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People Awards and Society Awards

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About People Awards and Society Awards

Albert Webb from Brain Donors series
Image: ‘Mr Albert Webb’ from the Brain Donor series in Ania Dabrowska and Dr Bronwyn Parry’s Mind Over Matter 2011 exhibition, supported by a people award.

People Awards and Society Awards are two related schemes supporting projects that encourage the public to explore biomedical science, its impact on society and culture, its historical roots or the ethical questions that it raises.

Both schemes aim to:

  • stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science and/or the history of medicine
  • support formal and informal learning
  • reach audiences of all ages and from all walks of life and inform, inspire and involve them
  • encourage high-quality interdisciplinary practice and collaborations
  • investigate and test new methods of engagement, participation and education.

The schemes are open to a wide range of people, including: mediators, facilitators and practitioners of science communication; science centre/museum staff; artists; educators; film makers; theatre producers; games developers; public participation practitioners; health professionals; and academics in bioscience, social science, bioethics and medical history and humanities.

Project activities and outputs may include:

  • workshops, events, debates and discussions
  • exhibitions and museum outreach
  • films, games, websites and cross-platform projects
  • performance or theatre projects involving existing work or work that may be more illustrative than artistic
  • deliberative or opinion-gathering projects
  • creation of teaching materials
  • projects that use the collections of the Wellcome Library and Wellcome Collection at the Science Museum.

Please see the eligibility tab for the difference between the two schemes.


To be eligible, you must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and the primary audience engagement must take place in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Applicants are usually affiliated to organisations, but you can apply as an individual for a People and Society Award.

Projects must be scientifically sound - we look for scientific input either through a scientist taking on an advisory role or through direct collaboration.

People Awards (up to and including £30 000)

People Awards are for innovative and creative projects that engage the public with biomedical science and/or the history of medicine. They can fund small-to-medium-sized one-off projects or projects that pilot new ideas with an aim to scale up or become sustainable following the grant, or they can part-fund larger projects.

Society Awards (above £30 000)

Society Awards can fund the scaling-up of successfully piloted projects (whether funded through People Awards or through other means) or can fund projects that are more ambitious in scale and impact than is possible through a People Award. Society Award projects would normally expect to reach audiences with a wide geographical spread across the UK and/or Republic of Ireland. They can also part-fund larger projects.

Mass-media entertainment projects are not eligible for Society Awards. If you are seeking more than £30 000 for a broadcast, game or film project please see our Co-production Awards (Broadcast, Games and Film).

If your proposed project involves the creation of new artistic work, please also see our Arts Awards.

Projects that are not eligible for People Awards and Society Awards include:

• health promotion or campaigning projects

• arts projects for therapeutic purposes

• projects that do not deal with biomedical science or the history of medicine

How to apply

People Awards (up to and including £30 000)
Complete a full application form, via the Trust's eGrants online application system (select the 'People Awards' form in the 'Full application' drop-down menu), and submit it at any time before the published deadline.

Please refer to the application guidelines [PDF], Grant Conditions and evaluation guidelines [Word] before completing your application.

Please note that organisations need to be registered on eGrants before an application can be submitted. This is done by contacting the Trust; for full information, see the 'About' page on eGrants.

All eligible projects will be peer-reviewed and assessed by a funding committee.

Society Awards (above £30 000)
You must complete and submit a preliminary application form [Word] by the published deadline. Please refer to the application guidelines [PDF], Grant Conditions and evaluation guidelines [Word] before completing this form and emailing it (as a Word document) to PEgrants@wellcome.ac.uk.

The Society Awards Funding Committee will assess your application. If successful, you will then be invited to submit a full application (usually about two months after the preliminary deadline).

Your full application will be peer-reviewed by at least two independent reviewers, and we will invite you to respond to their comments in writing. We will then ask you to present your proposal to the Society Awards Funding Committee. This meeting will discuss the peer reviews and your response to them, and will make a funding decision.

Deadlines and contacts

People Awards
There are four deadlines per year. Forthcoming deadlines are:

• 25 April 2014 (17.00)

• 25 July 2014 (17.00)

• 24 October 2014 (17.00)

Funding decisions will be made approximately three months after the relevant deadline; we will tell you the result shortly afterwards.

Society Awards
There are two deadlines per year. Forthcoming deadlines are:

• 28 March 2014 (17.00)

• 03 October 2014 (17.00)

We will make shortlisting decisions for preliminary applications approximately two months after the relevant deadline; we will tell you the result shortly afterwards.

Contact us at:

People /Society Awards
Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

T +44 (0)20 7611 5757

Previous Funding

You can read summaries of all our previous People Awards and Society Awards funding.

We have recently funded the following projects:

People Awards
Awarded January 2014

Shane McCracken
Gallomanor Communications Ltd
I’m a (Biological) Engineer, Get me out of here!
£28 620

I'm an Engineer is an engineering enrichment and engagement activity where Science, Maths & D&T school students talk to biomedical engineers for 2 weeks, online at www.imanengineer.org.uk. It's an X Factor-style competition where students are the judges. Students ASK the engineers questions, have live text CHATs with them and VOTE for one engineer to win £500 for further engagement work. Biomedical engineers introduce students to an area of engineering they may not have heard of, and show them that their preconceptions are wrong; engineering is not just about Maths and Physics. Biology and Chemistry play a very large part too.

Lucy Emmerson
National Children's Bureau
Prepared for Puberty
£29 992

Many children grow up learning little about puberty before they experience it. The Sex Education Forum will support a team of teachers to assess their pupils learning needs and to engage with parents. A residential workshop bringing together experts with sociological, nursing, psychological and cultural perspectives on puberty and a visual artist will inspire the teachers to design participatory projects that enable pupils to express puberty concepts visually. Each school will exhibit their work to parents, thus inviting conversations with the wider school communication about puberty. A special edition e-magazine for primary teachers will ensure project learning is shared nationally.

Dr Shaun Pattinson
Durham Law School & Durham CELLS, University of Durham
Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research Through the Medium of Law
£29 961

A Durham University team is collaborating with scientists from Newcastle University to engage 16-18 year old students in learning about two exciting areas of biomedical science. Streams of events are planned on stem cell research in 2014 and on human cloning in 2015. Students will take part in law-in-action workshops to show how our society debates controversial issues. A mock parliamentary debate will focus discussion of stem cell research and a mock court case will focus discussion of human cloning. Events for educationalists in schools and higher education are planned in 2016 to help disseminate the experiences to wider audiences.

Hailey Phillips
The maze of food allergy. Start here... an online school-based workshop to improve awareness and understanding of food allergy
£30 000

Food allergy is a bit of a maze. A puzzle scientists are still trying to solve today. Allergy Adventures will take children (aged 5-11 years) on a journey through an online maze. From START to FINISH they'll work their way through a series of educational videos, challenges and classroom activities that improve the understanding and awareness of food allergy. The workshop will explain the immune system, what happens inside the body when a reaction occurs, how to avoid accidental reactions and what medicine we need to treat them to complete the workshop and successfully reach the finish.

Dr Síle Lane
Sense About Science
Helping People Ask for Evidence
£29 400

This project will expand the publicity and support of the Ask for Evidence campaign. We hear daily claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education or cut crime. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

Simon Mckeown
School of Computing, University of Teesside
Seal Boy
£29 885

Seal Boy creates a wonderful iPhone experience, to encapsulate and explore many of the issues around society's dependency on complex bioscience. Using Thalidomide as a central element, the game revolves around the main character filling in the gaps of his mothers’ scrapbook. Finding this unfinished journal sparks an interest in him to discover more about his own past. Intriguingly we also experience first-hand his physicality and disability through game play. Thalidomide raises complex ethical issues that affect commerce, science, health, morality and choice as well as raising an on-going historical narrative, key elements of which are addressed.

Julia Alison
Irchester Community Primary School
Dirty Stinky Children
£25 113

Lab_13 is an innovative and exciting model for primary school science teaching that centres around a physical lab space, staffed by a qualified scientist-in-residence, whose work is managed by a committee of children. Irchester and Gillespie Primary schools propose to use the Lab_13 approach to stage a biomedical science intervention in two very different schools at different stages of the Lab_13 journey. Through a series of hands-on investigations, children will develop important scientific skills as they explore three biomedical science questions: What causes diseases?; How is disease spread?; How do human bodies defend themselves?

Heather Barnett,
University of Westminster
Broad Vision: Engaging the public through art/science collaboration
£9 998

The nature of what it means to be human is constantly shifting, in how we understand our own bodies, how we interface with technologies, and how we generate, consume and share knowledge. This project will critically and creatively explore the latest developments in synthetic biology, biotechnology and medicine through art/science collaboration. Pertinent biomedical research will be used as a stimulus for interdisciplinary inquiry for undergraduate students from the arts and sciences to work together to grapple with complex issues and their implications. Their responses will be shared publicly through exhibitions and participatory activities, engaging others with the subjects under scrutiny.

Nick Barley,
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Conversations with Ourselves
£25 010

The Edinburgh International Book Festival will present a strand of 8 events entitled 'Conversations With Ourselves' during the 2014 Festival. These events will explore the experience of voice-hearing from different perspectives with an inter-disciplinary team of writers, health professionals, academics, artists and Voice Hearers. These events will marry the latest research from Durham University with the creative innovation of The Moth, the highly-respected storytelling organisation from New York.

Awarded October 2013

Mr Henry Scowcroft
Cancer Research UK
Wikipedian in Residence
£25 469

Wikipedia is the world’s 6th most popular website, and one of the top destinations for people seeking medical information. The site consistently ranks near the top of Google search results for medical search terms. It’s vital that the information available on these pages is accurate and easy to understand. CRUK's Wikipedian in Residence - a six-month position at CRUK's London office – aims to foster collaboration across the charity, the Wikimedia community and the UK cancer research community - with the aim of improving Wikipedia’s cancer-related content for the benefit of all, while establishing a robust case-study for other organisations.

Dr Emil C Toescu
University of Birmingham
Flatpack Festival 2014: Cafe Neuro
£24 900

In 2014, Flatpack Festival asks: what is cinema doing to our brains? Cafe Neuro aims to be a fizzing, fertile space where films collide with ideas and visitors can explore the internal mechanics of the mind through drop-in activities, short film screenings, talks and discussions. A fascinating lineup of academics, filmmakers and artists will gather to talk about the neuroscience of film, and also how film can help to chart our inner world. Additional attractions will include a first glimpse of the 360 NeuroDome project, an exploration of the science behind lie-detector tests, and a chance to see Birmingham University's brain imaging unit in action.

Ms Sarah Norcross
Progress Educational Trust
Breast Cancer: Genetics, Chances and Choices
£20 978

When actress Angelina Jolie wrote about the reasons for her mastectomy in an open editorial in the New York Times, breast cancer hit the headlines around the world. To what extent is Jolie's situation representative? To what extent was her response proportionate? The 'Breast Cancer: Chances, Choices and Genetics' project will use this high level of public interest as a starting point to explore breast cancer, genetics and risk through a series of public events, podcasts, an online poll and a variety of related materials.

Miss Alison Neighbour
Bread & Goose
The Incurable Imagination of Anthony Jones
£17 000

The Incurable Imagination of Anthony Jones is a theatre production about the possibilities of scientific discovery and the inevitability of loss. It explores the experience of dementia and the meaning of memory through the relationship between Anthony Jones, a neuropsychiatrist, and Edna, a dementia sufferer. The performance aims to engage the audience by making them part of the story, asking them to contribute their own memories and build a “collective brain” through interactive demonstration. The show will tour to venues across England & Wales during 2014.

Miss Amanda Tyndall
Edinburgh International Science Festival
£30 000

A flagship project of the 2014 Edinburgh International Science Festival, GastroFest is a mini festival of the science of food and drink. Aimed at reaching new audiences traditionally not engaged with science, GastroFest will bring together researchers and key figures from the world of cuisine, arts and cultural sectors on a carefully curated programme of events exploring the science behind our culinary experiences. From hard-hitting discussions and debates, to theatrical dining experiences, and a science farmers' market, GastroFest will reveal the fascinating science about some of our favourite foodstuffs.

Dr Tim Harrison
The Basement
SICK! Festival 2014
£30 000

Building on the success of the pilot event in 2013, SICK! 2014 is an ambitious, cross-art form festival that seeks out new ways of talking about physical, mental and social problems and well-being. Presenting a programme of performance, theatre, dance, film, visual art and digital media, across many venues and public spaces in Brighton, SICK! will focus on the themes of adolescence and identity, mental illness and wellbeing in society, ageing and dementia, and death & euthanasia. The programme brings together an artistic programmewith experts from healthcare services, academia and charity organisations.

Society Awards

Society Awards – 2012 themed call: Health in a Changing World?

Tony Kendle
Eden Project
The Invisible Biome – explore the world inside your body
£250 000

At the Eden Project you can meet towering trees in the Rainforest Biome. Now you can journey inside your body to explore your personal ecosystem in their new microbiome. We are not individuals – inside us live 100 trillion bacteria comprising several hundred species with 3 million non-human genes. Bacteria outdo us 10:1. Once we thought they made us sick, now we are learning they help feed us, protect us, and may even affect our mood, weight, intelligence and personality. Back outside you are one of 7 billion living in the macrobiome. How will you treat your host?

2012 open call

Michael John Gorman
Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
£150 000

'LIVING MACHINES' will be a flagship exhibition, event and workshop programme at Science Gallery from October 2013 to January 2014, tackling the provocative questions surrounding the research implications of synthetic biology. Including a curatorial team from Imperial College London and Royal College of Art, London, 'LIVING MACHINES' will explore broad themes such as living versus non-living, human versus nature, design versus evolution. Taking a focus on works that will bring visitors into dialogue with the complex boundaries between life and non-life explored in synthetic biology, 'LIVING MACHINES' will tackle both extremes of hype surrounding synthetic biology from the threat of world-ending disaster on one end and the promise of solving all the world's ills on the other. 'LIVING MACHINES' will leave audiences with a nuanced and thoughtful assessment of the discipline of synthetic biology.

Roger Kneebone
Imperial College London
Surgery, Society and Simulation
£200 000

Surgery can affect anyone at any time, yet to most people it remains a closed - and often scary - world. This highly unusual project uses realistic simulation to bring the worlds of surgery and surgical science to diverse audiences at the Cheltenham, Big Bang and Green Man Festivals over two years. Visitors will see real surgeons operate, watch arts performances inspired by surgery, and participate in discussions with leading experts. The project sets out to fascinate, unsettle and captivate all at once, challenging conceptions of surgery and exploring what it means to operate and be operated on.

Jennifer Wong
Guerilla Science
Guerilla Science 2013-2015
£204 435

For five years Guerilla Science has strived to bring the world's discoveries out of cloistered laboratories and stuffy classrooms and into the realm of boisterous celebration: muddy music festivals, noisy warehouses and raucous explosions, always with the conviction that scientific insights belong to everyone and should be enjoyed by everyone. This award enables Guerilla Science to continue operating from 2013 to 2015 at the country's edgiest music festivals, experiment with daring new methods, bring science to new audiences nationwide, and evolve into an organisation that will still be going strong five years from now.

All past awards made can be found here.

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