Wellcome Career Development Awards

This scheme provides funding for mid-career researchers from any discipline who have the potential to be international research leaders. They will develop their research capabilities, drive innovative programmes of work and deliver significant shifts in understanding related to human life, health and wellbeing.

Scheme at a glance 

Lead applicant career stage:
Administering organisation location:
Frequency:
Three times a year - Upcoming deadlines in July and November 2024
Funding amount:

You should ask for the resources you need for your research programme – see the 'Research costs we'll cover' section on this page. You will need to work with your organisation to justify your request in the context of the support they will provide.  The annual expenditure for a Career Development Award is usually below £250,000 excluding the applicant’s salary.  Applications above this value will be subject to additional scrutiny.

Funding duration:

Usually 8 years, but may be less for some disciplines and may only be longer if held on a part-time basis.

Coapplicants:
Not accepted

Deadline for new applications

Calculating next key date…
View all key dates

Who can apply 

You can apply for a Wellcome Career Development Award if you are a mid-career researcher and you are ready to lead a substantial and innovative research programme. You must aim to make a key contribution to your field by:

  • generating significant shifts in understanding

and/or

  • developing methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques that could benefit health-related research.

During the award, we expect you to:

  • develop your research capabilities and leadership skills
  • support others to undertake research responsibly and promote a positive and inclusive culture
  • start training the next generation of researchers and develop their research skills and careers.

By the end of the award, you should have achieved international standing in your area of research.

You should also have the skills and experience to apply for permanent positions at research organisations.

Other people involved in the application and award

Current Wellcome grantholders

We will allow current grantholders of the following mid-career schemes to apply for a Career Development Award until the end of their awards, unless they have been appointed to a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract that they will take up by the start of the Career Development Award:

  • Sir Henry Dale Fellowships (including those with extensions)
  • Research Career Development Fellowships
  • Research Career Re-entry Fellowships
  • Intermediate Clinical Fellowships (including those with one-year extensions)
  • Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships (stage 2)
  • International Intermediate Fellowships.

If you are one of these grantholders, you must have an active grant at the time of application.

Other Wellcome awards

During a Career Development Award, you can be a coapplicant on up to two other Wellcome awards. In your application for the second award where you are a co-applicant you must explain:

  • why no other applicant or co-applicant can provide the expertise that you bring to the project
  • how you will manage your research commitments across the three awards.

Resubmissions

If you are unsuccessful with an application to this scheme, you can submit one more application for the same project. Significant changes are needed for the second application. You do not need to contact us first.

Who can't apply 

You are not eligible to apply if:

  • you hold, have held, or have accepted an offer for an equivalent award at this career stage (an exception to this is that our current Wellcome grantholders at an equivalent stage can apply to this scheme)
  • you have made an application to this scheme and you are waiting for a decision.

You cannot apply to carry out activities that involve the transfer of grant funds into mainland China.

Is your research right for this scheme? 

You must check whether Wellcome Discovery Research can fund your type of research project before you apply.

Check what we fund in Discovery Research

Your research must:

Your research can:

  • be in any discipline - including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), experimental medicine, humanities and social science, clinical/allied health sciences, and public health.

Your research must not:

  • fall outside of what we support in Discovery Research. Check what we don't fund.
  • start earlier than seven months after the application deadline.

Is your organisation right for this scheme? 

The administering organisation is the organisation responsible for submitting your final application to Wellcome and managing the finances of the grant if it is awarded.

Where your administering organisation is based

The administering organisation must be in one of the following:

It can be a:

  • higher education institution
  • research institute
  • non-academic healthcare organisation
  • not-for-profit organisation.

What's expected of your administering organisation

Your grant must be held at an eligible organisation that can sign up to our grant conditions.

We expect organisations based in the UK to meet the responsibilities required by the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers for institutions, managers and researchers.

Any organisation with Wellcome funding that is based outside the UK is expected, at a minimum, to follow the principles of the Concordat.

Read the Concordat

We also expect your administering organisation to:

  • Give you, and any staff employed on the grant, 10 days a year (pro rata if part-time) to undertake training and continuing professional development (CPD) in line with the Concordat. This should include the responsible conduct of research, research leadership, people management, diversity and inclusion, and the promotion of a healthy research culture.
  • Provide a system of onboarding, embedding and planning for you when you join the organisation and/or start the award.
  • Provide you with the status and benefits of other academic staff of similar seniority.

Your administering organisation must guarantee they will:

  • provide you with a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract by the end of the award

or

  • carry out a formal review process, no less than two years before the end of your award, to discuss your future at the organisation, including the possibility of a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract.

This does not apply to applicants who already have a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract.

If your administering organisation is a core-funded research organisation, a Career Development Award should not replace or lead to a reduction in existing or planned core support.

How applications are assessed 

We will review your research proposal, skills and experience, and research environment. The assessment weightings are used at interview stage.

Your research proposal (50%)

To be competitive, your research proposal will be:

  • Bold. It aims to deliver a significant shift in understanding and/or it provides a significant advance over existing methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques. It has the potential to stimulate new and innovative research.
  • Creative. Your proposed approach is novel – it develops and tests new concepts, methods or technologies, or combines existing ideas and approaches in a new way.
  • High quality. It is well-designed, clear, supported by evidence and the proposed outcomes/outputs are feasible.

Your skills and experience (25%)

We will review:

  • your research outputs and contributions to the research community
  • your experience of, and contribution to, developing other researchers
  • your leadership and management skills, and how you plan to develop these during the award.

Your research environment (25%)

We will review:

  • how you will contribute to the strategic aims of your organisation
  • how your research environment(s) will help you develop your research capabilities and leadership and management skills
  • how you will contribute to a positive and inclusive research culture.
     

Research costs we'll cover 

A Wellcome Career Development Award provides a salary for the grantholder (if required) and research expenses.

The award usually lasts for 8 years, but may be less for some disciplines, such as humanities and social science.

The award may be held on a part-time basis. We will extend the duration of the award to reflect this.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that’s justifiable for your proposed research.

You can only hold one of these awards. We do not offer renewals.

The award includes:

If you're awarded this grant

You are guaranteed an endorsement of a Global Talent visa application.

If your host organisation is in the UK and you have team members who will spend at least 50% of their working time contributing to the award, they may be eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa through the endorsed funder route.

What we don't offer

See 'Other costs' for the costs we will and will not provide.

How to apply 

Where to apply

Apply for this scheme on the Wellcome Funding platform. You will need to log in or create an account. You can save your application and return to it at any time.

Get some tips to help you write your grant application.

Information you need to provide

As well as answering the application questions, you will need to provide:

  • a letter of support from your current supervisor
  • a letter of support from the director of finance at your administering organisation if you are requesting overheads
  • a quote if you wish to purchase a piece of equipment costing £100,000 or more.

How long it takes to apply

You must leave enough time for:

  • you to complete the application
  • your organisation to review and submit the application.

Getting support with your application

We offer disability-related support for applicants. Read the disability-related support guidance if you:

  • are disabled or have a long-term health condition and you need help applying for funding
  • need to defer your application
  • need help completing your project, for example costs for assistive technology.

Application process

  1. Before you apply

    Make sure you read everything on this page.

    You may also want to watch a recording of a webinar that took place on Monday 12 April 2021

    Get some tips to help you write your grant application.

    You do not need to contact us before you write and submit your application.

  2. Submit your application to your administering organisation for approval

    Complete your application form on Wellcome Funding.

    View the Sample full application form for Wellcome Career Development Awards [PDF 1.38MB].

    Submit it to the 'authorised approver' at your administering organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

  3. Administering organisation reviews your application and submits it to us

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. Watch a recording of a webinar demonstrating the new Wellcome Funding Platform from Thursday, 4 May 2023.

  4. Shortlisting

    We will check your eligibility for the scheme and that your application demonstrates how you will meet the aims of the scheme. If your application is ineligible or does not demonstrate how you will meet the aims of the scheme, we will withdraw your application and contact you to explain why.

    One of the following Discovery Advisory Groups will then review your application, depending on your area of research:

    If shortlisted, we will invite you for interview.

  5. Written expert review

    We'll seek external written expert review on shortlisted applications. Only the proposed research will be reviewed.

    Reviewers will be chosen based on their expertise within the relevant research field and not on their level of seniority.

    Unattributed comments will be sent to you before your interview.

  6. Interviews

    The Career Development Award Interview Panel will interview shortlisted candidates at the Wellcome offices in London. Accessibility requirements will be accommodated. Those who cannot attend in person can participate remotely.

    We will provide information on the structure of the interview, layout of the room, and interview committee membership.

    You will be asked to give a presentation at the start of your interview. Shortly before the day of the interview, you will need to provide us with your presentation slides.

    The committee will assess across a set of criteria rather than one specific aspect of the proposal.

  7. Funding decision

    Final funding decisions will be made by the Discovery Research Decision Board.

    You will receive an email notification of the funding decision soon after the decision has been made. We will write to you after this with the reasons for the decision.

We may use positive action on this scheme. Read our guidance for more information.

Key dates 

You must submit your application by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

July 2024 round

Opening soon

  1. 12 April 2024

    Applications open

  2. 25 July 2024, 17:00 BST

    Application deadline

  3. October 2024

    Shortlisting

  4. 14-16 January 2025

    Interviews

Contact us