Strengthening the Tuberculosis Research Capacity of Relevant Individuals and Institutions in Target Countries

Joint TDR and WHO Regional Office for Europe Small Grants Scheme for operational / implementation research to ensure continuity of essential tuberculosis services during the COVID-19 pandemic


Use the rich text formatting to enter the detailed description of the Call. Using the tools for rich text formatting, you can also insert images and URLs. The Small Grants Scheme is a joint initiative of TDR and WHO regional offices under the current TDR Strategy. TDR is sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), and is hosted at WHO. It supports implementation research on infectious diseases of poverty that leads to health improvement and strengthening the research capacity of individuals and institutions in low- and middle-income countries. TDR also supports translating research results into policy and improved health practices and promotes the engagement of individuals and communities in using research evidence to reduce the disease burden in their respective countries. TDR is also implementing the Structured Operational Research and Training IniTiative (SORT IT) with the purpose of building capacity to implement operational research and help countries generate and promote the use of evidence in tackling communicable diseases worldwide.

TB remains the leading cause of death due to infectious disease and poses a threat to public health security around the globe. Drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) continues to pose a public health challenge in eastern Europe and central Asia. Despite having the fastest decline of incidence and mortality among all WHO regions, and while some countries of the region are close to TB elimination, others are still experiencing a high burden of disease: in the WHO European Region (EUR) 18 countries are included in the list of high TB priority countries. In order to end TB by 2035, there is a need to promote and encourage implementation of various operational research as a catalyst for identifying gaps, finding solutions and improving quality of care, introducing new technologies and innovations for better service delivery and decreasing the disease burden.


Strengthen the TB research capacity of relevant individuals and institutions in target countries and enhance the use of research evidence in policy and decision-making.

Generate new knowledge, solutions and implementation strategies that can ensure continuity of essential TB services (prevention, detection, treatment and care) during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The scope of the call is to cover a spectrum of studies that utilize operational or implementation research methodology, focusing on ensuring continuity of essential TB services (prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care) during the COVID-19 pandemic, to support achieving 2030 milestones and 2035 targets to end TB globally, as set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the WHO End TB Strategy respectively.

Operational research provides decision-makers with information to enable them to improve the performance of their programs. Operational research helps to identify solutions to problems that limit program quality, efficiency and effectiveness, or to determine which alternative service delivery strategy would yield the best outcomes. In simple terms, it is described as “the science of better”.

Implementation research helps design strategies or solutions to overcome bottlenecks that prevent proven and innovative public health interventions to reach the people who need them and ensure that these interventions are used in a manner that results in the outcome for which they were intended.


  • To support operational or implementation research that:
    • Investigates the short- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on provision of prevention, detection, treatment and care services for TB and drug-resistant TB.
    • Evaluates the effectiveness of approaches and measures implemented to ensure continuity of TB services under quarantine and other containment measures for COVID-19 introduced by countries.
    • Supports the introduction of effective and efficient innovations in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of TB and drug-resistant TB to improve health outcomes and promote people-centered approaches to the management of TB and drug-resistant TB.
  • To support building adequate and sustainable structures and processes for evidence-informed decision-making in national policies and programmes.
  • To foster mechanisms for knowledge sharing and translation to maximize the potential for broader research impact.


Applicants must be researchers or health professionals working in public health institutions under the umbrella of ministries of health (such as: national TB programmes, national public health institutes, centers for disease control), universities, research institutions or NGOs, from the following 18 TB high priority countries for ending TB by 2030 in the European region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Proposals may be submitted in English or Russian.


  • Proposals must be developed in collaboration with national TB programmes and/or relevant departments within the ministry of health. Staff involved in management of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services for TB at national level should be part of the research team to maximize research uptake and ensure its relevance with national TB research priorities.
  • The proposal must include research of high quality and clearly illustrate how the knowledge gaps addressed by the research are relevant or important in the context of: 1) provision of TB-related services by the national TB programme; 2) COVID-19 pandemic; and/or 3) national health system. Linkage between the proposed research with the Tuberculosis action plan for the WHO European Region 2016–2020, national plan and/or latest WHO guidelines on TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment should be clearly demonstrated.
  • The proposals should be tailored to national and local needs and, as much as possible, be in line with the priorities set in the Regional TB Research Agenda:
  • The proposals shall be prepared for submission to the national ethics committee and other necessary clearances.
  • Proposals should include a fully developed policy and practice strategy, i.e. stakeholder mapping and engagement, inclusion as co-authors, results communication/dissemination strategy, etc. Proposals that have been endorsed by the ministry of health and/or national TB programme will be prioritized (a letter of support should be presented).
  • Proposals must strengthen research capacity and foster collaboration between research institutions and disease control programmes in the country.
  • The results dissemination plan should be designed to reach the broadest spectrum of stakeholders from the respective field.
  • WHO and TDR promote gender equity and balance in research teams at all levels and therefore encourage applications from women researchers as principal investigators and as part of the project team.


  • Investigator/team has a good track record in conducting research.
  • Project team has strong expertise in the respective field.
  • Support from institutions involved in the project and national TB programme and/or relevant departments within the ministries of health.
  • Appropriate and well-justified budget covering all essential elements that the project requires.
  • Feasible timeline, taking into consideration the planning, implementation and reporting phases.
  • Sufficient time allocated by the principal investigator to manage the project.
  • Be able to seek ethics approval for their research in the country.
  • Leveraging resources (in-kind, infrastructure, technical support, etc.) from other projects and/or institutions interested in the proposed project.
  • Risk assessment addresses the most significant risks with appropriate mitigation actions.
  • Inclusion in the study team of researchers who have undergone SORT IT or SORT-TB training would be considered an asset.


  • Have a minimum of one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Demonstrate experience in operational and/or implementation research. This might include, but is not limited to, evidence of having been trained in operational/implementation research and being able to conduct research independently. Such training could include SORT IT, SORT-TB, the TDR Implementation Research Toolkit, the MOOC (massive open online course) on implementation research or other formal research training experience.
  • Experience working with the national TB programme or in an area related to provision of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services for TB and drug-resistant TB would be considered an advantage.


Each application will be screened for compliance with the eligibility criteria. Following this, each eligible application will be assessed independently by at least two reviewers, and scores assigned based on the sets of criteria. The highest scoring applications will be recommended for funding.

We encourage applicants to review their own application against the criteria above prior to submitting.

Applications not fulfilling the eligibility criteria will be excluded, and the applicants advised by 29 January 2021. The final decision will be announced to applicants by 28 February 2021.


Up to US$ 15 000 per project, including an estimate of open access publication costs.

Timeframe: Projects should be able to be completed within a period of 12 to 24 months.


Successful applicants will be required to take the MOOC prior to commencing work on the project which is offered in English and Russian.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *