We aim to improve health and wellbeing by funding research of the highest quality in Scottish universities and recognised research institutions. Our research is broadly based, into the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all forms of illness and genetic disorders, and into the advancement of medical technology.

Within this, our focus is on foundational support. All Medical Research Scotland funding is targeted at early career research. We make available resources for undergraduate and postgraduate students, people establishing their own independent labs and people who are returning to science after a career break.

These stepping-stones from undergraduate students to independent researchers make a positive difference to people’s careers, helping strengthen Scotland’s medical research base.

Our Research Funding Strategy is mindful of the terms and restrictions of our constitutive legislation. It is reviewed on an annual basis.

Why do we support research?

The objectives of Medical Research Scotland are to:

  • award grants to promote medical research in Scotland;
  • work with external partner organisations to give doctoral students outstanding research and development experiences;
  • fund research that will have impact on society and in academia;
  • engage in fundraising activities for the purposes of the Trust;
  • receive, hold and manage endowments, donations and bequests for the above purposes.

What type of research do we support?

We are committed to supporting the highest-quality research, as judged by external peer review and internal scrutiny by our Trustees. We support a broad spectrum of medical research intended to improve understanding of the basic mechanisms of disease processes; or improve the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease; or the advancement of medical technology. We will support research into any disease condition and through any academic discipline.

Our adaptability to the needs of society’s health is illustrated by our rapid response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We created a new stand-alone programme and provided grants for 21 projects in labs across Scotland researching the diagnosis, treatment and management of Covid-19.

Medical Research Scotland is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). We support the principle of using animals in research only when necessary to advance understanding of health and disease and to develop new treatments. This research only takes place where there is no alternative available. All AMRC member charities support this principle, as outlined in the AMRC Statement on the use of animals in research.

How we plan to fund research, what funding is available and for how long

Medical Research Scotland can only provide funding for its research awards by using income from its endowed funds. This is augmented for PhD Studentships by additional support from the external partner organisations involved. We offer:

  • 6 to 8-week Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships;
  • 4-year PhD Studentships;
  • Early Career Starter Grants for setting up new labs;
  • 3-year, part-time Fellowships in conjunction with the Daphne Jackson Trust for returners to research.

The number of awards made in any one year is at the discretion of the Trustees taking into consideration the quality of the applications received and the funds available. We aim to support at least 15 PhD Studentships, 50 Undergraduate Vacation Research Scholarships, 5 Early Career Starter Grants and 3 Daphne Jackson Fellowships each year.

Who we will support and where

We are committed to making a difference to individuals considering, establishing or returning to a career in a medical research field in Scotland.

The Vacation Scholarships offer promising undergraduates the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of research during the summer vacation, encouraging them to consider a career in medical research. The awards are made to a project supervisor for a nominated student and a specified medically relevant project. The research must take place in a Scottish university or recognised research institution, but awards are available to undergraduates matriculated at a UK or Republic of Ireland University.

The PhD Studentships provide high performing graduates with the skills and experience required to develop successful research careers. The awards are made to Scottish universities and/or recognised research institutions, working in collaboration with external partner organisations to deliver an innovative PhD programme incorporating all the benefits of a traditional academic programme, amplified by training and experiences delivered by the external partner organisation. The research must be based in Scotland, although short placements elsewhere are encouraged, if appropriate.

The Early Career Starter Grants provide small awards to support those establishing themselves as independent researchers at Scottish universities and/or recognised research institutions. The support is intended for newly appointed staff entering their first tenured or tenure track academic appointment.

The Medical Research Scotland Sponsored Daphne Jackson Fellowships are a collaboration between us and the Daphne Jackson Trust. They support people wishing to return to medical research after a prolonged break, increasing employability and ameliorating the disadvantages associated with a career break. The Fellowships are part-time and flexible. The Fellowships must be held at a Scottish University and/or recognised research institution and provide an individually tailored retraining programme. As well as funding, Medical Research Scotland offers its awardees networking, additional training and outreach opportunities.

Information about call dates, eligibility, award details, review processes and conditions for the funding schemes can be found at the “Funding” section of the website: www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk/funding.htm.

November 2020