Academy launches Springboard, a new scheme for biomedical researchers

Today, the Academy of Medical Sciences opens applications to its new career-enhancing Springboard scheme.

A crucial career step for many researchers comes when they move from being part of a research group to establish their own independent laboratory. The highly competitive nature of grant schemes coupled with their limited availability means many abandon the research career path at this stage. Yet the right support at the right time would enable more researchers to reach their full leadership potential.

To address this specific leak in the career pipeline, the Academy, with the support of the Wellcome Trust, is launching Springboard, designed to support biomedical researchers at this delicate turning point. The scheme combines a research grant of up to £100,000 for two years with mentoring from Academy Fellows and career development activities. At a later stage, the scheme will be expanded to include the medical humanities and social sciences.

Professor Sir John Tooke PMedSci, President of the Academy said:"The Academy is committed to promoting and supporting excellence in the medical sciences, but this cannot be achieved without outstanding researchers.

"That is why we have developed Springboard to support promising biomedical scientists at this critical point on the path to independence, to complement the scheme already in place to support clinician scientists at an analogous stage in their career."

Professor Martin Humphries FMedSci, Chair of the Springboard Advisory Group, Academy Vice-President (non-clinical), Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, said:

“Uncertainty over options available and an environment of limited funding security mean it is a struggle for biomedical researchers to plan their career paths. There is a threat than many will leave the sector entirely, causing a loss of talent that biomedical research cannot afford.

"Even when they succeed in obtaining an independent position, researchers find themselves having to juggle a number of new tasks, such as teaching, administration, managing a research group, forming collaborations, attracting funding and of course, publishing. All of which can be a struggle to balance at a time when personal or family commitments are increasing outside of work.

"To succeed, flexible funding is critical to enable research to continue while other skills are being learned. However, advice and support from mentors are equally important, and Springboard will provide both through access to the Academy mentoring scheme."

Dr Jeremy Farrar OBE, Director of the Wellcome Trust and Fellow of the Academy, said:

“Many of the great advances in biomedical research in the past 50 years have been led by people in their 20s and 30s and at the Wellcome Trust we think it’s particularly important to support researchers at the early stages of their careers.

In addition to conducting excellent research, researchers must attract new funding, form productive collaborations and carve out time for a work-life balance.

"The Academy’s Springboard scheme is an excellent example of how, by working in partnership, we can support researchers by creating more funding opportunities and providing mentorship to help them navigate the many challenges they face."

Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci, Chair of the selection panel and Director of Postgraduate Research for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh said:

"Springboard is here to support future research leaders and to build capacity in the biomedical sciences. We want to receive applications from excellent researchers who can demonstrate their leadership potential who are working at institutions that can support them to thrive."


For further information, please contact:

Giorgio De Faveri at the Academy of Medical Sciences

T: 0203 1762 180 M: 07885903528


Notes for Editors

1.    The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. Our mission is to promote medical science and its translation into benefits for society. The Academy’s elected Fellows are the United Kingdom’s leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service. We work with them to promote excellence, influence policy to improve health and wealth, nurture the next generation of medical researchers, link academia, industry and the NHS, seize international opportunities and encourage dialogue about the medical sciences.

2.    The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art.

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