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Changes to MRC Senior Fellowships

12 Feb 2020

MRC’s mission is to improve human health through world-class medical research, from fundamental science to early clinical trials and preventive medicine. To achieve this, we are committed to attracting and developing outstanding researchers. Investing in people is one of the foundations of our 2019 strategic delivery plan.

MRC fellowships provide the resource and opportunity for exceptional scientists to become the research leaders of the future. Nevertheless, early- and mid-career researchers face enormous pressures, including job insecurity, fierce competition for academic positions and administrative responsibilities. There is also ongoing concern about attrition in the number of clinical academics. Partnership with host research organisations is critical if MRC funded researchers are to realise their full potential.

In 2019, the MRC in conjunction with NIHR and Wellcome wrote to medical schools and universities to highlight issues around poor host support provided to personal award holders, such as failure to provide promised resources, lack of follow-on career guidance and a fair opportunity for the long-term development of their careers.

Building upon this, the MRC will be making a change to its Senior Fellowship schemes. With immediate effect, we will require host research organisations to provide a 50% contribution towards the fellow’s salary for the duration of their award, in addition to its usual contribution to the Full Economic Cost (FEC). This change reflects our expectation of a commitment from research organisations to support talented researchers at this level.

In order to provide flexibility in budget management for host research organisations, the salary contribution can be differentially profiled across the years of the award, provided that the total cost of 50% PI salary is met during the lifetime of the award. The expectation remains that 100% of the fellow’s contracted working time is focussed on their research, training and development. Fellows in receipt of full-time awards may spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time fellows) on other commitments (e.g. teaching, demonstrating, other funded projects) or undertaking up to two clinical sessions a week in the case of clinical fellows. Senior Clinical Fellowship holders may not work more than the time commitment for clinical duties stated in their proposal. MRC may request a copy of the fellow’s job plan to ensure their research time is robustly protected.

This change will affect applications submitted to the upcoming round of Senior Clinical Fellowships (deadline 1 April 2020) and Senior Non-Clinical Fellowships (deadline 22 April 2020). Details of the change can be found in Section 3.1.2 of the Guidance for Fellowships Applicants.

We are aware that Senior Fellowship applications may be in preparation for the April submission and candidates are encouraged to contact the MRC office directly should any issues arise, by emailing MRC Fellows.

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