Skills Development Fellowships
Starting from 2017, the MRC will deliver the Skills Development Fellowship (SDF) scheme in a different way. Individuals seeking SDF fellowship support will no longer apply directly to the MRC. They will instead be able to apply for an MRC SDF fellowship position at a participating host institution. Despite this alteration, the main purpose of the scheme has not changed (see below).
Purpose of scheme
Skills Development Fellowships are 3-year training fellowships that will support capacity building in MRC priority areas by:
- Supporting very early career researchers to explore, consolidate and further develop their skills in a priority area in which they are already active or in which they are seeking training.
- Supporting researchers at all career stages who wish to transform their career by developing new skills in a priority area.
- The scheme currently focuses on the following priority skills areas: mathematics, statistics, computation, informatics, health economics and/or mixed methods research applicable to any biomedical or health related data sources, from molecular to population level. These skills can be applied across the full range of the MRC’s remit, for example, cell biology, physiology, epidemiology, population and public health, and health psychology.
The main reasons for the changes are as follows:
- Improving cross-departmental interdisciplinarity – We wish to attract more individuals directly from core quantitative disciplines (such as maths and computer sciences) to the scheme. We expect the new approach to employ recruitment and training strategies that will span across multiple departments, allowing more individuals from core disciplines to recognise opportunities and make the transition into biomedical science, and also for individuals with biomedical backgrounds to develop their quantitative skills.
- A shorter lead-time for applicants – The previous process meant that fellows often did not commence their fellowship until more than a year after submitting their application. We recognise that this presents a substantial barrier, particularly at an early post-doctoral career stage, or for those wishing to change disciplines. The new mechanism will, from 2018, reduce the time from application to commencing the fellowship significantly and allow a more flexible approach to recruitment.
Approximate timescale for the new process
- Early 2017 – call for research organisations to apply for fellowship positions
- 27 July 2017 – deadline for research organisation bids
- Autumn 2017 – participating research organisations announced
- From Autumn 2017 – prospective fellows can apply for advertised fellowship positions