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MRC Senior Fellowships in Hearing Research

Please note this opportunity is now CLOSED.
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The MRC aims to strengthen the UK’s research capacity and skills in hearing research. We invite researchers with a track record of leading their own independent research to submit applications for a MRC Senior Fellowship in Hearing Research. Applications across all areas of science relating to auditory processing and sensory degeneration in hearing disorders are welcomed.

Applicants wishing to apply for this scheme must contact the MRC’s Programme Manager for hearing research, Dr Bruna Galobardes (bruna.galobardes@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk) to discuss the application prior to submission.

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Around 15% of the world’s adult population has some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss ranked second in the list of impairments in the latest Global Burden of Disease Study by number of people affected. In Great Britain, nearly 8 million adults (about 1 in 6) suffer from hearing loss. 

Hearing conditions have significant effects on people’s lives and substantial economic impact on society. They not only compromise interpersonal communication but also influence a wide range of health conditions, quality of life, daily living and limit independence. In addition, health care seeking and uptake of available interventions is low which contributes to worsen the impact of hearing impairments. An increasingly ageing population will further compound the problem.

The MRC has identified hearing as an important and under-represented area of research and aims to increase research capacity in this area. Through this initiative we will develop future leaders in hearing research. We will support a number of Senior Fellowships with significant funding to deliver research programmes able to tackle some of the biggest challenges in the field using creative and novel approaches. We expect these Fellows to integrate into on-going initiatives in hearing research in the UK and form a networked group of new leaders. We welcome applicants who can bring high quality hearing research into their own specialty domains. We also expect the Fellows will capitalise on existing infrastructures and investments while pursuing new discoveries that will widen and strengthen hearing research in the UK.

Funding available

Under this scheme up to £6m is available, which will be allocated competitively to support the best Senior Fellows in pursuing challenging and innovative research proposals in hearing research. The call is open to Clinical and Non-Clinical applicants, to be based at any eligible UK higher education or NHS Trust. We expect costs to be in the range of £1.5-2.5m per fellowship, over 5 years.


Applications across all areas of science relating to auditory processing and sensory degeneration in hearing disorders are welcomed. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research. We are also interested in multidisciplinary projects that integrate novel cutting-edge technologies in biological engineering, informatics and imaging applied to hearing research.

For illustrative purposes only, we provide some examples of possible areas of research:

  • Understanding the brain-related mechanisms by which we hear and how these differ between normal and diseased states
  • Understanding the inter-relationship between hearing loss due to ageing and hearing loss related to neurodegeneration
  • Developing disease model systems that reproduce auditory function and/or key aspects of hearing disorders in realistic scenarios that are translatable to clinical situations and can lead to new or better therapeutic approaches
  • Developing stem cell research to produce model systems or offer routes to regenerative approaches to address hearing impairment
  • Innovative population methods that offer insights into causality mechanisms of environmental factors relating to hearing loss
  • Developing computational models that provide an understanding of auditory and neural coding in normal as well as with hybrid hearing (acoustic and electrical, e.g. with cochlear implants)
  • Innovative imaging methods that help to visualise and understand the hearing process, as well as developing special visualisation techniques needed to understand hearing in the presence of implants 
  • To develop smart communication technologies (e.g. in smartphones or TVs with loud speakers) that are able to adapt to the ambient environment or to people with different hearing abilities.

Person remit: The aim of the scheme is to foster scientists with the vision and the ability to drive change in the field of hearing research in the UK. To be eligible to apply, all applicants should have a track record of nationally competitive research, should be managing their own independent research group and should have clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field. The applicant skills and experience table provides a comprehensive list of competencies expected of this level. Applicants must be able to clearly explain how they will use the fellowship to transition to leadership and move to the next level in their careers. There are no eligibility rules based on years of post-doctoral experience.

Individuals who currently hold a permanent position are eligible to apply if they can: 1) Demonstrate that a fellowship would be the best way to support their long term career goals and chosen career route; 2) Provide a clear rationale why a fellowship would be different to their current role. As part of this expectation, applicants may be planning to move away from their current department, or will describe clear pathways by which they will differentiate the fellowship position from their current role; 3) Clearly state that 100% of their time would be dedicated to the fellowship to focus on research, shielded from other professional commitments. Applicants cannot continue to hold an existing position and a fellowship at the same time. If awarded a fellowship, the permanent position would need to be relinquished for the duration of the fellowship. Applicants wishing to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, should consider funding options under one of the grant schemes

Applicants outside the remit of the scheme are not suitable to apply and will be rejected (as specified in our peer review guidance).


The Senior Fellowship provides five years of support. Applicants are expected to take advantage of the full five years of funding available. Awards can be held at any eligible UK higher education institution or NHS Trust. 

Non-European Economic Area applicants and Tier 1 visas

There are no residence eligibility restrictions for this fellowship, but applicants from countries other than the UK must comply with the Department of Employment requirements and hold a valid work permit where appropriate.  Successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route. In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.

The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa.  RCUK is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Exceptional Talent visa.  Please contact fellowtier1info@rcuk.ac.uk for further details.

Funding provided with the fellowship

A fellowship provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project.

Applicants are particularly encouraged to consider the opportunities the fellowship offers to establish collaborative networks and for cross-sector development, as the award can support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution, or within industry where appropriate for the research project.

Awards are made under the full economic costing framework (FEC). We expect costs to be in the range of £1.5-2.5m. Requests should be appropriate to the project and sufficiently justified in terms of delivering the objectives of the research proposal. 

Non-fellowship activities

All MRC fellowship schemes provide competitive salaries, allowing Fellows protected time to fully concentrate on their research, training and development. As part of a full-time award, Fellows may spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time Fellows) on other commitments (e.g. teaching, demonstrating, other funded projects. Clinically qualified applicants may instead undertake up to two clinical sessions a week. For patient-orientated projects where the clinical sessions undertaken will be of direct relevance to the research, applicants may request undertake up to four clinical sessions a week.

Benefits of being a MRC Fellow

Beyond the fellowship award, MRC Fellows enjoy a range of opportunities to develop their skills and networks. For more information on the opportunities available, click here.

Deadlines and Submission details

The MRC Senior Fellows in Hearing Research will share the same characteristics and conditions to other Senior MRC Fellowships. Information available under Applying for a Fellowship webpage,  Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (PDF, 866KB)Applicants skills and experience table  is also relevant for this scheme.  Additional information is available under FAQs for non-clinical and FAQs for clinical applicants.

Applicants to this MRC Senior Fellowship in Hearing Research scheme cannot apply for a regular Senior Clinical or Non-Clinical MRC Fellowships at the same time.

Applicants wishing to apply for this scheme must contact the MRC’s Programme Manager for Hearing research, Dr Bruna Galobardes (bruna.galobardes@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk) to discuss the application prior to submission.  

All applications must be submitted no later than 16 January 2018 utilising the MRC’s Joint Electronic Submission system.

Key dates

Announcement and Opening date for submission

26 June 2017

Closing date for submission

16 January 2018

Shortlisting for interview

May 2018

Panel interview

June 2018 

Take up dates

Sep 2018-February 2019