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:

Early

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland

Type of researcher:

Basic, Public health

Level of funding:

£250,000, including salary, fellowship supplement and research expenses

Duration of funding:

4 years

Contact us

About your eligibility, the application process, funding policies or general queries about grants:

About the scope and content of your proposal only:

About our online application system:

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Getting here

Key dates

We consider applications twice a year.

May 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    3 May 2016

  • Full application deadline

    4 July 2016

  • Interviews

    9–11 November 2016

October 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    10 October 2016

  • Full application deadline

    13 December 2016

  • Interviews

    19–21 April 2017

People we've funded

Melissa Ward

I’ve been able to work in a number of countries, in lots of different research settings. The flexibility is great. 

Melissa Ward

More case studiesList of grantholders

Eligibility and suitability

Who can apply

You can apply for a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship if: 

  • you’re in the final year of your PhD studies

or 

  • you have no more than two years of postdoctoral research experience (from the date of your PhD viva to the date of the interview). 

You must have:

You must also: 

or

  • have a relevant degree from a UK or Republic of Ireland university

or

  • have worked in a UK or Republic of Ireland university, hospital or organisation for a continuous period of at least three years.

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. If you've taken formal maternity, paternity, or adoption leave as the primary carer, or long-term sick leave, we’ll allow an extra six months for each period of leave when we consider your postdoctoral experience.

If you’ve already been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again.

You can only apply for one Wellcome Trust fellowship at a time.

What we're looking for

We expect you to identify an important biomedical or population health research question and to drive the development of your proposal (although you should also get advice from your research sponsors and mentor).

We want you to use the fellowship to:

  • undertake a research programme that will not normally be possible in a standard postdoctoral position 
  • develop your scientific independence while working with the best researchers in the world
  • expand your research horizons, through working in more than one research location, either in the UK or another country – ideally you’ll begin your fellowship in a new research environment or location, and there’s no limit on the amount of time you spend outside your sponsoring organisation.

When we consider your application, we’ll look at:

  • your track record 
  • the quality and importance of your research question(s)
  • your knowledge of the scientific area
  • the feasibility of your approach to solving these problems
  • the suitability of your choice of research sponsors and environments 
  • your vision of how this fellowship will contribute to your career development.

What's expected of your host organisation

You must have an eligible sponsoring organisation that will administer your fellowship for the full duration of the award and identify a sponsor and mentor. You should give careful thought to your choice of research sponsors and mentor; they should possess strong track records in research, training and mentorship.

You should have a research sponsor for every research environment you work in, who can: 

  • guarantee you access to space and resources for the required period 
  • offer you advice and support during the application process
  • provide relevant scientific guidance during the award.

Your mentor should:

  • provide independent support and advice during the period of the award
  • be committed to helping you achieve your career aspirations
  • have a strong track record in research, not necessarily in the same scientific area as you
  • be an experienced researcher, normally based outside your research environment.

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 medical, dental, veterinary and clinical psychology graduates to continue their research at postdoctoral level and develop scientific independence. The scheme provides support for up to eight years and the flexibility to balance research and clinical responsibilities.
Full details of Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships
Scheme finder

What we offer

The Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship is for four years and can be held on a part-time basis.  An award of £250,000 provides support for:

  • a basic salary (determined by your host organisation)

    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 1.6% 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 employing staff.

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

  • research expenses directly related to your proposal
    • materials and consumables

      We will pay for the materials and consumables you need to carry out your proposed research, including:

      • laboratory chemicals and materials (eg reagents, isotopes, peptides, enzymes, antibodies, gases, proteins, cell/tissue/bacterial culture, plasticware and glassware)
      • associated charges for shipping, delivery and freight.
    • animals

      The fellowship funds can cover the cost of buying animals if they’re essential to your project. We’ll also fund the charge-out rates for animal house facilities, but only if your organisation uses full economic costing methodology.

      These costs include:

      • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
      • appropriate estates costs
      • cage and equipment depreciation costs, but not building depreciation costs.

      We may not pay the full charge-out rate for an animal house facility if we've provided significant funding towards the infrastructure and/or core support of the facility.

      If your organisation doesn’t use full economic costing methodology to establish charge-out rates for animal house facilities, funds may cover:

      • the cost of buying animals
      • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
      • staff costs, eg contributions towards the salaries of animal house technicians.

      We don’t provide estates or depreciation costs.

    • equipment

      Equipment purchase

      The fellowship funds may cover smaller items of equipment that are essential to your proposed research project. Costs may include purchase, delivery, installation, maintenance and training, where necessary.

      We will cover VAT and import duties if:

      • the usual UK exemptions on equipment used for medical research don’t apply
      • you’re applying from a non-UK organisation, and you can show these costs can’t be recovered.

      Equipment maintenance

      We will cover maintenance costs for equipment if:

      • it is for equipment essential to your research project
      • it is equipment we have already funded and the original award used to purchase the equipment has ended
      • it is equipment we have already funded, it is over five years old, and it’s cost effective to keep maintaining it
      • it is equipment funded by another source and you are applying from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

      Funds can cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

    • access charges

      You can use some of your grant to cover the cost of access to shared equipment or facilities if they’re essential to your research project.

      These may include materials and consumables, plus a proportion of:

      • maintenance and service contracts
      • staff time costs for dedicated technical staff employed to operate the equipment or facility.

      We don’t cover the costs of:

      • estates and utilities
      • depreciation or insurance
      • other staff eg contributions towards departmental technical, administrative and management staff time.

      If the facilities or equipment were paid for by a Trust grant, you can only use the funds for access charges if:

      • the grant has ended
      • any support for running costs and maintenance contracts has ended.
    • travel and subsistence

      Travel costs

      Conference attendance

      You can use up to £2,000 a year towards the costs of attending scientific and academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees.

      Collaborative travel

      Your funds can cover travel and subsistence costs for UK and overseas visits to collaborators, and for collaborators to visit your laboratory. You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

      Other travel

      You can also use your funds to pay for other essential visits, eg to facilities, for sample collection and for fieldwork. You can include subsistence costs.

      Overseas research

      If you’ll be doing research away from your home laboratory, you can use your funds for:

      • return travel costs
      • subsistence costs if you’ll be away from your host organisation for less than 12 months (see below for more information)
      • overseas allowances if you’ll be away from your host organisation for 12 months or more.

      You should use the most suitable and economical form of travel.

      Subsistence costs

      If you're working overseas or away from your host organisation for up to one month you can use your funds for subsistence costs.

      These include a daily allowance for living expenses.

      If your host organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

      If your host organisation doesn't have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

      You can use the funds for:

      • outward and return airfares

        We will pay the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, and if justified, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance

        We will pay up to 80kg of additional airline baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journey.

      • health insurance (if you will be based outside the UK or Republic of Ireland)

        Your health insurance should be comprehensive and include emergency evacuation cover (if necessary) for you, your partner and dependent children.

      • visa/vaccination costs and any anti-malarial treatment for you, your partner and dependent children

      If you're away for more than one month but less than 12 months, funds can be used to cover:

      • reasonable actual rental costs (instead of subsistence)

      • housing security costs

        Your fellowship funds can cover these costs if you'll be based in a low- or middle-income country and they are necessary. Costs include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employer for advice on the level of costs.

      If you're away for more than one month, receive a salary from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country and will be based in a high-income country, you can also use your funds for:

      • up to £20 a day to cover any extra costs, eg transport.

    • overseas allowances

      If you will be spending 12 months or more in another country, we’ll help you with the costs of working on the project overseas.

      Our overseas allowances are based on the assumption that you’ll be paying income tax, either in your home country, or the country you will be working in. Your personal tax is your responsibility.

      We have 2 categories of allowances for this scheme:

      1. You are employed in the UK and will be working in a low- or middle-income country, including one of our Major Overseas Programmes (MOPs)
      • outward and return airfares

        Your funds can cover the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance up to £8,000 (£4,000 each way)

      • BUPA Worldwide Medical Insurance with the Option of Worldwide Medical Plus, including emergency evacuation cover for you and your family

      • visa/vaccination costs and anti-malarial treatment for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        The fellowship funds can cover up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you

        If you will be working at one of the MOPs you can use the funds to cover a higher contribution. You should ask the MOP administrators for advice on the level of costs you can have.

      • housing security costs

      • education allowance

        You can use the funds to cover an education allowance if you will:

        • have dependent children travelling with you 
        • be working in a location where there isn’t a free education in English of the same standard as the UK.

        The allowance can cover:

        • 90% of nursery school fees for 3 to 4 year olds up to a maximum of 15 hours a week
        • 90% of local junior school fees
        • 90% of local secondary school fees
        • 90% of UK boarding school fees if both parents and/or guardians will be living outside the UK                   
        • economy class return airfares for any children at a UK boarding school, at the beginning and end of each school term.

        The allowance can't cover:

        • education costs for your children over the age of 18, once they have finished secondary school, eg university fees.
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in another country, you can use some of your funds towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to the UK.

        The number of return flights it can cover depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

      2. You are employed in the UK and will be working in a high-income country
      • outward and return airfares

        Your funds can cover the airfares at the beginning and end of your time abroad, for you, your partner and dependent children. All flights should be economy class.  

      • freight allowance up to £8,000 (£4,000 each way)

      • BUPA Worldwide Medical Insurance with the Option of Worldwide Medical Plus for you and your family

      • a contribution of £200 towards visa/vaccination costs for you, your partner and dependent children

      • a contribution towards housing costs

        Up to:

        • £3,000 a year if you are single
        • £4,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £5,000 a year if your children are travelling with you
      • education allowance

        You can use the funds to cover an education allowance if you will:

        • have dependent children travelling with you 
        • be working in a location where there isn’t a free education in English of the same standard as the UK.

        The allowance can cover:

        • 90% of nursery school fees for 3 to 4 year olds up to a maximum of 15 hours a week
        • 90% of local junior school fees
        • 90% of local secondary school fees
        • 90% of UK boarding school fees if both parents and/or guardians will be living outside the UK                   
        • economy class return airfares for any children at a UK boarding school, at the beginning and end of each school term.

        The allowance can't cover education costs:

        • if you'll be working in an English-speaking high-income country as you will usually have access to suitable public/state schools for your children
        • education costs for your children over the age of 18, once they have finished secondary school, eg university fees.
      • annual leave airfares

        If you are spending two or more years in another country, you can use some of your funds towards annual leave airfares for you, your partner and dependent children to return to the UK.

        The rates are:

        • £500 a year if you are single
        • £1,000 a year if your partner is travelling with you
        • £1,300 a year if your children are travelling with you

        The number of return flights it can cover depends on how long you’ll be spending overseas:

        • 24-35 months: 1 annual leave flight
        • 36-47 months: 2 annual leave flights
        • 48-59 months: 3 annual leave flights

        Flights should be economy class.

    • fieldwork expenses

      We cover fieldwork costs if they’re essential. Costs can include:

      • survey and data collection, including communication and data collection services and any associated costs such as essential field materials, travel costs and language translation services
      • the purchase, hire and running costs of vehicles dedicated to your project
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers, including the recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel costs
      • statistical analysis.
    • publication costs

      The fellowship funds can be used to fund the page charges and/or costs for colour prints for your original research papers. 

      You can also use the funds to cover the costs of publishing other material which is essential to your project, such as:

      • the proceedings of a workshop or conference we’ve funded
      • questionnaires, recruitment material, newsletters etc for clinical, epidemiological and qualitative research studies
      • the results of a clinical trial or epidemiological study
      • public engagement materials where dissemination (including printing and publishing) is a key activity of the project.

      Open access charges

      If your organisation receives block funding through the UK’s Charity Open Access Fund you can ask it to cover these costs. If not, we’ll supplement your grant.

      We don’t cover open access article processing charges.

    • clinical research costs

      If you need to carry out clinical trials or research using NHS patients or facilities, the fellowship funds can be used to cover some of the research costs.

      Annex A of the guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD) sets out which costs we cover, and which should be funded through the Department of Health in England, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

      More information about funding for clinical trials.

    • other costs

      Costs the fellowship funds may be used for:

      • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
      • consultancy fees
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
      • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
      • costs associated with delivering data management and sharing plans
      • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
      • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles.

      Costs the funds won't cover:

      • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.*
      • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record*
      • charge-out costs for major facilities* – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
      • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs*

      *We will fund these costs in the case of animal-related research.

      • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
      • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filing cabinets, etc.
      • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, gloves, protective clothing
      • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
      • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
      • ethics reviews, unless you are in a low- or middle-income country
      • radiation protection costs.

      Costs guidance [PDF 25KB] on the types of costs that can/cannot be charged on biomedical science research grants.

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 public engagement funds to involve the public in your research and inspire learning.

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 on a proportion of full economic costs in UK universities.

How to apply

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

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Submit your preliminary application

    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.

  2. Submit your full application

    View a sample full application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowships [PDF 1.6MB].

    You must identify your research sponsors in your full application.

  3. External peer review

    We’ll seek written comments from external expert referees.

  4. 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.

  5. Interviews

    The Basic Science Interview Committee will interview shortlisted candidates at the Wellcome Trust offices in London.

    If successful, you should start your fellowship no more than six months after the award. Before you can start, you must have been awarded your PhD.

Dates

We consider applications twice a year. You must submit your application by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

May 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    3 May 2016

  • Full application deadline

    4 July 2016

  • Interviews

    9–11 November 2016

October 2016 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    10 October 2016

  • Full application deadline

    13 December 2016

  • Interviews

    19–21 April 2017

Definitions

Early

You’re starting your career in postdoctoral research.

UK
Republic of Ireland
Basic

You're not a clinically qualified researcher.

Public health