Butterfield Awards in Medicine and Health

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation was established in 1985 to further understanding and cooperation between the peoples of Japan and the United Kingdom in all fields of culture and society.

Lord Butterfield of Stechford, a former Trustee, Chairman and Patron of the Foundation, was a distinguished medical researcher, clinician and administrator, having been among other things Professor of Experimental Medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London and Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge, where he established the Clinical School, as well as becoming the University’s Vice Chancellor later in his career. His medical expertise lay primarily in the fields of diabetes and metabolism, but he was also a gifted general physician. His connections with Japan were close and among his honorary awards was a Doctorate in Medical Science from Keio University.

As a lasting commemoration of Lord Butterfield, who died in July 2000, it was decided to dedicate some of the Foundation’s funds to awards which would further collaboration between the UK and Japan in medical research and public health practice. The main conditions for these awards are set out below.


The awards are intended to encourage and facilitate exploratory exchanges and collaborations between qualified professionals in Japan and the UK, and the investigation of scientific, clinical, social and economic aspects of medicine in which Japanese and British researchers, practitioners, policy makers, managers and voluntary sector workers may learn from each other. The grants may be used for travel expenses or to contribute to other costs as appropriate (but NOT laboratory consumables). Typically, an award might cover the cost of one exchange visit in each direction for up to a month. It is intended that the project should involve partners in both the UK and Japan.


Applicants should normally be able to show an existing research record, but consideration will also be given to practitioners, managers, carers or others in health-related fields who intend to establish working links between organisations or produce a publishable comparative study. Preference will be given to those who have not previously been involved in UK-Japan collaboration, and applications from those in the early stages of their career are particularly welcomed. All proposals must, however, be supported by reputable referees who are not based at the same institution as either project partner, and evidence of the facilities to be provided by a host institution or partner organisation must be provided.

Field of Research

There are no restrictions on the field of research or collaboration, provided that it is one in which the UK and Japan have a mutual and beneficial interest. Areas currently of interest include, for example: health management; public health; health education; genetic aspects of ageing; palliative care; stem cell technology; community-based psychiatry; patient and carer involvement; drug testing; cancer; voluntary sector development; architecture and design for healthcare.

Amount of Award

A small number of awards of around £10,000 are offered annually. Proposals for continuous funding of up to £10,000 per annum. for a maximum of three years are acceptable. Applications for smaller – and, exceptionally, larger – sums can be considered. Substantial funds are also available for support of conferences and publications bringing together UK and Japanese expertise.

National Institute for Health and Care Research

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation is now registered as a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Non-commercial Partner organisation for the Butterfield Awards, with projects in receipt of a Butterfield Award therefore eligible for NIHR Clinical Research Network Support.


Applications can be accepted at any time up to 15th December of the current year for awards to be made from the middle of March of the subsequent year. Projects for awards should begin, therefore, no earlier than 15th March. Application forms should be submitted to the London office only along with the following:

  • Budget plan
  • Project outline
  • Project schedule
  • References by two professional referees (both must be from different institutions to the project partners, and neither directly involved with the project)
  • Letter of confirmation or invitation from the project partner in UK/Japan
  • CVs of the project partners
  • Confirmation of ethical approval (where appropriate)

When writing the reference, professional referees should ensure due consideration is given to the following:

  • Do the applicants have the necessary and appropriate qualifications and experience to carry out the proposed project?
  • Is the proposal scientifically valid and well-designed?
  • If there are ethical implications, do these appear to have been properly addressed?
  • Is the outcome of the research likely to have a practical impact on care and treatment?
  • Does the link with Japan appear to contribute to the value of the project and to have mutual benefits?

For an application form, please click here.