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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.

Following the competition in 2017 for two intake years of Skills Development Fellowships (2018, 2019), the following allocations for the 2019 intake year have been confirmed. Research organisations will advertise fellowship positions on their websites, which have been linked in the table below.

The MRC anticipates that an open call for research organisations to apply to host Skills Development Fellowships will take place in 2019, for intake year 2020. An approximate timeline for this can be found at the bottom of this page.

Hosting research organisation (in alphabetical order)

Lead academic

Priority skills themes

Scientific themes

Number of fellowships available

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 Melissa Westwood

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 Willie Hamilton


1) Neuroscience

2) Health services research

3) Genomic medicine

4) Fungal and bacterial infections

5) Healthy ageing


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 three-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.

General feedback can be found in the skills fellowships best practice guide 2018 (PDF, 139KB).

Approximate timescale for the next Skills Development Fellowship funding opportunity

  • Autumn 2019 – call for research organisations to apply for fellowship positions
  • December 2019 – deadline for research organisation bids
  • February 2020 – participating research organisations announced
  • From February 2020 – prospective fellows can apply for advertised fellowship positions.