Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Senior clinical fellowship

Apply for funding to help you become an internationally recognised research leader in your field.

Your research can focus on any area of MRC’s remit to improve human health.

You must:

  • be a registered healthcare professional
  • have a PhD or equivalent
  • have previous experience leading research funded by a UK or international funding organisation
  • be managing your own independent research group.

Your proposal must include plans for how you would develop into a leader in your field at an international level.

There’s no limit on the amount of funding you can apply for. We will fund project costs and 50% of your salary for up to five years.

Who can apply

You can apply if you are a registered healthcare professional. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • nurses
  • midwives
  • allied health professionals
  • healthcare scientists
  • pharmacists
  • clinical psychologists
  • doctors
  • dentists
  • general practitioners.

We also invite veterinarians to apply if they have equivalent qualifications, providing their proposed project is relevant to human health.

To be eligible for the senior clinical fellowship you must:

  • have completed a PhD or equivalent
  • have the skills and experience that match those of the ‘transition to leadership’ career stage in the MRC applicant skills and experience criteria, such as leading nationally competitive research and clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field
  • be leading your own independent research group, as demonstrated by a strong track record of original and productive independent research and success in securing research funding
  • have the support of an eligible research organisation.

We will take into account any career breaks, flexible working and changes in discipline when assessing your research experience and current track record.

Read our guidance for reviewers on career breaks and flexible working.

There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience.

You are not eligible to apply if you have previously held a comparable senior fellowship from any organisation.

You cannot hold a salaried position and a fellowship at the same time.

If you are awarded a fellowship, you will need to give up the permanent position for the duration of the fellowship or change to a proleptic appointment.

If you want to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, we recommend you look at one of our grant funding opportunities instead.

Search MRC grant funding opportunities.

You can find out more in guidance for fellowship applicants.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply, email fellows@mrc.ukri.org.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

MRC is committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants, and encourages applications from a diverse range of researchers from all backgrounds.

We support individuals and research teams to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Read MRC’s guidance on flexible working and career breaks. Applicants can also find out more about MRC’s current EDI initiatives and read UK Research and Innovation’s draft equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.

What we're looking for

The aim of the scheme is to support internationally competitive independent investigators to:

  • lead an ambitious research programme
  • pursue research training opportunities to develop their career
  • make the transition to research leader.

We welcome applications from across all areas of MRC’s remit to improve human health. This may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease, to translational and developmental clinical research.

We expect your clinical work will help to inform and strengthen your research work.

MRC science areas include:

  • infections and immunity
  • molecular and cellular medicine
  • population and systems medicine
  • neurosciences and mental health
  • translation
  • global health
  • methodology
  • public health.

Explore MRC’s areas of scientific remit.

We also welcome proposals for interdisciplinary approaches or research that will address global health issues and be of benefit to those living in low and middle-income countries.

We’re looking for talented clinically active healthcare professionals who have gained a higher research degree and who need support to transition to leadership.

You must be able to:

  • explain why a fellowship is the best way to support your long-term career goals and chosen career path to become a research leader, for example by identifying career development opportunities such as management and leadership training
  • show ambitious and credible ideas for using the fellowship to enable a step-change in your career
  • describe your experience of managing your own independent research group, including influencing and supporting others to maximise their potential
  • show how your skills and experience match those of the transition to leadership career stage in our applicant skills and experience criteria.

A senior fellowship is not merely a large personal grant.

What the fellowship gives you

The senior clinical fellowship provides support for up to five years. We expect you to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available. However, we understand that plans for the later stages of a fellowship will not be as defined as the initial years.

If you are intending to apply for a shorter period, you should contact the programme manager (fellows@mrc.ukri.org) before submitting a proposal. These periods are based on full-time equivalents.

Awards may be held on a part-time basis to meet personal commitments but not because of other professional commitments.

We expect you to take up your fellowship no more than six months after the date of the review meeting.

This fellowship scheme provides a competitive salary, giving you the chance to concentrate fully on your research, training and development. You may:

  • spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time fellowships) on other commitments such as teaching, demonstrating, or other funded projects
  • undertake up to two clinical sessions a week.

Read MRC’s guidance on research staff development.

For surgeons and fellows undertaking patient-oriented projects where the clinical sessions will be of direct relevance to the research, applicants may undertake up to four clinical sessions a week.

We may allow greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities (for example, those detailed above or obtaining grant support) during the second half of a fellowship. Email the programme manager at fellows@mrc.ukri.org to discuss your plans.

Find out more about what to expect as an MRC fellow.

Funding available

The senior clinical fellowship award will cover 50% of the cost of your salary. The fellowship will also provide funding for:

  • research staff costs
  • consumables expenses
  • travel costs
  • appropriate capital equipment.

The award will also support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution or within the industry, whichever is most appropriate.

We encourage successful applicants to take advantage of these opportunities to establish collaborative networks and cross-sector development.

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can request under this scheme, however awards do not typically exceed £2 million (80% full economic cost).

Requests must be appropriate to the project and you must be able to justify the amount you need to meet the objectives of your research proposal.

Awards are made under the full economic costing framework.

MRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. The research organisation must agree to find the balance of full economic cost from other resources.

How to apply

Transition from Je-S to TFS

From January 2024, research council opportunities will be launched and managed through the new UK Research and Innovation Funding Service (TFS).

Responsive mode opportunities (such as this) will gradually transition from the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system to TFS during 2023.

Please revisit this opportunity page during January 2023, when we will be able to confirm how you are able to apply.

Applying for a jointly funded clinician scientist fellowship

MRC collaborates with royal colleges and charity funders to offer jointly funded clinician scientist fellowships.

These awards offer the prestige of having the relevant organisation co-fund your fellowship and may offer additional opportunities to report on your project, present your work at meetings and take part in professional networking.

Guidance on how to apply for joint senior clinical fellowship funding will be published during January 2023.

Joint-funding does not alter the assessment process. We will offer all jointly funded fellowships under standard MRC terms and conditions, except where the co-funder has specified extra terms and conditions.

If you apply for a jointly funded award which is not available for any reason, we will automatically consider you for a standard MRC fellowship instead.

Joint funders

We are inviting applications for the following jointly funded senior clinical fellowship scheme.

MRC-Motor Neurone Disease Association Lady Edith Wolfson fellowships

These awards support clinicians who want to pursue research into the pathogenesis and treatment of motor neurone disease. The Motor Neurone Disease Association and MRC will co-fund successful applicants.

If you have any queries about this fellowship or your proposed research area, contact Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development, brian.dickie@mndassociation.org

How we will assess your application

When we receive your application, we will check it to make sure it is within remit. It will then be peer reviewed by at least three independent experts from the UK and overseas.

You can nominate up to three independent reviewers. We will invite only one to assess your application or we may decide not to approach any of your nominated reviewers.

Criteria

Peer reviewers will assess your application and provide comments. They will also score it using the peer reviewer scoring system against the following criteria.

Importance

We will assess the importance of the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed.

Scientific potential

We assess what the prospects are for good scientific progress.

Resources requested

We will consider whether the funds requested are essential for the work, and whether the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested.

We will also assess whether the proposal represents good value for money.

Further information related to our assessment criteria

For more information about our assessment criteria read our detailed assessment criteria for each fellowship type.

Decision

A sub-committee of members of the clinical training and career development panel will review these scores and comments at a shortlisting meeting. We continue with the highest-quality applications with the greatest potential to be funded.

If your application passes the shortlisting stage, we will invite you to interview and send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

Interviews with the clinical training and career development panel will usually last 45 minutes. We will contribute towards the cost of your return travel, modest subsistence costs and reasonable additional family care costs.

Feedback

We will let you know as soon as possible after we have made a final decision about your application. This is usually within five working days of your interview.

If you reach the interview stage, we will send you feedback and let you know the reasons for the panel’s decision. If you are not invited to interview we will send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

We aim to make a decision within six months of receiving your application.

Find out more about the MRC fellowship assessment process.

Read an overview of the MRC peer review process.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: fellows@mrc.ukri.org

Include ‘SCF’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within 10 working days.

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