Wellcome Trust Grant Funding: Applying for Investigator Awards


The Wellcome Trust is an independent, global charitable organisation that funds research in medical and health-related fields. The trust’s founder, Sir Henry Wellcome, was a US-born pharmacist, who moved to the UK in 1880, aged 27. In the same year, he co-founded a successful pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome, and Company, with a colleague Silas Burroughs. After his death in 1936, Wellcome bequeathed a large fortune to advancing animal and human health, which was used to establish the Wellcome Trust.

In the most current period reported, (2016-17), the trust awarded 3,436 global grants to the value of £4.4 billion. The five most significantly funded areas include:

  • Infectious disease and immunobiology
  • Genomics, genetics, and epigenetics
  • Neuroscience and mental health
  • Development and ageing
  • Population, environment, and health

Further information on the subject areas the Wellcome Trust funds grants for are available on its science remit page.

The majority of grant funding (43%) is allocated to personal awards for investigators, fellowships and Ph.D. studentships, with the remainder going towards supporting a number of Wellcome Trust Institutes and team research. The grant funding call normally stipulates where your host organisation needs to be geographically located in order to receive funding. The majority of schemes fund the UK, Republic of Ireland and/or low and middle-income economy countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

How to apply for a research grant

Funding calls for grants are listed under the Wellcome Trust’s Scheme Finder. In order to submit an application, you must be registered on the Wellcome Trust’s Grant Tracker. The application can subsequently be completed entirely online on the system. There are currently 53 schemes available – all with their individual eligibility and applicant suitability criteria that need to be followed closely. In this article, we’ll be focussing on the trust’s Investigator Awards in Science, and the key parts of the application process.

Introduction: Investigator Awards in Science

The Wellcome Trust’s Investigator Awards in Science are available for a flexible sum of up to £3 million, to cover a maximum period of seven years of research. Applications are considered three times a year, with submission deadlines in March, July, and November. Eligibility requirements include being employed in a current academic post, with your salary being covered by your host institution. Those who are imminently taking up a post can also apply, as long as they have a written guarantee of employment from a host institution. If successful, they can take up the grant upon starting their post. If you have any queries about eligibility or other criteria, it’s advisable to contact the Wellcome Trust’s information officers via the online contact form before you start your application.


Researchers can apply for an Investigator Award at any stage of their career, from those at an early stage to those who are experienced senior researchers. Less experienced candidates are expected to demonstrate that they have an outstanding research record, relative to their career stage. The latter can include having high-impact publications, patents and having gained prior research grant funding. In addition, early career researchers should show they are on the way to establishing a world-leading reputation in their research area. Joint applicants are also welcomed, where the collaboration is seen to enhance the scope and quality of the project. Note that Wellcome Trust grants do not cover applicant salaries, only the cost of the research proposed.

Investigator Awards require a full grant application to be completed on the grant tracker system from the outset, a sample PDF of which is available on their site. This is in contrast to some of the other grant schemes offered, 14 of which require you to submit a shorter, preliminary application in the first instance, as an initial screen for reviewers. Examples for the latter include the Research Career Re-entry Fellowships and Sir Henry Dale Fellowships.

Application – Researcher career information

The application for the Investigator Award calls for you to complete your education and career history, including what you deem to be your most important research-related career contributions. Your research output, with up to twenty of the most relevant achievements, should also be stated. Further information in this section includes your peer-reviewed publications, other grants you have obtained, individuals you’ve trained and your research history over the past five years. Reviewers will be looking for an exceptional track record in the field of your grant application.

Research proposal and vision

Your research proposal requires two summaries, one for experts and an additional lay summary, that can be easily grasped by lay scientists, working in adjacent fields.  Bear in mind that the internal reviewing panel can contain a mix of specialists and non-specialists from your broader field, so clarity and stating the potential for impact is the key.

Following on from your research summary, you need to describe your research vision in less than three thousand words. The latter should encompass the key research questions you are seeking to answer and why, with a clear plan of how you will achieve this. A coherent outline of the research to be conducted should be provided, without going into the detailed methodology. It’s important to highlight any potential problems you envisage that may arise and more importantly, how you will deal with them.

The research vision should communicate how the project will result in significant advances in research in your field. Reviewers will be looking for ground-breaking and transformative research here. You can add up to 2 A4 pages of figures and data, to support your research vision.

Support from your host organisation

A supporting statement from your host organisation is needed for all applications. It should detail why your institution thinks you deserve the Investigator Award and furthermore, how your proposal fits with their aims and priorities. It should also outline how the research institute will support you in achieving the aims of your project. The latter could include ring-fencing resources, providing financial support or other relevant technical assistance. Information with regard to your employment contract should also be included.

Details of your research group

The application requires that you include all details of any research staff that have reported to you over the past two years, and anticipated staff to be supervised for the duration of the grant if funded. This can include Ph.D. students, research assistants, postdoctoral researchers and any other staff, even if their time is split between other research groups.

Costs and budgetary justification

A detailed costing for your project with budgetary justification is an essential part of the application. Reviewers will examine how this section is completed closely, and be seeking good value for money in terms of the research output, versus the amount of funding requested. As such, full justification of all the resources you are requesting, and their relevance to the project is needed. You’ll need to separate all high-level costs out as headings, examples include — equipment, salaries/stipends, materials and consumables, animals and associated costings, and provide clear justification for each one.

Conflicts of interest and reviewer requests

Applicants need to declare any potential conflicts of interest that might arise as a result of the funded research project. Examples would include an applicant holding a consultancy in a commercial firm that would be interested in the research outcome, or an intellectual property right infringement that could arise.

Whilst you can’t formally request who should be included in the peer-review panel that assesses your application, suggestions can be made for who you would like to be included or excluded. These recommendations should be entered in the section entitled ‘confidential information,’ alongside a brief rationale.

Application assessment and review

The online grant submission process allows for you to create a PDF version of your application at any point during completion. It’s advisable to create this and use it to circulate amongst research colleagues for feedback and make corrections before you submit formally.

Once your proposal has been sent, it will be passed to the appropriate internal review group. Reviewers will discuss the merits and weaknesses of each application. They apply a scoring system to rank applications according to whether they should definitely go through, are possibly appropriate or should be rejected.

Those who make it past the first stage of review have their applications sent to external expert peer-reviewers for feedback. Applicants are then invited to interview by a selection panel, which requires the preparation of a short ten-minute powerpoint presentation. Interviews usually take place in the Wellcome Trust’s Head Offices in London. Applicants will receive anonymised comments from the peer-review panel in advance of their interview, which should help give a clear indication of questions that may arise.

Note that the interview panel may comprise a mix of experts in your field and non-experts in adjacent fields. They will use the feedback provided by external expert reviewers for guidance. Be sure to prepare by taking the opportunity to go through a mock interview with research colleagues in advance. Especially any that have been successful with grant funding in the past, and are from adjacent scientific fields.

Successful Applications

If you’re successful, you’ll be called by The Wellcome Trust who will discuss the terms of your funding package. Current and former grant holders for the trusts Investigator Awards in Science can be viewed here

Good luck with your application!

Webinar: Harnessing the Potential of Open Data in Materials Science

22 March 2018, 4.00pm GMT, 5.00pm CET, 12.00pm EDT | Dr Anita de Waard, Dr Luca Ghiringhelli, Professor Kristin Persson

Openly available materials science data has the potential to revolutionize the discovery and development of new materials. In addition, open data fosters collaboration, reduces redundancy and improves reproducibility, making the most of available resources and boosting researcher output. Join Kristin Persson and Luca Ghiringhelli to discover the hows and whys of sharing materials science research data, and find out how to derive the most value from these data through the application of enhanced modelling and big data analytics software.

  • Learn the potential benefits of sharing data in materials science
  • Learn how to use tools to detect unseen patterns or structures in data and predict materials properties
  • Understand how large publicly funded initiatives are democratizing data in materials science and how you can use them

Click here to register.

Coming Soon: Careers’ Suggest

The internet’s first great achievement was putting in place ubiquitous connections: people to people, people to information, and information to companies and institutions.  Having spanned the globe and linked billions of people together, now comes an altogether more crucial phase: making the information gleaned from this vast, ever-expanding network relevant, personal and effective.

Mendeley Careers is at the forefront of this trend.  Soon it will feature its first recommender function that makes looking for the next job suggestions more convenient than ever.  Its unique algorithms will leverage the Elsevier ecosystem to provide tailored recommendations.  It will no longer be necessary to knock on opportunity’s door, opportunities will arrive in your inbox, matched to your profile and interests.

The millions of Mendeley users who have signed up for notifications will automatically receive these jobs; those who haven’t need only click on the downward pointing arrow next to their name on the top right hand corner of the screen, select Settings and Privacy, then click Notifications on the menu on the left.

Heather Williams, Product Manager for Mendeley Careers stated, “Mendeley Careers is already the world’s largest job search engine in the science, technology and engineering fields; Careers’ Suggest is the next step forward to connect the brightest minds to positions that let them pursue their passions.”



Insights into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant research funding

NASA funding can help propel research
Looking for NASA Research Funding? Try Mendeley Funding!


by Seema Sharma

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in 1958, to help accelerate the existing efforts for aerospace research and development in the United States. Now in its 60th anniversary year, NASA offers a wide range of funding opportunities to researchers in aeronautics, human space flight research, biological systems in space, atmospheric sciences (including climate change), physical sciences, robotics and astrophysics.

The vast majority of grants are available through specific calls on the NASA solicitation and proposal integrated review and evaluation system (NSPIRES). All open calls, (known as solicitations), are available to view on the NSPIRES site and also posted on grants.gov. Before being eligible to submit a completed proposal, you need to ensure that you are affiliated with an organisation that is already registered on the system. Further information on registration can be found here. NASA accepts a few unsolicited grant proposals every year if they are of close relevance to their strategic plan. Interested applicants are required to follow the guidance for unsolicited proposals.

Researchers can submit their application in response to calls through either the NSPIRES site or grants.gov platform. It must be noted, however, that it is common to provide a notice of intention (NOI) before submitting a proposal, and this must be done via NSPIRES. General guidelines for submitting a grant proposal in response to a NASA funding announcement (FA) can be found in their guidebook.

Its crucial to ensure that you pay close attention to the deadlines, eligibility criteria, program goals, objectives, funding restrictions and submission information that are included in the FA. All deadlines for the FA must be adhered too, as well as the requested formats, (page length, font, spacing), for submission. FA’s include the details of your assigned program officer, who serves as a point of contact for the submission process.

Your proposal should demonstrate that you have exceptional knowledge of research to date and the key publications in the area of your proposed project. The impact of your project should be detailed with clear information on how it will extend or advance current understanding. Pay specific attention to writing a detailed and accurate budget and justification of expenditure for your project, this should include procurements needed for the project. Salaries and staff costs are usually included in the cover pages. A detailed budget for all other costs, excluding staff and associated overheads, need to be included in the main proposal document. A total budget document is also included to summarise all costs. A lack of information on budgets in submitted proposals is currently recognised by NASA as being the number one reason for grant rejection.

All grant applications received are subject to full peer review. The review process at NASA includes and administrative, technical and financial assessment. The technical assessment is undertaken by qualified peers of those submitting the proposal who have advanced knowledge in the field. They may not necessarily be specialists, so its important that your proposal is written with clarity and ease of understanding. NASA often recruits those previously successfully funded with grants as reviewers. The reviewal process takes between 150 days and 220 days and is subject to the funds being approved by the Federal budget process.

NASA has a specific postdoctoral program, and there are currently over 650 opportunities listed on its dedicated program pages. Postdoc opportunities are available to those who are within five years of having completed their doctorates. There are opportunities for both US and non-US citizens and annual application deadlines are March 1, July 1 and November 1. After the first year as a postdoctoral fellow, scientists interested in management may apply to the postdoctoral management program at NASA headquarters.

All research is primarily conducted at NASA’s ten research centres and affiliated university laboratories across the United States. There are four mission directorates at NASA including the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, the Space Technology Mission Directorate, the Science Directorate and the Aeronautics Research Directorate. Each directorate encompasses a number of research divisions with specified programs for awarding grants.

In a separate initiative, NASA’s office of education also issues funding in the form of internships, fellowships and scholarships. The office of education actively encourage those underrepresented in STEM careers, including women, minorities and individuals with disabilities to apply. The majority of current programs are aimed at undergraduate level students. Full details of current opportunities for the latter are available separately to research grants, on these relevant pages.

Research Opportunities by NASA Directorates

The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate includes the division of Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications (SLPSRA). The latter was founded in 2011.The SLPSRA administers a Human Research Program – researching the specific effects on human health and performance of spaceflight, a Space Biology program – looking at the effect of spaceflight and zero gravity on biological systems as a whole, and a Physical Sciences program – researching the effect of spaceflight on physical systems. The International Space Station is an integral part of conducting research in the latter fields.

Further information on NASA’s life sciences research, including a research roadmap can be found in their Life Sciences Data Archive .Note that there are some NASA funded virtual institutes including the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRI for Space Health), and National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) that conduct research focussing on maintaining astronaut health for NASA.

The Physical Sciences research program covers six disciplines including biophysics, combustion science, complex fluids, fluid physics, fundamental physics and materials science. It has two elements to the research covered, the first being exploring the effects of weightlessness on physical systems, and the other researching space exploration technologies, for example power generation, environmental monitoring and space propulsion.

An online database of all research projects from 2004 supported by the SLPSRA are available to search and view in a dedicated taskbook here.

Space Technology Mission Directorate

NASA’s second directorate – the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), focusses, as its name suggests, on high-technology development to enable NASA’s current and future space missions. There are a number of ways it funds and collaborates with partners, including research grants and industry partnerships. More detailed background can be found on the STMD Directorate pages..

Research grants are specifically funded for four different areas. The first is as Space Technology Research Fellowships (NSTRF) to conduct Masters or Doctoral Research at one of NASA’s ten centres or affiliated university laboratories in the US. To qualify, candidates must be graduates with permanent residency in the US. There were 65 fellowships awarded last year.

The second research grant area is available for Early Career Faculty.  The funding is accredited to outstanding early career researchers at US universities who are conducting space technology development of interest to NASA. Priority is given to groundbreaking, high-risk and high-pay off projects. The grant awards made are typically for $200K/year over a three year period. There were eight grants awarded last year in areas including integrated photonics sensors, microfludics sample acquisition and handling for space exploration, and cognitive communications.

A third area of funding is awarded through the STMD’s Early Stage Innovation (ESI) program. Eligible research applicants must demonstrate their invention of highly innovative and disruptive technologies at an early-stage of development. Priority is given to those that would address critical needs in NASA’s space exploration program. Successful candidates are awarded up to $500K per year for a maximum of three years. There were 14 grant awards last year in fields that spanned many topics including advanced coating systems for nuclear thrust propulsion, the extraction of water from extraterrestrial surfaces and lightweight lattice materials for space structures.

Finally, the fourth area under the STMD funds establishing new Space Technology Research Institutes, in the form of multidisciplinary research team collaborations. There were two successful awards made last year for this initiative. The first was for a new institute named The Center for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space (CUBES), and the second was for The Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP) 

Science Directorate

The third directorate is referred to as the Science Directorate (abbreviated to SARA). It is organised into four scientific divisions that encompass heliophysics, earth science, planetary science, and astrophysics. Interested applicants can visit specific resource pages that provide further general information for those looking for research opportunities in the Science Directorate. Funding announcements for the Directorate are available under the heading of Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Sciences (ROSES), the most up-to-date version of which is available here. Current postdoctoral opportunities covering many of the fields included in the Science directorate are also available on NASA’s Postdoctoral Program pages.

Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

Aeronautics research at NASA is organised by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). Current research strategy at the directorate is organised in six areas that have been based on the envisaged future demands of aviation and air transportation for the next 25 years. These include a transition to low-carbon propulsion systems to reduce environmental impact, enabling the safe and efficient growth in global aviation operations and the development of supersonic aircraft.

Although the majority of ARMD research is carried out at four NASA research centres: Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Glenn Research Center in Ohio, and Langley Research Center in Virginia, there are also multi-institutional collaborations and a few industry partners across the US. At present there are no open calls listed under this directorate on NSPIRES or grants.gov. Recent completed projects can be viewed here.

Good luck with your grant application!

Useful links

NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) – https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/index.do

Guidebook for proposers responding to a NASA funding announcement – https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/proposer2017.pdf

NASA Postdoctoral Program Opportunities – https://npp.usra.edu/opportunities/

Need Funding Opportunities? Mendeley Users: visit Mendeley FundingMore Information

Mendeley Data: Introducing Folders

We’ve introduced Folders to make organising your data easier.

At Mendeley Data, the open research data repository, we’ve just launched folders to help every dataset author group and logically organise their research data files into folders, in the same way they would organise files on their computer.

“It would be great if a folder structure would be applicable for datasets. For example, I would like to share data from a method comparison study. One folder for each dataset within this comparison would be most convenient.”


A folders feature was requested by our users via survey results and feedback. We will continue to listen to researchers in order to improve our service and add features most relevant to our end users.

Authors are able to drag and drop to either create subfolders, or change the order of the folders, with any data files outside the folder structure ordered alphabetically. Click ‘Create Folder’ to start organising your files.

The process of uploading data, with the ability to click or drop any file type, will remain the same. For those datasets that are already published, the ordering of files will not change. However, for those datasets which are in draft form or if another version is subsequently created, all ordering of data files uploaded will change to an alphabetical ordering system rather than the one the dataset author had previously set.

Mendeley Data: Now Available via OpenAIRE

OpenAIRE is a network of repositories, archives and journals that support Open Access policies. OpenAIRE is a Horizon 2020 project, aimed at supporting the implementation of EC and ERC Open Access policies; open access to scientific peer reviewed publications is obligatory for all Horizon 2020 funded projects. The goal is to make as much European funded research output as possible, available to all, via the OpenAIRE portal.

Every dataset published in Mendeley Data, which has an associated article or project, now becomes automatically aggregated to the OpenAIRE portal, where it can be found alongside other research. This enables researchers to discover research data from a wide range of repositories in one place. This means Mendeley Data is part of a global collaborative discourse promoting open science. With the availability of entire research projects and associated data, data reuse is supported, accelerating the pace of research.

Scientific research is hard …so you have to enjoy it!

Today we’re talking to Tim Donohoe, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Editor of Tetrahedron Letters.

What are your research interests/describe a typical working day
“I research organic chemistry in the broadest sense, but am particularly interested in total synthesis and catalysis.” Tim leads a research team of 16-20 people, a mixture of graduates/undergraduates plus postdoctoral researchers. “My job is to support them and together do the best research possible.” As well as this, Tim is also responsible for teaching and has various administrative duties. What’s more, he’s also an editor for Tetrahedron Letters! 

How do you measure success in your work?
“One thing that gets my fist pumping is when we get a really nice piece of work accepted for publication. Or when a grant gets funded – we can then do more research! Another thrill is when a member of the group gets a job (especially if it’s in chemistry!).”

Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?
“Scientific research is hard”, says Tim “…so you have to enjoy it! The opportunity to have a job you enjoy is a privilege. If you enjoy it, work at it to be best you can be. Read widely. Make sure you are good at communicating science – presentations, writing at the board and that sort of thing.”

What drove you to become an Editor?
“I was invited!” Tim started his editorial work with the journal in January 2014. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?
In terms of reward, Tim finds it pleasing to be able to “help get great science published”. He sees his job to help the journal and grow its reputation. He also likes helping researchers around the world. “It’s great to see a manuscript coming back with helpful referees’ comments, then see the improvements in the revised version.” What’s not so good is having to make difficult decisions. Sometimes papers are “in the middle” – which way to go? Occasionally referees’ comments are short and unhelpful to both the author and the editor – so then one’s left in a quandary. 

What professional use (if any) do you make of social media and/or scholarly collaboration tools like Mendeley?
Tim does make use of some tools. Not much social media though. Tim finds Mendeley helpful to share ideas with other editors and Elsevier staff: the group discussion aspect is useful. “At the TET conference in Budapest – we had a virtual poster symposium. You could join the [Mendeley] group and look at the science that was being presented. You could comment and interact, even from home. That was great as it gave those unable to attend a chance to participate.” Tim doesn’t use Twitter as an active user but browses journals’ feeds.

If we could build a tool/device to help you most in your career or editorial work; what would it be?
If we’re looking at a scientific demand then something that would help organic chemistry research, in particular catalytic reactions. “There’s a lot going on in a catalytic reaction. If a particular reaction doesn’t work, we don’t know why. What we need is a simple way of working out WHY: some way of interrogating unsuccessful interactions!”

Have you any particular interests in what remains of your time apart from university and editorial work?
“Family! Squash. And I go to the gym to keep fit.”

Tim was interviewed by Christopher Tancock