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Opportunities to work in the Research Complex at Harwell

The MRC is calling for proposals through its standard grant and fellowship schemes for researchers wishing to occupy space within the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH). Applications to access laboratory space within the RCaH and utilise its facilities and those within the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) site are invited to submit to the deadlines of current MRC funding schemes.

The RCaH is an exciting joint venture between the MRC, BBSRC, STFC, EPSRC, NERC and Diamond Light Source. The aim is to provide short, medium, and long-term research laboratory facilities for both life and physical science researchers conducting work at Diamond, the ISIS neutron facility, the Central Laser Facility and other shared facilities at RAL.

Please apply using the Je-S application system.

Before applying, researchers are encouraged to contact the RCaH Director and/or MRC Head Office (see contacts and guidance)

Background to the Research Complex at Harwell

The Research Complex at Harwell is situated on the RAL site adjacent to the Diamond Light Source, a third generation synchrotron providing world-leading beamlines for studies of the structure of matter across biology, environmental science, materials science, physics, chemistry and engineering.

The RAL site is also home to other facilities used to study structure at the molecular level, including ISIS (the UK neutron spallation source), the Central Laser Facility (CLF), the electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) and the Biological Solid State NMR Facility.

The RCaH provides a vibrant research culture, supporting the development of a leading multi-disciplinary centre of scientific excellence, maximising the opportunities and synergy between these facilities.

The RCaH provides laboratory space for both life and physical sciences, to be used by research groups based there long-term as well as by short- and medium-term visitors working on site using Diamond, ISIS or other shared facilities.

In the life sciences, it is envisaged there will be a core of long-term groups to provide stability and leadership in tackling challenging problems for which proximity to Diamond and other facilities will be advantageous. The building provides facilities for beamline scientists to develop their own and collaborative research programmes.

Experience at other synchrotrons around the world has shown that research facilities close to the source have allowed visiting and resident research teams to achieve remarkable advances, benefiting from close collaboration with the beamline scientists and other technical experts at the facilities.

Facilities at the Research Complex at Harwell

The RCaH has two floors of laboratory space and an internal area of around 5000m2. Physical sciences occupy the ground floor with life sciences on the first floor. There are also communal areas, including a coffee room, reception, seminar and meeting rooms.

As well as general laboratory space on each floor, there are shared laboratory areas including cold rooms, dark room, instrument rooms, crystallisation suite and cell culture facilities.

The building has the capacity to house around 180 people. This includes the RCaH Director, Professor Jim Naismith, and his research team as well as a small team of core staff including IT support, laboratory support staff and technical support (including glass washing).

The Collaborative Computational Project in Protein Crystallography, CCP4, is also housed on the life science floor of the RCaH. The CCP4 facilitates interactions between those involved in program developments and the end-users, both scientists working at the RCaH and visiting researchers.

On the physical sciences floor, provision has been made to house elements of the STFC Lasers for Science Facility that provides a unique set of laser based techniques and expertise specialising in ultrafast dynamics in solution phase and advanced laser based microscopy for real-time cellular imaging.

Funding available

The MRC has space allocated in the building for researchers, including short-term visitors and longer-term research teams. Preference will be given to researchers using Diamond or other facilities at the RAL site. Researchers in the RCaH will also be encouraged to explore potential collaborations with each other and across the RAL site as a whole.

It is envisaged that researchers working in the RCaH, whether on a short- or long-term basis, will be employed by a university or research institute who will administer their Research Council grant or fellowship funding. Researchers will then be seconded to the Research Complex for the duration of their work there.

Applications to be an occupant of the Research Complex are invited to submit applications to the current MRC funding scheme deadlines, including research grants, new investigator research grants, career development awards and senior fellowships.

Grant and fellowship applications for work at the RCaH will follow the usual principles and procedures for the relevant funding schemes. Applications must be primarily within MRC’s remit and should meet the standard MRC eligibility criteria.

RCaH career development awards would be suitable for those wishing to establish their independent research career at the Research Complex. RCaH senior fellowships would be suitable for exceptional researchers who have already proven their independence and demonstrated their promise as future research leaders.

In each case, the applicant must have a host institution through which the award will be administered. RCaH fellows and their research teams would then be expected to spend all or a significant proportion of their time at the Research Complex.

Research grants are suitable for established researchers wishing to undertake short- and long-term projects at the Research Complex and can be awarded for any period of up to five years. Applications are encouraged from investigators with existing research teams located at a UK university or institute who are interested in establishing a satellite group to be located at the Research Complex at Harwell.

In this instance, applicants are encouraged to cost in a sufficient amount of their own time to enable them to spend some time at the Research Complex. Alternatively, applicants may wish to spend much or all of their time at the RCaH for the duration of the project, in which case costing much or all of their time on the grant would be acceptable.

Grants and fellowships may also be awarded where there is a period of work at the Research Complex and a further period at the host institute.

Investigators from MRC units and institutes wishing to locate an existing member of staff at the RCaH are asked to contact Dr Karen Brakspear at MRC Head Office in the first instance (see contacts and guidance). Alternatively, MRC programme leaders are eligible to apply for additional funding to set up a satellite group at the RCaH.

Funding decisions will be based on the quality of the proposals but also taking into account the space available and the balance with other funded groups.

Financial support

The MRC will usually fund on the basis of 80 per cent of the full economic cost of your research to your institution. Where equipment is requested to be based at the RCaH, the MRC will fund up to 100% of the costs under the condition that the RCaH retains ownership of the equipment after the duration of grant support has ended.

Institutions will not be expected to include Estates costs for individuals for the time they are located at the RCaH. Use of the Research Complex at Harwell will be free at the point of access and there will be no charge payable for use of the core facilities there. However applicants should include a suitable request, following discussion with the Director, for consumable costs to be recharged by the RCaH.

Deadline dates

It is envisaged that most grant applications will be within the remit of the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, and all should be submitted to the MCMB in time for the appropriate deadline; any that require expert assessment by other Boards will be transferred if necessary.

Applications for Career Development Awards and Senior Fellowships should be submitted in accordance with the appropriate fellowship deadlines.

Your proposal must be submitted through the MRC Je-S system by 4pm on the relevant Research Board's deadline date.

Contacts and guidance

Applicants wishing to make use of the research complex should visit the RCaH website and contact the Research Director, Professor Jim Naismith, for queries relating to the facilities available at the RCaH and discussion of the vision of the Research Complex as a whole.

Contact: Professor Jim Naismith

Those intending to apply for funding to work in the RCaH are encouraged to contact Dr Karen Brakspear at MRC Head Office to discuss their ideas.

Contact: Dr Karen Brakspear