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:

Postdoctoral research

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland

Type of researcher:

Basic, 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 develop your scientific independence and expand your research horizons so that you can become a leader in the field. 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.

You should identify an important biomedical or population health research question that is within our scientific remit. We want you to drive the development of your proposal (although you should also get advice from your research sponsors and mentor).

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:

  • 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.

To find out more about this scheme and to see if it’s suitable 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. 

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 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

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 employing staff.

    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 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.
    • 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 purchase

      Your chosen research environment(s) should have the necessary equipment for you to complete your work. The fellowship can be used to 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:

      • you are requesting it in your application
      • it is existing equipment that is:
        • funded by us or another source
        • essential to the proposed research project
        • more than five years old
        • cost effective to keep maintaining it.

      We won’t cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

      Computer equipment

      We will cover the cost of one personal computer or laptop per person up to £1,500.

      We won't pay for:

      • more expensive items, unless you can justify them
      • installation or training costs.
    • 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 Wellcome 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 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:

          • 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.  

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

          • 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)

          • 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.

      • If you or any staff employed on your grant will be spending time in another country, you can use your fellowship funds to help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas.

        Our overseas allowances are:

        • a contribution towards the personal cost of carrying out research overseas, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged
        • provided 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).
        • provided on the understanding that you or your partner will not receive equivalent allowances from elsewhere
        • determined by the amount of time you will spend away from your home country.
      • If you will be away more than 12 months, we will provide overseas allowances for your partner and any dependants if they are travelling with you.

        If you will be away for 12 months or less and can justify why your partner and dependants must travel with you, we may provide overseas allowances for them.

        We define your partner as the person:

        • you’re married to
        • you’re not married to but with whom you’ve been in a relationship for at least a year

        and

        • you live with at the same permanent address and share some form of joint financial commitment with (eg a mortgage).
      • See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

        You can use your funds to cover the following allowances.

          • Your funds can cover your travel costs at the beginning and end of your overseas work. Costs can be for air, ferry, train or coach fares.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you are away for up to 12 months, you can use your funds to pay for up to 80kg of additional baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journeys.

            If you are away for more than 12 months, you can use your funds to pay for the costs of shipping your personal items at the beginning and end of your overseas work.

            Funds can cover the full cost of transporting:

            • half a standard shipping container if you’re travelling alone
            • a whole standard shipping container (20ft) if you’re travelling with a partner and/or dependants.
          • Your fellowship funds can be used to pay the cost of your medical insurance and travel insurance.

            If you will be working in a low- or middle-income country it can also cover the cost of emergency evacuation cover.

          • You can use the funds to cover the costs of visas, vaccinations and anti-malaria treatment.

          • You can use your funds to cover this if you’ll be based in a low- or middle-income country and it is necessary.

            Costs can include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employing organisation for advice on the level of security you need.

          • If you’re away for up to one month you can use your funds to cover subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

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

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

            If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, your fellowship funds can covery reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

            If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also use your funds to cover up to £20 a day for extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

            If you’re away for more than 12 months, funds can be used to cover the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

            The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. If you need help calculating the costs please contact Grants Management.

            You can use your fellowship funds to cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. They can't be used to cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

          • If you’re away for more than 12 months your fellowship funds can be used to pay:

            Local nursery or school fees

            You can use your funds for these costs if you are in a location where there isn’t free local education of the same standard as in your home country.

            Costs include:

            • local nursery school fees up to a maximum of 15 hours a week for 3 to 4 year olds
            • local junior or secondary school fees, up to the end of secondary school education.

            Local international school fees

            You can use the funds to cover these costs if local schools do not provide the same standard of education as in your home country. Your funds can only pay the published termly school fees.

            You can't use the funds to cover the costs of:

            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            Boarding school fees

            You can use the funds to pay the cost of boarding school fees in your home country if:

            • a local international school is not available
            • both parents, guardians or the sole care giver live outside the home country.

            The allowance covers:

            • up to a maximum of £30,000 a year for each child for the published termly fees only
            • the cost of economy class return airfares at the start and end of each school term.

            Funds should not be used to cover the costs of:

            • additional annual leave airfares
            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            You can use your funds to cover the cost of providing special needs education as far as possible. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

            We would not usually expect you to use your funds for an education allowance if you will be working in a high-income country.

          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, you can use your funds to pay to travel back to your home country for annual leave. This is in addition to your outward and return travel costs and depends on how long you will be away:

            • 12-24 months – 1 annual leave trip
            • 25-36 months – 2 annual leave trips
            • 37-48 months – 3 annual leave trips
            • 49-60 months – 4 annual leave trips
            • 61-72 months – 5 annual leave trips.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, you can use your funds to pay ask for up to 100 hours of lessons in the local language for you and/or your partner during the first 12 months of your visit.

            Your funds can cover 100% of the costs for local language school classes or up to 50% of the costs of individual tuition.

            You can't use the funds to cover the cost of examinations or personal learning materials such as DVDs and books.

    • 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.
    • 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 when your paper has been accepted for publication.

    • 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 and Wales. If you're based in the Republic of Ireland, we would expect you to adhere to the spirit of these principles.

      More information about our clinical trials policy.

    • 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 developing an outputs management plan
      • 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*
      • PhD stipends
      • 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 [XLSX 18KB] 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 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 the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker.

    View the Sample preliminary application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 351KB]

    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.

    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 the Sample full application form for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships [PDF 261KB]

    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 and send you unattributed comments from the external peer review.

  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.

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

April 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    18 April 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    27 June 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Interviews

    31 October–2 November 2018

October 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    9 October 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    18 December 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Interviews

    24–26 April 2019

Definitions

Postdoctoral research

For researchers with a PhD or equivalent.

UK
Republic of Ireland
Basic

You're not a clinically qualified researcher.

Public health

Develop your research career

See our other postdoctoral research schemes.

Key dates

We consider applications twice a year.

April 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    18 April 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    27 June 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Interviews

    31 October–2 November 2018

October 2018 round

  • Preliminary application deadline

    9 October 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Full application deadline

    18 December 2018, 17:00 GMT

  • Interviews

    24–26 April 2019

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.

People we've funded

Researcher stories

Read about the career journeys of some of our researchers.

Albert's story: a search for the ideal research environment

Albert always knew the type of research he wanted to do. But to find the right research environment he had to move from industry to academia, and to a new country.