UCL Division of Biosciences


Independent Fellowships


Is an independent fellowship right for me? 

Independent fellowships are suitable for researchers who are ready to start up their own independent research programme. Typically, successful fellows have some postdoctoral experience, several significant lead-author papers and a clear idea of their research programme.

UCL has a policy to provide successful senior fellowship holders with permanent positions.

two women in a lab taking samples

How GEE supports candidates

two women at a bench in a lab

We are committed to supporting potential independent fellows from the start. We will make every effort to assist you in the early stages of your funding application, providing feedback in developing your project, refining your application and preparing for your interview.

GEE staff include current fellows and many established researchers who started their careers on fellowships, all of whom will be able to share their experience in the development of applications.

The career development of our GEE fellows is supported via our mentorship programme and networking opportunities. Senior fellows have full academic status.

Independent Fellowship Schemes

The schemes listed on this page provide support for independent research. Applications are subject to departmental vetting. Before starting an application (and well ahead of the deadline), please get in touch with the GEE fellowship contacts David Murrell and Hernan Burbano.

  • Royal Society University Research Fellowship The URF 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.
  • NERC Independent Research Fellowships The IRF is designed to develop scientific leadership among the most promising early-career environmental scientists. The remit ranges from atmospheric and earth sciences to ecology to evolutionary genetics. The award covers five years of salary and research expenses.
  • 1851 Research Fellowships are intended to give early career scientists or engineers of exceptional promise the opportunity to conduct a research project of their own instigation; an ultimate objective is to contribute to the knowledge base required for a healthy and innovative national culture. Around eight awards are made each year.
  • MRC Non-Clinical Career Development Award The scheme supports talented post-doctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences to lead 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.
  • 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.
  • Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship These awards are equivalent to the University Research Fellowships, but specifically targeted at individuals who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues.
  • BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships [This scheme is currently suspended.] The BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship 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.
  • Wellcome Career Development
    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.

Application process

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We’d like to support all potential senior fellows, but because our policy is to provide successful senior fellowship holders with permanent positions, there is a pre-application selection step run within the Department. For this reason, we recommend you get in touch with us well in advance (minimum of three months) of the relevant application deadlines.

Take a look at our

 to learn more about the process.

As the first point of contact, email Hernan Burbano or David Murrell.

Current GEE Senior Fellows

Fellowship Publications

View Publications

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