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Annual Review 2011 - Wellcome Trust

Annual Review 2011 - Wellcome Trust

Supporting outstanding

Supporting outstanding researchersInvestigator Awards: The Wellcome Trust’s fiveresearch challenges address complex, globallyimportant questions that can be solved only overthe long term and by harnessing the ingenuity,knowledge and vision of outstanding scientists.This year, we moved towards moreexpansive, longer-term funding anda hands-off approach that will giveworld-class researchers the freedomthey need to drive advances intheir field.Our new funding scheme – WellcomeTrust Investigator Awards – enablesscientists to tackle major researchproblems relating to our challenges,free from the cycle of focusing onsecuring grants. These awards replaceour project and programme grantschemes and extend our successfulfellowships funding model toscientists with an excellent trackrecord who are in established,salaried academic posts.In June 2011, 27 outstandingresearchers received the inauguralWellcome Trust Investigator Awardsin biomedical science. The durationand resources associated with eachAward are tailored to meet the needsof the researchers and their specificinvestigations, large or small. Awardswere made at two levels – to sevenNew Investigators and 20 SeniorInvestigators – according to howexperienced each is.Most of them are based in the UK(including institutions in London,Liverpool, Edinburgh andManchester) and one is in Brazil. Eachreceived between £1 million and £3mfor up to seven years to supportambitious projects that couldtransform our understanding of themechanisms of health and disease.Their research projects include:exploring how malaria-infected redblood cells adhere to blood vesselwalls; investigating interactionsbetween the immune system andintestinal bacteria; developing waysto prompt stem cells to stimulatebone and heart tissue regenerationwithin the body; and finding effectiveways to get people more physicallyactive.The potential benefits of this modelof funding are not restricted toscience. The pace of progress ofbiomedical research makes it evermore vital that we examine its social,political and historical contexts andimplications. We need to understandits enormous potential to reach farinto aspects of our lives beyond healthand medicine.We have therefore extended ourInvestigator Awards to world-classscholars asking the most importantquestions at the interface of science,medicine and the humanities. Thescheme covers two categories –Medical History and Humanities, andEthics and Society – with the Awardsoffering support of up to £200 000per year for up to seven years toscholars in established academicposts. Like the Awards inbiomedicine, they will be made at twolevels: New or Senior Investigator.Investigator Awards build on ourstrategic goal of supporting thebrightest researchers with the bestideas. The funding will allow eachInvestigator to pursue a compellinglong-term vision for his or herresearch.Professor Sara Rankin of Imperial College London, oneof the first cadre of Wellcome Trust Senior Investigators.Wellcome ImagesAnnual Review 2011 | 9

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