Opinion

Our new discovery research funding schemes are open for applications

I am pleased to announce that our three new discovery research funding schemes are now open for applications.

Three female researchers look at machinery in a lab.

Researchers at work at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford. 

Credit:

Thomas S.G. Farnetti / Wellcome

Discovery research plays a pivotal role in Wellcome’s new strategy. This is a key moment for us at Wellcome, but more importantly for our research community, as it is your ideas and talent that will generate the significant shifts in understanding we want to see. 

In March 2021, we unveiled our plans for three new discovery research schemes. Since then, we’ve been finalising the process of how to apply for funds and how we’ll assess applications. We wanted to make the experience as straightforward and accessible as possible, and the assessment transparent and fair.  

From today, you can apply for funding through our three new schemes: 

Each scheme is designed to target a different career stage, but all are open to the best ideas across a huge remit, spanning clinical research, fundamental biology, public health, humanities and social sciences and the physical sciences – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

We are proud to continue to support curiosity-driven research to explore life, health and wellbeing across a broad range of disciplines, offering researchers the resources and flexibility they need to deliver their work. We want to spark new collaborations, promote team science and reach new disciplines and communities. 

What's new? 

The research we’ll support through these schemes must have a primary focus on the pursuit of new knowledge and discovery that has the potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing. We won’t fund purely translational research aimed at developing, testing or implementing interventions or treatments. 

We want to promote a positive research culture and support personal development and good leadership, while making sure that research careers are open to everyone and lead to the highest quality research. We’ll expect our awardees to commit to promoting diverse, inclusive cultures in their environment with everyone benefitting from supportive professional relationships and development. 

We want to reduce the administrative burden of applying for funding and make the process more accessible and inclusive. For example, we won’t ask you to complete preliminary applications.  

We have new assessment criteria to enable us to recognise researchers for their broader contributions beyond the traditional publication record. We want to reward the many different contributions to research, including personal achievements and management and leadership skills. We’ll be implementing the core elements of the Resumé for Researchers, which will enable us to recognise a more diverse group of researchers.  

We’ll continue to seek external advice in the review of applications. We’ll ask experts in the fields to advise us on the content of proposals and we’ll work to ensure that reviewers are diverse and reflect the populations in which research is undertaken. Our funding advisory groups will help us to shortlist and interview people who’ve applied for funding. 

We still have more work to do in meeting the ambitions set out in our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. My colleague Dan O’Connor will be further developing this aspect of our strategy through the newly established Research Environment team at Wellcome.  

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