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The research funding process

Twice a year (on average) DEBRA International puts out a 'call' to EB researchers around the world. This call asks them to submit applications for funding, to support their EB research, in areas that DEBRA has determined to be priorities. The researchers must apply by filling in a detailed application form which asks them for:

  • Details of the research team
  • The background to the research
  • The purpose of the project
  • What experiments will be undertaken
  • The value of the research they propose to undertake
  • The budget requested
  • A 'lay' summary of the project written for non-scientists

What happens after the researchers submit their applications?

The submitted research projects are initially assessed by the DEBRA International research team, led by Dr. Clare Robinson.

If the applications meet all the criteria for the call, they are then sent for peer review. This means that they are assessed by other scientific experts in the area, who provide feedback and a score (the applicants are not told the identity of the peer reviewers).

This is the point where the applications are also sent to one or more patient reviewers (the applicants will also not be told the identity of the patient reviewers).

All the projects are then discussed and assessed at a meeting of a panel of experts, called the DEBRA International Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel (MSAP).

The panel considers the projects at a meeting, taking the peer reviews and patient reviews into consideration and gives each project a score out of 100. The reviews guide the members of the panel but do not directly contribute to the score.

Projects scoring over 70% are considered of high enough quality to fund. These projects are then taken to the Board of whichever national DEBRA is providing the funding (usually DEBRA Austria or DEBRA UK), for final approval.

The researchers are then informed as to whether or not they have been successful. In the case of successful projects, the researchers are often asked to make slight amendments to their plans, based on the outcomes of the review process and MSAP assessment.

The entire process is a confidential one. Neither DEBRA staff, reviewers, nor members of the MSAP can reveal any details of the funding applications. Following final approval, limited details of successful applications will be released but never of unsuccessful applications.