Over £1.8m has been awarded by the Academy of Medical Sciences to the first participants in Springboard, a new scheme to support researchers on their path to research independence.
Forming a research group and establishing an independent research project is one of the most crucial, but difficult steps in the career of a scientist. It is at this time that the right support can make all the difference between a researcher continuing on the academic path or abandoning it.
Springboard has been designed to fill a gap in the funding and training currently offered to non-clinical researchers at this delicate career stage and to support talented researchers developing into the research leaders of the future.
The awardees will receive a research grant of up to £100,000 for two years plus mentoring from Academy Fellows and access to leadership and career development activities.
The first round of awards covers projects ranging from exploring the neurological causes of obesity, to using rabies to understand how viruses can jump species and looking into the psychology of harm aversion.
While the Academy has a long tradition of supporting clinical researchers through a range of funding schemes, these are the first major research awards it has made exclusively to the "bench-side" researchers, who play a hugely important role in the translation of biomedical discoveries into health benefits for society.
Professor Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:
"Biomedical researchers within the early years of starting a lecturer post are at a key stage of their career, where the right support can make a great difference. Establishing an independent research programme as an early stage researcher is challenging, and failure to acquire start up funds can result in loss of talented staff .
"To date, the Academy of Medical Sciences has supported clinician scientists and clinical lecturers as they start their independent research careers. I am delighted that we can now extend this support to biomedical scientists through the Springboard scheme."
The first round of the new scheme, launched by the Academy of Medical Sciences with support from the Wellcome Trust, received 102 applications from researchers covering the breadth of disciplines that contribute to the Academy’s mission to improve health through research. These included: molecular, cellular and structural biology, engineering, chemistry, veterinary sciences, anatomy physiology, psychology, epidemiology and public health.
The Chair of the Selection Panel, Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci, has congratulated the succesful applicants and called for Universities to give full backing to researchers in their first independent position.
The Academy is delighted to announce that the first researchers chosen by the Springboard selection committee are:
Dr Anna Barnard - Imperial College London
Selective Helix-Mimetics as Tools in Malaria Research
Dr Christos Bergeles - University College London
3D In-Focus Endoscopic Imaging with Light-Field Cameras: Optomechatronics and Algorithms
Dr Maike Bublitz - University of Oxford
Proton Transporting ATPases: Structural and Functional Studies of Fungal Proton Pumps
Dr Angus Cameron - Queen Mary University of London
Defining the role of PKN2 in cancer-associated fibroblasts
Dr Richard Chahwan - University of Exeter
Chromatin modifications in genomic stability, immune diversity, and tumorigenesis
Dr Edwin Chen - University of Leeds
Role of CHD4 Helicase in Malignant Megakaryopoiesis
Dr Mihaela Crisan - University of Edinburgh
Investigate the link between the two hematopoietic stem cell types: different origins, different niches or both?
Dr Molly Crockett - University of Oxford
Identifying risk factors for personality disorder using computational neuroimaging and ecological momentary assessment
Dr Margaret Cunningham - University of Strathclyde
A multi-disciplinary approach to thrombin receptor research – A focus on the interrogation of the Proteinase-activated Receptor 4 (PAR4) interactome
Dr Alice Davidson - University College London
Investigating TCF4 triplet-repeat-mediated pathogenic mechanisms associated with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), a visually devastating and common age-related disease.
Dr Emma Dempster - University of Exeter
Using functional epigenomics to dissect the molecular architecture of schizophrenia
Dr Catherine Hall - University of Sussex
How does Apolipoprotein E4 affect brain oxygenation and blood flow?
Dr Sian Henson - Queen Mary University of London
Investigating the dynamics of senescent human T-cell trafficking
Dr Daniel Horton - University of Surrey
Understanding constraints and drivers acting on viruses that cross species barriers, using rabies virus as a model
Dr Benjamin Lehne - Imperial College London
A trans-ethnic gut microbiome study of insulin resistance
Dr Florian Merkle - University of Cambridge
Regulation of human neurones that promote feeding
Dr Emily Noël - University of Sheffield
The second heart field and cardiac morphogenesis – using transcriptomics to unravel heart development
Dr Paulo Ribeiro - Queen Mary University of London
The Interplay Between Polarity and Hippo Signalling in the Regulation of Tissue Growth
Dr Samantha Terry - King's College London
Radiobiological assessment of radionuclides used for therapy; how can they be used effectively?