Genomics Fellowship Scheme

Genomics Research and Innovation Fellowship Scheme

Category:

This Health Education England (HEE) Genomics Education Programme (GEP) funded genomics research fellowship scheme is designed to support the 100,000 Genome Project and workforce transformation associated with mainstreaming genomics into the NHS. In partnership with Genomics England and NHS England, the Genomics Education Programme is funding a number of Research Secondments and Academic Fellowships across the NHS and the wider genomics community working in partnership with appropriate Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnerships (GECIPs).

Submission Deadline – 28th February 2017 (closing at 17:00 GMT)

Fellowship Details

The objectives of the scheme are to build the capacity and capability of the current NHS workforce allowing them to embrace and actively engage with genomics research and thereby delivering clinical innovation into the NHS.

The scheme provides supervised opportunities to engage and expose individuals to the clinical academic research environment through the NHS 100,000 Genome Project. Successful applicants will gain the practical skills to undertake a research project supported by an expert academic supervisor. It is intended that participants will apply their newly learned genomics and research skills within their employing organisation and become genomic champions.

The aims of the fellowship scheme are to:

  • Attract and retain outstanding individuals who will contribute to patient benefit within the NHS;
  • Develop research capabilities in genomics at all levels of the NHS in order to enhance and diffuse evidence based genomics practice;
  • Provide an opportunity to develop a network of clinical academics so that learning, best practice and innovation in genomics can be shared and disseminated, regionally, nationally and internationally;
  • Support the development of clinical skills as well as research skills.

Three fellowship opportunities are available each requiring the support of line managers, heads of departments and the host organisation (that is, higher education institution, industry or business organisation).

Applicants must be employees of the NHS or hold an NHS honorary contract to deliver clinical sessions or services to the NHS.

For further details please download the fellowship scheme documentation and a list of frequently asked questions.

You can also download a pdf version of the application form. It is important to note, however, that this is only a guide and all applications must be completed online.

Fellowship Opportunities

Research Secondments

These offer a range of full-time research opportunities for 6 – 12 months in order to conduct a substantial research project but will not lead to an academic award.

Applicants will need to demonstrate how their secondment activity will benefit the NHS in the longer term.

Doctoral Research Fellowships

These fellowships are open to anyone wishing to develop academic genomics research skills. Applicants must be employed by the NHS and will need to register with a recognised Higher Education Institution. The host organisation (university) must provide a research/academic supervisor. The Doctoral Research Fellowship offers 3 years full-time funding (5 or 6 years part-time) to undertake a PhD and is aimed at individuals of outstanding potential. It is anticipated that successful applicants would become independent research leaders in the health system within 6 to 10 years of completing the fellowship award.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

The Post-Doctoral Fellowships offers 2 years full time funding (or 3 or 4 years part-time) to individuals who are able to demonstrate their potential as researchers but do not, as yet, have sufficient experience to be fully independent. Applicants must evidence success in the form of outputs from doctoral and post-doctoral research, where applicable.

Following completion of a Research Fellowship or Secondment, the awardee is expected to be able to show evidence of:

  • Completion of the research proposed in the application, which should lie within the HEE GEP priorities;
  • Award of a PhD (for Doctoral Research Fellowship) or publication journal of a research project in a peer review journal
  • Increased research skills;
  • Increased clinical knowledge and skills where applicable;
  • Involvement in collaborative networking relationships;
  • Dissemination of research findings
  • Where applicable involvement with collecting standard and or additional data sets for example phenotypic data for the 100,000 Genome Project

Health Education England through periodic and final report monitoring will seek evidence of the above.

Timetable

  • Call for Applications – week of 1st December 2016
  • Submission Deadline – 28th February 2017 (closing at 17:00 GMT)
  • Interviews – week commencing 27th March 2017
  • Notification of outcome by 7th April 2017

Funding Rules

General eligibility – applicants should have:

  • relevant academic qualifications: that is a good honors degree in a relevant area, a PhD, a medical degree or eligibility and experience at a level appropriate for registering for a higher degree or secondment;
  • evidence of NHS employment or an NHS honorary contract and professional registration;
  • the right to study and work in the United Kingdom (if applicable);
  • demonstrable skills in written and spoken English (if applicable).

Applicants must:

  • Be employees of the NHS or hold an NHS honorary contract to deliver sessions and or services to the NHS.
  • Be able to provide details of their employment history and meet professional health requirements including an existing DBS checks (if appropriate).
  • Have clear potential for benefiting patients and the public and can involve:
    • Patients;
    • Samples or data from patients;
    • Members of the public/carers;
    • Health technology assessment;
    • Health services research and;
    • Research into clinical education and training.

We would encourage applications where the research focuses on one of HEE’s Genomic Education Programme priority areas, which includes:

  • All GeCIP domain areas;
  • Annotation and Validation;
  • Multi-omics;
  • Cell Free Circulating Tumor DNA analysis;
  • Psychosocial impact of genomic testing;
  • Pedagogic research pertaining to the 100,000 genomes project;
  • Health Economics.

Application Process

Applicants will be required to submit their application online.

Please discuss proposed research projects as well as your application for HEE GEP funding with your line manager and other relevant individuals.

Supporting Documentation Requirements

  • A Personal Statement demonstrating how your experience to date prepares you to undertake Doctoral / Post-Doctoral / Secondment research project, provide details of the University you wish to study at, and state which fellowship you wish to apply for. This statement is useful to explain the rationale of your application (maximum 1000 words).
  • A research proposal* (maximum 4000 words) which explicitly addresses the work you would carry out, detailing how the research will add value to the NHS and patient care.
    Please ensure that you clearly outline how your objectives or research questions will be addressed.
  • Names and contact details of proposed supervisors should also be included.
  • A current CV (3 pages maximum) to include any relevant publications.
  • 2 full references (1 academic/1 clinical) – with full contact details (references can be sent separately.
  • A statement of support from your employer, including details of any additional funding provided by your employer or other organisation to support the research.
  • Evidence from your chosen HEI that they have agreed to host your PhD/ Post-Doctoral / Secondment (if applicable) if you are awarded a fellowship. To include: name, title, brief outline of their research area, contact details.
  • Finance – detailed costings approved by an appropriate finance manager or equivalent. Figures to include salary and HEI fees. A flat fee will be given for consumables such as travel costs and resources. Applicants should justify each cost listed. Additional funds will not be available at a later date.
  • Copies of your degree certificates and transcripts, and professional registration details (sent as PDFs).
  • Evidence of English Language proficiency (IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any element, or equivalent) if your first language is not English.

*Research proposals should address:

  • why you wish to undertake this research study;
  • outline what you plan to do for this research;
  • how you will go about your research study;
  • when you plan to start and the proposed end;
  • what you envisage will be the proposed impact of your research.

Research Ethics Committee (REC) approval

All studies involving patients, patient tissue or patient information must obtain the necessary research ethics committee approval before any research is undertaken.

Application Assessment

Awards will be made following open competition.

  • Following the submission deadline, the HEE GEP Programme team will check applications for completeness and eligibility and will distribute eligible applications to members of an established Assessment Panel, which will include Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GECIP) experts
  • The panel will assess all eligible applications (using the Assessment Criteria below). Applications will be sent for external peer review if deemed necessary.
  • Feedback will be sent to unsuccessful interview applicants after the funding decisions have been made.

The Panel will use the following criteria to assess applicants

  1. The quality and relevance of the applicant’s recent and overall experience;
  2. The quality and relevance of the applicant’s research experience and outputs;
  3. The evidenced commitment and potential of the applicant to develop as a research academic;
  4. The quality of the proposed research, its aims, its relevance to GMC / GeCIP, its suitability as a research project, and its potential to benefit patients and or clinical practice;
  5. The extent to which the Fellowship will support the development of the applicant’s skills as a clinician / non-clinician as well as an academic;
  6. The quality, scope and relevance of the review of existing evidence;
  7. The appropriateness and level of patient and public involvement;
  8. Detailed costings;
  9. The appropriateness of the proposed supervision;
  10. The feasibility and appropriateness of the management and support arrangements proposed by the HEI;
  11. The quality of the proposed training and development programme the applicant will undertake;

In addition to assessing the above, the panel will also take the appropriateness and value for money of the funds requested into consideration.

Applicants are strongly recommended to be mindful of these assessment criteria, and refer to them when developing their application.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am applying for a research fellowship to do a PhD can I do it at any university?

Yes, you can. Your host university will need to agree to host you for the duration of your award, and you should be able to demonstrate why it is the best place for you to undertake the fellowship.

Is funding restricted to laboratory research?

No, funding is available for a wide variety of research projects, but should cover one of the GEP priority areas listed in the guidance

Is there an upper limit for funding?

The level of funding you will be eligible for will depend on your research proposal.

I would be carrying out my project in a different clinical department from the one I am currently employed in, within the same Trust. Who should act as Head of Department (HoD) signatory – the current head or the one I would be working with during the Fellowship?

The Head of Department who you will be working with as well as approval from your current HoD, that they are happy for you to be released from your substantive role.

I am planning to collaborate with researchers from another university who have expertise in a particular part of the project. Should I list them as a collaborator or supervisor?

Either, or both, is fine.

If other researchers are acting as supervisors, I will need to cost for their time so they can claim the costs back – is there any barrier to doing so?

The Fellowship Scheme does not fund supervisor or collaborator time.

What are you looking for me to demonstrate in the section on future plans?

It is important to demonstrate to the panel that you have considered your career trajectory after the Fellowship, and the way in which the Fellowship award will support you in achieving your future goals.

I am applying for a Post–Doctoral Fellowship. How much time abroad can be included in application?

We will fund a maximum of one overseas visit, which will need to be justified within the context of your research.

I am based in a university. Can I include in my research support team a lead clinician whom I am working with in one of the Trusts? They hold an honorary contract with my university.

Yes, provided they are not being included in a mentor (research support) or supervisory capacity, as the Fellowship does not fund this time.

I am a non-clinical applicant. Will my salary be funded in addition to my research?

Yes. The Fellowship Scheme provides funding for both your research project and your salary. This applies whether you are a clinical or non-clinical applicant.

Are applicants for the Doctoral Fellowship expected to have publications?

Publications are not essential, but they will be looked upon favourably as they are a way of demonstrating your potential at this level.

My substantive post is with the NHS; however, my primary supervisor is based at the university where I will be completing the PhD. Can I keep my NHS contract and receive 100% of funding costs?

The contract for the award will be with your host employer. Your host can be NHS or university but you will need to make it clear why it is the best place for you to undertake your fellowship.

Is it possible to have a supervisor / mentor that isn’t in the host institution?

Yes, the important thing is that you have chosen the right supervisor(s) and mentor(s) for you. The panel will look to see how they will support you, especially if they are based at a different institution or NHS Trust to you as the fellow.

If applying for a Post- Doctoral Fellowship, is it possible to have European mentors / supervisors?

Yes, providing you can make it clear how the support arrangements will work e.g. use of Skype for regular meetings.

How much notice will I have prior to interview?

We will aim to inform you at least two weeks prior to the interview date.

How long will the interview last?

Interviews are likely to last approximately one hour, with time for a presentation built in.

What is the maximum consumable allowance?

There is no maximum limit. However, any costs that are not justified or are deemed unrealistic will be removed during the contracting stage.

Why might you turn down an application?

There are a wide range of reasons as to why an application may not reach the interview stage or may be rejected for funding. Unsuccessful interviewed applicants will be given individual feedback based on the panel’s comments. Please read carefully the Fellowship Scheme guidelines particularly the Assessment Criteria.

Would an MSc by Research suffice as evidence of research interest?

If you are applying for a Doctoral Research Fellowship, an MSc is one way to demonstrate evidence of an interest in research. Other ways include involvement in research projects, contributions to publications, and professional work in a research capacity such as a research assistant or research nurse.

Is it appropriate to have multiple supervisors (for example three or four) if they can bring different expertise to the project?

Yes. It is important that you explain in your application what each supervisor will bring to your application and your development as a researcher.

Will you consider applications for study at universities that have not previously hosted Fellowship students?

Yes.  It is important that the supervisor(s) at your chosen institution has experience of supervising PhD students and that they are the right supervisor for you.

Can I include costs for a mentor to visit my host institution from overseas?

No. Funding does not include costs for mentors, supervisors or collaborators – and this includes travel costs.

Is there a limit to the number of Fellowship applications you will support?

Only one application per individual will be considered.

Do we have to have the methodology ready whilst applying or could it be modified along the way?

Yes, you are required to outline your proposed methodology when completing your application. It is important that you explain this in the application so that the panel members can understand your proposed research. If you are invited to interview, you will be required to know your project and methodology is often an aspect that the panel will ask questions about. However, methodologies can be refined or adapted throughout the project.

If I have undertaken pilot work in preparation for my application, where is it best to include this?

This should be included in the research plan section where you are expected to detail the background on previous work in the area.

The application form asks for a breakdown of conference-related costs but these are not available yet. What should I do?

Where arrangements cannot be confirmed, please estimate the costs for travel, subsistence and conference attendance.

Do you know whether a 2-year part-time post doc (E.g. 3 or 4 days a week) would be a possibility or would it have to be 3 years?

The key is to ensure your plans is clearly explained in your application.

Can I apply for the Fellowship next year instead?

At this stage we are unable to confirm that there will be opportunities next year. Therefore, you are advised to apply now if interested.

I am interested in the Doctoral Research Fellowships which provide funding for a PhD. Is it possible to fund a Doctor of Clinical Science (DClinSci) research degree using this award?

No. The DClinSci has a very small research component. We will only fund PhDs.

Regarding secondments, could this be in my current workplace (partly or entirely) but working on a differently oriented project?

Yes, but you would need to:

  1. Clearly demonstrate that this secondment would not be an extension of any existing work
  2. Outline why this research project could not be conducted elsewhere
Does a secondment need to be hosted by a university?

No. A secondment could be hosted by any organisation. The key is to provide full details of your chosen organisation and your rationale for choosing them.

Can PhD holders apply for a secondment?

Yes.

Does funding go to the university or is it via a hospital?

The University must provide a full breakdown of the fees they would charge for each academic year of study, but funds will be held by your employer.

Who should I go to for my costings to be approved?

You will require approval from your employer and university. Your employers will need to confirm your salary. The university in question will need to confirm fees and any other additional costs.

Can the statement of support be from my line manager or should it come from the senior director?

Your line manager will suffice, providing they have sought appropriate authority within your employing organisation.

How will my NHS employment be affected if I am successful with my application (continuous employment, pension, salary progression)?

Your NHS employment should not be affected.