Strategic Research Initiatives and Networks build on areas of existing research strength by bringing together a critical mass of expertise from across the Schools, with four key aims: to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges; to increase our capacity to influence national and international research, policy and funding agendas; to strengthen internal cross-disciplinary research collaborations; and to provide a platform for large-scale funding applications, recruitments and international research partnerships.

They are initiated and developed within the academic community and brought for approval to the University’s Research Policy Committee. Award of Strategic Research Initiative or Network status is for a period of three years, subject to annual review by the Committee, and usually includes funds to support a coordinator role and some associated activities.d activities.

Strategic Research Initiatives

Strategic Research Initiatives aim to create a shared cross-School vision and development plan for building research capacity and partnerships over the medium to long term. Our current portfolio of Strategic Research Initiatives includes:

Big Data

Bringing together established areas of research excellence across a wide range of disciplines to drive the underpinning research base of data science and address challenging economic and societal issues.


Promoting collaborations at the interface between disciplines by bringing together researchers from the University and the Cambridge region (affiliated institutes, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the biotech community) whose work has current or potential application to cancer research.

Cardiovascular Disease

Harnessing excellence in multi-disciplinary cardiovascular research and clinical services to deliver improved therapies, disease management, healthcare and preventive strategies.


Delivering transformational approaches to understanding and conserving biodiversity through collaborative research, education, policy and practice, based on a unique partnership between the University and leading biodiversity conservation organisations.


Tackling grand technical and intellectual challenges in energy by leveraging University expertise across formal departmental and discipline boundaries from technology, physical and life sciences to the humanities and social sciences, business and management.

Global Food Security

Integrating scientific and technological innovation in food quality, yield and sustainability with interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the behavioural, social and political conditions of food security.

Infectious Diseases

Promoting programmes of research collaboration and capacity building to meet the challenges of infectious diseases in both developed and developing countries, with particular emphasis on global health.

Language Sciences

Connecting language science researchers and practitioners across the humanities, social sciences, biology, medicine, computer science and engineering, spanning University Departments, affiliated research institutes, the University Library and Cambridge Assessment.


Connecting multidisciplinary neuroscience research and teaching across the University of Cambridge and affiliated Institutes, to increase our fundamental understanding of brain function and enhance quality of life.

Public Policy

Connecting research across the University to illuminate and improve public policymaking through a cross-cutting programme of research on the policy process and support for policy development in key thematic areas.

Stem Cells

Creating a world-leading centre for stem cell biology and medicine that focuses on harnessing the genetic and biochemical mechanisms that control cell fate to enable advances in disease modelling, drug discovery and regenerative medicine.

Synthetic Biology

Delivering sustainable and socially acceptable new technologies through transformational research, interdisciplinary exchange and open technologies for innovation.

Strategic Research Networks

Strategic Research Networks aim to link and promote activities amongst a cross-School academic community. Our current portfolio of Strategic Research Networks includes:

Digital Humanities

Engaging researchers across the University in developing shared priorities for research themes in digital humanities, and in extending the IT infrastructure and training for digital humanities research and research tools.


Bringing together the community of immunologists working in and around Cambridge, whose work ranges from discovery of the basic molecular mechanisms underpinning the immune response through to applications relevant to the clinic, to industry and to global health.

Metabolic Disorders

Developing an interdisciplinary research community working on scientific, health and social aspects of metabolic diseases, and promoting collaboration to increase impact, efficiency and access to resources.


Fostering interdisciplinary research and exploring the potential of emerging ideas around the nano theme, across physical sciences, engineering, biological sciences and medicine.


Developing psychometrics as a cross-disciplinary academic field linking psychology, education, business, medicine and law, and spearheading innovative research in psychometric assessment and new technology applications.

Public Health

Working together across the University and its regional health partners to create a sustainable infrastructure and interdisciplinary skills base for research that will improve population health and wellbeing at the international, national and local levels.


Strengthening the University community in sensor-related research across engineering, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, materials and biotechnology, and bringing together the talent and infrastructure necessary to catalyse sensor innovation and application.

Enquiries about the Strategic Research Initiatives and Networks scheme may be addressed to the Secretary of the Research Policy Committee, Dr Gill Rands