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Applicants must normally be employed by the University, hold a contract extending to at least the end date of their proposed project (or an underwrite from their department), and fit into at least one of the categories described above. 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.

Wellcome ISSF Small Award applications from applicants in the Medical Sciences Division are reviewed by the same panel as MSIF Pump Priming Awards. If an applicant applied to both streams for the same deadline, only one of the awards would be made. Small award applicants from MSD should only apply for an MSIF Pump Priming Award.