Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships (Closed)

This scheme offers recently qualified postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to start independent research careers, working in some of the best research environments in the world.

We’re changing our funding schemes

The way we fund research is changing to support our new strategy.

Scheme at a glance 

This scheme is now closed

Lead applicant career stage:
Administering organisation location:
UK, Republic of Ireland
Funding amount:

£300,000, including salary, fellowship supplement and research expenses

Funding duration:

4 years

Key dates

This scheme will close in 2021. These are the final dates.

March 2021 round

This is the final round.

  • Preliminary application deadline

    23 March 2021, 17:00 GMT

  • Full application deadline

    17 June 2021, 17:00 BST

  • Funding decision

    Due to Covid-19, we may not be able to hold interviews. Candidates will be contacted with further details.

Who can apply

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships are aimed at researchers who want to undertake a guided period of research and will go on to lead their own independent research.

You must either be in the final year of your PhD studies or be an early-career researcher with some initial postdoctoral experience.

You should have started to make important contributions to your area of research, eg publications, patents, software development or an impact on policy.

You must have an eligible sponsoring organisation in the UK or Republic of Ireland that will administer the fellowship for the full duration of the award.

You must also:

  • be a UK or European Economic Area national


  • have, or expect to have, a PhD from a UK or Republic of Ireland university.

If you've been away from research (eg for a career break, maternity leave, or long-term sick leave), we'll allow for this when we consider your application. 

What we're looking for

During this fellowship, we expect you to expand your research horizons and develop your scientific independence so that you can become a leader in the field. 

The idea for the research project should be yours and you should drive the development of your proposal, although you can take advice from research sponsors and mentors.

The scope of your proposal should be broader than that of a typical postdoctoral position. It should enable you to explore a research area within our science remit that will set you apart from your research sponsors.

You could do this by developing new skills and/or by working:

  • across disciplines
  • in new research environments or sectors
  • in more than one research location, either in the UK or another country (apart from mainland China).

We expect you to think about your long-term vision and the skills and competencies you’ll need.

We will review:

  • your research contributions
  • the quality and importance of your research question(s)
  • your knowledge of the scientific area
  • the feasibility of your proposal
  • the suitability of your choice of sponsors and environments
  • your vision of how this fellowship will contribute to your career development.

At the end of this fellowship, you should be able to show that:

  • you have the potential to be an independent leader in your area of research
  • you have the skills and experience to apply for more advanced (intermediate level) funding schemes.

We have more information to help you decide if this scheme is right for your career stage:

Who can't apply

You can't usually apply if:

  • you have previously held or are currently completing a nationally competitive fellowship at an equivalent level
  • you're currently applying for another Wellcome fellowship.

You can't apply if you want to combine research with a continuing clinical career in medicine, psychology, dentistry or veterinary practice. Instead, see our clinical fellowship schemes.

If you've already been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again. We don't usually accept resubmissions of full applications.  

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

What's expected of your host organisation

You must have an eligible host organisation in the UK or Republic of Ireland that will administer your fellowship. When your host organisation submits your application, they must agree to provide the space and resources you'll need from the start date through to the end date of your award.

You must identify a sponsor and mentor who possess strong track records in research, training and mentorship.


Your sponsor should:

  • be someone you propose to work with at the host organisation – usually the group leader or principal investigator of the group in which you'll do your research (they don’t have to be the head of department)
  • hold an established post at the host organisation for the duration of your fellowship
  • provide scientific guidance during the application process and throughout your fellowship
  • support your development as a researcher during your fellowship.

You should also identify an additional sponsor at every other research environment you propose to work in, including if you work in a different research group at the same organisation. They should guarantee you access to space and resources and provide relevant scientific guidance for the required period.


Your mentor should:

  • be an experienced researcher - usually a group leader - who already knows you
  • work outside the group(s) you propose to work in during your fellowship
  • support your career development during your fellowship.

Other schemes

Research Career Re-entry Fellowships

Offering postdoctoral research scientists the opportunity to re-establish their scientific careers after a continuous break from research of at least two years.
Full details of Research Career Re-entry Fellowships

Sir Henry Dale Fellowships

Providing support for postdoctoral researchers who aim to become independent scientists leading their own groups. The scheme is a partnership between the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust.
Full details of Sir Henry Dale Fellowships

Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships

Enabling clinically active healthcare professionals to continue their research at postdoctoral level and develop scientific independence. 
Full details of Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships
Scheme finder

The Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship is for four years and can be held on a part-time basis.  An award of £300,000 provides support for:

  • 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.

    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 and work permit 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.


  • a fellowship supplement of £2,500 a year, for your personal support

We’ll consider requests for additional funding if it’s scientifically justified, eg non-human primate research.

If you’re awarded this fellowship

During your fellowship, you can apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement, open research, and diversity and inclusion.

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.

What we don’t offer

  • Major equipment. We only consider modest requests for equipment, so the place you choose to do your research must have the necessary equipment and facilities.
  • Research assistance.

We don't fund overheads.

You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Submit your preliminary application

    You must submit your preliminary application through Grant Tracker.

    Your host organisation does not need to review or submit your preliminary application form.

    View the Sample preliminary application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 127KB].

    On the application form, you must upload two letters of support. Each letter should be no more than 500 words. These are the only letters you should provide at this stage. We'll contact you if we need more information.These letters should be from your:

    • current supervisor – if you're new in your post, the current supervisor can outline your previous experience
    • proposed sponsor – if you're proposing to stay in the same lab, this could be your current supervisor.

    If your current supervisor is also your proposed sponsor, they can write two separate letters or provide all the details in one letter.

    You don't need to provide us with a breakdown of your research expenses in your preliminary or full application form.

    Get some tips to help you write a Wellcome grant application and guidance on using Grant Tracker.

  2. Review of preliminary applications

    We’ll assess your eligibility and suitability, and give advice about your competitiveness. We will give you a decision within four 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. 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.

    View the Sample full application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 371KB].

    On the full application form, you must upload letters of support from your:

    • current supervisor – you can re-upload the same letter from the preliminary application form
    • proposed sponsor – you can re-upload the same letter from the preliminary application form
    • mentor.

    You should also upload a letter of support from every additional sponsor you've identified in your application.

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

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

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day.

  5. External peer review

    We’ll seek written comments from external expert referees.

  6. Shortlisting

    The Basic Science Interview Committee will consider your full application. If successful, we will invite you for an interview. We’ll give you at least two weeks’ notice and send you unattributed comments from the external peer review.

  7. Funding decision

    Due to Covid-19, we are not holding interviews at the moment. Candidates will be contacted with further details about the decision-making process.

    If successful, you must have been awarded your PhD before you start the fellowship.

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

September 2020 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    29 September 2020, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    15 December 2020, 17:00 GMT

  • Funding decision

    Due to Covid-19, we may not be able to hold interviews. Candidates will be contacted with further details.

March 2021 round

This is the final round.

  • Preliminary application deadline

    23 March 2021, 17:00 GMT

  • Full application deadline

    17 June 2021, 17:00 BST

  • Funding decision

    Due to Covid-19, we may not be able to hold interviews. Candidates will be contacted with further details.

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

Researcher stories

Read about the career journeys of some of our researchers.

Develop your research career

See our other postdoctoral research schemes.