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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership

Discovery Medicine North

Call for Projects

The call for MRC DiMeN DTP studentship projects, starting October 2023, will be launched on 27th June 2022.

 

Project requirements and supervisor eligibility criteria

  • Only submit one project as the primary supervisor (there is no limit on applications as secondary/tertiary supervisor)

  • The primary supervisor must be located within a partner institution (University of Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool or York) and not have received a DiMeN studentship within the 2022 cohort as the primary supervisor. The only exception is for iCASE awards.

  • Projects must have a minimum of two supervisors with complementary expertise (secondary/tertiary supervisors may be located outside the DiMeN partnership).

  • Projects must address MRC Strategic Research Priorities and fit within the new DiMeN research areas (Infection and Global Health, Cancer, Multimorbidity, Frailty and Diseases of Ageing and Medical Technologies, Informatics and Quantitative approaches, click here).

  • Projects must be designed to provide training in MRC strategic skill priority areas and suitable for thesis submission within 3.5 years (funded period is 4 years, which includes a 3 -6 month “transition award” period at the end of the PhD for an internship or research placement to support graduate career progression) 

We emphasise the importance of non-academic partners and collaborative projects with industry as a strategic priority for the DTP.  The management board encourages iCASE project applications (see below for specific iCASE criteria) and projects with the potential to convert to iCASE during the studentship period.  Interdisciplinary research and cross-institutional partnerships are also welcomed. 

There is an expectation that DiMeN supervisors will have other, active sources of research income during the studentship. Supervisors will also be expected to engage with the work of the DTP and contribute to the training of DTP cohort students through participation in workshops, sharing of expertise, seminars and online sessions etc. 

 

Project selection process

Proposals will be evaluated and scored by a cross-institutional panel against the following equally weighted criteria.

  1. Excellence and novelty of the research project

  2. How the MRC DTP student would add value to current research (by building synergies, developing new collaborations, and opening up new areas of research)

  3. How the project will address MRC skills priority areas (click here)

  4. How the project will address MRC Research and Innovation priorities/strategy (https://www.ukri.org/files/about/dps/mrc-dp-2019/: there is a summary diagram on page 4 of this document) and does it align to DiMeN research areas (Infection and Global Health, Cancer, Multimorbidity, Frailty and Diseases of Ageing and Medical Technologies, Informatics and Quantitative approaches, click here)

  5. Quality and engagement of the supervisory team, including strength of publications in the relevant field, grant income, training offered and research culture

  6. Quality and strength of non-academic partnerships and collaborations (if applicable)

The DiMeN DTP does not allocate a set number of projects per institution and projects are scored on merit according to the above criteria.  Project proposals are reviewed anonymously by an academic panel, without supervisor names or host institutions known to reviewers.  Please do not state your name or host institution within the application form unless requested to do so.  This is to eliminate bias and ensure the best projects are selected for advertisement to students.   We advertise more project opportunities than we can support within the funding envelope and this is a competitive process. As an example, in the cohort 6 project call we received 174 project applications, 74 were selected for advertisement to students and 23 funded.  For DiMeN DTP2 we have up to 40 studentships to award annually.

Student selection process

Students choose up to three projects upon application to the DiMeN DTP.  Our academic panel anonymously scores and will shortlist applicants, the top 80 are  interviewed by the DiMeN Management Board.  Supervisors are provided with full application details of each shortlisted candidate who selects their project and asked to provide  detailed feedback regarding student suitability to your project. In our experience, engaging with potential students at this stage is important and increases the chances of gaining a DTP student.

The final selection of supported project/student combinations will be made on the basis of student quality by the DiMeN Management Board.

Benefits of DiMeN DTP studentships

Financial support: Stipend (UKRI standard rate) for 4 years, £4125 per year Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and £300 per year travel/conference allowance.

Students can access flexible supplement funds for high quality external training, lab or industry research placements, internships or transition after PhD to first employment position. For more information and examples of how students can use this funding, please see our website HERE.

Additional funding is also available for visits and placements across our partners institutions to encourage collaboration and sharing of expertise within the DiMeN community.

Students access tailored, cohort training events including “Meet the Editors”, “Media and Impact” and “Bench to Bedside”. DiMeN DTP2 builds on the current successful programme and continues to evolve.

Students and supervisors are part of a vibrant community of researchers across our partner institutions

iCASE: Non-academic partner responsibilities

Whilst the MRC appreciates that it may sometimes be difficult to ensure the financial stability of a company three or four years hence, at the time of commitment to the studentship, companies should have strong regulatory, supervisory and other policies in place to ensure the continuity of the studentship. Changes during the studentship should be notified to the MRC immediately.  

As a measure of its interest and commitment, the non-academic/company partner must make a specific, identifiable contribution to the research training of the student. In addition to the contribution to the research training of the student, the company’s contribution must include:

1. An annual cash contribution to the academic partner towards the cost of the project of at least £1400 per annum, for the period during which research data are being collected and analysed – a minimum of 80% of the approved length of the studentship;

2. A mandatory cash payment of at least £2500 per annum as a supplement to the stipend for the entire length of the studentship award.

3. A cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in the facilities of the industrial collaborator. This 3 month period can be at any point during the studentship and may consist of a number of shorter visits if appropriate.

4. The company’s costs while the student is working at the premises of the company.

5. All additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred by the student as a direct result of attendance at the premises of the cooperating body. MRC may agree to vary any of the above stipulations provided that the case is made in the application.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are NOT required to make the contributions under bullet 1 and 2 above as these will be met by the DiMeN DTP. SMEs are companies that meet the definition included in Recommendation 1996/280/EC of a small to medium size enterprise (SME) i.e. the enterprise must have a staff headcount of ‚Äčless than 250 and turnover not exceeding €50m AND/OR a balance sheet total not exceeding €43m.

Organisations can be considered as the non-academic partner if they can provide students with distinctive research training and experience not available in an academic setting. Organisations eligible for UKRI funding (such as NHS Trusts) cannot act as a non-academic partner. Where the non-academic partner is a company, it must have an established UK based research and/or commercial production capability. In exceptional cases, organisations based overseas may be eligible, but only where they can provide the student with an opportunity to gain skills not currently available in the UK.