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Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships: a new single, flexible award

10 May, 2016

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Back in November 2014 we at Wellcome announced some changes to our funding structure, with a focus on simple, flexible award schemes. Today, one of the  last pieces of this new structure falls into place, with the introduction of a single award for clinical research fellows, the new Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship. Here, Anne-Marie Coriat, Head of Research Careers, explains the change, and how we hope this provides a better offer to clinical researchers…

Embedding research alongside healthcare is key to understanding the biological basis of disease, driving medical innovation and developing cutting-edge treatments. At the same time, we understand that being a clinical researcher can be challenging, with many different competing demands – including time in the lab, completing a clinical specialism and maintaining a work-life balance.

We have spent a long time listening to the community, both through individual meetings and through workshops with the directors of the Wellcome Clinical PhD Programmes, clinical trainees, funders, medical school deans and others. One of the key outcomes from this process was to make sure that Wellcome is working with other funders, NIHR, the Academy of Medical Sciences to develop a clear, supportive and connected framework for clinical academic research so that together, we can ensure the best career development for this critically important group of researchers.

In July last year we explained that we had updated our thinking on how we could better support clinicians who want to pursue a career in research. In November 2015 we launched the new clinical PhD programme and we are now delighted to launch the Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships. This fellowship consolidates two of our existing schemes into a single, flexible award. and complements the changes we have already introduced for our basic science fellowships.

The Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship provides the option of longer-term support and a greater ability to balance research and clinical training responsibilities. The scheme is open to those who are re-entering academia after career breaks or extended periods of clinical training, and will adapt to the evolving clinical training model.

Our primary aim in making these revisions is to provide flexible support for the next generation of clinical academics.

Key features of the new scheme

  • the Clinical Research Career Development fellowship can be held for up to 8 years in total, split into two stages separated by a flexible but competitive “gate”
  • no stage will be longer than 5 years of full time funding and each will be peer reviewed
  • all components can be completed part time or pro rata
  • time to work overseas or in laboratories outside of your home institution can be included
  • at the time of initial application, you will need to estimate when you intend to apply for the gate; this can be adjusted annually, depending on progress through Phase I.
  • neither phase can be held for longer than 5 years (pro rata) and the total length of fellowship support cannot exceed 8 years (pro rata)

As ever, we welcome feedback on this change – please email sciencegrants@wellcome.ac.uk with any comments or questions.

More information about eligibility for the Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship is available on the Wellcome Trust website.

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