New investigator research grant (NIRG) - MRC

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Who can apply

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 independence career stage, as set out in the applicant skills and experience table. Eligible applicants also need to provide a clear rationale of why a NIRG will best support their long term career goals and chosen career route. See supporting key career stages.

Applicants who have already achieved independence, usually evidenced by substantial grant income as a principal investigator or having already established their own research group, are not eligible.

There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience. The minimum formal qualification required is a graduate degree. Most applicants are also expected to have a PhD or an MD. Applicants can hold a lecturer appointment, a junior fellowship, or be in another research staff position.

Applicants who hold, or have held early career training fellowships, such as MRC skills development fellowships, are eligible to apply.

If you are unsure whether your current funding or position makes you ineligible, please contact the subject-relevant MRC programme manager.

To enable NIRG applicants to combine their research project with other activities, applicants can spend up to 50% of their contracted working time on the NIRG. MRC salary contribution will be commensurate with the time attributed to the NIRG, and is capped at 50% of NIRG applicant’s total contracted working time. If applicants wish to attribute more than 50% of their contracted working time to the NIRG, a strong scientific rationale must be provided and the host institution is expected to underwrite the additional time.

The remaining time and salary not attributed to the NIRG must be underwritten by the host organisation. The overall portfolio of activities and the associated time commitments across the various activities must be made clear in the application, together with how this wider portfolio will contribute to the transition to independence. The case put forward will be assessed through peer review in the context of how this will enable the applicant to establish their independence within a career structure supported by the host institution.

You may apply for funding for research that you will be carrying out at the UK institution where you are already based, or at any eligible UK research organisation (RO) to which you wish to move. A statement of support from a senior authority within the host RO should be attached to all applications.

It is essential that the NIRG applicant is the sole intellectual leader of the proposed project. Multidisciplinarity may be an important aspect of a project, and one which facilitates career development into a new field. Co-investigators are therefore permitted on NIRGs, but only when they bring expertise to the project which is outside the applicant’s field. The applicant’s current supervisor or lab head should not be a co-investigator on the proposal, but if they are providing expertise to the project the appropriate details can be included in the case for support. Other researchers may also be included as named collaborators in the case for support.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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