UCL Division of Biosciences



Cell and Developmental Biology (CBD) is a vibrant, research-intensive department, and we encourage young scientists to join us on externally funded fellowships. 

Independent Research Fellows

Supporting outstanding fellowship candidates 

The research department of Cell and Developmental Biology and UCL are committed to supporting potential fellows from the start. We strive to make the fellowship application process in CDB uniform, open and fair. The ultimate aim is to ensure supported candidates have the best possible chance of securing a permanent position through a “tenure-track” type route. All applications will go through the Departmental Fellowship Coordinator, Professor Chris Barnes

Overview of fellowship application process 

After initial discussions with Chris Barnes, all candidates will be expected to submit an application pack, consisting of: 

  • a CV 
  • a one page outline of your fellowship application/proposal 
  • a paragraph explaining how this is suitable for the fellowship scheme(s) you are interested in 
  • timeline for application(s) 
  • how you see this research programme fitting into the Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology 

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of faculty members including PIs with particular relevant expertise. This will occur at set points throughout the year in line with the fellowship application scheme deadlines (see below). If unsuccessful, we will strive to provide constructive feedback. The decision to support the candidate will be taken by the Head of Research Department and panel, usually within a week. If successful, the candidate will be invited to give a departmental seminar and to meet with members of the department. 

We will make every effort to assist applicants from the early stages of their funding applications, providing feedback to help with the project proposal, refining the application and preparing the interview. CDB staff include current fellows in multiple fellowship schemes as well as established researchers who started their careers on fellowships, all of whom will be able to share their experience in the development of applications. 

Examples of supported schemes 

UCL Excellence Fellowship  
The UCL Excellence Fellowship scheme is run by the School of Life and Medical Sciences and is open to the full range of disciplines in basic and applied life sciences. The UCL Excellence Fellowship offers salary and research funding, as well as generous funding supplements for individuals bringing externally funded fellowships to UCL. Deadline typically in May (CDB deadline in Jan). 

Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship 
This scheme is for outstanding post-doctoral scientists wishing to build their own independent research career addressing an important biomedical question. The award covers the fellow’s salary and research costs (including technical assistance) for five years. Deadlines for preliminary applications typically in April, August and November. 

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship    
This cross-UK Research and Innovation scheme supports early career researchers with outstanding potential on their route to independence, providing an opportunity for them to establish new research teams within their institution. Funding available for up to seven years, on a 4(+3) basis. Deadline typically April/May (internal UCL deadline early March). 

MRC Career Development Award 
The scheme supports talented post-doctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences to develop their own research plans and establish their own, independent research team. The award includes the fellow’s salary and support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment for up to five years. Deadlines typically in March and August. 

BBSRC Discovery  
The scheme provides support for early career researchers (up to five years from PhD) wishing to undertake independent research and gain leadership skills. The three-year award covers the fellow’s salary as well as the costs of travel, training and research consumables. Deadline typically in May. 

BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship 
The scheme provides support for researchers with high academic and leadership potential wishing to establish their first independent research group. The award includes the fellow’s salary and a significant research support grant for five years. Deadline typically in May. 

European Research Council Starting Grants 
The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. The five-year award has a flexible budget that can be used to cover the fellow’s salary, PhD and postdoc posts, consumable, travel and equipment. Deadline typically in the summer. 

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship 
These fellowships are for early career researchers, with a research record but who have not yet held a full-time permanent academic post. The Trust will contribute 50% of each Fellow's total salary costs up to a maximum of £25,000 per year, for three years, and the balance is to be paid by the host institution. Deadline typically in February. 

Royal Society University Research Fellowship  
This scheme is for outstanding scientists in the UK who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. The award covers the fellow’s salary and a fixed contribution to research expenses for five years. Deadline typically in September. 

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship 
This scheme is equivalent to the URF, but specifically targeted at individuals who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as returning to work after absence, parenting, caring responsibilities or health issues. Deadline typically in the autumn. 

If you are interested in applying or have any other questions about the process, please email Chris Barnes to enquire.