Press release

Wellcome seeks insights to shape its work supporting early-career Black researchers

Wellcome is calling on the perspectives of Black researchers in the UK to help shape funding that forms part of its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. 

Wellcome is calling on the perspectives of Black researchers in the UK to help shape funding that forms part of its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy. 

The charitable foundation, which is set to spend £16bn over the next 10 years on science and health research, is exploring how best to support career development for Black researchers in the UK. The first step in the process will be to hear from researchers about their experiences. The organisation’s head of research equity has emphasised Wellcome is keen to hear as many different perspectives as possible. 

To answer the survey or volunteer to take part in a focus group, visit here: 

The plans are part of Wellcome’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to take new approaches to address under-representation in grant-funding for marginalised groups. This follows a commitment made last year to dedicate funding to supporting racially marginalised researchers at the career stages where we believe it will have the biggest impact. 

Wellcome has chosen to focus on early-career Black researchers in order to take a targeted approach, recognising that researchers from different backgrounds face different and specific barriers or challenges. The purpose of this insight phase is to improve our understanding of the challenges and barriers Black researchers may have faced, to help inform our funding.  

The development of these plans is one part of Wellcome’s wider work to ensure its funding worldwide is as inclusive as possible. 

Wellcome is inviting Black researchers based in the UK to answer its survey, which is now open and closes on Sunday 12 March, or to participate in a paid externally facilitated online focus group. Wellcome wants to hear from anyone who self-identifies as being from a Black heritage background, including a mixed heritage background.  

The funding will be aimed at supporting career development for early-career Black researchers, but Wellcome is also interested in the perspectives of researchers at other career stages, including those who are already established in their career, or have previously worked as a researcher but have since left the field, to help inform the design of the funding.  

Wellcome wants to find out more about the barriers and opportunities researchers have faced within academia, particularly in relation to funding opportunities and career progression. To inform this work, Wellcome will also speak to other organisations which work within this space.  Wellcome will share the findings of this exercise in order to help inform the wider research and funding sectors. All responses will be anonymised. 

Diego Baptista, Head of Research and Funding Equity at Wellcome, said: “We want to understand the most effective ways that targeted funding can make a difference in supporting Black researchers in the UK. Taking this approach to tackle specific issues will allow us to bring about change most effectively.”

“To determine the most effective interventions, we need to find out more about people’s different experiences of moving through academic careers. We need to find out more about the reasons why Black researchers are underrepresented in more senior academic positions and how we can address them. This is why it is so important to us to hear the views and experiences of Black researchers.”

“We are keen to find out more about researchers’ experiences of sustaining and advancing an academic career, including transitions from PhD to postdoc, and then the step up from postdoc to lecturer. We’re keen to hear a wide range of perspectives. We understand that this won’t be the first time Black researchers are being asked to share their views on a system in which they have been historically underrepresented, but we value any input that can be provided.”

The research team understand that experiences relating to race, or any other problems researchers may have experienced in academia may be difficult or upsetting to discuss, so are only asking researchers to respond to questions if they are comfortable doing so, and in a level of detail they are happy with.  

Dr Baptista added: “We know that unequal representation in scientific research is a long-standing problem which holds back progress and life-saving scientific discoveries. In order to help solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone, we need to include the skills, creativity and expertise of the entire research community.” 

To answer the survey or volunteer to take part in a focus group, visit here:…