Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Senior non-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:

  • 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

To be eligible for the senior non-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.

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.

MRC science areas include:

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 researchers 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 non-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, other funded projects.

Read MRC’s guidance on research staff development.

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 non-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

Before applying, you should read the information on the application process in the guidance for MRC fellowship applicants.

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘new document’ then:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: fellowships, FEC
  • call: senior non-clinical fellowship (SNCF) Jan 2023.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

The senior non-clinical fellowships award opens twice a year, closing in April and September.

If you need advice on your suitability for an MRC fellowship scheme, email your CV using the fellowship CV template, to fellows@mrc.ukri.org. You must also include a:

You may apply to any MRC fellowship scheme no more than twice, even if your proposal changes.

You should allow at least a year between submissions whether applying to the same or a different scheme.

If you want to reapply within a year you should request permission from the relevant programme manager before resubmission by emailing fellows@mrc.ukri.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 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 non-clinical training and career development panel will review these scores and comments at a shortlisting meeting. We continue with the highest-quality applications with 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 non-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 ‘SNCF’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within 10 working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

The Global Talent visa

Senior non-clinical fellowship holders are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders. Find out about the Global Talent visa.

Supporting documents and links

Guidance for reviewers on career breaks and flexible working

Fellowship CV template

Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic (see section 2.2.3.6.)

MRC data management plan template

Guidance on attachments, including the data management plan

Guidance on NHS costs

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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