16 Nov 2020 - 16 Dec 2020


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) or substantial 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 are critical factors in assessing 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.

Proposals related to Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) are welcome. Proposals could include the development of self-reported instruments that can measure the outcomes of patients (including research on validity and reliability of self-reported outcomes vis-à-vis clinician assessed instruments), potential measures and incentives to improve reporting of patient outcomes, localisation of PROMs developed elsewhere (especially the testing of PROMs in the vernacular), and innovative ways of capturing PROMS (wearables, IT and other methods). Instruments developed should have a specific area of deployment and should also identify clinicians who are willing to enrol patients in the collection of PROMs.

The 7th 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).

  • 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. New models that partner community providers are encouraged. 

  • 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 and new models of using alternative workforce (e.g. lay extenders), 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).

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 16 Dec 2020, 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.