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Investigator Awards in Society and Ethics

These awards support outstanding researchers who have strong track records relative to their career stage and discipline, and the ability to innovate and drive advances in their field of study. We have combined our New Investigator and Senior Investigator Award schemes to create a single Investigator Award, providing all who hold established posts in eligible organisations - at any career stage - with the same opportunity to obtain funding.
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Investigator Awards are aimed at exceptional researchers with bold and intellectually rigorous ideas. They provide flexible support at a level and length to enable recipients to explore health, wellbeing or biomedical science in their social or ethical contexts.

What's included

Typical Investigator Awards are for up to five years and provide generous and flexible funding.

An Investigator Award might be in the range of £100,000 to £200,000 per year, depending on the needs of your research and your ability to justify the proposed costs. You can discuss the scope and scale of your proposal with us before submitting your application (see 'Contacts').

The award covers the direct costs of carrying out the research, such as:

  • research expenses, including research assistance
  • travel and subsistence, and funding for collaborative activity
  • capacity-building initiatives, public engagement initiatives and research leave
  • research, symposia and dissemination activities.

You are expected to justify the costs requested. The costs awarded will be finalised after the decision to fund an application is made and will depend on the recommendations of the Selection Panel.

Please note that the Trust does not fund on a proportion of full economic costs (fEC) basis.

See Costs guidance for Investigator Awards [Word] for further information on what costs are or are not allowed.

Provision for public engagement costs


You must be based in the UK, the Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country:

You should have either:

  • an established academic post - a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract - hosted and salaried by an eligible higher education or research institution
  • a written guarantee of such a post at your host institution, which you will take up by the start of the award.

If you are uncertain whether your employment status makes you eligible, please contact us for advice (see 'Contacts').

  • Other eligibility information
  • We encourage applications from outstanding individuals who have taken career breaks. With this in mind, time spent outside a research environment (full- or part-time) can be taken into account when assessing your eligibility and the competitiveness of your CV.
  • You may hold only one Investigator Award at any one time.

Joint applications

We will consider parallel, linked applications from two outstanding individuals who are working closely together towards a shared vision. Please contact us for advice.


Investigator Awards are highly sought-after, prestigious awards. We aim to select talented researchers who have established a track record of significant achievement that demonstrates the originality and impact of their research relative to their career stage.

We expect that you will:

  • have a strong, internationally competitive track record in research, relative to the stage of your career and research experience to date
  • have published significant intellectual contributions to research and, where relevant in your field/discipline, have published a monograph
  • show evidence of achievement as an independent researcher in your chosen area.
  • In addition, you should normally:
  • have been lead investigator on at least one significant research grant from a major funding body or have been the recipient of an independent research fellowship before taking up your current post
  • have established a training record - our expectations will vary according to your career stage but at the least you will have begun to coach or mentor less experienced researchers or postgraduate students.

Host institution: what the Trust expects

The environment in which you will undertake your research and the nature of the support promised by the host institution are important factors when we are evaluating your application.

Your main application must be accompanied by a statement of commitment on behalf of your host institution from the most senior authority in the relevant faculty, school or division. This should express:

  • why your institution considers that you merit Investigator Award status
  • how your institution will support you to ensure that the ambitions of your research proposal can be achieved
  • how your research proposal complements and addresses your institution's strategic aims and priorities.

The statement should also confirm:

  • the nature of your employment contract and its compliance with our eligibility criteria for Investigator Awards
  • the source of your salary for the duration of the award
  • availability of the additional space, facilities and infrastructure that you will need for the research for the duration of the award
  • details of any support (financial, administrative, technical or other assistance) that your institution will commit to supporting the application.

Application process

During 2015 we are launching a new grants system that will replace eGrants, our current electronic application system. It is important that your application is submitted using the appropriate system, which will be determined by the deadline date you apply to. Further information on these arrangements is provided on the 'Deadlines' page. Please contact us if you wish to discuss in more detail.

Awards will be made following a rigorous review process and interview.

You are strongly advised to refer to the Additional information for completing the Investigator Award form [PDF 48KB], which provides an overview to help guide you through the application process. You may also wish to download a sample application form.

Stage 1: Preliminary application
If you plan to submit a preliminary application to the 10 July 2015 preliminary application closing date, please submit your application using eGrants, our electronic application system. If you are already registered with eGrants, you will need to make sure that your homepage is up to date before submitting a preliminary application.

Stage 2: Main application
We are no longer accepting full applications to this scheme via eGrants. If you intend to submit a full application, please wait until our new system is launched in May 2015 – we will update this webpage to let you know when application forms for this scheme are available. Please contact us if you wish to discuss these arrangements in more detail.

Stage 3: Review and shortlisting
Main applications are reviewed and shortlisted for interview by the Medical Humanities Expert Review Group

Stage 4: External peer review
Before interview and final selection, we will seek comments from external reviewers.

Stage 5: Interview
Shortlisted applicants are interviewed by the Humanities & Social Science Investigator Award Selection Panel.

Assessment criteria

Applications are considered based on:

  • the candidate’s track record and standing in the field
  • the quality and importance of the research question(s)
  • the approach to addressing these questions
  • the suitability of the research environment
  • how the proposed research explores health, wellbeing or biomedical science in their social or ethical contexts.


During 2015 we are launching a new grants system that will replace eGrants, our current electronic application system. It is important that your application is submitted using the appropriate system.

If you plan to submit an application to the 10 July 2015 preliminary application deadline, please complete your application using eGrants (see 'Application process' tab). If you intend to submit a preliminary application to a later deadline, you should wait until our new system is launched in May 2015 – we will update this webpage to let you know when the application forms are available.

Applications are processed twice a year for consideration by Expert Review Group and Selection Panel meetings.

January 2015 round (Closed)

  • Closing date for preliminary applications: 23 January 2015
  • Closing date for full applications: 2 April 2015
  • Shortlisting: May 2015
  • Decision committee: 23-24 July 2015

July 2015 round

  • Closing date for preliminary applications: 10 July 2015
  • Closing date for full applications: 25 September 2015
  • Shortlisting: November 2015
  • Decision committee: 26-28 January 2016

We aim to advise all applicants whether they have been invited to submit full applications within three weeks of the preliminary application deadline.


Grants Section – Society and Ethics
Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

T +44 (0)20 7611 5757

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