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New Investigator Awards in Society and Ethics

These awards support world-class researchers who are no more than five years from appointment to their first academic position but can already show that they have the ability to innovate and drive advances in their field of study.
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Researchers should be able to articulate a compelling long-term vision for their research and demonstrate the talent, track record and originality to achieve it.

New Investigator Awards provide flexible support at a level and length that is sufficient to enable exceptional researchers to address the most important questions about health and disease and their social, political and historical contexts.

With the publication of our Strategic Plan 2010-20, we set out a new vision statement. In addition, we identified exploring medicine in its historical, cultural and social context as a key focus area and set out five major challenge areas to help meet our vision. The research should demonstrate how it relates to our focus areas and how - directly or indirectly - it enables the Wellcome Trust to achieve its broad strategic vision.

The Society and Ethics Programme will support research that explores the social and/or ethical aspects of biomedical research and health interventions, with the ultimate aim of achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. Further information on the Society and Ethics Programme

Further information on the Investigator Awards scheme [Word 92KB]

What's included

Research costs

  • Typical New Investigator Awards are for up to five years and provide a generous and flexible package of funding.
  • A New Investigator Award might be in the range of £100k to £200k per year, depending on the needs of your research and your ability to justify the proposed costs.

You are advised to discuss the scope and scale of your proposal with the Trust before submitting your application.

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.

The award does not include your salary costs. These must be provided by your host institution.

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 any award will not exceed the total amount requested.

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 allowed or disallowed.

Provision for public engagement costs

Further information on the Investigator Awards scheme [Word 92KB]


If you are based in the UK, the Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country:

  • You should have an established academic post at an eligible higher education or research institution (see our Q&A document [Word 92KB]). By this, we mean you are employed on a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, salaried by your host institution.
  • You should be no more than five years from appointment to your first established academic post on the date you submit your main application.
  • You are also eligible to apply if you have a written guarantee of an established academic post at your host institution, which you will take up by the start of the award.

If you are uncertain whether your employment status meets the above eligibility criteria, please contact the Trust for advice (see 'Contacts').

Other eligibility information

  • We encourage applications from outstanding individuals who have taken career breaks. Time spent outside a research environment (full- or part-time) will be considered when assessing your eligibility.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will normally be expected to wait 18 months before resubmitting an application.
  • You may hold only one New Investigator Award at any one time.

Joint applications

We will consider parallel, linked applications from two individuals of equivalent standing who are working closely together towards a shared vision. Please contact the Trust for advice.


New Investigator Awards are highly sought after, prestigious awards. We aim to select exceptional, recently appointed researchers who have already established a track record of significant achievement that demonstrates the originality and impact of their research relative to their career stage, who are forging international reputations for excellence in their fields, and who show exceptional promise for the future.

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, for medical historians, 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 begun to establish a training record and to coach or mentor less experienced researchers and/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, in particular, merit New 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 New Investigator Awards
  • the source of your salary for the duration of the award
  • that the necessary additional space, facilities and infrastructure will be made available to you 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

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 Investigator Award application process. You may also wish to download a sample application form.

Stage 1: Preliminary application

You will need to complete and submit the relevant form, which is available on the Trust's eGrants online 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
If you have been invited to submit a full application you will be required to submit this via the eGrants online application system. To proceed with the full application, go to ‘Application Details’ where you will find your Investigator Award application status at ‘Proceed on Notification’. Click ‘Proceed with Form’. This will put the form back ‘In progress’, allowing you to edit it.

Stage 3: Review and shortlisting
Main applications are reviewed and shortlisted for interview by the Society and Ethics 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

All experts involved in reviewing and selecting candidates for awards are asked to consider applications against the following criteria:

  • the track record of the candidate and his or her 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 the ethical aspects and/or social context of biomedical research, health and medicine and/or addresses one or more of our major challenges.

Award process

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

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

See costs guidance for Investigator Awards [Word 124KB] for more information.

Further information on the Investigator Awards scheme [Word 92KB]


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

2015 deadlines

January round

  • 23 January 2015: closing date for preliminary applications
  • 2 April 2015: closing date for full applications

The schedule for full applications received by 2 April 2015 closing date is as follows:

  • May 2015: shortlisting
  • July 2015: interviews

July round

  • July 2015: closing date for preliminary applications (exact date tbc)
  • September 2015: closing date for full applications (exact date tbc)

The schedule for full applications received by the September 2015 closing date is as follows:

  • November 2015: shortlisting
  • January 2016: interviews

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

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