The new schemes will be open to researchers from any discipline and are an important element of Wellcome’s new strategy, launched in 2020. Wellcome will support discovery research across a wide range of disciplines that have the potential to make important and unanticipated discoveries about life, health and wellbeing. The schemes will open for applications in late summer 2021.
The three new simplified schemes offer flexibility with researchers able to ask for the level and duration of funding needed to deliver their work:
- Wellcome Early-Career Awards – usually five years of funding plus salary
- Wellcome Career Development Awards – usually eight years of funding plus salary
- Wellcome Discovery Awards – usually eight years of funding.
The Early-Career and Career Development awards will focus on helping researchers develop their research identity, autonomy and leadership skills to prepare them for their next career steps.
Researchers applying to these schemes are asked to appoint a sponsor and mentor to provide support and guidance. The Career Development Awards will also require host organisations to provide grantholders with a permanent position or hold a formal review to discuss their progress and opportunities at the host organisation for after the award.
Discovery Awards will support individuals and teams to make significant shifts in our understanding of a health-related issue. This could be through new insights or the generation of new tools or methods that facilitate health-related research.
Michael Dunn, Director of Discovery Research
We’re giving researchers the freedom to ask the most exciting questions in their research. Advances in health can come from unexpected sources and from any discipline and being open about where developments come from means we help sustain a broad range of research.
Increased flexibility and support
To support this, researchers in disciplines that don’t traditionally have a PhD as part of their academic progression, who apply to the Early-Career Awards, will not need to hold a PhD. Instead they will need to demonstrate at least four years of relevant experience. The schemes are also open to researchers who have taken a break from research, for example because of family commitments, and who want to re-establish their careers.
To give researchers more freedom, Wellcome will not hold mid-term reviews and grantholders will be able to take time away from their host organisation and flex their budget to suit their research.
Alyson Fox, Director of Grants at Wellcome
Wellcome’s new Discovery Research schemes are designed to give researchers the freedom and flexibility needed to make the insights that can transform human health.
We’re working on our assessment and review processes to ensure that diversity, inclusion and a positive research culture are promoted through them all.
Wellcome will also be changing its requirements so that host organisations have to provide greater support for researchers. This includes allowing all staff on grants 10 days a year for training or continuing professional development (CPD).
Across all schemes there’s an emphasis on promoting diverse, inclusive cultures. For example, team leaders are encouraged to put together diverse teams.