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Apply for our Fellows Award

Who can apply Early-career researchers

Funding period3 years

Funding amount £225,000

Research area Children and young people

Despite the unprecedented challenges being faced by all in relation to COVID-19, the MQ Fellows Awards remains open for applications and we are maintaining the original timetable as far as possible. The deadline for receipt of applications remains Friday 3rd April 2020. MQ is committed to supporting our grantholders and those applying for grants during this uncertain period. You can find out more information here

The Fellows Award supports talented researchers with bold ideas from across the globe, who aspire to be the next generation leaders in mental health research, as they establish their independence.

MQ seeks to fund a diverse research portfolio that reflects a bio-psycho-social approach to mental health. The MQ Fellows Awards are open to researchers anywhere in the world and from all disciplines related to mental health research. Research may involve theoretical, experimental, social sciences or medical humanities approaches. Aligning with the work of our Brighter Futures Programme, applications to the 2020 MQ Fellows Award must have a focus on children and young people (which we define as from prenatal development up to 24 years of age). Projects should focus on genuine impact by charting, informing, developing and/or testing preventative or therapeutic interventions.

With the Fellows Award, MQ aims to support the most promising early career scientists, clinician-scientists and researchers working to launch their independent research careers in the field of mental health. Awardees will be asking questions that can bring transformational advances in mental health science, undertaking research with the potential to improve the lives of young people living with mental illness. 

Awardees will also demonstrate their commitment to leadership, interdisciplinary research, and being ambassadors for MQ. They will join a global community of MQ supporters and friends who are championing progress across all sectors of mental health research.

Submission window will open 24th February 2020.

Please contact MQ directly for any queries regarding this funding opportunity or the application under

The deadline for submitting applications is the Friday 3rd April 2020 at 17:00 BST. All applications must be made through the electronic application portal, which will be accessible from 24th February 2020.

A PDF version of the application guidance is available here along with a template of the EOI application questions

Please ensure you familiarise yourself with our research policies before applying.


What's included in all the Awards?

All MQ Fellows Awards will provide funding of up to £225,000 (GBP) for up to a period of three years.

These funds may be used for any of the following:

  • Start-up funding for a specific project or transition funding for a current project
  • Salary support (for the applicant or any research support staffg. research assistant)
  • Direct research costs (e.g. research consumables, specialist equipment*)
  • Animal costs (for the purchase, importation, housing and maintenance of animals, used in line with the AMRC’s position statement on the use of animals in research)
  • Travel costs (e.g. visit to collaborators, project mentors and attending conferences)
  • Patient and public involvement costs
  • Other costs (e.g. high cost items or experiments e.g. gene expression, fees for external or internal services, publication costs) 

(*relates to any equipment not found in a standard laboratory that is specifically required to complete this project)

The host institution, which can be anywhere in the world, must cover all indirect costs and overhead costs, such as non-specific estimated costs. Estate costs (i.e. heating/lighting), laptops and office stationery, finance and HR (personnel) costs are not eligible for funding, even if it is standard practice for your institution to charge overheads to external grants.


The MQ Fellows Award is designed to support early career researchers investigating questions that will ultimately improve the quality of life for people affected by mental illness. Applicants will have made an outstanding start to their research career as demonstrated by their research results and career track record to date.

 We are seeking applicants who are establishing their independence through their intellectual efforts and leadership. Researchers need to be fully committed to this path and at a career stage that demonstrates this commitment. Applicants will be able to demonstrate that they are either newly independent or will be independent by the time the awards are finalised in the summer of 2020.

This award is not suitable for stand-alone 3-year post-doctoral research projects. Applicants must be early career researchers wishing to establish their independence:

  • with a PhD, DPhil, DClinPsy, MBBS, MD or equivalent
  • have accumulated 3-7 years by January 2020 through whole-time-equivalent research experience, equivalent in nature to postdoctoral research
  • be able to show that this award will help to establish your independence relative to your current position

The onus to demonstrate appropriate career stage falls on the applicant.

Eligible applicants must:

  • make a clear case for how their proposed project is relevant to children and young people (from prenatal development up to the age of 24 years), and how it focuses on charting pathways to genuine impact on mental illness via developing treatments or preventative interventions.
  • be able to demonstrate in their submitted application that:
  1. the proposal has been informed by the priorities of people with lived experience of mental illness. This could be done for example (but not limited to) through addressing questions identified in published research priority setting exercises, such as James Lind Alliance projects conducted for Young Peoples’ Mental Health, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Digital Mental Health.
  2. the project contains elements of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and/or co-design, as appropriate to the particular proposal. MQ defines PPI in line with the UK NIHR Involve definition as research done with or by members of the public rather than to, for or about We define co-design in line with the key principles outlined here and consider that, proportionately and appropriately done, PPI and co-design almost always improve research and often hasten impact.
  • the proposal considers the interdisciplinary nature of mental health research
  1. the proposal will work towards providing robust results that will follow open research practices.
  • be eligible to enter the UK for an interview and to participate in annual meetings, if (s)he is not a UK national. Applicants, who can be from any country, are responsible for obtaining their own visa, if required.
  • complete and submit their application in English. 

Applications may be rejected without further consideration:

  • if it is received in an incomplete state
  • is provided in a format other than requested
  • is received after the stated deadline
  • does not meet the specified remit
  • if applicants have substantial funding commitments (research support in excess of £225,000/year, excluding fEC/indirect costs)

MQ recognises that good research takes place in supportive environments and will assess applications accordingly. The host institution, which can be anywhere in the world, should be well recognised in the field and provide strong support for independent research whilst encouraging professional and personal development. All research must comply with applicable local and/or national regulations/laws and meet an equal standard established by the UK as outlined in the guidance notes.

Applications should be accompanied by a statement of support from the Head of Department of the host institution.

You and your institution must agree to MQ’s Standard Grant Conditions and Policies before beginning an application, as the terms and conditions associated with an award is not negotiable.

Application Process

The 2020 MQ Fellows Awards follow a 3-stage application process.

 Stage 1: Expression of Interest

Applicants are required to complete and submit a Stage 1 Expression of Interest application form. This must be submitted through MQ’s online application system by the deadline of Friday 3rd April 2020 at 17:00 BST (GMT +1).

The Stage 1 Expression of Interest is comprised of a short application, an abbreviated curriculum vitae form, and a statement of support and signature from the applicant’s Head of Department (HoD). Please ensure that sufficient time is left to obtain HoD authorisation before the relevant deadline. 

Applications will be reviewed by the MQ Research Team and the MQ Fellows Award Panel. Applications that do not meet the submission criteria will not be processed further.  Applicants will be informed of the results of Stage 1 review by the end of May 2020.

Stage 2: Invited Proposal

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to participate in Stage 2 of the process, by submitting a full application with a detailed scientific proposal including how PPI has been considered in the design of the project, along with a full budget.

Applicants are asked to propose scientific mentor(s) for their project, who can be from any field, and whose research is pertinent to the proposed project.

Deadline for invited proposals is Friday 3rd July 2020 at 17:00 BST (GMT+1)

Applications must have the support of your Head of Department and be approved by grants or finance officer before the deadline.

Stage 2 Invited Proposals will be further reviewed, scored and ranked by the MQ Fellows Award Panel, external and lay reviewers. Those successful at this stage will be invited attend an interview. 

Stage 3: Invited Interview

Finalists will be interviewed by the MQ Fellows Award Panel the week commencing 21st September 2020, in London, UK.

By submitting a Stage 2 Invited Proposal, applicants verify their ability to participate in the interview process, and be able to accept an offer of funding under the highlighted terms and conditions associated with the Award, should an offer be made.

Final decisions for the 2020 MQ Fellows Awards will be made by the MQ Fellows Award Panel in October 2020, on the basis of applicant’s Stage 2 Invited Proposal, external review and performance at interview.

Key Dates

24th February – 3rd April 2020 (17.00 BST)
Stage 1 - Submission window for Expression of Interest

Expression of Interest (EOI) application forms are to be submitted via the online system by 17:00 BST (GMT+1) on Friday 3rd April 2020.

w/c 25th May 2020
Stage 1 - EOI Outcomes

Applicants will be notified of the Panel’s decision on the EOI applications by late May 2020

1st June – 3rd July 2020 (17.00 BST)
Stage 2 Submission window for Invited Full Proposals

Only successful EOIs will be invited to submit a full proposal into Stage 2 of the process, via the online system by 17:00 BST (GMT+1) on 3rd July 2020

w/c 7th September 2020
Stage 2 Outcomes

Applicants will be notified if selected for interview by 11th September 2020

w/c 21st September 2020
Stage 3 Interviews

Interviews are scheduled for week commencing 21st September and will be held in London. Conference call options are available for any overseas candidates.

w/c 12th October 2020
Stage 3 Outcomes

Final outcomes notified to candidates.

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