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Matthew Wood: Internal Funding Opportunities

Introduction

I’m Matthew Wood, I’m Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, and I’m also the Deputy Head of the Medical Sciences Division.

How do internal funding opportunities support the research of the Medical Sciences Division?

Medical Sciences Division has a broad research strategy, and that involves supporting junior investigators, supporting inter-disciplinary research, supporting translational research, and providing seed funding for new projects and equipment. And we are very fortunate to have a wide range of internal funds to deploy to support that strategy. So these range from Medical Research Council Funds, Wellcome Trust Funds, John Fell Fund, Medical Research Fund, a wide range of funds and we can deploy those to support our strategy, to support researchers in our Division at all sorts of different levels.

What are you looking for when you receive an application for internal funds?

We’re looking for applications that are not just high-quality, that almost goes without saying that we want good quality applications, but we want applications that really match onto the purposes for individual funds, so it’s crucial for applicants to really understand the fund to which they’re applying and the criteria by which we will assess their application, so they can match, as closely as possible, their application to what we’re looking for.

What makes a good translational research project for Medical Sciences Division internal funds to support?

A really good translational research project is one where someone has an inventive new idea that can have an impact on patients, whether it’s a new treatment, or a new diagnostic, or a new device, and what we want to understand is why it’s a good idea; what is needed to get it to the next stage when the applicant can apply for a large amount of external funding to really develop the treatment or device, and how the small amount of funding (because typically the funds we would have would be of the order of fifty to one hundred thousand pounds that we can deploy), what that level of funding will enable in terms of getting a good idea to the next stage where it is then a fantastic candidate for external funding support, so that’s really what we want to see.

How do Medical Sciences Division internal funds support public engagement projects?

Very excitingly in recent years we have been able, with funding from the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, to support a wide range of projects, but including public engagement. And this is important not just for the Wellcome Trust, they want their research to be communicated to the public, but for us in the Medical Science’s Division. It’s critical that we can show the general public, the external world, the quality of the research we are doing, and how it can have an impact on patients, and the general public, and so we’ve been able to support some incredibly innovative public engagement projects, which not just communicate science in a very new and inventive way, but do so, for example, in our galleries, and in our museums, so it’s not just about the way of communication, but it’s how the science is communicated within a setting that is a very exciting place to talk to the public about science, and we’ve been able to support several of those projects, and we’re very excited about that.

Where should researchers look for more information about internal funding opportunities?

So much of this information is on our website, they can talk to Divisional Officers, read the website, but crucially we ask them to come and talk to us, and even come and talk to me, I’m always available to discuss applications, to discuss exactly which fund is best suited to the project, and to discuss how we would assess the application, and provide advice as to how the applicant can write the best quality application that’s likely to be successful.