Health Services Research Grant
07 May 2018 - 22 Jun 2018


Health Services Research (HSR) is the “multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organisational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviours affect access to healthcare, the quality and cost of healthcare, and ultimately our health and well-being. Its research domains are individuals, families, organisations, institutions, communities, and populations”.  HSR can improve policy formulation and practice by studying health delivery and outcomes, and providing rigorous scientific evidence for process improvements in applied healthcare settings.

To achieve a higher impact on healthcare delivery and outcomes, the HSR Grant (HSRG) aims to fund HSR in topic areas aligned with MOH priorities to more directly address key challenges of the healthcare system. With a demographically ageing population and increasing chronic disease burden, the demands on the healthcare system are set to further increase, and the healthcare system can rapidly become unsustainable in terms of both healthcare cost and manpower. To meet these challenges, efforts should be prioritised on transforming care, containing healthcare cost inflation and increasing the efficiency of our limited manpower. Research projects funded by the HSRG can include research into healthcare systems (i.e. not limited to “health services” per se), and should have a relatively short period from research findings to adoption (i.e. within 2 to 3 years upon study completion). HSR should also focus on translating knowledge to not just action but impact, and should result in practical measures that can be implemented across the healthcare system. This can include the adaptation of good practices overseas in the local context. Submitted proposals to the HSRG should focus on solutions with sector- or systems-level impact.


Each HSRG application must be led by a PI fulfilling the eligibility criteria listed below. Only one Principal Investigator (PI) is allowed per application.

PI must have a PhD and/or MBBS/BDS/PharmD/MD and/or other appropriate Postgraduate Qualification (at least a Master’s Degree). For proposals involving patients, either the PI or co-I should be SMC-registered; or should be able to demonstrate ability to access patients through SMC-registered collaborators. It is recognized that some studies may not require patient involvement.

Additional eligibility criteria include:

  1. Hold a primary appointment in a local publicly funded institution and salaried by the institution.
  2. Be an independent PI with a demonstrated track record of research as evidenced by the award of nationally competitive funding (international funding to be considered on a case by case basis) orsubstantial publication record.
  3. Have a laboratory or clinical research program that carries out research in Singapore.
  4. Hold a minimum of 9 months employment with a local Singapore institution. Upon award, the PI must agree to fulfill at least 6 months of residency in Singapore for each calendar year[1] over the duration of the grant award.
  5. No outstanding reports from previous BMRC, NMRC grants and other national grants.  

Funding Quantum:

There is no cap in funding quantum or funding duration. However, it should be noted that reasonableness of budget and time taken to implementation form part of the assessment for HSRG applications. Additional 20% indirect costs will be provided to the host institution of the lead PI. 

Research Themes:

Each HSRG grant call will be open to specific research themes.

Proposals submitted under the thematic grant call should aim to study new models with scientific rigour, with key focus on population-based outcomes and interventions that are practical and sustainable (e.g. the inclusion and exclusion criteria should not be so restrictive that the benefits accrue to only a small population). The type of research should be more action-oriented rather than lab-based research. The proposals should also incorporate new elements outside of traditional healthcare such as Behavioural Science and Human Factors. Proposals involving cross cluster collaboration will be given higher priority. The 3rd thematic grant call is open to proposals that fit the following themes:

  • Diabetes
    In Singapore, diabetes has one of the highest disease burdens, where one in nine Singaporean residents aged 18-69 years are affected by diabetes1.  Diabetes poses an increasing healthcare and economic cost to the country, with research suggesting that the total cost of diabetes for the entire working-age population will more than double from about $1 billion in 2010 to beyond $2.5 billion in 2050.

    Out of the various aspects to be tackled, the most pressing and current issues in diabetes care include: (i) the identification of diabetes patients late after the onset of disease, (ii) faster rate of deterioration of local diabetes patients compared to other countries’, and (iii) expensive acute-centric model of care that prolongs lives in disability after patients require acute intervention.

    To address these issues, proposals submitted under the diabetes theme can cover HSR in any or all of these areas:
    • new models to better pick up and manage pre-diabetics,
    • new models of primary or shared care to better arrest the rate of deterioration and reduce acute episodes, and
    • more cost-effective care across the spectrum of the disease, including elements of secondary and tertiary care aligned with primary prevention efforts. 

  • Health Promotion 
    A rapidly ageing population and increasing chronic disease burden threaten the long-term sustainability of Singapore’s healthcare system. Upstream investment in health promotion is a key move that would decrease the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and diabetes, and reduce the burden on Singapore’s healthcare system and finite resources. This theme will fund HSR that seeks to identify drivers of healthy living, and leads to the development of new models of health promotion intervention, including good nutrition promotion, physical activity promotion (e.g. reducing sedentary behaviour), tobacco use prevention or cessation, increasing screening uptake, mental well-being promotion and studies on cost-effectiveness of health promotion interventions (including measuring the impact of public health interventions on population health outcomes).

    This theme also seeks research into clinical models that reduce the risk, delay the onset and/or decelerate the progress of frailty by covering end-to-end care along the trajectory of frailty (i.e. from health promotion intervention to the delivery of clinical services).

  • Optimisation of Healthcare Resources and Patient Outcomes 
    This theme seeks HSR into new models of care delivery, at the sector- or systems-level, that cut out unnecessary processes or systems.

    This could include initiatives to understand and demonstrate how services and resources can be better allocated from a regional perspective for the management, support and referral of specialised and complex services/conditions, to strike a balance between optimal care outcomes for regional health and the efficient allocation of resources*; and other ways to establish consistent and standardised care processes to optimise care delivery and improve clinical outcomes across the healthcare system.

    This theme also seeks innovations that disrupt the whole life-cycle care partnership with the patient at centre to maximise the value of healthcare, with good quality clinical outcome delivered at the lowest possible costs. Projects can range from identifying areas of high variability in outcomes and costs, to testing new approaches of delivery such as payment models (e.g. bundled payment).

    *examples include the use of hub-and-spoke models such as for Cancer; management and diversion of time-sensitive ambulances cases for trauma, stroke and ePCI cases; optimising the provisioning of clinical services, such as the comparison of different models to provide access to hyperacute stroke services, including 24 hour access to neurology, thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy

  • Community mental health: 
    This theme seeks to fund HSR into new models that enable sustainable end-to-end care that (i) allows for early detection, (ii) enables treatment compliance, and (iii) enables patients with mental health conditions, including dementia, to be cared for and stabilised in the community.

  • Healthcare Manpower Sustainability 
    With a demographically ageing population and increasing chronic disease burden, the demands on the healthcare system are set to further increase, and we need to ensure that the healthcare system remains sustainable in terms of healthcare manpower. This theme seeks HSR to improve the sustainability and efficiency of our limited healthcare manpower, including studies that seek to understand and improve healthcare manpower productivity, explore new manpower deployment models, improve labour force participation rates for older workers and out-of-practice groups, and improve sustainability and effectiveness of informal workforce engagement (e.g. volunteers).

  • End-of-life care: 
    Another potential source of high healthcare demand, this theme will seek new models to tackle early decision-making and cross-sector palliative care models especially for non-cancer patients (i.e. frailty) with the best use of limited healthcare manpower.

  • White Space 
    Seeks novel HSR ideas which may provide insights on new disruptive solutions for current and future healthcare challenges. Applications will be assessed based on the ability to address the challenges of (i) increasing demand from ageing population, (ii) shrinking workforce, and (iii) healthcare cost inflation.

1 National Health Survey 2010, SCs and PR, aged 18 – 69 years


It is mandatory for all applications to be submitted and endorsed by Director of Research (DOR) online via IGMS by 08 June 2018, 5pm. We will not entertain any late submissions or submissions from individual applicants without HI DOR endorsement.

Please download the Guide and Application Form (for reference) for more information. 

Last updated: 18 Jul 2018