MRC Impact Prize


Early Career Impact

The Early Career Impact prize recognises and celebrates an individual or team of early career researchers who have been pioneers in medical research to improve the wider research environment and culture.

The prize will shine a light on the leadership and dedication that early career researchers are providing to transform and support the research system of the future and reward the achievements that often go unrecognised.

Nominations will be accepted from representatives of:

The winner or winners will:

  • receive a financial award of up to £20,000 which must be put towards the further learning and development of the individual or team, or to further advance or widen the outreach of the impact. The financial award will only be payable to a host organisation, not directly to individuals
  • be presented with a trophy and financial award at a dedicated Medical Research Council (MRC) awards ceremony in spring 2024, and have their impacts showcased at this event
  • have future opportunities to present their impacts via other UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or MRC-led events and forums

Find out about past finalists.

Who you can nominate

Only representatives of HEIs, IROs and other organisations that have previously received or that are currently eligible to receive UKRI funding are eligible to submit a nomination.

To be eligible for the prize the work of the individual or team must be (or have been) supported by MRC or the Medical Research Foundation. This could be through being in the receipt of funding through a:

  • studentship
  • fellowship (including UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships where working in the field of medical research)
  • new investigator research grant
  • being included as a postdoc on a grant
  • working at an MRC unit, centre or institute

There is no strict eligibility criteria relating to the amount of postdoctoral experience candidates must have gained. However, nominees should be able to clearly demonstrate that their skills and experience at the time of the application match either the:

  • ‘exploration (early postdoctoral)’ career stage
  • ‘transition to independence’ career stage

You can find information about these definitions in the MRC applicant skills and experience requirements.

There is a one year resubmission policy. The individual or team can only be put forward for the Early Career Impact prize once every two years.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. We especially encourage nominations for people who are currently under-represented in some sectors of the research and innovation community and in our previous prize nominees. This includes:

  • women
  • those with a disability
  • members of minority ethnic groups

Organisations are permitted to submit a maximum of two nominations per year. If two are submitted, at least one nomination must be:

  • for a diverse team which includes individuals who identify as being from at least one of the mentioned groups
  • for an individual who identifies as being from at least one of the mentioned groups

What we are looking to reward

This prize will recognise and celebrate an individual or team of early career researchers who have developed and implemented pioneering approaches in areas that are critical to support future scientific advances. For example, improving research culture and environment.

This could include activities to:

  • champion open science and research integrity
  • advocate and advance equality, diversity and inclusion
  • develop laboratory and research sustainability initiatives
  • foster team science and collaborations across disciplines and organisations
  • develop potential for societal impact through aiding a culture of innovation, translation and entrepreneurship
  • influence policy and practice
  • improve public and patient involvement and engagement

The activities can be:

  • at the early stages of development, for example, local initiatives within a single team or department within HEIs or IROs
  • more advanced in their development or implemented more widely, for example, nationally or internationally

The achievements for which the individual or team is nominated can have occurred in-award, for example, while in receipt of funding from MRC or the Medical Research Foundation, or post-award, where the funding provided a platform to enable the development of further achievements and impacts.

How to make a nomination

To make a nomination you will need to complete the information in the nomination portal and attach:

  • a completed MRC Impact Prize Early Career Impact nomination form
  • a completed nominee details form which must be individually completed by each nominee listed in the nomination
  • up to two letters of support

Nomination form

The nomination form must detail:

  • the activity for which the individual or team is nominated, including the actual or potential for impact in improving research culture or the wider research environment
  • the impact the activity has had on educating, inspiring and influencing others within the wider research community
  • the approach the nominees took to develop and implement the activity, including how the nominee or nominees played an active and leading role in enabling the impact
  • how the nominee or nominees match the early-career researcher stage, from early postdoctoral through to transition to independence career stage, as defined in the MRC skills and experience requirements
  • the nature of funding from MRC or the Medical Research Foundation, and how this has supported the learning and development of the nominees and provided a platform to enable the achievements for which they are nominated
  • a description of how the financial award would be utilised (including indicative costs) to enable the further development of the nominees or to showcase the initiative to others, for example by attending and presenting at conferences

The nomination form must include an endorsement from a member of the institution’s senior management team, at a minimum level of:

  • the Dean or Head of School for HEIs
  • the Director or Head of Research for IROs, or equivalent

The form must include an explanation of the local process that led to the selection of the nominees from a diverse pool of researchers, taking into account equality, diversity and inclusion and mitigation of bias during the selection process.

Letters of support

These should be no more than one side of A4 each and should be in size 11 Arial font.

You should provide no more than two letters of support on headed paper. These can be from a senior member of the primary contact’s institution or other individuals who can provide a supporting statement for the achievements of the individual or team.

The letters should detail the relationship with the nominee or nominees and clearly explain the reasons why they should receive an MRC Impact Prize.

For team nominations, please refer to the whole team in the letters of support.

How we will assess nominations

A dedicated MRC Prize Committee oversees the MRC Impact Prize.

The committee is chaired by the MRC Executive Chair and comprised of 24 members from across:

  • MRC boards, panels and overview groups
  • MRC strategy board
  • MRC council
  • industry and external representation

The committee will review and score nominations against the following areas:

  • the extent and significance of the actual or potential impact in improving research culture or environment
  • how well the activity has educated, inspired and influenced others in the wider research community
  • how well the nominee or nominees approached developing and implementing the activity and played an active role in driving the impact to fruition

Highly commended and winning entries will be announced at a dedicated MRC awards ceremony.


For more information contact the MRC Impact Prize team.


Last updated: 28 February 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.