Board observers

Early career researchers have the opportunity to observe one of the four funding board meetings:

  • Molecular and cellular medicine
  • Infections and immunity
  • populations and systems medicine
  • Neurosciences and mental health.

We hope this experience:

  • is informative to attendees in developing their own successful research proposals
  • assists attendees in providing better quality reviews
  • enhances transparency and provides an insight into the lengths research boards go to ensure the best quality science was funded
  • reminds award holders of their obligations to the wider scientific community.

All observers will be provided with a briefing on the MRC peer review process that is available to take away for further dissemination and we encourage observers to use these to share their experience with colleagues.


The observer scheme is open to current holders of the following MRC grants:

  • New investigator research grant (NIRG)
  • Career development awards (CDA)
  • Clinical scientist fellowships (CSF)
  • Senior clinical fellowships (SCF)
  • Senior non-clinical fellows (SNCF)
  • Early career programme leaders from MRC units and institutes – established less than five years.

MRC consider holders of the above grants suitable to attend a board meeting in an observer capacity when they have less than two years left on their MRC grant funding.


MRC undertake an annual exercise in November inviting eligible candidates to observe a meeting. While we always strive to invite observers to the board most relevant to their research interests due to the popularity of the scheme this is not always possible.

Each board meets three times a year and, while observers are able to suggest which meeting they attend, due to popularity MRC may not always be able honour the dates requested.


If you fit the criteria you are welcome to contact MRC.


Please include:

  • ‘observer’ in the email subject title
  • which board is relevant to your research interests
  • your grant reference number.

While MRC welcomes observers at board meetings, places are very limited and we cannot guarantee spaces for eligible grant holders.

In instances where demand outweighs availability we may look to limit places based on research organisation, and would then encourage any researcher who has attended a meeting to share their experience with their colleagues.

Last updated: 12 September 2023

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