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Skills & careers

1. Who can apply and how to apply

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1.1 Applicants

MRC fellowships are personal awards for talented researchers to support key transition points in their careers. Many of today's leading biomedical and health researchers look back on their MRC fellowship as a significant stepping stone in developing their career.

We offer a range of fellowships to meet diverse needs, allowing training placements in the UK, abroad or in industry.

MRC Fellowships support:

  • Individuals transitioning to the next level in their careers, normally through a change from an existing / current role
  • Protected time to focus on your own research, shielded from other professional commitments. Clinicians can undertake clinical duties as part of their award
  • Funding for a challenging research project and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development
  • Progression towards fulfilling long term career goals, which includes an aspiration to strengthening the UK research base
  • A clear commitment from the Research Organisation to supporting, developing and mentoring the fellow.

The fellow must plan to be based at the lead organisation at which the award will be administered and all applicants are expected to demonstrate a commitment to strengthening the UK research base beyond the period of their fellowship. If the lead organisation changes once the application is submitted, the applicant should contact the MRC at fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk as soon as possible to discuss how they should proceed.

MRC is keen to support applicants returning to research following a career break or wishing to combine their training with domestic or professional clinical responsibilities. For further information, please see 2.10 ‘Equal opportunities’ and 2.11 ‘Part-time and flexible working’.

1.1.1 Responsibilities of the applicant

MRC expects all of the researchers it funds to adopt the highest achievable standards in the conduct of their research. This means exhibiting impeccable scientific integrity and following the principles of good research practice detailed in the MRC Good Research Practice Guidelines.

All researchers submitting a proposal to MRC must accept the Research Council Terms and Conditions of Research Council fEC Grants and MRC Terms and Conditions.

We also expect all stakeholders in fellowships to act in accordance to our Expectations of MRC Fellowships and comply with the guidance in this handbook and the Guidance for Applicants.

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1.2 Research organisations

The lead organisation is responsible for administering the grant and must be one of the types of organisations listed below. The MRC are supportive of fellows who wish to spend part of their fellowship carrying out research at a second academic centre, either within the UK or overseas, or with an industrial partner. See section 2.3 for further details.

  • Higher Education Institutions (including MRC Units)

All UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies are eligible to receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities.

These bodies consist of Research England (RE), Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE).

MRC Units apply as a department of the HEI.

  • Independent Research Organisations

A number of Independent Research organisations (IROs) are eligible to apply for funding. A full list of IROs, as well as the application process to become an IRO, can be found on the UKRI website. To submit a fellowship application an IRO must be eligible to apply for responsive mode funding. For MRC applications, IROs encompass NHS bodies with research capacity (the Board, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Special Authority, NHS Trust, NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Local Health Board).

  • MRC Institutes

Applicants may apply for fellowships to be based at one of the MRC units or institutes if they are not currently employed by UKRI.

Applicants should justify their choice of host institution as part of their application.

Applicants currently employed by UKRI in one of MRC’s units or institutes and proposing to hold their fellowship within the same MRC unit or institute will only be considered under exceptional circumstances. Individuals in such cases are only eligible to apply if given prior written permission by MRC head office. Applications without prior approval will not be considered further. Permission must be sought by the institute Director (or a nominated deputy) on the applicant’s behalf by emailing fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk at least two months prior to the submission deadline. The case for exception should:

  • Demonstrate that a fellowship would lead to a substantial change in the role of the applicant, with significant potential for research and career development.
  • Confirm the source of funding for the applicant’s current post within the unit. Permission to apply for a MRC fellowship will normally only be granted if the applicant’s current post is supported by a grant or is a non-core funded supernumerary post (normally for at least twelve months).

1.2.1 Responsibilities of research organisations

By submitting a proposal to the MRC, a research organisation indicates their formal acceptance of the proposal, the Research Council Terms and Conditions, MRC additional terms and conditions (and any other terms and conditions specified in the award letter), and their approval of the salaries and resources sought.

Administrative authorities have responsibility for ensuring that the salaries and resources cited in the proposals are sufficient to undertake the proposed research, to attract sufficiently experienced and skilled staff, and represent good value for money. The salary requested should be in line with the level the research organisation would provide were the fellow appointed within their own pay structure.

Research organisations are expected to act in accordance with the Expectations of MRC Fellowships.

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1.3 How to apply

All applications must be submitted via the Joint Electronic Submission system Je-S.

When an application is submitted through Je-S it does not pass directly to the MRC, but to the research organisation’s administration team who will then submit the proposal to the MRC.

All applications must be submitted through the lead research organisation where the fellow plans to undertake the fellowship, which in turn must be Je-S registered.

All applicants are strongly advised to contact the team responsible for proposal submissions at their research organisation to confirm how much time they will need to process the application and complete the submission process.

All applications must be submitted to the MRC via the Research Council Je-S system by 16:00 on the advertised closing date. A list of current deadlines can be found at MRC Deadline Page.  Applicants are advised to check the deadlines regularly as they may change.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

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