end of a grant funding period. We will also collect the outputs of our research projects via Research Fish, an online facility that enables research funders to track the impacts of their investments, and researchers to easily log the outcomes of their work. Evaluating our research will help us continually improve as a charity.
Research we fund relies on the generous support of all our fundraisers – the public and the family and friends of those affected by A-T who commit their time and efforts to raise vital funds for us to invest in research. We take the responsibility of spending those funds very seriously and work to three core principles:
- PEER REVIEW – all our research applications are subject to peer review as outlined above. Peer review is an integral part of our decision making process enabling us to fund the best researchers and the projects with the most promise of making a breakthrough.
- CONFLICTS OF INTEREST – Action for A-T make every effort to ensure that its decisions are fair, objective and transparent. We have a strict conflict of interest policy for external reviews, internal reviews and our board of Trustees.
- WORKING TOGETHER – Working with others is a key part of our strategy. We believe that collaboration and partnership is fundamental in the small A-T community. By sharing resources, knowledge and experience we can accelerate the pace of research, save time and money. None of which we can afford to waste.