Principal Research Fellowships
Principal Research Fellowships are the most prestigious of our personal awards and provide long-term funding for researchers of international standing.
Scheme at a glance
Who can apply
You can apply for a Principal Research Fellowship if you're a researcher of international standing with an established track record in research at the highest level. You must have:
- sponsorship from an eligible host organisation in the UK or Republic of Ireland
- a research project that is within our scientific remit.
Who can't apply
You can't usually apply if you:
- hold an established post in the UK or Republic of Ireland – we're willing to consider a preliminary application if you have a strong justification for moving to a different organisation
- are currently applying for another Wellcome Trust fellowship.
If you've already been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again.
What we're looking for
This award is particularly suitable for senior research scientists who:
- want to work in the UK or Republic of Ireland but are currently based in a different country
- currently hold Senior Research Fellowships in the UK or Republic of Ireland.
When we look at your application, we'll assess:
- your track record and standing in the field
- the quality and importance of your research question(s)
- your approach to solving these problems
- the suitability of your research environment.
What's expected of your host organisation
Your sponsor must guarantee that the host organisation will provide:
- sponsorship to renew your Principal Research Fellowship every five years, and 50 per cent of your employment costs during a renewal period
- an established post when the award ends.
Investigator Awards in Science
Senior Research Fellowships
The fellowship can be held on a part-time basis, and you can apply for renewal. The award includes:
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.
Your salary should normally be in the range of £75,000 to £100,000 a year. Your organisation will need to justify your salary if it’s higher than this.
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 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.
We will provide:
- a Distinction Award of up to £50,000 based on your experience
- the extra employer's contributions needed to cover the supplement.
We won’t normally provide a supplement if you are employed on a clinical academic scale.
If you have to move to take up the post at your host organisation, you can ask for £1,000. You'll need to justify this.
You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in public engagement, open research, and diversity and inclusion.
If you’re awarded this fellowship
If you're from outside the European Economic Area, you're guaranteed an endorsement of a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa application.
What we don’t offer
We don't fund overheads.
Stages of application
Contact us with your full CV and a brief outline of your plans
You can express an interest in this award at any time. Please send your full CV to a head of department in one of our Science teams, preferably 12 months before the date you want the award to start.
If you're based at a host organisation in the Republic of Ireland, you must get a letter of endorsement from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and/or the Health Research Board (HRB) before submitting your preliminary application. Please make sure you contact SFI and/or the HRB at least eight weeks before you submit your preliminary application.
Submit your preliminary application
We'll assess your eligibility and give advice about your competitiveness and the resources you've requested. We will give you a decision within three weeks of the preliminary application deadline. If suitable, we'll invite you to submit a full application.
Submit your full application
Scientific review and shortlisting
One of the following expert review groups will review your application, depending on your area of research:
- Cell and Developmental Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cognitive Neuroscience and Mental Health
- Genetics, Genomics and Population Research
- Immune System in Health and Disease
- Molecular Basis of Cell Function
- Pathogen Biology and Disease Transmission
- Physiology in Health and Disease
- Population and Public Health
If successful, we will invite you for an interview. We’ll give you at least two weeks’ notice.
External Peer Review
We'll seek written comments from external expert reviewers. Unattributed comments will be sent to you before your interview.
If you're invited for an interview, you’ll be asked to make a short presentation. This will be followed by questions from the Science Interview Panel. Interviews take place at the Wellcome offices in London.
If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.
You can express an interest at any time.
- Leading a research programme
For researchers with a PhD or the equivalent, and significant postdoctoral research experience.
- Republic of Ireland
You're not a clinically qualified researcher.
You're a clinically qualified doctor, vet, dentist or a clinical psychologist.
- Public health
You can express an interest at any time.
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.