A partnership for the future – Wellcome and the Academy

At a challenging time for science, Wellcome and the Academy of Medical Sciences are renewing our partnership to support early career researchers with the announcement of five further years of joint funding and career support.

This partnership comprises £15.6 million of funding over the next five years and means we will work and learn together about how to best develop the researchers of the future, who will tackle science and health problems in ways we can’t yet imagine.

“We greatly value working with Wellcome, who have acted as the founding funder on a number of our schemes and supported us for over a decade.” comments Professor Paul Stewart FMedSci, Vice-President of the Academy who helped cement the partnership. “In such a turbulent year for the research community, I am proud that together we will continue to improve the health of our patients and population through nurturing the scientists of tomorrow.”

The funding will help support the Academy’s Starter Grant and Springboard schemes, where Wellcome acts as the core of a funding consortium. These Starter Grants will enable 200 more doctors, vets and dentists awardees to do research alongside their work with patients. It also will allow over 240 new Springboard award holders to set up new laboratories and research groups across the UK.

The agreement will also support hundreds of new mentor-mentee pairs between Academy Fellows and grant applicants; the renewal of our free and open career support workshops; the evolution of our INSPIRE programme introducing medical, dental and veterinary undergraduates to research, and major conferences for early career researchers to share their work. We will also be launching a new programme to encourage researchers to make connections across academia, industry and the NHS through networking hubs and funding for visits and secondments.

Dr Ana Tiganescu is a current Academy grant awardee and mentee at the University of Leeds. She commented: “That’s obviously fantastic news. It’s really essential that that support is made available to early career researchers like myself. What sets the Academy apart is the real focus on mentorship and all-round holistic approach to fostering that independence: the level of support that you get is unparalleled.”

Dr Ruth Bowness, another Springboard awardee working in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, added: “Any good news at the end of this year is welcome. I have three small children and another one on the way, and my husband is an intensive care doctor: my own research completely stopped for six months. But the Academy have done a really good job helping their grant holders. The mentoring, and the online networking this year, and realising it’s not just you finding it hard, has been invaluable.”

Sara Marshall, Head of Clinical Research at Wellcome, said: “Our new strategy emphasises our mission to support science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. Key components include support for researchers at an early stage in their careers, and connecting people across research and society to discover new knowledge, inspire new ideas, and create new solutions.

“We are delighted to be continuing our longstanding partnership with the Academy to deliver this: the Academy’s strengths in bringing people together in creative and empowering environments allows this partnership to provide both funding and practical support, and so enable research that can change how we understand health.”

Read more about the new Wellcome strategy, and find out more about the Academy’s grants and careers support.

The picture at the top of this page is of Dr Cornelia Guell, an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard awardee and Academy mentee, and was taken at our 2019 award holder induction event.

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