Refinement of the use of chronic implants in neuroscience studies with macaques

This call is closed.


Conventionally head fixation for electrophysiology and imaging studies is achieved using a headpost surgically implanted under deep general anaesthesia. For neural recordings, a craniotomy and recording chamber are also required. Non-invasive means of head restraint have been developed, but are not suitable for all studies and require further validation.

Current implant designs utilise biocompatible material (e.g. stainless steel), tissue-friendly material (e.g. titanium coated with hydroxyl apatite) or MR-compatible material (e.g. plastic), sometimes in combination with dental acrylic or bone cement. Typically they are secured to the skull using metal or ceramic screws, bolts or other devices. Although these methods reliably restrain the monkeys head, many types of implant are not tissue-friendly, and eventually pressure on the implant leads to inflammation and infection, bone necrosis and instability or breakage of the device.

We are seeking innovative solutions to address these problems. We anticipate that proposals will be focused on one or more of the following areas:

  • reducing inflammation and infection
  • improving integration and stability
  • improving surgical outcomes
  • avoiding surgically implanted devices

Key datesWho can apply | How to apply |  Assessment procedure Assessment Panel | Resources and awards 

Key dates

7 December 2015, 4pm Deadline for informal outline submission to NC3Rs Office
8 December 2015  Application form live on Je-S
27 January 2016, 4pm Deadline for full applications via Je-S
April 2016 Panel meeting for full applications
End of April 2016 Applicants notified of outcome
July 2016 Expected project start date
September 2016 Latest date for commencing projects

Back to the top

Who can apply

Establishment eligibility

Individual eligibility*

Any UK research establishment including:

  • Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs)
  • Research Council (RC) Institutes
  • Hospital/NHS Trusts
  • Charity Laboratories
  • Industry

Applicants should be UK-based researchers who can demonstrate that they:

  • Will direct the proposed research
  • Will be actively engaged in accomplishing the project’s aims
  • Hold a graduate degree – the minimum formal qualification required. However, it would normally be expected that an applicant has been awarded a PhD. Applications involving less experienced researchers should be made in collaboration with a more senior colleague

Individual eligibility update*

If an NC3Rs grant holder has more than 12 months remaining on their NC3Rs grant, at the time of application, they are not permitted to apply as a Primary Investigator for further NC3Rs funding (excluding CRACK IT and Strategic Awards – please contact the Office to discuss).

Overseas researchers

Overseas researchers cannot be primary investigators but can be included as collaborators. Overseas co-applicant status can be obtained in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the NC3Rs; approval should be sought before applying.


The NC3Rs does not allow resubmission of previously unsuccessful proposals, unless explicitly invited by the Panel. Proposals previously declined by the NC3Rs will not be considered by another Research Council or funder within 12 months (from the date of submission to the original Research Council) unless substantially revised. More information can be found in the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook.

Please note: The same or similar application cannot be considered by any other Research Council, the Health Departments or any other research funder at the same time

Back to the top

How to apply

This call is now closed. For information on future Strategic Award calls please sign up to the NC3Rs Newsletter for updates. 

Back to the top

Assessment Procedure

Applications are evaluated by the NC3Rs Strategic Award Panel.

The following criteria are taken into consideration when making funding decisions:

  • Relevance to the strategic call
  • Potential impact on the 3Rs
  • Quality of the science
  • Current or future importance of the techniques to medical, biological or veterinary research
  • Strategy for promoting the proposed research to the scientific community
  • Expertise and track record of the team
  • Relevance to the NC3Rs strategy
  • Value for money

Back to the top

 Assessment Panel 

The following Panel considered applications submitted to this call.

Member name  Institution

Dr Alexander Easton (Chair)

Durham University

Dr Daniel Adams

University of California, San Francisco

Dr Ivan Balansard

CNRS and Aix-Marseille University 

Professor Liam Grover

University of Birmingham

Professor Steven Percival

University of Liverpool

Professor Eric Rouiller

University of Fribourg

Back to top

Resources and awards

A total budget of up to £750,000  was available for projects of up to 36 months in duration. 

One award was made in April 2016.  

Professor Alex Thiele                (Newcastle University)

Improving biological integration of osseous and dermal tissues in macaque cranial implants

Back to the top