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Springboard launches

Professor Martin Humphries FMedSci, Academy Vice President (non-clinical) discusses the launch of Springboard – a scheme that will provide research funding and tailored mentoring and career support for biomedical researchers transitioning to independence.

 “We named the scheme Springboard because its definition - a strong flexible platform providing momentum - seemed particularly apt.”

While all biomedical researchers are familiar with the highly competitive nature of research funding, it can seem that the odds are stacked against you succeeding when you are just starting out.

In your first position following post-doctoral training, multi-tasking is taken to another level: you may have to teach, learn to deal with university administration, manage your own group, establish your own scientific niche, form collaborations, network at scientific meetings, and of course keep generating data and publishing. Plus you are competing for increasingly limited pots of funding against the well-established leaders in your field.

Back in 2012, I led an Academy Task Force that engaged with early career researchers, and I heard first-hand about the difficulties faced by academics who are in the earliest stages of their independent careers. While finding ways to obtain research funding is critical, it was also apparent that advice and support from suitable mentors were needed.

For many years, the Academy has funded Clinical Lecturers through its Starter Grants scheme, which is supported by a range of funders, including the Wellcome Trust. This scheme also offers applicants the opportunity to be mentored by an Academy Fellow, as well as having access to a range of networking and training opportunities. Now, the Academy and the Trust are pleased to announce that we can offer a similar scheme for those pursuing a biomedical, non-clinical career path.

Applicants must already have a contract as an academic member of staff and be within the first three years of appointment. The scheme will provide up to  £100,000 of flexible funding over two years. We expect applicants to outline their career plans and be in a supportive environment. More details of the scheme can be found on the scheme’s webpage.

We are working with selected Springboard Champions across 40 HEIs in this first round. If you are a potential applicant you will need to contact the Springboard Champion and we expect institutions to use their internal assessment processes to select up to three eligible candidates.

One of the Academy’s objectives is to nurture the next generation of researchers, and potential applicants should note that the mentoring and support elements of the scheme will be offered to all applicants, not just those who secure funding. We look forward to working with you.

Follow the Academy on Twitter @acmedsci and @AMS_Careers

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