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David Phillips Fellowships

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Call status: Closed
Previous call: 13 February 2017 - 11 May 2017

Summary

The David Phillips Fellowship (DPF) will provide support for researchers wishing to establish their first independent research group. The DPF will invest in scientists who have shown high potential, can demonstrate that they are on an upward trajectory with clear evidence of strong scientific outputs and leadership qualities, and are aiming to establish their own fully independent programme of research. As such the DPF represents part of our commitment to the supply of highly skilled professional research leaders to the UK.

Nature of award

Awards are for five years, and include personal salary and a significant research support grant to enable fellows to establish their own independent research group. It is expected that up to five fellowships will be awarded, each at a value of up to £1M (80% fEC). Please note: BBSRC will provide funds of up to £1M (80% of the full economic cost). The total costs (100% full economic cost) requested may be up to £1.25M.

In addition to this investment, it is also expected that a substantial demonstration of support for the fellow be made by the host Research Organisation (e.g. in terms of access to facilities and equipment, training, research costs etc.). Applications are welcome from candidates seeking flexible working arrangements (e.g. part-time); see the Fellowships handbook for further information (see downloads section).

Value for money

Applicants and host organisations should note that value for money is an essential criterion against which fellowship applications will be assessed, alongside excellence and other key criteria. For this competition the reviewers and Research Committee E will be looking for written evidence that the host organisation will contribute significant support, either financially or in-kind support if an award is made. Proposals that do not provide clear evidence that the research programme is highly competitive in terms of value for money, and in providing additional funding commitments, are unlikely to be successful.

Applicants must ensure that the Partnership Details section of the Je-S proforma contains details of all institutional support that will be made available if the applicant is successful in obtaining a BBSRC award. In addition, the justification of resources attachment must clearly show why the resources requested are good value for money and why it is in BBSRC's interests to provide investment. Also letters of support from all parties contributing financial or other support should be uploaded to the proposal under the Letters of Support attachment giving full and accurate details of the commitments being made.

Research areas

Proposals can be submitted in any area of science within our remit. We particularly encourage applications that are aligned with our overarching strategic priorities (see related links including our strategic priorities).

Background

Aimed at researchers who want to establish their first independent research group undertaking a programme of excellent research. Applicants will be able to demonstrate great potential and have a scientific career showing a clear upward trajectory.

Eligibility

  • Applicants should hold a PhD, but not hold, or have held, an academic position at Lecturer level (or the equivalent in institutions other than universities). Please note that if applicants have previously applied for BBSRC grant funding as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator (therefore confirming that they hold a lecturer level or equivalent post) they are not eligible to apply for a fellowship
  • It is expected that applicants will have at least three years of active postdoctoral research experience prior to February 2017
  • Please note that David Phillips Fellowship eligibility was previously limited to those with less than 10 years of active research experience; this limit has been removed in response to our 2015 "Review of BBSRC strategy for investing in fellowships"

Note: David Phillips Fellowship applicants are not eligible to apply to any additional 2017 BBSRC fellowship competitions.

Non-European economic area applicants

  • All successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route. In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for people who are internationally recognized as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK
  • The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa. RCUK is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Exceptional Talent visa. Please contact fellowtier1info@rcuk.ac.uk for further details

Assessment criteria

The fellowships are designed to provide career enhancement to support outstanding scientists in the initial stages of their career, and there is therefore a strong emphasis on the scientific potential of the candidates. In making these awards, BBSRC will be seeking to identify scientists who can be expected in the future to be among the leaders of their generation of bio-scientists, and applicants should demonstrate how a BBSRC David Phillips fellowship will be of benefit to them.

As such, the excellence of the proposed research project, the research environment in which the fellowships will be undertaken, and the career trajectory, potential, and track record of the applicant will all be considered by Research Committee E. The following will therefore be looked at:

Project:

  • Scientific quality and feasibility of the proposed research project
  • Timeliness of the research project and how it will advance the field

Person:

  • Track record
  • Career trajectory
  • Evidence of independence and leadership
  • How the applicant will use the fellowship to establish themselves as a research leader

Research Environment:

  • The scientific environment of the host department and institute
  • Evidence of career and professional development support (e.g. access to mentoring programmes, training events, clear plan for tenure track etc.)
  • Evidence of research support (e.g. additional financial support or research staff, access to core facilities etc.)

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

  1. Log in to the Je-S (Joint electronic submission) system
  2. Select Council: BBSRC
  3. Select Document Type: Fellowship Proposal
  4. Select Scheme: Fellowship
  5. Select Call/Type/Mode: David Phillips Fellowships – 11 May 2017
  6. Click Create Document

Proposals will require the following mandatory attachments (see also DP Je-S help text in application downloads below):

  • CV. You should complete the standard CV template (see application downloads below). We do not accept standalone CVs
  • Case for support and track record
  • Diagrammatic workplan
  • Data management plan
  • List of publications
  • Head of department statement
  • Justification of resources
  • Pathways to impact plan

Fellowships are awarded under full economic costing (fEC).

You should submit costed research support grant proposals in line with the grants guide.

Detailed guidance on how to complete proposal forms and proposal attachments can be found in the DP Je-S help text (see application downloads below) and in the Fellowships Handbook (see downloads section). Note: Please do not use the fellowship help text in the Je-S system.

We do not accept late proposals.

Important: applicants should ensure proposals are submitted to their host institution's Je-S submitter/approval pool well in advance (a minimum of 5 working days) of the published deadline. This enables institution checks to be carried out before final submission to BBSRC.

Please also refer to the full RCUK terms and conditions, our grants guide and fellowship handbook.

Application downloads (for reference only)

Fellowships CV template (DOC 126KB)

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Fellowships CV template (ODT 18KB)

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Frequently asked questions (PDF 87KB)

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David Phillips Fellowships Je-S help text (PDF 717KB)

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Peer review

Application deadline 11 May 2017, 4pm
Reviewing stage June – September 2017
Fellowship shortlisting for interviews 4/5 October 2017
Fellowship interviews 4/5 December 2017
Fellowship award notification January 2018

Case study: Lynda Harris, David Phillips Fellow at The University of Manchester

How does BBSRC fund your work?

I'm supported by a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship, which funds me to identify specific homing peptides that bind to the surface of the placenta. I did the initial work screening for the peptides, and both my PhD students are taking that work further by building different carriers and testing different drugs in animal models.

What research do you carry out under your fellowship?

Dr Harris in her lab in the US.
Dr Lynda Harris

The idea is to synthesize liposomes, which are like small bubbles that can be modified to display the placental-homing peptides on their surface. This creates a little drug carrier and when you introduce it intravenously it binds only to the placenta, and doesn't accumulate in any other organs so you don't get off-target side effects from the drugs you are administering.

It's an idea developed originally for delivering chemotherapy to tumours. Because cancer drugs are toxic and you don't want them accumulating around the body, this method of targeting reduces the side effects as well as the amount of drug you need.

Why target the placenta?

A poorly functioning placenta is the cause of many pregnancy problems, so by targeting the placenta we are treating the problem rather than treating the symptoms. You can either give drugs that increase blood flow into the uterus and placenta, to supply more nutrients and oxygen to the tissue, or you can give drugs that encourage placental growth.

We know from evidence from a lot of animal studies – mice, rats and sheep – that either increasing placental size or function or increasing blood flow improves outcomes for the baby. And this can relieve maternal symptoms too.

What inspired you to look at this field?

I started with in interest in human biology and did a degree in pathobiology, which is basically biomedical science, then did a PhD in vascular biology. And then I accepted a post-doc up in Manchester looking at how the placenta interacts with blood vessels in the uterus – that got me interested in the placenta.

Then it became evident there was no safe way of delivering drugs to pregnant women. That seemed to be a big gap. When I found out that it was possible to target delivery of drugs to tumours, I thought that this technology would work well for the placenta, because you can consider placenta as a big tumour. That's when I applied for the David Phillips Fellowship to do the screening for novel peptides that bind to the placenta.

When did you start DP Fellowship?

I started that in October 2010 and spent first year in big cancer lab in the US, working with Professor Erkki Ruoslahti at the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, California. It was there that I did the screening for placental peptides and learnt their technology.

What was working in the US like?

The US was a great experience – it was a big lab with lots of funding, the average age was mid-30s so quite a mature environment with people with specialised knowledge who were really excited about science.


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