Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships

This scheme offers recently qualified postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to start independent research careers, working in some of the best research environments in the world.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Where your host organisation is based:

  • UK,
  • Republic of Ireland

Type of researcher:

  • ,
  • Public health

Level of funding:

£300,000, including salary, fellowship supplement and research expenses

Duration of funding:

4 years

Who can apply

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships are aimed at researchers who want to undertake a guided period of research and will go on to lead their own independent research.

You must either be in the final year of your PhD studies or be an early-career researcher with some initial postdoctoral experience.

You should have started to make important contributions to your area of research, eg publications, patents, software development or an impact on policy.

You must have an eligible sponsoring organisation in the UK or Republic of Ireland that will administer the fellowship for the full duration of the award.

You must also:

  • be a UK or European Economic Area national

or

  • have, or expect to have, a PhD from a UK or Republic of Ireland university.

If you've been away from research (eg for a career break, maternity leave, or long-term sick leave), we'll allow for this when we consider your application. 

What we're looking for

During this fellowship, we expect you to expand your research horizons and develop your scientific independence so that you can become a leader in the field. 

The idea for the research project should be yours and you should drive the development of your proposal, although you can take advice from research sponsors and mentors.

The scope of your proposal should be broader than that of a typical postdoctoral position. It should enable you to explore a research area that will set you apart from your research sponsors.

You could do this by developing new skills and/or by working:

  • across disciplines
  • in new research environments or sectors
  • in more than one research location, either in the UK or another country.

We expect you to think about your long-term vision and the skills and competencies you’ll need.

We will review:

  • your research contributions
  • the quality and importance of your research question(s)
  • your knowledge of the scientific area
  • the feasibility of your proposal
  • the suitability of your choice of research sponsors and environments
  • your vision of how this fellowship will contribute to your career development.

At the end of this fellowship, you should be able to show that:

  • you have the potential to be an independent leader in your area of research
  • you have the skills and experience to apply for more advanced (intermediate level) funding schemes.

We have more information to help you decide if this scheme is right for your career stage:

Who can't apply

You can't usually apply if:

  • you have previously held or are currently completing a nationally competitive fellowship at an equivalent level
  • you're currently applying for another Wellcome fellowship.

You can't apply if you want to combine research with a continuing clinical career in medicine, psychology, dentistry or veterinary practice. Instead, see our clinical fellowship schemes.

If you've already been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again. We don't usually accept resubmissions of full applications.  

What's expected of your host organisation

You must have an eligible host organisation in the UK or Republic of Ireland that will administer your fellowship. When your host organisation submits your application, they must agree to provide the space and resources you'll need from the start date through to the end date of your award.

You must identify a sponsor and mentor who possess strong track records in research, training and mentorship.

Sponsor

Your sponsor should:

  • be someone you propose to work with at the host organisation – usually the group leader or principal investigator of the group in which you'll do your research (they don’t have to be the head of department)
  • hold an established post at the host organisation for the duration of your fellowship
  • provide scientific guidance during the application process and throughout your fellowship
  • support your development as a researcher during your fellowship.

You should also identify a research sponsor at every additional research environment you propose to work in, including if you work in a different research group at the same organisation. The research sponsor should guarantee you access to space and resources and provide relevant scientific guidance for the required period.

Mentor

Your mentor should:

  • be an experienced researcher - usually a group leader - who already knows you
  • work outside the group(s) you propose to work in during your fellowship
  • support your career development during your fellowship.

Other schemes

Research Career Re-entry Fellowships

Offering postdoctoral research scientists the opportunity to re-establish their scientific careers after a continuous break from research of at least two years.
Full details of Research Career Re-entry Fellowships

Sir Henry Dale Fellowships

Providing support for postdoctoral researchers who aim to become independent scientists leading their own groups. The scheme is a partnership between the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust.
Full details of Sir Henry Dale Fellowships

Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships

Enabling clinically active healthcare professionals to continue their research at postdoctoral level and develop scientific independence. 
Full details of Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships
Scheme finder

The Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship is for four years and can be held on a part-time basis.  An award of £300,000 provides support for:

  • We will fund the total cost of your salary for the entire period of the grant.

    You should ask your host organisation to calculate this. It should reflect the skills, responsibilities and expertise needed to carry out the role, and include:

    • your basic salary
    • employer’s contributions, including any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if you’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
    • any incremental progression up the salary scale
    • locally recognised allowances such as London allowance.

    You should exclude any Wellcome Trust fellowship supplement that was part of a previous grant.

    You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed: if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate. For Year 1 include any known pay awards for this period or an assumed percentage equivalent to our current inflation rate of 2.0% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

    From Year 2 onwards, we will automatically increase your salary, based on our current inflation allowance rates.

    Find out more about fellows working on a Wellcome grant.

    Visa, work permit and settled status costs

    If Wellcome is going to pay your salary on the grant, you can ask for visa and work permit costs to help you take up the post at your host organisation. You can also ask for:

    • visa costs for your partner and dependent children
    • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for you, your partner and dependent children if you will be in the UK for six months or more
    • essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy if you can justify these.

    You can also ask for settled status costs if you:

    • are a European Union citizen living in the UK
    • meet the requirements for settled status set by the UK government.

    You can also include these costs for your partner and dependants.

     

  • a fellowship supplement of £2,500 a year, for your personal support

We’ll consider requests for additional funding if it’s scientifically justified, eg non-human primate research.

If you’re awarded this fellowship

During your fellowship, you can apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement, open research, and diversity and inclusion.

What we don’t offer

  • Major equipment. We only consider modest requests for equipment, so the place you choose to do your research must have the necessary equipment and facilities.
  • Research assistance.

We don't fund overheads.

You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Submit your preliminary application

    You must submit your preliminary application through Grant Tracker.

    Your host organisation does not need to review or submit your preliminary application form.

    View the Sample preliminary application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 143KB].

    On the application form, you must upload letters of support from your:

    • current supervisor(s)
    • proposed sponsor

    Each letter should be no more than 500 words.These are the only letters you need to provide. We’ll contact you if we need more information. If your current supervisor is also your proposed sponsor, they can write two separate letters or provide all the details in one letter.

    You don't need to provide us with a breakdown of your research expenses in your preliminary or full application form.

    Get some tips to help you write a Wellcome grant application.

  2. Review of preliminary applications

    We’ll assess your eligibility and suitability, and give advice about your competitiveness. We will give you a decision within four weeks of the preliminary application deadline. If suitable, we’ll invite you to submit a full application.

  3. Submit your full application to your host organisation for approval

    Complete the full application form on Grant Tracker. Submit it to the 'authorised organisational approver' at your host organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

    View the Sample full application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 1MB].

    You must identify your research sponsors in your full application.

    If your proposal involves clinical research using NHS resources, check if you need to upload a SoECAT form with your full application.

  4. Host organisation reviews your application and submits it to us

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day.

  5. External peer review

    We’ll seek written comments from external expert referees.

  6. Shortlisting

    The Basic Science Interview Committee will consider your full application. If successful, we will invite you for an interview. We’ll give you at least two weeks’ notice and send you unattributed comments from the external peer review.

  7. Interviews

    The Basic Science Interview Committee will interview shortlisted candidates at the Wellcome Trust offices in London. Get advice on how to prepare for a Wellcome funding interview.

    If successful, you must have been awarded your PhD before you start the fellowship.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.

Dates

We consider applications twice a year. We don’t accept late applications.

October 2019 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    8 October 2019, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    17 December 2019, 17:00 GMT

  • Interviews

    22–24 April 2020

April 2020 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    15 April 2020, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    23 June 2020, 17:00 BST

  • Interviews

    11–13 November 2020

Develop your research career

See our other postdoctoral research schemes.

Key dates

We consider applications twice a year.

October 2019 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    8 October 2019, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    17 December 2019, 17:00 GMT

  • Interviews

    22–24 April 2020

April 2020 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    15 April 2020, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    23 June 2020, 17:00 BST

  • Interviews

    11–13 November 2020

Grants awarded

Find out about some of the people and projects we've funded for this scheme.

Contact us

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.

If you have a question about the scope and content of your proposal, contact the relevant person in our Science team.

Researcher stories

Read about the career journeys of some of our researchers.