Congratulations to Dominic Marshall, a Clinical Research Fellow in AMPIC, who has been successfully awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship for his PhD titled “Identification of Novel Phenotypes of Acute Lung Injury using Multimodal Longitudinal data”.
In this blog, he shares what he learned from the application process and what he would advise others applying for similar awards.
My main advice would be to seek help from those around you. There are specific requirements and a style that is expected, only by speaking to people who have been through the process do these become clear.
The MRC application is extremely tight on word count and therefore every cm of page space must be maximised. My application was reviewed by at least 10 colleagues and I organised a similar number of mock interviews. For this, I am indebted to Dr Matthieu Komorowski, Dr Sonali Parbhoo, Dr Guang Yang, Dr David Antcliffe, Dr Brij Patel, Dr Freda Yang, Anna Aston, Dr Jonny Stephens, Mr Joe Shalhoub, Dr Felicity Liew, Professor Tony Gordon, Professor Natalie Pattison, Professor Sebastian Johnston, Professor Adnan Custovic. I also had input from the Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre and the NIHR Research Design Service. This list of thanks should highlight the importance and value of utilising the team and resources around you.
Additional advice would be to ensure that all aspects of the application are met in full and these are different between applications. It is my impression that the MRC want very clear hypotheses with a detailed and thoughtful approach to testing these. The NIHR want meaningful patient and public participation in research from the very beginning. For fellowships, both funders want to see a carefully considered training plan.
Finally, I believe my cover letter demonstrating how I had enthusiastically considered the peer review from my first round application and the efforts I had made to address this feedback helped me secure an interview.