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Principal Research Fellowships

Principal Research Fellowships are the most prestigious of our personal awards and provide long-term funding for researchers of international standing.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Where your host organisation is based:

  • UK,
  • Republic of Ireland

Type of researcher:

  • ,
  • Clinical,
  • Public health

Level of funding:

Salary and research expenses covered

Duration of funding:

5 or 7 years (you can apply for renewal after this time)

Who can apply

You can apply for a Principal Research Fellowship if you're a researcher of international standing with an established track record in research at the highest level. You must have:

Who can't apply

You can't usually apply if you:

  • hold an established post in the UK or Republic of Ireland – we're willing to consider a preliminary application if you have a strong justification for moving to a different organisation
  • are currently applying for another Wellcome Trust fellowship.

If you've already been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again.

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

What we're looking for

This award is particularly suitable for senior research scientists who:

  • want to work in the UK or Republic of Ireland but are currently based in a different country


  • currently hold Senior Research Fellowships in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

When we look at your application, we'll assess:

  • your track record and standing in the field
  • the quality and importance of your research question(s)
  • your approach to solving these problems
  • the suitability of your research environment.

What's expected of your host organisation

Your sponsor must guarantee that the host organisation will provide:

  • the space and resources you need – this must be agreed at the application stage and made available from the start date through to the end date of your award
  • sponsorship to renew your Principal Research Fellowship every five years, and 50 per cent of your employment costs during a renewal period
  • an established post when the award ends.

Other schemes

Investigator Awards in Science

Enabling independent researchers with a compelling research vision to tackle the most important questions in science.
Full details of Investigator Awards in Science

Senior Research Fellowships

Supporting independent researchers who are emerging as global leaders in their field and want to tackle the most important questions in science.
Full details of Senior Research Fellowships
Scheme finder

A Principal Research Fellowship is for seven years (or five if you hold a UK-based senior research fellowship).

The fellowship can be held on a part-time basis, and you can apply for renewal. The award includes:

  • We will fund the total cost of your salary for the entire period of the grant.

    You should ask your host organisation to calculate this. It should reflect the skills, responsibilities and expertise needed to carry out the role, and include:

    • your basic salary
    • employer’s contributions, including any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if you’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
    • any incremental progression up the salary scale
    • locally recognised allowances such as London allowance.

    You should exclude any Wellcome Trust fellowship supplement that was part of a previous grant.

    You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed: if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate. For Year 1 include any known pay awards for this period or an assumed percentage equivalent to our current inflation rate of 2.0% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

    From Year 2 onwards, we will automatically increase your salary, based on our current inflation allowance rates.

    Your salary should normally be in the range of £75,000 to £100,000 a year. Your organisation will need to justify your salary if it’s higher than this.

    Find out more about fellows working on a Wellcome grant.

    Visa and work permit costs

    If Wellcome is going to pay your salary on the grant, you can ask for visa costs to help you take up the post at your host organisation. You can also ask for:

    • visa costs for your partner and dependent children
    • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for you, your partner and dependent children if you will be in the UK for six months or more
    • essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy if you can justify these.


  • We will provide:

    • a Distinction Award of up to £50,000 based on your experience
    • the extra employer's contributions needed to cover the supplement.

    We won’t normally provide a supplement if you are employed on a clinical academic scale.

    We will add this supplement to your award – you do not need to add it to your application.

  • If you have to move to take up the post at your host organisation, you can ask for £1,000. You'll need to justify this.

You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement and diversity and inclusion.

If you’re awarded this fellowship

If you’re from outside the UK, and your host organisation is in the UK, you're guaranteed an endorsement of a Tier 1 Global Talent visa application.

If you have team member(s) who will spend at least 50% of their working time contributing to the award, they may be eligible to apply for a Tier 1 visa through the endorsed funder route.

What we don’t offer

We don't fund overheads.

Stages of application

  1. Contact us with your full CV and a brief outline of your plans

    You can express an interest in this award at any time. Please send your full CV to a head of department in one of our Science teams, preferably 12 months before the date you want the award to start.

    If you're based at a host organisation in the Republic of Ireland, you must get a letter of endorsement from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and/or the Health Research Board (HRB) before submitting your preliminary application. Please make sure you contact SFI and/or the HRB at least eight weeks before you submit your preliminary application.

  2. Submit your preliminary application

    View the Sample preliminary application form for Principal Research Fellowships [PDF 139KB]

    Get some tips to help you write a Wellcome grant application.

    We'll assess your eligibility and give advice about your competitiveness and the resources you've requested. We will give you a decision within three weeks of the preliminary application deadline. If suitable, we'll invite you to submit a full application.

  3. Submit your full application to your host organisation for approval

    Complete the full application form on Grant Tracker. Submit it to the 'authorised organisational approver' at your host organisation for approval. 

    If your proposal involves clinical research using NHS resources, check if you need to upload a SoECAT form with your full application.

    View the Sample full application form for Senior Research Fellowships and Principal Research Fellowships [PDF 320KB]

  4. Host organisation reviews your application and submits it to us

  5. Scientific review and shortlisting

    One of the following expert review groups will review your application, depending on your area of research:

    If successful, we will invite you for an interview. We’ll give you at least two weeks’ notice.

  6. External Peer Review

    We'll seek written comments from external expert reviewers. Unattributed comments will be sent to you before your interview.

  7. Interview

    If you're invited for an interview, you’ll be asked to make a short presentation. This will be followed by questions from the Science Interview Panel. Interviews take place at the Wellcome offices in London. Get advice on how to prepare for a Wellcome funding interview.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

What you need to know if you're a grant applicant or grantholder.


You can express an interest at any time.

Key dates

You can express an interest at any time.

Grants awarded

Find out about some of the people and projects we've funded for this scheme.

Contact us

If you have a general question about this scheme, contact our information officers:

If you have a question about the scope and content of your proposal, contact the relevant person in one of our science teams:

Find a contact in our science teams