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Supporting new researchers towards independence

22 Feb 2016

To support early career researchers with what can be a challenging step to independence, the Medical Research Council has increased the flexibility of its funding schemes available to post-doc researchers and provided clearer guidance.

Recognising that speed of progression can be affected by factors unrelated to an individual’s scientific potential we have removed time bound eligibility criteria from MRC New Investigator Research Grants.

New, simplified guidance is now available for MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowships, Career Development Awards and New Investigator Research Grants, explaining the difference between the funding schemes. We have clarified which form of support may be most appropriate in terms of an individual’s long term career goals and chosen career route.

The guidance also makes clear the type of skills and experience applicants should be able to demonstrate in order to be competitive when applying for an MRC fellowship or research grant.

We have made these changes in response to a review we conducted in 2014 which followed up people in the first ten to twenty years after their MRC award. The most frequently cited transition points at which respondents felt they could have benefitted from further advice included that from PhD to post-doc, and from post-doc to research independence or Principal Investigator.

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “We recognise that we need to support our early career researchers through what can be a very challenging transition step in their careers. To ensure there are options available to meet their long term career aspirations and set them on the pathway to success, we are working in partnership with researchers and universities to remove roadblocks, increase flexibility, and provide clear guidance focused on developing our research leaders of tomorrow.

“I highly recommend that all researchers embarking on a path in biomedical research have a look at our Interactive Career Framework, to help guide their career choices.”

As well as updates to funding scheme eligibility criteria, we recently published new guidance on flexible working and career breaks (PDF, 40KB). All our fellowships are open to people returning to research after a career break.


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