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Skills & careers

Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship (SNCF): Transition to leadership

Purpose of scheme

The SNCF supports researchers with a track record of effectively leading their own independent research to make the transition to research leadership and become an internationally recognised leader in their field.

An SNCF provides funding for a challenging research programme, and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development.

Applicants wanting to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, should consider funding options under one of the grant schemes.


Applications are welcome across all areas of the MRC’s scientific remit. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research. Please refer to our current research strategy for more information.

Person remit: To be within remit of the scheme, and therefore eligible to apply, all applicants must be leading their own research group as an independent investigator, primarily demonstrated by senior / communicating authorship on publications which do not include previous supervisors, and previous success in obtaining research/fellowship funding as PI. 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. Applicants outside the remit of the scheme are not suitable to apply and will be rejected (as specified in our peer review guidance). Please see FAQ ‘What is within remit of the scheme?’

Applicants applying for a senior fellowship are strongly advised to contact the programme manager via fellows@mrc.ukri.org to confirm their application fits the scheme. 


The SNCF provides up to five years of support. Applicants are expected to take advantage of the full five years of funding available. 

Take-up date for the fellowship is between 1-6 months of the meeting decision date which is displayed on our deadlines page.


  • Applicants should hold a PhD (or equivalent); there are no eligibility rules based on years of post-doctoral experience
  • To be considered suitable for the scheme, applicants should be able to clearly demonstrate that their skills and experience at the time of their application match those of the transition to leadership career stage in the applicant skills and experience table. 
  • To be within remit, all applicants must clearly explain why a fellowship is the best way to support their long term career goals and chosen career route and how a fellowship would enable a move to the next level in their careers, through a change in their current role.
  • Career breaks, flexible (PDF, 40KB) working and changes in discipline will be taken into account when assessing research experience to date and track record.
  • A fellowship is not merely a large personal “grant.” The awards are for five years and applicants must show a commitment to developing the breadth of their research careers as well as excellence in depth. We recognise that plans for the later stages of a fellowship may be less detailed than those for the earlier years; nevertheless, applicants should have ambitious and credible ideas for developing themselves as research leaders – scientists with vision and the ability to drive change.

Non-European Economic Area applicants and Tier 1 visas

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

The SNCF provides 50% of the fellow's 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 will 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). There is no limit to the funding that can be requested under the scheme, but requests should be appropriate to the project and sufficiently justified in terms of delivering the objectives of the research proposal. Advice from the programme manager is available via fellows@mrc.ukri.org

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 (eg teaching, demonstrating, other funded projects).

Greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities (eg those detailed above or obtaining grant support) may be permitted during the second half of a fellowship. Existing fellows wishing to pursue other project funding should contact fellows@mrc.ukri.org prior to making any commitment.

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, see what to expect as an MRC fellow.

Deadlines and submission details

  • The SNCF competition is held twice a year. Application deadline dates can be found on the deadlines page.
  • You should consult the applicant skills and experience table, Applying for a Fellowship page, Guidance for Fellowship Applicants and SNCF FAQs page carefully in preparing an application, as applications that differ from the requested format may be rejected without review. If you have further questions after reading these pages, please contact: fellows@mrc.ukri.org.
  • ​Please read the skills and experience required carefully.  In conjunction with your host institution, you should evaluate your track record and assess whether you meet the skills and experience required for a given scheme prior to applying. If you still need further guidance you may contact the relevant Programme Manager via fellows@mrc.ukri.org to confirm your suitability for any MRC fellowship scheme. To enable us to advise, you must include your CV (using the correct CV template (DOCX, 33KB)), a one page project outline and a list of publications with your enquiry.
  • Please note, applicants may submit to any MRC fellowship scheme only twice regardless of the extent of changes to the proposal.