Support available to become an independent investigator

The transition from postdoctoral researcher to independent investigator is perhaps the most difficult step in a researcher’s career. As such MRC provides a range of support for those ready to start the transition to independence. This includes dedicating funding through two fellowship schemes and its new investigator research grants.


Researchers looking for fellowship funding to support their move to independent investigator can apply for a:

  • career development award
  • clinician scientist fellowship (for clinically active healthcare professionals).

Both awards provide funding for a challenging research programme and time dedicated to research training and personal career development, and have appropriate host institution support.

Read more about MRC fellowships.

New investigator research grants

The New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) is aimed at researchers who are capable of becoming independent principal investigators and who are now ready to take the next step towards that goal. Applicants to this scheme are expected to combine time spent on the NIRG with a portfolio of other activities, such as time spent on other research grants or clinical duties, teaching, administration duties, or other time spent in faculty.

Read more about MRC’s new investigator research grants.

A diagram showing the key differences between New Investigator Research Grants and MRC fellowships.

The key differences between New Investigator Research Grants and MRC fellowships.

Funding eligibility

To be eligible for these awards you must be able to demonstrate how your skills and experience match those of the ‘transition to independence’ career stage outlined in the table outlining skills needed to win support.

There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience.

You are not eligible to apply if you have:

  • already achieved independence
  • already established your own research group
  • previously held a comparable award from any organisation
  • an application under consideration for a comparable MRC or UKRI award (for example, you cannot simultaneously submit a NIRG and CDA application).

For detailed eligibility requirements for each grant and fellowship, search for it in UKRI’s funding finder.

Ask a question about funding for early career researchers


Last updated: 6 July 2022

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