British Heart Foundation

Dr Shannon Amoils
Senior Research Advisor
British Heart Foundation
British Heart Foundation
• An introduction to the British Heart Foundation
• Overview of our current research funding
• Personal Awards for basic scientists
• How we award
• What makes a successful fellowship application
British Heart Foundation
• Founded in 1961
• Charitable organisation – all our income comes from public
• Single largest funder of cardiovascular research in the UK
• We spend £80-£100m on cardiovascular research every year
• Aim is to fund pioneering research into the causes,
prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease
• Fund basic and clinical research focusing on the heart and
circulatory system
Current funding - overview
Research portfolio
Laboratory science
Clinical trials
clinical studies
Current funding - overview
5y Programme Grants
£80-100 million per yr
3y Project Grants
Infrastructure and
Current funding - overview
• Funding is response mode – with the exception of a few calls
for applications for substantial funding on a specific theme
– Research Excellence Awards
• 6 centres awarded 2013
• emphasis on training and multidisciplinary research
– Centres of Regenerative Medicine
• 3 centres awarded 2013
• Mending Broken Hearts Appeal
• programme of investment in cardiovascular regenerative medicine
Current funding - overview
• Spending controlled by 3 committees, each meeting 4x per yr:
– Project Grants Committee (22 members)
– Fellowships Committee (7 members)
– Chairs & Programme Grants Committee (11 members)
Personal awards – non-clinical
PhD studentship (3 or 4y)
Advanced Training Award (2-3y)
Immediate Postdoctoral Fellowship
Postdoctoral RA on project grant (1-2 x 3y)
Named Research Associate,
Co-applicant, Principal Investigator
Career Re-entry Fellowship (3-4y)
Intermediate Basic Science Fellowship (4-5y)
Includes research costs and technician/RA
Senior Basic Science Fellowship (5y: renewable)
Includes research costs and technician/RA; renewable at 50% salary
BHF Professor (10y: reviewed at 5y)
Includes programme grant funding for research
Immediate Postdoctoral Fellowship
• For the most outstanding newly qualified postdoctoral
researchers to start establishing an independent
cardiovascular research career
• Apply in the final year of PhD or within 1y of the PhD viva
• Award includes personal salary and research expenses for 3y
(possibility of a 1y extension)
• Up to 18 months of the award should be spent overseas or in
a second UK institution
Advanced Training Award
• To provide younger researchers with an opportunity to move
into cardiovascular science from a different field or to gain
additional expertise in a different field within cardiovascular
• Apply within 2-3y of submitting PhD thesis
• Award includes personal salary and research expenses for 2-3y
• Successful candidates are likely to be moving to a strong
cardiovascular research environment where their existing skills
will be useful in future cardiovascular research
Intermediate Fellowship
• For talented individuals intending to become research
leaders, ready to establish independence
• Candidates are usually 3-6y since PhD, with a series of first or
senior author research papers in high quality journals
• Personal salary, research expenses and technical support
• Award for 4y, (1y can be spent overseas if justified)
• Possibility of 1y extension
Senior Fellowship
• For outstanding scientists expected to reach Reader or
Professor level in less than 5y
• Candidates are usually 7-10y since PhD, with an established
track record of research leadership, often a previous
Intermediate Fellow
• Personal salary, research expenses and technical support if
justified for 5y (up to 1y overseas if justified)
• Competitive renewal possible, host institution must then pay
50% personal salary
Career Re-entry Fellowship
• To enable successful post-doctoral scientists to re-enter
research after a career break of longer than 2y
• Award includes personal salary, research expenses and
technical support post if justified
• Duration of the award is 3y
• Possibility of a 1y extension
Personal awards – clinical
Clinical Research Training Fellowship (3y)
Intermediate Clinical Research Fellowship (4-5y)
Pre or post CCT, includes research costs and technician/RA
Research Leave Fellowship
Senior Clinical Research Fellowship (5y)
Includes research costs, renewable once only at 50% salary
BHF Professor (10y: reviewed at 5y)
Includes programme grant funding for research
How we award
Application submitted
[no outline required]
Peer review
Sent out to at least 3 external UK (international) reviewers
2 committee members each provide reviews
Fellowship Committee (4 times/yr)
Panel interview
Senior Fellows, some
Intermediate Fellows,
all Immediate Fellows
Some decisions made prior to committee
Rest are discussed
Don’t rank applications
Award or Reject
(Can often reapply)
Award numbers - non clinical
Fellowship type
Applications Applications award nos
3 year PhD
35/73 [48%]
28/65 [43%] 31/55 [56%]
Training Award
8/21 [38%]
14/36 [39%] 6/23 [26%]
2/10 [20%]
7/10 [70%]
2/7 [29%]
Career Re-entry
Assessing fellowship applications
• Person – quality of the applicant
• Project – quality of the science
• Place – quality of the research environment
Before you start your application
• Is this the right time for you to be making this application?
– if in doubt – ask advice
– ask your mentors
– contact us, send us your CV, come and talk to us
• Is this the right place to conduct your research with the
appropriate expertise?
• Have you chosen the right supervisor?
• Have you chosen the right collaborators?
• If there’s a gap in your expertise, choose collaborators to fill
the gap
What makes a good project?
• Logic
• Originality
• Feasibility
• Compelling pilot data
Key points about any application [1]
• Must provide the scientific foundation for your project, citing
the appropriate papers
• It’s your job to show why your science is important and worth
doing, and why you have the right credentials to do it
• Aims must be clear
• Hypotheses must be testable (not vague aspirations)
Key points about any application [2]
• Experimental plans must be focussed, detailed and test the
• Must provide pilot data to back up your approach
• Should be at least predominantly achievable by the end of the
• Make sure all your aims aren’t dependent on each other
• Career intentions – clear statement
• Strong letters of support
Before you submit your application
• Make sure you have laid out the application correctly and
followed the funder’s instructions
• Get advice from your colleagues – the next pair of eyes seeing
your application should not be those of the reviewers
Otherwise you’ll get comments like…
• The project is overambitious and lacks preliminary data.
Without these data it is too high risk to fund.
• The applicant has little expertise in this area and this is also
not an area of expertise of his supervisor.
• It is not clear how the applicant’s research pathway is
different to that of the host department. It is also not clear
whether he will drive the work forward independently.
• The application is densely presented, with small font and no
margins – it is extremely difficult to read. The applicant clearly
can’t present his ideas in a concise way and this is reflected in
the overambitious nature of the project.
When you want comments like…
Dr XXX is a strong candidate for an Intermediate Fellowship.
The publications from his PhD and his awards mark him out
as an able clinician researcher. He has begun to develop his
own programme of research attracting funding to support
this. He has the appropriate facilities available to him and
strong support from his supervisors and mentors.
New BHF Fellows
Tamara Girbl
BHF Fellows
Thank you
Shannon Amoils
[email protected]

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