Grants

01 Jul 2022 - 01 Aug 2022

About

Population Health is the health of a population as measured by health status indicators and as influenced by social, economic and physical environments, personal health practices, individual capacity and coping skills, human biology, early childhood development, and health services. As an approach, population health focuses on the interrelated conditions and factors that influence the health of populations over the life course, identifies systematic variations in their patterns of occurrence, and applies the resulting knowledge to develop and implement policies and actions to improve the health and well-being of those populations. A population health approach addresses the entire range of individual and collective factors that determine health. Population health strategies are designed to affect whole groups or populations of people. The overarching goals of a population health approach are to maintain and improve the health status of the entire population and to reduce disparities in health status between population groups.

As we aim to develop an integrated ecosystem that anchors preventive health efforts in primary care and care in the community with good system linkages to support citizens at different life stages, novel strategies and approaches will be needed to drive sustained behavioural modifications for individuals to adopt healthier behaviour and habits. This would include new ‘Precision Health’ models that shift away from broad-based interventions to interventions that are tailored to maximise impact on high-risk groups (e.g. by combining clinical/phenotypic data, genetic data, behavioural data, digital data). To achieve this, the Population Health Research Grant (PHRG) will fund research proposals that seek to improve health outcomes through a population health approach under the following Research Areas:

a) Health Promotion and Preventive Health
Singapore’s rising chronic disease burden threaten the long-term sustainability of the country’s healthcare system. Upstream investment in health promotion and preventive health is a key move that would decrease the incidence and/or delay 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 area encompasses research devoted to the building of the scientific and economic evidence base for health promotion and disease prevention in the Singapore context. This includes applied etiological or determinant research, field or community-based research, and cost-effectiveness/analysis research that are collaborative, interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary, problem-solving and solution-oriented, and translatable to practice for implementation. 

The research proposals submitted under this research area must lead to a better understanding of actionable, cost-effective and sustainable drivers of physical and mental health in the following areas of interest to promote healthy behaviour and address modifiable health risks across different life stages

b) Health Services Research
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”.

Given our population ageing resulting in increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, multi-morbidity and demand for healthcare services, rising costs and manpower demand, there is a need to transform our care delivery model and enablers (e.g. financing approach, data sharing services across settings) to anchor care in primary care and community care, to operate a more sustainable and manpower-lean healthcare system. We should also continue to leverage on digital technologies to improve health delivery (e.g. to prevent disease by empowering consumers to make better-informed decisions about their health, tailor medicine/treatment to individual needs, and lower the cost of healthcare provision), and enable new ways (e.g. through inter-disciplinary application) of intervening to effect behaviour changes whilst allowing rich data to be collected. The Population Health HPHSRG could contribute to this effort by supporting a) rigorous real-world evaluation of promising interventions and/or models of care, and b) research into Implementation Science to better understand and implement effective methods to bring about widespread transformation.

Research Themes

To allow the grant scheme to specifically address MOH’s areas of pressing research needs, only proposals with scope falling within the specific Research Themes below can apply. We invite interested applicants to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to address at least one of the specific questions under the Research Themes stipulated below. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to further co-create full proposals with MOH and other relevant agencies, before further funding consideration. More information on the specific questions under each Research Theme can be found in the Theme Brief document that can be found within the Guide and Application Form zipped file downloadable at the bottom of this page:

  1. Mental Health

    As the demands of modern life have increased, particularly in the face of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of mental health is on the forefront. This theme will fund research catering to the spectrum of patients with mental health conditions, from children and adolescents in schools, to working adults, to elderly patients. Particular attention will be given to research that improves access to mental healthcare in the community and supports the integration of primary and specialist mental healthcare.

  2. Care for Mothers and Children

    This theme spans the continuum of care from pre-conception, pregnancy and childbirth to infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and research should address metabolic health, mental health and cognitive development of children and their mothers.

  3. Population mobilisation and improved access in the “War on Diabetes” and other common chronic diseases

    Since declaring a “War on Diabetes” in 2016 to rally the entire nation to tackle diabetes, a range of initiatives and programmes have been implemented as part of the strategy to beat diabetes. While headway has been made in early detection and intervention, more upstream challenges remain to be addressed, including patient education and awareness of disease course, patient ownership of disease management, and socioeconomic barriers to good diabetes control. Besides diabetes, the burden of other chronic diseases will also continue to rise as our population ages. To address these issues, proposals for research submitted under this theme can cover new models of care, strategies, and research pertaining to patient behaviour and education, as well as to create change and societal shifts in enabling access to healthcare for patients with diabetes or other common chronic diseases.

  4. Effective Use of Technology to Improve Health

    What started out as an alternative for patients who prefer a tele-consult in the comfort of their own homes has become increasingly relevant in a post-pandemic world. The use of apps to monitor health and fitness have also become increasingly popular. However, recent incidences of data breaches have also highlighted the need for enhanced cyber-security. This theme will fund research that seeks to identify and create innovative models of care in the areas of telehealth and telemedicine, including for health promotion and preventive health, systems integration and databases, and privacy protection and data security.

  5. Prevention and Preparedness for Healthy Ageing

    This theme seeks to fund research into ideas that can extend healthy and functional lifespan and reduce the impact of disability, with a view for translation or application of solutions that can have a positive impact on our seniors.

  6. Care for Complex Patients

    With the increasing chronic disease burden, patients with multiple morbidities have become the norm and often have poor clinical outcomes. They often require care across multiple care sites (e.g. SOCs, home-based care), and face significant challenges navigating the healthcare system. Research submitted under this theme should address the needs of this patient population, including healthcare access, self-management, and care coordination. This theme will also support research targeted towards allied health and multi-disciplinary team-based care pertaining to the delivery of integrated care, including both medical and non-medical professionals. Strategies that have a community-based focus will be prioritised.

  7. Sustainable and Efficient Care Delivery

    This theme addresses the need to improve the sustainability and efficiency of our healthcare delivery system through improving resourcing and allocation, and approaches such as Value-Based Care. This theme will support research that seeks to optimize resource allocation, improve healthcare manpower productivity, and increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery without compromising quality.

  8. Palliative Care

    As our population ages, palliative care will become increasingly important as we seek to enable patients to live out their final days in a dignified manner. Over the years, Singapore has been enhancing the quality, affordability and accessibility of palliative care services. We have a variety of palliative care options such as the inpatient hospice palliative care, home palliative care and day hospices to cater for different needs and preferences of treatment and places of death. However, with evolving palliative (and end-of-life (EOL)) care models, in addition to challenges such as the current COVID-19 pandemic significantly altering traditional views on care delivery, we are keen on exploring how we can adopt and/or adapt existing palliative care models to offer more holistic, person-centric and cost-efficient options.

  9. Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM)

    As a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, Singapore remains home to individuals of different ethnicities and religions. This diversity plays out in health seeking behaviours as well, with the presence of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), traditional Malay medicine (TMM), and traditional Indian medicine (TIM), although only TCM practitioners are statutorily regulated. This theme will fund research that seeks to understand the prevalence, attitudes and health seeking behaviour of our population with regard to T&CM, with a focus on how Western medicine and T&CM can be used safely together.

  10. Health Systems Research
    Besides improving various care models serving different groups of patients, research at a health systems-level could potentially yield important insights into system-level interventions or policies that may impact health on a wider or deeper scale. 

Evaluation Criteria

Selection of successful proposals would be based on the following evaluation criteria:

  • High quality scientific research
  • Proposed research topic should be population health research of importance to the health system in Singapore. Provided they are scientifically meritorious, proposals which address the set themes would be given priority consideration.
  • Demonstrate the potential to improve health outcomes and be adopted into actual policy or practice within 2-3 years upon study completion

Eligibility

Each PHRG application must fall within the scope of the Research Areas as articulated above, and 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) in areas relevant to the proposed research. 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 over the duration of the grant award.
  5. No outstanding reports from previous BMRC, NMRC grants and other national grants.  

Funding Quantum and Duration:

No stipulated caps in funding quantum or duration. Quantum and duration to be deliberated during the co-creation and review process. 

Submission

Applicants will first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) application. If shortlisted, the PI will be invited to co-develop the full proposal with MOH and relevant agencies before being considered for funding. Applicants can submit their LOIs any time after the opening of the grant call. It is mandatory for all applications to be submitted and endorsed by the HI’s Director of Research (DOR) via IGMS.

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