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Change to Skills Development Fellowship scheme

27 Jan 2017

In a new approach to promote interdisciplinarity and career flexibility, MRC Skills Development Fellowships will move to be appointed directly by participating host research organisations. 

MRC Skills Development Fellowships (SDF) are capacity building training fellowships that support individuals gaining expertise in quantitative skills applied to biomedical research questions, an MRC Skill Priority (PDF, 58KB)

From 2017, individuals seeking MRC SDF support will no longer apply directly to the MRC. Instead individuals should wait until 2018 and apply for a fellowship position at a participating host research organisation at that time.

The new approach

The MRC will identify host institutions, based on their strategy, to support fellows across multiple departments, and potentially multiple institutions, to facilitate interdisciplinary, quantitative training. 

Successful host institutions will then advertise their broad themes in quantitative and biomedical skills, allowing potential fellows to identify a host that best supports their personal research project and training plan. 

This new process will enable host organisations to attract and support individuals currently working in core quantitative disciplines (such as maths and computer sciences) to apply their skills to biomedical science research. The scheme will also continue to offer individuals with biomedical backgrounds an opportunity to develop their quantitative skills.

The new approach will significantly reduce the period from submission of a fellowship application to start-time and allow a more flexible approach to recruitment. The previous process meant that fellows often did not commence their fellowship until more than a year after submitting their application. This change is part of our commitment to reduce barriers to pursuing a career in medical research and providing a more flexible approach to supporting key transition points in biomedical research careers.

The MRC SDF scheme still aims to develop individuals with quantitative interdisciplinary skills and embed them in leading-edge biomedical research. Participating research organisations will share these aims, as well as our vision for fellowship support. The organisations will be responsible for recruiting, appointing and supporting fellows, and tailoring support to the needs of each individual fellow. 

Identifying host research organisations

To implement the new system, we will first identify research organisations to host the SDF scheme and confirm how many positions they will be able to offer. We will seek applications from those wishing to host the fellowships in the summer of 2017. 

Research organisations will be asked to submit bids around broad themes, highlighting their specialist interdisciplinary expertise and how they will help individuals develop quantitative or biomedical skills depending on their needs. 

We expect to announce details of participating host research organisations in early 2018, after which they will begin recruiting new fellows. 

We will publish further details of this process on our website soon.


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