SUSTAIN - women in science

SUSTAIN is a programme that enables female researchers to thrive in their independent research careers. It provides an innovative programme of training and support to develop participants’ leadership and career potential.

Key dates

SUSTAIN is currently closed for applications. Applications for the sixth round of SUSTAIN will open in early 2022. 


Not enough female researchers in science are securing senior leadership posts in the UK. A concerted effort is needed to ensure women are appropriately supported along their career trajectory to enable them to secure those senior positions.

SUSTAIN is a unique programme in the UK that is providing female researchers a fantastic opportunity to benefit from individualised support tailored to their career needs.

Read case studies of SUSTAIN participants here.


"SUSTAIN is the first programme that is tailored specifically towards women at the beginning stages of their independent careers. By integrating a range of approaches, SUSTAIN enables new PIs to develop their own, personal leadership styles needed  for their successful progression as scientists."

Professor Eva Hoffman, SUSTAIN reference group

"Trying to build a career, deliver high quality science and raise a family can seem daunting. But you are not alone and many of the challenges faced by women in research are shared. SUSTAIN offers a structured programme of training and mentorship coupled with the opportunity to learn from and share with people who have walked (or are walking) in your shoes."

Professor Elizabeth Sapey, SUSTAIN reference group



About the programme

The year-long programme offers interactive skills training and career development sessions, tailored mentoring and the opportunity to network with research leaders. It is designed so that participants are part of a unique cohort to share learnings and includes:

  • Interactive career development workshops

The fifth round of SUSTAIN will launch virtually in March. In previous years we have launched the programme with an in-person residential, which has formed a valuable part of the programme. Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to launch the programme virtually for this year. An in-person event in March is likely to be challenging to deliver safely and may have been a cause of stress for applicants. We hope that making this decision at this stage in the process, we have alleviated some of this uncertainty and worry.

For this year’s launch, we are working hard to tailor our launch programme to offer as similar an experience as possible through varied workshops and networking opportunities. Additionally, we hope to be able to offer in-person events and training when it is safe to do so for participants who feel this is valuable.

The March launch will be followed by a series of career development workshops. Each session will be tailored to support attendees through the challenges of combining research, teaching, clinical practice and caring and other responsibilities where relevant. Previous sessions have included topics on:

• Time management
• Negotiation
• Setting up a research team for success
• Developing your leadership style

  • A peer support network 

The cohort is small by design and are matched in co-coaching trios to enable ongoing peer support and safe discussion of issues/challenges. Small group work at each workshop helps to embed and put into practice key learning points.

  • One-to-one mentoring

Participants are mentored by a Fellow of the Academy. Bespoke training on how to get the most out of mentoring, and ongoing support is provided to both mentees and mentors over the course of the programme.


SUSTAIN  is supported by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Find out more

Key contacts

Mentoring Masterclass - December 2021

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Annual Fellows' Meeting and Jean Shanks Lecture 2021

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From bedside to bench: experimental medicine and clinical insights for understanding chronic pain

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