Memorandum submitted by the Medical Research
Provision of training and career opportunities
for clinical and non-clinical scientists is a key part of MRC's
strategy. MRC provides 400 (at any one time) fellowships, with
a value of £20 to £25 million pa. Support is provided
through a comprehensive portfolio of personal award schemes ranging
from pre/postdoctoral research training fellowships to career
development opportunities for senior principal investigators.
MRC currently operates seven fellowship schemes;
in 2001-02 463 applications were received. So far this session
57 awards have been made and it is expected that a further 26
awards will be identified over the next month bringing the total
1. Processing costs
The total cost of processing all fellowship
applications in 2001-02 was £102k, including some of the
administrative costs that can be easily quantified, eg attendance
fees for Panel Members and domestic expenses such as travel and
accommodation. Infrastructure costs including IT resources, stationery
costs etc cannot be easily estimated and are not included in the
financial estimates below.
The average cost per application is £220
2. Summary of Schemes
At each stage, separate schemes are tailored
and targeted to the needs of clinical or non-clinical researchers.
Clinical Fellowships, open to doctors,
dentists, GPs, nurses and other professions allied to medicine;
The Clinical Research Training Fellowship
is the entry level or junior clinical fellowship and provides
up to three years support for clinically qualified and active
researchers to undertake a PhD. There are currently around 150
fellows and the award provides a salary, fixed level research
support and conference allowance, Average lifetime value £128k.
The Clinician Scientist Fellowship is
MRC's intermediate clinical award, providing support for either
four or five years depending on clinical commitments or tenure
track commitments from the Host University. There are currently
around 50 fellows and the award provides a salary, support staff,
consumables, equipment and conference allowance. Average lifetime
The Senior Clinical Fellowship is a senior
award for independent scientists/team leaders providing up to
five years support; awards may renewed for a further five years
in open competition. There are currently around 16 fellows and
the award provides a salary, support staff, consumables, equipment
and conference allowance. Average lifetime value £805k.
The Research Training Fellowship is the
junior non-clinical fellowship, providing support for up to three
years for early post-doctoral research training. In recent years
the scheme has not attracted many high quality applicants and
it is planned to subsume into the intermediate scheme. There are
currently around 45 fellows and support provided includes a salary,
fixed level research support and conference allowance. (Scheme
under review, no average costs available)
The Career Development Award is the intermediate
non-clinical award providing up to four years support. There are
currently around 50 fellows and the award provides a salary, support
staff, consumables, equipment and conference allowance. Average
lifetime value £439k.
The Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship is
a senior award for independent scientists/team leaders providing
up to five years support; awards may renewed for a further five
years in open competition. There are currently around 40 fellows
and the award provides a salary, support staff, consumables, equipment
and conference allowance. Average lifetime value £855k.
Most fellowship schemes are open to applicants
across the MRC's remit. However, a number of Special Training
Fellowships have been established to encourage research and increase
workforce capacity in strategically important areas. These awards
tend to be focused at the junior/entry level and awards are currently
available in Bioinformatics and Neuroinformatics, Health Services
Research and Health of the Public and Computational Biology.
3. Key Features
Part-time Awards and Career Breaks
MRC operates all of its fellowship schemes flexibly,
there are no age limits for any of our schemes and consideration
is given to applicants returning to science following a career
break. Part-time awards will be considered for fellows with domestic
responsibilities, and in exceptional circumstances for individuals
with clinical commitments, in particular specialities or for particular
groups, eg GPs.
Awards can be held in abeyance for up to one
year, normally to allow the fellow to undertake a concentrated
period of clinical training; extended periods of maternity leave
are also supported. All abeyance requests are considered and a
decision based on an evaluation of the best interests of the project
and the fellow's future research career.
Informal mentoring structures are in place for
all junior and intermediate fellows whose applications are supported
by a sponsor or supervisor in their host department. More formal
external mentoring programmes exist for the awards offered in
partnership with the Academy of Medical Sciences.
At the heart of our mission MRC aims "to
provide a range of funding schemes and opportunities designed
to support the best science, and scientists, across the full spectrum
of research disciplines relating to human health, and to encourage
innovation and interdisciplinarity." Extract from MRC
Strategic Plan 1999-03.
Fellowships make a major contribution to MRC's
portfolio of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research.
This approach is encouraged particularly at the junior and intermediate
level where applicants have the opportunity to undertake periods
of training overseas, in UK industry or at a second research centre.
The aim of such periods is to broaden the fellow's research experience
and benefit longer-term career development while providing access
to techniques, skills and facilities not available in the host
department or institution. In addition fellows are encouraged
to develop collaborations to facilitate interdisciplinary research
and joint supervision is also encouraged where appropriate.
MRC also provides a number of joint fellowship
awards in partnership with other funding bodies such as the Department
of Health, other Research Councils (currently PPARC and EPSRC)
and some of the medical Royal Colleges. These partnerships have
developed to promote interdisciplinary mobility between the physical
and life sciences and where a need has been identified to build
the clinical academic base.