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Supporting discovery research across the globe

In 2022, Wellcome changed the way we fund discovery research to support a broader range of researchers and disciplines from across the globe, including in low- and middle-income countries. Learn more about why and read examples of research we’ve funded so far. 

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Wellcome

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Bradley Roberts

Sophie Hawkesworth

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Supporting discovery research across the globe
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Funding webinars for global researchers

In July and August 2023 we ran a series of webinars on how we support research in low- and middle-income countries.

The recordings of the webinars are available in a number of languages.

As a global funder, we are fortunate to work with a strong and diverse network of international researchers. But we know that to make a significant impact, we need to become a more inclusive and global funder with a portfolio that better represents the international research landscape.

In the Discovery Research team, we are aiming to do just that.

Supporting high-quality discovery research in low- and middle-income countries (as defined by the OECD) enables us to build a portfolio addressing research questions that are best led in those countries, as well as research focusing on diseases of global, regional or local importance. In addition, research in these countries is essential to better identify future questions, set agendas and ensure greater impact.

We recently celebrated the first year of our new Discovery Research funding schemes, having completed three rounds of our new Early Career Awards, Career Development Awards and Discovery Awards. We hoped our new schemes would encourage applications from a breadth of disciplines and that our funding would reach diverse people and places, including researchers undertaking high-quality discovery research across global settings.

Our funding in action 

We can report that we have awarded over £20mn of funding for people and research led in low- and middle-income countries in the past year, supporting an exciting breadth of discovery research that could lead to significant advances in our understanding of health, life and wellbeing.  

Our new awardees include researchers from Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Among them are researchers tackling questions as diverse as ‘what are the molecular mechanisms driving adaptations to climate change and insecticide resistance in malaria?’ and ‘what does solidarity mean when it comes to global health?’.

Here are some of the discovery research projects we are supporting.

"The greatest thrill of directing Discovery Research at Wellcome is learning about the breadth of creative ideas from the global research community – ideas which will change how we understand the world to better prevent, treat and diagnose disease and improve health for all.

But to do so, our funding must be able to reach the research excellence that resides in low- and middle-income countries, which is why we in Discovery Research are committed to growing our funding in these settings and reaffirming Wellcome’s long-standing aim to shift the centre of gravity of research.”

Michael Dunn

Director of Discovery Research

Wellcome

Resources for applicants in low- and middle-income countries 

We don’t know where new, transformative ideas will come from and we recognise that discovery research might look different in diverse settings, so our remit is intentionally broad. We are looking to grow and diversify Wellcome's Discovery Research portfolio and our funding schemes are a real opportunity to do this – to the benefit of research everywhere.

We recognise that there’s always more we can do to promote diversity of people, places, topics and disciplines within our portfolio and to understand the potential barriers that researchers in different settings may face. We hope to see a greater number of applications and researchers funded based in low- and middle-income countries in future rounds of our funding schemes. We will provide updates on the development of our Discovery Research funding schemes here on wellcome.org.