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Skills & careers

In vivo science strategic skills awards

This competition is now closed for applications and is only available for reference purposes. Supplementary funding for advanced in vivo skills is available via Doctoral training partnership supplements

Strategic Skill Awards for in vivo science is an important joint initiative between the MRC, BBSRC and British Pharmacological Society to provide supplementary funding to MRC and BBSRC funded PhD studentships, supporting research training in advanced integrative mammalian biology.

The MRC has an important role to play in training the research leaders of the future and addressing UK strategic skills needs. Advanced in vivo skills are vital to the development of safe and effective medicines and this important initiative reflects concerns regarding the funding of high-quality research training in this strategically important area.


  • The Strategic Skills Awards (SSAs) provide additional funding to cover the costs of integrative mammalian research skills in MRC and BBSRC PhDs.

  • The funding is only available to supplement studentships funded by MRC and BBSRC, in particular studentships funded from MRC and BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).

  • The SSAs are intended to provide additional funding towards the high-costs of in vivo training and not replace normal studentship funding being drawn from DTPs. Standard studentship costs (i.e. student stipend, fees, RTSG, etc.,) should be drawn from the MRC or BBSRC DTP as normal. Justification of resources required above and beyond that provided through standard studentship support, will be taken into consideration in determining the level of award, if any, recommended.

  • Funding will be available on an individual student project basis. Projects must involve a significant component of high quality advanced in vivo training and research. Priority will be given to projects that use advanced in vivo recording techniques that maximize the data obtained from each animal and minimise disturbance. Projects in which the in vivo component comprises of the generation of a transgenic line or the use of animals solely as sources of tissues or biological fluids will not be considered for funding, as they do not provide a sufficient level of advanced in vivo training.

  • Proposals for SSAs will be assessed by an independent panel which will include representation from the NC3Rs to ensure that projects fit fully with the 3Rs of animal research, and also provide students with high quality advanced skills training to be able to undertake research in the most effective way and to ensure animal welfare.

How to apply?

The deadline for the receipt of proposals by MRC and BBSRC is 20 May 2013.

  • Proposals are invited relating to individual PhD projects which will commence in the coming (autumn 2013) academic year. This may be either when a new MRC or BBSRC funded student will be starting their PhD, or where an existing MRC or BBSRC PhD student will be starting the research phase of a 4-year PhD programme (i.e. after a rotation or taught first year).

  • The deadline is deliberately late in the academic year to allow for projects to be planned and agreed for students who are currently on a rotation or taught first year.

  • It is not necessary to have a named student in place or departmental DTP allocations finalised at the time of making an application. Proposals should be submitted using the application form (DOCX, 259KB) provided, by the holder or coordinator of the DTP, citing the reference number of the DTP which will be used to fund the proposed studentship.

  • If the correct DTP number is not provided then the Council is unable to process the application further.

  • Applicants are advised to read the full guidance note (PDF, 63KB) to ensure that the details of the PhD projects submitted meet the strategic aims of the scheme.

Proposals for SSAs relating to MRC studentships should be sent to fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk with ‘MRC Strategic Skills Award Application’ clearly marked in the subject line.

Proposals for SSAs relating to BBSRC studentships should be sent to postgrad.studentships@bbsrc.ac.uk with ‘BBSRC Strategic Skills Award Application’ clearly marked in the subject line.

Research organisations wishing to submit multiple proposals MUST simultaneously send all proposals via one email. 


MRC studentship holders should contact Students@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk with all queries related to Strategic Skill Awards. Where possible, queries should be made from a single point of contact per institution.