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Wellcome’s latest Discovery Research funding awardees showcase the breadth of researchers’ imaginations

Fifty four discovery research projects have been awarded a total of £108 million to push the boundaries of our knowledge and unlock potential new insights into life, health and wellbeing.


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Wellcome’s latest Discovery Research funding awardees showcase the breadth of researchers’ imaginations
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Allowing curiosity to shine 

We know that breakthroughs in our understanding of human health are not limited to specific research areas or disciplines. We hoped our new schemes would encourage applications from a breadth of disciplinarity, promoting team research and interdisciplinary research, and that our funding would reach diverse people and places.

Our new awardees include clinicians and researchers from the UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Brazil, as well as 23 different institutions.

From investigating the reasons behind brain asymmetry to exploring whether engineering new biomaterials can reduce the use of animals in research, our awardees embody the scope of inquiry our new strategy is designed to foster.

We’re also investing more funds in this area and funding is available over longer periods, which is designed to encourage a broad range of applications, increased diversity of candidates, and bold projects.

“Bringing fields together is one of the core themes that I’m placing at the heart of Discovery Research at Wellcome. If we are to chase the big questions, then we need to reimagine the way we find the answers. Our funding schemes emphasise research culture, creativity and decisions focused on helping people and transforming our understanding of life.”

Michael Dunn

Director of Discovery Research


With 75% of researchers reporting feeling stifled in their creativity, our aim is to enable our funding awardees to pursue their creative visions in a research environment geared towards quality of research, not simply outcomes. We’ve designed our funding to alleviate these pressures and allow room for discovery.

Early-Career and Career Development Awards 

Our Early-Career Awards provide the time and resources for those who are ready to develop and establish their own research identity and begin the journey towards independence. For our Career Development Awards we’re funding researchers who are ready to take responsibility for the creative and bold projects that will establish them and their research groups on the international stage.

Among the latest awardees are researchers tackling questions as diverse as whether we can improve malaria responses by better understanding the natural world to which pathways viruses like SARS-CoV-2 use to enter our cells.

“During the interview process the Interview Committee members frequently commented how the proposals they were reviewing would be transformative in their fields. Seeing researchers take on those bold questions is exciting and knowing we can provide the funding security to encourage creativity is one of the stand-out features of these schemes.”

Ben Murton

Head of Early Career and Career Development Researchers


Discovery Awards 

This area of funding is designed for established researchers and teams in their fields. Our new awardees include researchers investigating what solidarity means when it comes to global health, how physical forces form the shape of a developing embryo and much more.

“It is great to see a balance of investigator and multi-disciplinary team led approaches to tackling key research questions. Through this first round we have supported programmes spanning between three to eight years, at different scales and across a range of disciplines – all framed and led by the research challenge itself. Seeing researchers and their teams embrace the full range of opportunity of Discovery Awards is exciting.”

Morag Foreman

Head of Discovery Researchers


Just the beginning 

These fantastic awardees represent a great start to this new phase of Wellcome’s focus on Discovery Research. We recognise that there’s more we can do to promote diversity of people, places, topics and disciplines seeking opportunities and that this is key for our future work.