Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: MRC Senior non-clinical fellowships: Sep 2020

This fellowship scheme is open to researchers with a track record of effectively leading their own independent research. It provides support to help you progress to research leadership and become an internationally-recognised leader in your field.

The scheme funds a challenging research programme and an ambitious programme of research training, offering accelerated personal and career development.

We will fund project costs and up to 50% of your salary with no limit on the amount you can apply for. Your proposal must focus on an area of MRC’s scientific remit.

Who can apply

To be eligible to apply for a senior non-clinical fellowship you must:

  • have a PhD or equivalent
  • be leading your own research group as an independent investigator. You must provide evidence for this such as previous success in getting research or fellowship funding as a principal investigator or authorship of publications which do not include previous supervisors
  • be able to explain why a fellowship is the best way to support your long-term career goals and chosen career path
  • describe how you would use the fellowship to move to the next level in your career through a change in your current role
  • show how your skills and experience match those of the transition to leadership career stage in our applicant skills and experience table
  • show your commitment to developing your research career and have ambitious and credible ideas for becoming a research leader

You can find more details of eligibility in our frequently asked questions.

We will take into account any career breaks, flexible working and changes in discipline when assessing your research experience and current track record. Read our guidance for reviewers on career breaks and flexible working. You do not need to have a specific period of postdoctoral experience.

If you are not sure if you are eligible to apply, email the programme manager – – to confirm if your proposal is within the remit of the scheme.

You cannot hold an existing salaried position and a fellowship at the same time. If you are awarded a fellowship, you will need to give up the permanent position for the duration of the fellowship or change to a proleptic appointment. If you want to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, we recommend you look at one of our grant scheme funding opportunities instead. Check our funding finder for current funding opportunities.

The Global Talent visa

Senior non-clinical fellowship holders are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders. Find out about the Global Talent visa.

What we're looking for

We’re looking for talented and qualified professionals who need support to transition to leadership through:

  • challenging research plans within MRC’s remit, which provides an ambitious programme of research training
  • establishing a track record of internationally competitive research, with clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in the field
  • identifying career development opportunities, such as management and leadership training, to enable a step-change in your career
  • managing your own independent research group, influencing and supporting others to maximise their potential.

A senior 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, but applicants should have ambitious and credible ideas for developing themselves as research leaders – scientists with vision and the ability to drive change.

Your proposal must focus on an area of MRC’s scientific remit, ranging from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease, to translational and developmental clinical research.

Science areas include:

  • infections and immunity
  • molecular and cellular medicine
  • population and systems medicine
  • neurosciences and mental health
  • translation
  • global health
  • methodology
  • public health

We also welcome proposals for interdisciplinary approaches or research that will address global health issues and be of benefit to those living in low and middle-income countries.

This fellowship scheme provides a competitive salary, giving you the chance to concentrate fully on your research, training and development. You may spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time fellowships) on other commitments such as teaching, demonstrating and other funded projects.

We may allow greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities (for example, those detailed above or obtaining grant support) during the second half of a fellowship. Email the programme manager – – to discuss your plans.

Find out more about MRC’s guidance for research staff development.

The senior non-clinical fellowship award provides support for up to five years. We expect you to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available.

We expect you to take up your fellowship no more than six months after the date of the review meeting.

The senior non-clinical fellowship will provide 50% of the cost of your salary. We require host research organisations to contribute the other 50% of the fellow’s salary for the duration of the award, in addition to its usual contribution to the Full Economic Cost. This reflects our expectation of a commitment from research organisations to support talented researchers at this level. In order to provide flexibility in budget management for host research organisations, the salary contribution can be differentially profiled across the years of the award, provided that the total cost of 50% principal investigator salary is met during the lifetime of the award. The expectation remains that 100% of the fellow’s contracted working time is focused on their research, training and development.

The fellowship will also provide funding for:

  • support for research staff
  • consumables expenses
  • travel costs
  • appropriate capital equipment

The award will also support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution or within industry, whichever is most appropriate. We encourage successful applicants to take advantage of the opportunities this will provide to establish collaborative networks and cross-sector development.

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can request under this scheme, but requests must be appropriate to the project and you must be able to justify the amount you need to meet the objectives of your research proposal. Awards are made under the full economic costing framework .

Find out more about what to expect as an MRC fellow.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘New document’ then:

  • Council: MRC
  • Doc type: Fellowship proposal
  • Scheme: Fellowships, FEC
  • Call: Senior non-clinical fellowship

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

The senior non-clinical fellowships award opens twice a year, closing in April and September. Find dates for future competitions in the Funding finder.

If you need advice on your suitability for an MRC fellowship scheme, email your CV using the template we provide, to including a one-page project outline, a list of your publications and a description of how you meet the skills and experience for this scheme.

You may apply to any MRC fellowship scheme no more than twice even if your proposal changes.

For more information on the application process, read the:

If you need further information, you can email us –

How we will assess your application

When we receive your application, we will check it to make sure it is within remit. It will then be peer reviewed by at least three independent experts from the UK and overseas.

You can nominate up to three independent reviewers. We will invite only one to assess your application and may decide not to approach any of your nominated reviewers.

Peer reviewers will assess your application and provide comments. They will also score it using the peer reviewer scoring system against the following criteria:

  • importance – how important are the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed?
  • scientific potential – what are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  • resources requested – are the funds requested essential for the work? And do the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested? Does the proposal represent good value for money?

A sub-committee of members of the non-clinical training and career development panel will review these scores and comments at a shortlisting meeting. We continue with the highest-quality applications with potential to be funded. If your application passes the shortlisting stage, we will invite you to interview and send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

Interviews with the non-clinical training and career development panel will usually last 45 minutes. We will contribute towards the cost of your return travel, modest subsistence costs and reasonable additional family care costs.

Read the detailed assessment criteria for each fellowship type.


We will let you know as soon as possible after we have made a final decision about your application. This is usually within five working days of your interview. If you reach the interview stage, we will send you feedback and let you know the reasons for the panel’s decision. If you are not invited to interview we will send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

We aim to make a decision within six months of receiving your application.

Find out more about the fellowship assessment process and read an overview of our peer review process.

Contact details

You can contact the MRC fellowships team by email –

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