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Principal Research Fellowships

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This is the most prestigious of our personal awards and provides long-term support for researchers of international standing. Successful candidates will have an established track record in research at the highest level.

What's included

Awards are for seven years in the first instance, and provide both a personal salary and research programme funding in full.

After the first period of award, the fellowship will be subject to a competitive scientific review, which will subsequently occur on a rolling basis every five years.

Fellowships will be renewed on a partnership basis; the Trust and the host institution will jointly fund the Principal Research Fellow's basic salary through a '50:50' arrangement for the duration of any renewal period. The Trust will provide research programme costs throughout the entire period of the fellowship.

The host institution will be required to guarantee, at the outset, that it will support renewal of the fellowship under the shared funding arrangement, and that an established post will be available to the fellow on termination of the award.

We may supplement a fellow's basic salary with a Principal Research Fellowship 'distinction' award of up to £50 000 in recognition of the outstanding calibre of the individual.

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.

Candidates can also apply for provision for public engagement costs, which provides dedicated funds to enable grant holders to engage with the public with their research.

We anticipate that Principal Research Fellows will be able to focus on their research throughout the duration of their fellowship.


You should have an established track record in research at the highest level.

This award is particularly suitable for exceptional senior research scientists currently based overseas who wish to work in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

If you hold an established post you may not apply for a Principal Research Fellowship (PRF) to be held at your current employing institution.

If you hold an established post in the UK or Republic of Ireland you will need to be able to make a strong case to justify the requested move.

Application process

If you intend to apply for a Principal Research Fellowship you should contact us with a full CV in the first instance, preferably 12 months in advance of the desired award date.

The formal application process consists of the following stages:

  • Preliminary application - assessment of eligibility and advice on competitiveness
  • Invited main application - review by Expert Review Group and shortlisted for interview
  • Interview - by Interview Panel, with additional peer review from relevant scientific experts, which will include members of the Trust’s Peer Review College.

Download a sample of the full application form.

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

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

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.


Applicants can express an interest in this award at any time.

Current award holders

Principal Research Fellowships are the most prestigious of our personal awards and provide long term funding for researchers of international standing.

A full list of current Principal Research Fellows is available.

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

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888