Researcher looking at petri dish in lab

Updates to our research grants and processes

Our inbox has been inundated with questions about our next grant round and when it will open. Hear from Katherine Rooke, our Research Grants Manager, about this season’s hot topic: our new funding schemes and the big changes we’ve made to our grant review process.

What’s new in research grants?

Our Research Grants team have been grafting behind the scenes to make some big changes to our grant schemes and the way we review our research grants. These changes are in response to a lot of conversations with researchers and trawling through the funding data to see where the Society can make the biggest difference to dementia research careers. These changes are part of our Research Mission Statement to be the best funder of early career researchers in the UK – you can hear more about this bold ambition from our Associate Director of Research – Rich Oakley   

What do your new academic Fellowships look like?

We’ve made some fantastic changes to our two fellowship schemes to better cover the career pipeline from postdoctoral to academic independence and offer more competitive funding. Our Postdoctoral Fellowship is designed to be very flexible and will be assessed based on your career stage. This fellowship is open to exceptional postdoctoral researchers or final year PhD students to apply for funding in preparation for academic independence. We also have a more senior Dementia Research Leaders Fellowship for those experienced dementia researchers looking to make the step to research independence.   

What new support are you offering clinicians and allied health professionals?

We are really keen to help more clinicians and allied health professionals to be active in research and we are delighted to now offer new grants to support the clinical research career pathway. These range from the predoctoral bursary which will support clinicians first steps in research through PhD funding and bridging funding post PhD to ensure that the best clinicians can continue in research and become the Dementia Research Leaders of the future. 

How does Alzheimer’s support researchers who do not have conventional career paths?

We are extremely proud to be a very flexible funder. If your career so far has been a bit unconventional or you don’t feel any of our new schemes suit your career path, please do get in touch so that we can chat you through the options.  

We also know that sadly research careers often provide very little room for the unexpected or the challenges that come with balancing work and home life. This can often lead to difficult decisions about whether a career in research is still feasible, with many researchers feeling forced to leave. We’re delighted to be partnering with the Daphne Jackson Trust to support individuals that have had to leave research, return to their careers.  

Have you made changes to the way that you will be assessing grant applications?

Yes, quite a few! We are receiving more grant applications than ever before, which is amazing, and our last round was the largest yet. To ensure that we get full and thorough expert peer review for every single grant application we receive, we have developed a really innovative new process of review.

What are the major changes?

Outlines

The big news is that we’re now introducing an outline stage. So initially we’ll only be asking applicants to submit short outlines which will be used to shortlist. The three-page outline (2 page scientific and 1 page lay) will be your opportunity to sell your proposal to the Grant Advisory board.

This will massively streamline the review process for applicants and our reviewers. We’ll be able to communicate decisions more quickly to applicants who are un-successful and for those lucky shortlisted applicants, there will be more time to develop proposals.  

Expert Review panels

Another big change to improve our process and reduce the burden of peer review on the academic community is a move away from seeking out individual peer reviewers for each application. We will instead be reviewing grants through Expert Review Panels (ERPs) which will allow us to get thorough and consistent peer review across the portfolio.

The ERPs will be chaired by members of our over-arching Grant Advisory Board members to ensure consistency across the disciplines. Our Research Network volunteers will continue to complete their lay review via written reviews and the lay review panel. 

If you’ve always loved peer reviewing for the Society – you can still support us!

We’re so grateful for all the midnight oil burnt by the generous peer reviewers who have supported us over the years, and we still really want to work with you! We are now looking for people to join our Expert Review College. You’ll join a pool of reviewers that might be called upon to sit on our specialised ERPs. As a member of the college you will be using your expertise to ensure that we continue to only support the highest quality research and bring about the greatest impact for people affected by dementia.

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Discover our funding schemes for researchers, learn about our application process and how researchers can effectively manage their grant.

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