A Wellcome Trust Fellowship scheme is supporting more than 20 University of Liverpool early career researchers in developing their skills, research networks, and projects to benefit the health and wellbeing of animals and humans.
The scheme, which is led by the University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, is designed to give researchers valuable time and funds to develop their research profiles and work towards more senior positions.
There are three projects in the scheme; the first lessens the amount of teaching and administrative work for three years to allow scientists to focus on establishing their own research projects.
The Faculty awards start-up funding of £15,000 a year during this period. After three years the researchers are automatically reviewed for transfer to a permanent position.
A second strand of the scheme is focused on clinicians and designed to help them concentrate on research for up to a year so that they can secure larger research grants in the future and progress to senior roles.
Her fellowship allowed her time off from other duties to set up a research project in Malawi. It also provided a salary for a research co-ordinator to manage her work in the African country while she was in the UK.
The fellowship has allowed her to apply for a half a million pound grant for a clinical trial in Malawi. The trial will continue her work on whether public health measures can improve child health in countries such as Malawi, where 45% of children have stunted growth.
The scheme also includes a two-year research-leave fellowship for researchers in the School of Veterinary Science and funding for postdoctoral researchers who are between contracts.
Liverpool’s initiative is part-funded by the Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund, which is designed to support institutional strategies for biomedical sciences. Under the scheme, The Wellcome Trust has awarded £750,000 a year to Liverpool since 2011, with the University matching that amount.
Tough, competitive environment
Professor Bob Burgoyne, Associate Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Knowledge Exchange for Health and Life Sciences, said: “We were concerned that it is a very tough, competitive environment for getting external funding. We wanted to help the people who were at the intermediate stage between postdoctoral researcher and fully independent academics.
“Teaching is an important and hugely satisfying part of an academic’s role, but it is essential that those developing their careers are given the time and support to enhance their research capabilities and contribute to some of the world’s most pressing health challenges.
“Funding through this scheme allows us to maintain teaching commitments across the Faculty, but also protect the time of talented doctors, scientists, and veterinary researchers for the benefit of health research and the next generation of specialists.”
Read more on this story in Times Higher Education.