We have revised the duration of our funding and the package of benefits we offer our Fellows to ensure we are providing the right support at all stages throughout their career. We hope the changes we have introduced will provide researchers with the freedom to focus on their research and deliver the greatest scientific impact.
Every early-stage researcher will reach the crucial stage in their career where they ask ‘What’s the next right move for me?’ Competing demands on their time, professional and personal commitments come alongside financial considerations – all while they try to identify the next career steps to help establish them as an expert in their field. For Dr Kevin Myant, a Career Development Fellow at the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, this turning point came before his move to a new institute.
The major challenge was the break in research. It takes time to set up a lab and generate data, so any down time can be frustrating. This is why long-term funding is so beneficial, as it gives you the time to properly establish yourself at your new institute.
At CRUK, we want our early-stage researchers to have the time and space to be able to properly launch their careers – so they can make the right decisions that will enable them to carry out exciting, transformative research that can generate great results and ultimately lead to benefits for people with cancer.
Longer term funding and salary enhancements
To help researchers take their first independent steps, we have recently reviewed the funding packages we offer, increasing the length of funding we provide – six years for non-clinical fellows and five years for clinical fellows – and introducing salary enhancements to ensure our packages remain highly competitive with the rest of the sector.
We offer a range of personal fellowships to support researchers with 3 to 14 years of experience post-PhD – including schemes that provide salary support as well as those that sit alongside university salaries. The changes we have introduced will benefit both our clinical and non-clinical fellows and are effective immediately for all new awards. Our Career Development Fellows and Senior Cancer Research Fellows will receive a fixed annual supplement for each of the six years they are funded by us.
The funding Kevin received from CRUK allowed him to set up his own group and has given him the freedom to tackle more ambitious projects.
Smaller grants don’t allow you the flexibility and security of being able to address a problem starting my own research group and to pursue an ambitious project that I hope will have a long term impact on the field.
Alongside funding, we also deliver an extensive programme of support through training, events and networking opportunities to offer researchers great opportunities to develop new skills and form the collaborations they will need to be successful.
Tailored support for clinical academics
Clinician scientists are uniquely placed to bridge the gap between the lab and cancer patients. We recognise the immense value – as well as the challenges involved – in bringing clinical skills and perspectives to bear on research questions, so we are aiming to ensure this group are fully supported across their careers.
In 2015 we introduced two new funding opportunities to provide support at critical and often challenging points in a clinicians’ career. We introduced a new Postdoctoral Research Bursary for clinical trainees to enable them to remain active in research after completion of their PhD – and an Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship for researchers transitioning to leading larger groups and programmes.
Protected time for research
Clinical academics’ salaries typically fall behind their clinician peers by the time they are ready to consider a Clinician Scientist Fellowship. To help ensure that this doesn’t deter clinicians from pursuing a career in academic medicine, we are committed to ensuring that salaries, as well as our full fellowship package, are competitive both with other funders and with NHS salaries. We make sure our clinical fellows’ research time is protected by paying their full salary, even for NHS specialty training and clinical service commitments. This provides them with much more independence and flexibility to use their time effectively. They can also request research assistance as part of their package, to ensure the continuity and productivity of their research while they have specialty training commitments.
As well as potential financial disadvantages, taking on academic research alongside clinical practice can place a significant demand on an individual’s time. The combination of these barriers can present an unattractive prospect for those considering careers in Clinical Academia. At CRUK, we want to provide clinical scientists with the support and financial incentive they need to develop a career in cancer research. We are aiming to double the number of clinical fellowships we fund, building a community of world-leading clinical academics in cancer research at all stages of the career pipeline.
We want to attract the greatest minds to carry out research in the UK – we hope the package of benefits we offer along with competitive salaries will help make us an attractive option for researchers and clinicians throughout the world working on cancer.
Dr Richard Oakley, Senior Research Funding Manager
Individuals are able to apply for our fellowships whilst based in the UK or abroad. For further details about the changes please contact Rachael Panizzo for Clinical Fellowships and Catherine Cowell for non-clinical Fellowships.
Find out more about eligibility for our fellowships and bursaries, and how to apply for the schemes.