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The Oxford-Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) will support strategically important activity across the University of Oxford in biomedical and clinical sciences, public health, social sciences and the medical humanities

The ISSF is a block grant provided to the University from Wellcome. The ISSF Committee receives applications for funding from any department in the University. Research projects must fall within the Wellcome remit, as well as the strategic remit of biomedical research at Oxford. The ISSF Committee especially welcomes cross-divisional bids. The University of Oxford and Wellcome are committed to equality and diversity and the ISSF Committee encourages applications so that the ISSF supports the full range of the diversity of our research staff. 

The Oxford-Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) will support strategically important activity across the University of Oxford in biomedical and clinical sciences, public health, social sciences and the medical humanities. The ISSF is open to all researchers across the University of Oxford working in these areas. £1 million per year has been awarded to the University of Oxford by Wellcome for a five-year period (2016-2021). 

Funding will be allocated across the following funding streams. Applications are invited to the Individual Career Support scheme and Interdepartmental Strategic Initiatives scheme. 


Main and small awards are available for early career researchers, mid-career researchers and discipline hopping to pump prime activity and facilitate successful applications to external funding schemes. 

More details and how to apply ...


Support for strategically important equipment, research assets or staff within shared facilities or support to facilitate the establishment of cross-cutting themes.

More details and how to apply ...


Support for early stage translational projects in order to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development projects via the Medical and Life Sciences Translational Fund.

More details and how to apply ...


The ISSF is contributing toward supporting diversity at the University of Oxford. This includes supporting the institutional bids for Athena SWAN Silver and the Race Charter Mark, and the Returning Carers’ Fund small grants scheme.

More details and how to apply to the Returning Carers’ Fund ...


The ISSF is used to support a culture of Public Engagement with Research (PER) across the University by building capacity (for example through training), raising the profile of PER and supporting reward and recognition (for example through the Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards). 

Unfortunately this funding stream is not able to support individual PER activities. 

The Individual Career Support and Interdepartmental Strategic Initiatives schemes are now open to applications for small (up to £10K) and main awards. The deadline will be 12 noon on Wednesday 1 May. For full details of deadlines, please consult the individual schemes. 


For any general enquiries related to the fund or its management please email

Humanities Division

Ms Bianca Blum

Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences Division 

Mr Martin Edmunds 

Medical Sciences Division

MSD Research Funding Team

Social Sciences Division

Dr Sharron Pleydell-Pearce

ISSF Committee

  • Professor Matthew Freeman (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology; Wellcome Trust ISSF Lead; Chair)
  • Professor Keith Channon (Deputy Head of Division (Research), MSD)
  • Professor Sue Dopson (Said Business School)
  • Professor Susie Dunachie (Nuffield Department of Medicine)
  • Professor Joshua Hordern (Faculty of  Theology and Religion)
  • Professor Heidi Johansen-Berg (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences)
  • Professor Martin Maiden (Zoology)

MSD ISSF Review Pool Volunteer Form

Please complete the Review Pool Volunteer form if you are interested in joining our pool of reviewers for ISSF. Members of the pool will receive further information and training. Members will not be asked to review more than three applications per year.


establishing the africa oxford initiative 

Professor Kevin Marsh (Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine) successfully applied to the Wellcome ISSF for a grant to establish the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx), a platform to encourage collaboration between the University of Oxford and African institutions. Find out more. 


Developing world-class human neurophysiological resources at Oxford

Professor Charlie Stagg (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences) discusses how Wellcome ISSF and John Fell Funding allowed her group to establish world-leading neurophysiological resources at Oxford. Find out more. 


What type of research and activities will the ISSF support?

The ISSF is open to all academic members of staff across the whole University and will support proposals in Wellcome research areas that fit within the remit of the ISSF and meet the strategic priorities of the Oxford Wellcome ISSF.


DPhil students are not eligible to apply. Postdoctoral Researchers and Clinical Research Fellows are only eligible to apply when a clear case is made for how an ISSF award will establish their independent career.

What is the expected duration of ISSF projects?

Both short and long proposals are welcomed, the length of the project should be appropriate for the proposed plan of work. 

Can a proposal have applicants from more than one division?

Yes, the ISSF Committee especially welcomes cross-divisional bids.

What value of projects will be supported?

Both small and large projects are welcomed. The costs of the project should be appropriate for the proposed plan of work. 

Can Match be in-kind?

Yes, match can be either cash or in-kind.

Can I apply for match funding from another University fund or from external sources?

Yes, match funding can come from external sources, departmental funds, or can be obtained through partial or full application to central University funds. This match funding must be established prior to submission of a full application.

If the match funding is coming from an external source, this funding must have been awarded specifically for the new project being proposed and not for an existing project. Please note that funding from existing or new Wellcome grants cannot be used as match funding for the ISSF.

Are ISSF grants eligible for Charity QR funding?

No, ISSF grants do not generate any charity QR funding.

Should i submit an X5 costing?

No. Your department administrator should use X5 to generate a costing and these figures should be used in the application form but an X5 Admin Output does not need to be appended to the application.