Wellcome Career Development Awards


This scheme provides funding for mid-career researchers from any discipline who have the potential to be international research leaders. They will develop their research capabilities, drive innovative programmes of work and deliver significant shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing.

Scheme at a glance

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- or middle-income countries (apart from India and mainland China)

Level of funding:

You should ask for your salary (if required) and the resources you need for your research programme – see the 'What we offer' section on this page. You will need to justify this in your application. 

Duration of funding:

Usually 8 years, but may be less for some disciplines and may only be longer if held on a part-time basis.

Eligibility and suitability

Who can apply, who can't apply, what's expected of your host organisation

You can apply for a Wellcome Career Development Award if you are a mid-career researcher and you are ready to lead a substantial and innovative research programme. You must aim to make a key contribution to your field by:

  • generating significant shifts in understanding


  • developing methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques that could benefit health-related research.

During the award, we expect you to:

  • develop your research capabilities and leadership skills
  • support others to undertake research responsibly and promote a positive and inclusive culture
  • start training the next generation of researchers and develop their research skills and careers.

Your research can be in any discipline – including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), experimental medicine, humanities and social science, clinical/allied health sciences, and public health – as long as it has the potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing, and aligns with our funding remit.

Career stage and experience

To be eligible, you will already be driving your own research.

You must have:

  • completed one or two substantial periods of research after your initial training
  • made important contributions to your area of research.

You will probably have experience of working collaboratively. You may have directed, or closely guided, the work of others.

At the point of application, you may also have been appointed to:

  • your first permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, or to a tenure track contract. If this applies to you, you cannot ask for your own salary with this award unless you are based in a low- or middle-income country.
  • a fixed term position. If this applies to you, you can ask for your own salary with this award if you have four years or less remaining on your contract at the point of application. If you have more than four years left on your contract at the point of application, you cannot ask for your salary with this award and your host organisation must underwrite your salary costs for the duration of the award.

You must be able to contribute at least 80% of your research time to the award. For permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contracts, you must have been appointed within the last three years unless, during this time, you:

  • spent time away from research due to personal circumstances (for example, for a career break, maternity leave, long-term sick leave or a chronic illness)
  • worked part-time and research was not part of the role, for example, if you have been employed as a healthcare professional
  • changed research discipline, for example, moving from astrophysics to computational neuroscience, or environmental chemistry to social anthropology. There may be some crossover, such as in research sites or techniques, but the shift should still be a significant change.
  • were based in a low- or middle-income country where it is normal to be appointed to a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract early in your research career.

If the three-year limit falls between two deadlines for this scheme, and you would benefit from applying to the second deadline, we will allow you to do this.

If you hold a proleptic appointment, you can request your salary costs from Wellcome for the duration of the award.

If you are a health professional, you will have completed your clinical training. If you want to continue with clinical activities, you must be registered with, and licensed by, the relevant professional regulator in the country you intend to work in. Read our Q&As for health professionals.

By the end of the award

By the end of the award, you should have achieved international standing in your area of research.

You should also have the skills and experience to apply for permanent positions at research organisations.

Host organisation

You must have sponsorship from an eligible host organisation in one of the following:

It can be a:

  • higher education institution
  • research institute
  • non-academic healthcare organisation
  • not-for-profit organisation.

Time spent away from research

You can apply if you've been away from research (for example a career break, maternity leave, or long-term sick leave). We'll allow for this when we consider your application.

Depending on your previous career stage and the level of supervision and retraining you need now, you may also want to consider an Early-Career Award.


If you are unsuccessful with an application to this scheme, you can submit one more full application for the same project. Significant changes are needed for the second application. You do not need to contact us first.

Current Wellcome grantholders

We will allow current grantholders of the following mid-career schemes to apply for a Career Development Award until the end of their awards, unless they have been appointed to a permanent, open-ended, long-term rolling or tenure track contract:

  • Sir Henry Dale Fellowships (including those with extensions)
  • Research Career Development Fellowships
  • Research Career Re-entry Fellowships
  • Intermediate Clinical Fellowships (including those with one-year extensions)
  • Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships (stage 2)
  • International Intermediate Fellowships.

If you are one of these grantholders, you must have an active grant at the time of application.

Other Wellcome awards

During a Career Development Award, you can be a coapplicant on up to two other Wellcome awards. In your application for the second award where you are a co-applicant you must explain:

  • why no other applicant or co-applicant can provide the expertise that you bring to the project
  • how you will manage your research commitments across the three awards.

Assessment criteria

We will review your research proposal, skills and experience, and research environment.

Your research proposal

To be competitive, your research proposal will be:

  • Bold. It aims to deliver a significant shift in understanding and/or it provides a significant advance over existing methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques. It has the potential to stimulate new and innovative research.
  • Creative. Your proposed approach is novel – it develops and tests new concepts, methods or technologies, or combines existing ideas and approaches in a new way.
  • High quality. It is well-designed, clear, supported by evidence and the proposed outcomes/outputs are feasible.

Your skills and experience

We will review:

  • your research outputs and contributions to the research community
  • your experience of, and contribution to, developing other researchers
  • your leadership and management skills, and how you plan to develop these during the award.

Your research environment

We will review:

  • how you will contribute to the strategic aims of your organisation 
  • how your research environment(s) will help you develop your research capabilities and leadership and management skills
  • how you will contribute to a positive and inclusive research culture.

Who can't apply

You are not eligible to apply if:

  • you hold, or have held, an equivalent award at this career stage (an exception to this is that our current Wellcome grantholders at an equivalent stage can apply to this scheme)
  • you have made an application to this scheme and you are waiting for a decision.

You cannot apply to carry out activities that involve the transfer of grant funds into mainland China.

What's expected of your host organisation

You must be based at an eligible organisation that can sign up to our grant conditions.

We expect organisations based in the UK to meet the responsibilities required by the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers for institutions, managers and researchers.

Any organisation with Wellcome funding that is based outside the UK is expected, at a minimum, to follow the principles of the Concordat.

We also expect your host organisation to:

  • Give you, and any staff employed on the grant, 10 days a year (pro rata if part-time) to undertake training and continuing professional development (CPD) in line with the Concordat. This should include the responsible conduct of research, research leadership, people management, diversity and inclusion, and the promotion of a healthy research culture.
  • Provide a system of onboarding, embedding and planning for you when you join the organisation and/or start the award.
  • Provide you with the status and benefits of other academic staff of similar seniority.

Your host organisation must guarantee they will:

  • provide you with a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract by the end of the award


  • carry out a formal review process, no less than two years before the end of your award, to discuss your future at the organisation, including the possibility of a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract.

This does not apply to applicants who already have a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract.

If your host organisation is a core-funded research organisation, a Career Development Award should not replace or lead to a reduction in existing or planned core support.


Your sponsor must hold an established post (or an honorary academic appointment) at the host organisation for the duration of the award. They will be expected to:

  • Guarantee the space and resources you’ll need from the start date to the end date of your award.
  • Ensure the research environment will support you to complete your programme.
  • Explain how your research fits with the strategic aims of the organisation.
  • Confirm workload expectations with you – you should not spend more than 20% of your time on non-research related activities, for example clinical duties, teaching or administration. If you’re based in a clinical craft specialty, you may spend up to 40% of your time on clinical duties.
  • Organise a discussion about your future at the organisation, for example an appointment to a permanent position.

If you plan to work for more than three months outside your host organisation, you must also have an additional sponsor at that location who will guarantee the space and resources you'll need during your visit.


You should also identify a mentor for the period of your award. They should have a track record in training and mentorship, and support and guide you on how to:

  • manage your application
  • develop your research career
  • progress with your personal development
  • manage the processes and regulations at your host organisation (although they do not need to be based at your organisation).

Your sponsor can also be your mentor.

What we offer

Funding level, duration of award, research expenses, what we don't offer

A Wellcome Career Development Award provides a salary for the grantholder (if required) and research expenses.

The award usually lasts for 8 years, but may be less for some disciplines, such as humanities and social science.

The award may be held on a part-time basis. We will extend the duration of the award to reflect this.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that’s justifiable for your proposed research.

You can only hold one of these awards. We do not offer renewals.

The award includes:

  • a basic salary (determined by your host organisation)
  • staff
  • continuing professional development and training
  • materials and consumables
  • animals
  • equipment
  • access charges
  • overheads
  • travel and subsistence
  • overseas allowances
  • fieldwork expenses
  • inflation allowance
  • open access charges
  • clinical research costs
  • public engagement and patient involvement costs
  • contract research organisations
  • other costs

If you're awarded this grant

You are guaranteed an endorsement of a Global Talent visa application.

If your host organisation is in the UK and you have team members who will spend at least 50% of their working time contributing to the award, they may be eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa through the endorsed funder route.

What we don't offer

See 'Other costs' for the costs we will and will not provide.

Application date
Up to 8 years
Social sciences