This call is now closed.

What is a fellowship?

David Sainsbury fellowships support exceptional, 3Rs-minded, early-career scientists (with up to five year’s postdoctoral experience) with the transition to an independent career. Applications from any area of medical, biological or veterinary research are within remit; those that integrate a range of disciplines or include an industrial partner are particularly encouraged.

This competition runs annually with awards of £65k per annum for three years available.

Applicants should read the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook, which contains more detailed information about the application process.

Key dates | Who can apply | How to apply | Assessment procedure | Related documents

Key dates

18 March 2015 Application form available on Je-S
15 May 2015, 4pm Deadline for submitting informal outline and CV to NC3Rs Office
17 June 2015, 4pm Full application deadline on Je-S
November 2015 Fellowship Assessment Panel Shortlisting meeting
Mid-November 2015 Applicants informed of outcome
2 December 2015* Candidate interviews
Mid-December 2015 Shortlisted applicants informed of outcome
Any time after award letter issued Expected Fellowship start date
Within 12 months of award Last date for commencing projects

*All applicants should ensure that they are available for interview on this date prior to submitting an application.

Please sign up to the NC3Rs Newsletter for updates on funding schemes.

Back to top

Who can apply?

Establishment eligibility

Individual eligibility

Any UK research establishment including:

  • UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Independent Research Organisations (IROs)
  • Research Council (RC) Institutes

Industrial organisations may act as collaborators but are not eligible to be primary host Research Organisations.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to find a host Research Organisation that will act as their employer.

  • Applicants should be early career researchers with a maximum of five years postdoctoral experience at the time of application.
  • Final year PhD students may apply, but must be awarded their PhD before the fellowship commences.
  • There are no residency requirements and international applicants are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants should have a strong track record relative to their career stage, as evidenced by publication history and support from Sponsors and Head of Department.
  • Applicants must identify a Sponsor at the host Research Organisation. If time will be spent outside the host Research Organisation, a Sponsor must be identified at the collaborating institute.

Additional considerations

Applicants are not eligible to apply if they already hold a permanent contract of employment at the host institution.

International applicants are eligible, however, the host Research Organisation must ensure that all necessary work permits are in place prior to the fellowship starting.

Applicants with more than five years postdoctoral experience but have had a career break due to personal reasons or due to work outside of active research, should contact fellowships@nc3rs.org.uk to check their eligibility.


The NC3Rs does not allow resubmission of previously unsuccessful proposals, unless explicitly invited by the Panel. Proposals previously declined by the NC3Rs will not be considered by another Research Council or funder within 12 months (from the date of submission to the original Research Council) unless substantially revised. More information can be found in the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook.

Back to top

How to apply

Applicants are advised to read and refer to the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook, which contains more detailed information on submitting both an outline and full application.

Outline stage

Before submitting a full application applicants are required to complete an outline of the research proposal.

A CV is also required and should include:

  • Date of award of PhD (date on degree certificate)
  • Employment history
  • Full list of publications (including those submitted or in press)

Please email completed outlines and CVs to fellowships@nc3rs.org.uk

Submitting a full application

We use the Research Councils' joint electronic submission system (Je-S) and applications are processed by the RCUK Shared Business Services. Completed proposals should be submitted through Je-S.

If you experience difficulties using Je-S or have questions regarding its use, contact the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk      Phone: +44 (0) 1793 44 4164

Back to top

Assessment procedure

Peer review and shortlisting

Applications are evaluated by international peer review and then assessed by the David Sainsbury Fellowship Assessment Panel which shortlists applicants for interview.

Applicants are notified of the shortlisting meeting outcomes three weeks before the interview date and referees' comments are provided to unsuccessful applicants at this stage.

Interview process

Interviews are conducted by the Panel. The Chair and two nominated Panel members lead the interview; with other members contributing as appropriate.

The following criteria are taken into consideration when making funding decisions:

  • Competitiveness and potential of applicant
  • Potential impact on the 3Rs
  • Quality of the proposed project
  • Expertise and track record of sponsors
  • Level of support from the Head of Department
  • The research environment

Short-listed applicants receive referees' comments along with their decision letter after the Interview Panel meeting.

In order to maintain transparency and integrity of the peer review process we have adopted the MRC policy on peer review.

Back to top

Related documents

Application process

Assessment criteria

NC3Rs blogs

Back to top