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Improving flexibility for researchers: removing post-PhD time restrictions on our fellowships

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

1 August 2018

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[2 scientists in the lab]


We know making the transition to your next career stage can be challenging. You should be able to apply to us for funding at the right time for you and your career rather than by an artificial cut-off point. So as part of our commitment to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in research, we’re removing the post-PhD time restrictions on all our response-mode fellowship schemes.

Our new competency framework for fellowship applicants is intended as guidance for you to consider which funding opportunity is right for you to support your transition to the next career level. This framework shifts the focus from the number of years post PhD onto your achievements and your level of independence, your research ambition, and the skills you can demonstrate. Our competency framework will apply to all fellowship schemes with a preliminary application deadline after August 2018.

Don’t be concerned if you’re in the early years of your research career – you’ll be assessed according to your research achievements and potential. For example, the Career Development Fellowship scheme is open to those who haven’t yet established their own independent group and aren’t a senior principal investigator.


Dr Iain FoulkesWe’re removing a potential barrier for researchers who weren’t previously able to apply for our support because they might have taken a less traditional route into cancer research.
We’re still offering the same great fellowship schemes as before. But now we are being clear about the skills and experience we expect you to have built up before you apply. We’re also setting out how we expect you to develop during your fellowship as you work towards becoming a future cancer research leader.

Dr Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research & Innovation


Our fellowship schemes will enable you to develop into a future leader in cancer research. Our alignment with other bodies, such as the MRC, will make it easier for you to consider the range of options available across funders.

We hope that our flexible new approach means that going forward, regardless of background or circumstances, we’re supporting the most talented, dedicated researchers and the best scientific ideas.