Wellcome Trust expands Investigator Awards to tackle ambitious questions in medical humanities

The Wellcome Trust announces today that it will expand its new Investigator Awards to cover the medical humanities and bioethics, inviting applications from world-class scholars asking the most important questions at the interface of science, medicine and the humanities.

The Investigator Awards scheme in Medical Humanities will cover two categories, Medical History and Humanities and Ethics and Society, enabling scholars to pursue individual, bold visions with greater flexibility. It will build on moves by the Wellcome Trust towards more expansive, longer term research in medical history and humanities. It will see an expansion in scope of the current bioethics programme to include the social aspects of biomedical research and health interventions more broadly, as well as research evaluating the effectiveness of public engagement and health communication interventions.

Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, says: "The pace of progress of biomedical research makes it ever more important that we also examine its social, political and historical contexts. Our new Investigator Awards scheme in Medical Humanities will provide the flexibility and support to allow scholars to explore challenging questions and help us embed biomedical science in the cultural landscape."

Awards of up to £200,000 per year for up to seven years will be made to scholars in established academic posts depending on their career history, ambition and vision, and the resources required to realise this vision. The Awards will be made to researchers at two levels - New Investigators and Senior Investigators - depending on their experience. They will complement existing schemes, which support scholars in the medical humanities at all stages of their careers.

As with the Investigator Awards in biomedicine - the inaugural recipients of which will be announced shortly - the Investigator Awards scheme in Medical Humanities marks a departure away from funding medium-term project and programme grants, which can tie researchers into a cycle of focusing on securing grants rather than tackling major research problems.

Awards will be decided by interview, giving the opportunity for scholars to present and argue their cases to groups of world-class peer reviewers. The interviews will focus on the excellence of the applicant, the importance of the question to be addressed and the proposed approach to tackling the problem.

Applications for the awards will open in June and the deadline for the first full applications will be 2 September 2011.