Mat Wright

The Institutional Links project offers long-term grants to support partnerships between universities and research centres in Russia and UK. The grants offered range between £200,000 and £300,000, based on three years of cooperation.

The Institutional Links project aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Initiation of new applied Russian-UK research and technological innovations
  • Strengthening existing links at the level of scientific groups, units and organisations
  •  Involvement of non-academic organisations in the Russian-UK research cooperation with the aim of transferring knowledge and technology and achieving tangible results.

The Institutional Links project is delivered by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation as part of the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education 2017.

As a result of the joint competition, the British Council and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation will support three applied scientific research projects from Russia-UK during 2018-2020.

Research areas

Priority areas of scientific knowledge for the Institutional Links project in Russia:

  • Physics and space science
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Environmental challenges and climate change.


Grants under the Institutional Links project can be used to cover the following expenses:

  • The costs of joint research, including the remuneration of academic staff
  • Travel expenses for scientists, students and employees of organisations leading the project, as well as associated  project partners

The grant may partially cover other costs related directly to research (including equipment, consumables and access to the necessary infrastructure), but this expenditure item should not exceed 30% of the total grant amount. The duration of the project is 36 months, starting in April 2018.

Two applications are to be submitted for entry to the competition. This includes one to the British Council and another to the competition in the framework of the Federal Targeted Program (FTP)   "R&D in priority areas of development of Russia's scientific and technological complex for 2014-2020". The deadline for applications is 19 September 2017, 16.00 GMT. Please note that applications sent after this date will not be considered.

For more information on how to apply including application forms please visit our global website. Apply for a symmetrical competition from the Russian side - on the FTP website.

We recommend that you read the competition documentation available for download below.

Projects supported by Institutional Links grants in 2017-2018

Seismology of Solar Coronal Active Regions

Seismology of Solar Coronal Active Regions

Partner Organisations:

Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The University of Warwick

UK Head of Project: Prof. Valery Nakariakov, University of Warwick
Russia Head of Project: Dr Ivan Zimovets, Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Our civilisation has become highly dependent on the conditions in the near-Earth space, known as space weather. Extreme events, usually associated with solar flares, cause energy supply blackouts, disrupt communication and navigation systems, damage satellites, with the financial losses reaching tens of billions £ worldwide. It especially affects the developed countries such as the UK and Russia. Responding to the importance of this issue, the UK Government added space weather to the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies, and the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre was founded in 2013. Recently, the Russian Government established the National Helio-Geophysical Complex.

The key ingredient of space weather forecasting is reliable and robust diagnostics of physical conditions in the place of its origin, the atmosphere of the Sun. A highly powerful and promising technique for the diagnostics is based on the use of recently discovered wave processes in the solar atmosphere, as natural probes, the method of seismology. The proposed project aims to establish long-standing mutually beneficial research links between Warwick, UK and IKI, Russia, which are both established world leaders in the observational study and theoretical modelling of waves in space plasmas. The unique complementarities of Warwick's and IKI's research expertise and experience allows us to attack one of the key challenges of solar physics, the estimation of the free magnetic energy in flaring sites known as active regions. This knowledge is vital for the estimation of the energy released by a flare and its effect on the Earth and human infrastructure. We shall achieve it by studying oscillations in active regions, applying novel analysis techniques to the data obtained with the best available spaceborne facilities.

The research outcomes are expected to qualitatively improve space weather forecasting. The project will provide a solid foundation for Russian-UK collaboration in space science.

British-Russian Centre of Excellence in Catalytic Systems: Combining Experimental and Mathematical Modelling Techniques

British-Russian Centre of Excellence in Catalytic Systems: Combining Experimental and Mathematical Modelling Techniques Integrating Chemical Kinetics, Heat and Mass Transfer from Atomic to Plant scale
Partner Organisations:

University of Leeds

Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia

UK Head of Project: Prof. A John Blacker, University of Leeds
Russia Head of Project: Prof. Eleonora Koltsova, Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia

A Centre of Excellence for experimental and computational studies of chemical and physical transformations in catalytic flow processes will be established. This innovative research will lead to the development of predictive mathematical models for integrating supported-homogeneous biological and chemical catalysts into multi-catalytic pathways, supported by experiment.

The subject of this research is of great interest to the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries as it seeks to avoid the costs and waste associated with work-up and isolation at each stage for these complex organic chemicals. The work will investigate reactant and product flux from one catalyst to the next, and the effect on control of the catalytic cycle, including binding and release, mass transfer microfluidics and mixing.

A modelling kernel for each catalyst system will be developed as a modular ("plug-and-play") modelling tool that will enable the design of an integrated multi-catalytic pathway. The model will be tested with examples from the Pharma, and Agrochem sectors with the aim of improving the efficiency, reducing the cost and waste associated with this high value chemical manufacturing. The project team will work with companies in these sectors to disseminate, validate and encourage adoption of the modelling tool.

Methods for Multiomics data analysis using GWAS, eQTL and pQTL as a framework for molecular pathway profiling

Methods for Multiomics data analysis using GWAS, eQTL and pQTL as a framework for molecular pathway profiling
Partner Organisations:

University of Edinburgh Novosibirsk

National Research State University

UK Head of Project: Prof. Jim Wilson, University of Edinburgh
Russia Head of Project: Dr Dmitry Alexeev, Novosibirsk National Research State University

The project aims to create strategic institutional links between the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and Novosibirsk State University (NSU) in the area of big data, focussed on genomic and other high dimensional biomarkers (multiomics). We will develop methods for integration of biomedical data for the purposes of risk prediction, biomarker discovery and deciphering the molecular basis of disease.

The UK team have a unique collection of deep biomarker measurements in the ORCADES cohort, with the potential to construct an integrated profile of each subject's state of health: linking together changes at the molecular level and subsequent disease. The Russian team are expert in processing such large and diverse datasets: developing algorithms and implementing them in usable software. We shall develop hypotheses of causal pathways and then test them in ORCADES. While most multi-omics research initiatives try to identify correlations between features, causation is less clear. In our proposal, the deep and wide ORCADES data will enable us to identify causation and underlying molecular pathways. For our exemplar - cardiovascular disease - we aim to define pathways leading from genes to phenotypes, and molecular hallmarks of its development. This would potentially lead to development of novel biomarkers, patient stratification methods, and identification of new drug targets. The methodology could readily be applied to other diseases.

The experience of participation in the project with one of the leading universities in multi-omics research will allow NSU to advance its own bioinformatics school and reinforce its credentials as a strong partner for future international and domestic collaborations. For Edinburgh, working with leading experts in the statistical analysis of big data offers the prospect of ongoing collaboration and knowledge transfer in a field with considerable potential for translation and impact on patient care.

Thermotherapy for the treatment of malignant brain tumours mediated by functionalised magnetic nanoparticles

Thermotherapy for the treatment of malignant brain tumours mediated by functionalised magnetic nanoparticles
Partner Organisations:

UCL Cancer Institute, University College London

Institute of Cytology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

UK Head of Project: Prof. Kerry Chester, UCL Cancer Institute, University College London
Russia Head of Project: Dr Maxim Shevtsov, Institute of Cytology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The proposal will combine Russian and British expertise to develop innovative nanotechnologies for treatment glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive primary brain cancer. Despite multimodal treatment, glioblastoma has a median survival of just over 1 year. Innovative treatments are urgently needed. We will take a new approach, combining our scientific and clinical specialities to develop superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs), a new class of treatments, to meet this need. SPIONs are non-toxic and used clinically for imaging. However, when placed in a harmless external alternating magnetic field (AMF), the SPIONs release heat in a process termed magnetic hyperthermia.

It is this property we will exploit using a custom built, portable AMF delivery system. Heat is directly toxic to the cancer cells and can also alert the immune system to the presence of the cancer. During the proposal, we will create and develop advanced SPIONs, targeted to a specific protein (HSP-70) on the surface of cancer cells. We will characterise these targeted SPIONs using biological and physical parameters. Then we will investigate the efficacy and action mechanism of these targeted SPIONs as mediators of magnetic hyperthermia therapy in rodent models of glioblastoma. A successful project outcome would offer a potential new treatment for glioblastoma and would eventually impact upon the way glioblastoma is treated in the clinic through clinical translation of the findings into early phase clinical trials for patients with glioblastoma. The outcomes from this project will also generate a valuable contribution to the growing body of scientific literature on targeting nanoparticles for cancer therapy.

Furthermore, this collaborative effort between the UK and Russian federation in the fields of nanotechnology and cancer research will strengthen the research links between the two countries with economic benefits from potential commercialisation of the scientific findings.

For queries about Institutional Links, please contact Inna Popova (Project Coordinator)Inna.Popova@britishcouncil.ru