First awardees of the new Springboard scheme announced

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?

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