Early stage careers in biomedical research

Encouraging & Supporting the Next Generation

"...foresee myself carrying out basic laboratory research alongside my clinical
practice in future"

"Without this funding, I could not have made the collaboration now so
vital to my research."

The Trustees have now refocussed the Trust's funding streams to ensure that it continues to support the careers of young people in biomedical research in Scotland. As a result, it now provides a series of 'stepping stones' to an established career in the biomedical sciences, from the earliest stage at undergraduate level through postgraduate study, to supporting those wishing to return to active research after a career break. The intention remains to make a positive difference to the research careers of those whom it supports, while also helping to strengthen Scotland's biomedical research base.

Types of Award Available

The Trust has three funding streams, as follows:

  • Up to 100 Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships are available, offering a 6-8-week period of hands-on research experience in a Scottish University, recognised Research Institution or company trading in medically-relevant research during the summer vacation.
  • Up to 15 fully-funded, 4-year PhD Studentships each year. These require close working between universities and companies trading in medically-relevant medical research and offering bespoke training on how to develop careers in biomedical science in an increasingly difficult and competitive market to complement universities' own doctoral training programmes. [See PhD FAQ for answers to our most frequently-asked questions about these awards.]
  • Up to three Medical Research Scotland Sponsored Daphne Jackson Fellowships. Unique and unlike any other academic fellowships, these awards are intended for those wishing to return to an area of biomedical research after a career break of two years or more. Fellowships are available for up to three years, half time and involve a challenging research project and an individually-tailored retraining programme. Awarded in conjunction with the Daphne Jackson Trust, applications for these Fellowships must be made direct to the Daphne Jackson Trust and NOT to Medical Research Scotland.

PLEASE NOTE: Research Project Grants are NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

Scotland-wide Support

We have always funded research in universities, recognised research institutions and NHS teaching hospitals throughout the country. The graph shows, by university, the Scotland-wide distribution of our research awards over the past 30 years.


Rigorous selection processes

Decisions on funding applications submitted to Medical Research Scotland are made following independent expert peer review and review by members of the Trust's Scientific Committee or PhD Panel (as applicable to the award) and then, following consideration and discussion in committee, by all the Trustees. The number of awards made at any time is at the discretion of the Trustees, in light of the outcome of peer review and committee recommendations and mindful of the available funds. [More information is available.]

The numbers of funding applications received and awards made during the past five financial years are shown in the table below.

Funding Application Success Rates
Financial year Applications Awards made* Success rate
2016-17 165 88 53%
2015-16 96 66 69%
2014-15 68 45 66%
2013-14 50 36 72%
2012-13 72 51 71%
2011-12 65 32 49%
2010-11 60 27 45%
2009-10 50 19 38%
2008-09 49 7 14%

*NOTE: In 2008-09, the only awards available were Project Grants.
In both 2009-10 & 2010-11, up to 20 Vacation Scholarships were also made available each year.
In 2011-12, up to 10 PhD Studentships and up to 20 Vacation Scholarships were available and the last of the Project Grants were awarded in August 2011.
In 2012-13, up to 10 PhD Studentships were available, and a generous, earmarked donation enabled the award of 45 Vacation Scholarships.
In 2013-14, up to 10 PhD Studentships and up to 50 Vacation Scholarships were available.
In 2014-15, up to 15 PhD Studentships and up to 50 Vacation Scholarships were available.
From 2015-16 up to 15 PhD Studentships and up to 100 Vacation Scholarships were available.