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Senior Research Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Science

Senior Research Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Science
Our Senior Research Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Science fund the most outstanding postdoctoral scientists based within academic institutions across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
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This scheme provides support for outstanding postdoctoral scientists based in academic institutions in the UK and Republic of Ireland (RoI). Candidates are expected to have an excellent track record in their scientific field and be able to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research.

What's included

The fellowship is for five years in the first instance, and provides:

Additional funding is available to enable institutions to recruit exceptional scientists to the UK from overseas. The International Recruitment Supplement (IRS) is designed to be part of the fellowship, providing a competitive start-up package and covering some of the other costs associated with an individual’s recruitment. Candidates are advised to speak to their host institution before submitting a preliminary application.

Fellowships may be taken up on a part-time employment basis, where appropriate.

This Fellowship is subject to competitive rolling scientific review every five years, and renewed awards will be funded on the basis that the Trust and the host institution will each provide 50 per cent of the Fellow's employment costs for the duration of any renewal period.


You should have between seven and normally twelve years' research experience (from the date of your viva to the decision date, i.e. interview) at postdoctoral level, or veterinary equivalent, and have a substantial record of publications in your chosen area of research in leading international journals.

Time spent outside the research environment will be taken into consideration (e.g. time away due to personal reasons such as maternity, paternity, adoption leave or other caring responsibilities; ill-health or working in a non-research environment/role such as industry).

Where applicants have taken formal maternity, paternity or adoption leave as the primary carer (either the mother, father, partner or adopter), the Trust will allow an additional six months for each period of parental leave when assessing eligibility. Each case will be considered individually and the employing institution may need to confirm that the applicant qualifies for this provision.

You must be:

  • a UK/EEA national
  • a non-EEA national who either has a relevant degree from a UK university, or has worked in the UK for at least a continuous three-year period
  • an exceptional biomedical scientist, who does not fall within the categories above, whose recruitment to the host institution would be advantageous to both the applicant and the institution.

Please note that if you hold an established post you are not eligible to apply for a fellowship to be held at your current employing institution. However, in exceptional circumstances, we are willing to consider a preliminary application if you wish to move institution and are able to make a strong scientific justification for the move.

Holders of Senior Fellowships supported by other UK funding bodies are not eligible to apply.

The Trust does not normally accept resubmissions of main applications for its fellowships. Please contact the Office for further advice.

You may not apply for more than one Wellcome Trust fellowship scheme at any one time.


You must have an eligible sponsoring host institution in the UK or RoI with the support of the relevant Head of Department, or equivalent (e.g. Centre Director, Head of School, etc.), who can guarantee that you will be supported in leading your own independent research team and that adequate space and resources will be provided for the duration of the award.


The Head of Department (or equivalent):

  • must have a contract of employment with the host institution or, in the case of an NHS employee, an honorary academic appointment
  • should give an undertaking that if an award is made, you will be granted the status and prerogatives of other academic staff of similar seniority
  • should not expect you to spend more than eight hours per week on activities unrelated to the Fellowship (e.g. teaching duties).

Your sponsor is encouraged to view his/her support and mentorship of you as part of a longer-term commitment to help you realise your career aspirations.

The Trust would expect you to have one sponsor. However, if you propose to undertake fieldwork or research in a low- or middle-income country, you may be required to identify an appropriate Head of Department, or equivalent (e.g. Director of Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme), in your overseas institution.

More information about these roles can be found on the Glossary page.

Application process

Please use WT Grant Tracker to complete your preliminary application.

Awards will be made following a rigorous review process and interview. The application process consists of the following stages:

  • Preliminary application - assessment of eligibility, plus advice on competitiveness and level of resources requested
  • Invited main application - reviewed by the relevant Expert Review Group and shortlisted for interview
  • Interview - by Interview Panel, with additional peer review from relevant scientific experts.

Consideration of the main application may take up to four months to complete.

Stage 1: preliminary application
Your preliminary application must be accompanied by an institutional statement of commitment from your host institution sponsor confirming that:

  • the Fellow will be granted the status and benefits of other academic staff of similar seniority
  • the institution will support a successful application for renewal of the fellowship and will jointly fund the Fellow’s employment costs through the shared 50/50 funding arrangement for the duration of any renewal period.

Stage 2: main application
If a main application is invited, you will be asked to complete the main application form. The form will require you to provide information additional to that provided in the preliminary application, particularly in relation to your research vision. It will also include details relating to (as appropriate):

  • your data management/sharing plan
  • your proposed clinical trial
  • your proposed use of animals

Download a sample of the full application form.

Please refer to the Application information pages for more advice about applying for a grant.

Stage 3: scientific review and shortlisting
Main applications are reviewed and shortlisted for interview by one of the Trust’s Expert Review Groups.

Stage 4: External peer review
We will seek comments from external expert referees, which will include members of the Trust’s Peer Review College. Selected unattributed referee comments will be fed back to you before interview.

Stage 5: Interview
Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Interview Panel.

Application advice

Reviewers typically assess:

  • the calibre of the candidate
  • the quality and importance of the research question(s)
  • the approach to solving these questions
  • the suitability of the research environment.

Candidates are not expected to move organisation in order to apply for this fellowship. However, a strong justification is required if you have been in the same department for more than two years and do not hold an independent award/position. In such circumstances, you are encouraged to give careful consideration to how you will be able to demonstrate your independence to the international research community.

Award process

If successful, and before an award letter is issued, candidates will be asked to provide:

  • full details of the costs requested
  • information on human participation, biological samples and personal data
  • information on consultancies, equities, directorships and commercial exploitation
  • details of key collaborator(s)
  • other details, as required.

Successful applicants may have the opportunity to apply for Enhancement funding.

Successful applicants from outside the European Economic Area are encouraged to apply for entry to the UK via the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise visa routes. In order to streamline the application process for these visas, the Trust is taking part in a pilot scheme for accelerated endorsement, in collaboration with the Designated Competent Bodies – the British Academy, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. For more information please contact tierone@wellcome.ac.uk.


Applications are considered three times a year.

The timetable for the next round of the competition is below:

  • Next preliminary application deadline: 24 May 2016 (5pm)
  • Main application deadline: 27 July 2016 (5pm)
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: September 2016
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 30 November 2016 – 2 December 2016

  • Next preliminary application deadline: 19 September 2016 (5pm)
  • Invited full application deadline: 21 November 2016 (5pm)
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: January 2017
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 5-7 April 2017

Schedule for preliminary applications submitted to 8 December 2015 deadline:

  • Main application deadline: 26 February 2016 (5pm)
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: April 2016
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 5-7 July 2016

Invitations to complete a main application form will usually be sent to candidates within one month of the preliminary application deadline.

Interviews will be conducted at the Wellcome Trust’s offices in London.

Late applications will not be accepted at any stage.

Contact us

About your eligibility, the application process or general queries about grants

About the content of your project or proposal

About our online application system

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