Skills & careers

Skills Development Fellowships

Starting from 2017, the MRC will deliver the Skills Development Fellowship (SDF) scheme in a different way. Individuals seeking SDF fellowship support will no longer apply directly to the MRC. They will instead be able to apply for an MRC SDF fellowship position at a participating host institution. Despite this alteration, the main purpose of the scheme has not changed (see below).

The following Research Organisations have successfully applied to host Skill Development Fellows starting between April 2018 and March 2019 and will advertise fellowship positions on their websites:

Hosting Research Organisation (in alphabetical order):

Lead academic:

Priority skills themes:

Scientific themes:

Imperial College London

Professor Jonathan Weber


1) Infectious disease analysis and modelling

2) Health informatics

King’s College London

Professor Cathryn Lewis

1) Applied Statistics

2) Informatics

3) Machine learning, predictive modelling and other big data analytics;

4) Mixed Methods and Health Economics

5) Transferable Skills

1) Genetics and Genomics

2) Clinical and Health Informatics

3) Medical Imaging and Computational Modelling

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Dr Kevin Mortimer

Quantitative skills

Global Health

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Steven Cummins

1) Mathematics

2) Statistics

3) Health Economics

1) Biostatistics and Epidemiology

2) Mathematical Modelling

3) Health Economics

The University of Manchester

Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph

Quantitative skills

Health economics

University College London

Professor Graham Hart

1) Mathematics

2) Informatics

3) Computer Science

4) Economics

1) Statistical Methods for Medicine

2) Health Data Science

3) Health Economics

4) Mathematical & Computational Biology

5) Imaging

University of Exeter

Professor John Terry

1) Mathematical modelling

2) Statistical modelling and methodology

3) Computational modelling

1) Neuroscience and neurology

2) Endocrinology and metabolism

3) Primary care, population health and health services research

University of Glasgow

Professor Jill Pell

Quantitative social science

Health Science

University of Liverpool

Professor Paula Williamson

1) Statistics

2) Computer Science

3) Applied Mathematics

1) Stratified Medicine

2) Infections

3) Regenerative Medicine

4) Public Health

University of Sheffield

Professor John Brazier

1) Mathematics

2) Statistics

3) Computer Science

4) Health Economics

1) Population Health systems

2) Decision Modelling

Purpose of scheme

Skills Development Fellowships are 3-year training fellowships that will support capacity building in MRC priority areas by:

  • Supporting very early career researchers to explore, consolidate and further develop their skills in a priority area in which they are already active or in which they are seeking training.
  • Supporting researchers at all career stages who wish to transform their career by developing new skills in a priority area.
  • The scheme currently focuses on the following priority skills areas: mathematics, statistics, computation, informatics, health economics and/or mixed methods research applicable to any biomedical or health related data sources, from molecular to population level. These skills can be applied across the full range of the MRC’s remit, for example, cell biology, physiology, epidemiology, population and public health, and health psychology. 

The main reasons for the changes are as follows:

  • Improving cross-departmental interdisciplinarity – We wish to attract more individuals directly from core quantitative disciplines (such as maths and computer sciences) to the scheme. We expect the new approach to employ recruitment and training strategies that will span across multiple departments, allowing more individuals from core disciplines to recognise opportunities and make the transition into biomedical science, and also for individuals with biomedical backgrounds to develop their quantitative skills.   
  • A shorter lead-time for applicants – The previous process meant that fellows often did not commence their fellowship until more than a year after submitting their application. We recognise that this presents a substantial barrier, particularly at an early post-doctoral career stage, or for those wishing to change disciplines. The new mechanism will, from 2018, reduce the time from application to commencing the fellowship significantly and allow a more flexible approach to recruitment.

Approximate timescale for the new process

  • Early 2017 – call for research organisations to apply for fellowship positions
  • 27 July 2017 – deadline for research organisation bids
  • Autumn 2017 – participating research organisations announced
  • From Autumn 2017 – prospective fellows can apply for advertised fellowship positions