1000 mentoring pairs and £10 million a year: Academy milestones

We are delighted to celebrate two major milestones in supporting medical research careers: matching our 1000th mentoring pair, and giving £10 million a year in grants for the first time.

Ten years after our founding in 1998, the Academy was giving out less than £1 million a year in grants. Now, in 2020, we provide over £10 million annually for biomedical and health research in the UK and overseas.

Dr Suzanne Candy has overseen the growth of the Academy’s ‘Developing Talent’ portfolio since 2005: “From forging mentoring relationships to bringing together grant funding consortiums, the Academy’s best work is in partnership. We are very grateful to all our funders and supporters who have backed the Academy’s holistic approach to building a healthier society through medical research.”

Dr Candy pictured with Professor Peter Hutchinson FMedSci in 2018, one of the first Academy grant awardees to be elected to the Academy Fellowship.

Our recent growth has built on our strengths, from international partnerships like the UK-India schemes to small grants targeted at career pinch points like our Starter Grants. These awards of under £30,000 have enabled hundreds of doctors, vets and dentists to kickstart their research careers, and awardees have collectively leveraged over £100 million in follow-on funding from other sources.

However, we know that providing money alone is not enough to support the next generation of medical researchers to navigate the research pathway.

Back in 2003, in a research culture where asking for help was often seen as a sign of weakness, the Academy developed its widely acclaimed mentoring programme. We continue to match impartial mentors from our Fellowship and beyond with early career researchers, leveraging the power of a fresh, objective outlook to support people at critical career moments.

We recently matched our one thousandth mentoring pair: Pauline and Elin, and spoke with them both virtually earlier this week.

Dr Pauline Williams FMedSci, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Health R&D at GSK, comments: “I was delighted to be paired with Elin, and also to discover that we were the 1000th mentoring pair. I mentor a number of people within my own company, but mentoring with the Academy allows me to gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of talented individuals across a variety of sectors.

“The need for interdisciplinary working in the life sciences is more critical than ever, so it is a privilege to play a role in a scheme dedicated to developing diverse leaders of the future. Any small part I can play in helping Elin is a worthwhile investment of my time.”

Dr Elin Haf Davies, CEO of digital health company Aparito and member of the Academy’s FLIER leadership scheme, adds: “I was thrilled that Pauline agreed to be my mentor. The first year on the Academy’s leadership programme FLIER had been very intense and really made me focus on where I wanted my career to be directed and the impact I wanted to achieve. It’s been great to be able to work through some of those aspects with Pauline.”

You can read more about the Academy’s mentoring scheme, including long-distance mentoring relationships, what a good mentor looks like, top tips for mentees, and more on our mentoring pages.

You can find more information about all the Academy’s funding schemes, both in the UK and internationally, on our grants pages. For an overview of all our grants and careers support, please see our ‘What’s available to me?’ pages.

We continue to welcome people seeking to work with the Academy to create a stronger medical research community, through funding, partnerships, mentorship or more.

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