MRC Launches Cell and Oligonucleotide Therapy Fellowship with AstraZeneca

Funding for clinical and non-clinical postdoctoral researchers to conduct a fellowship in cell and oligonucleotide therapies.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has launched an opportunity in partnership with AstraZeneca to enable clinical and non-clinical postdoctoral researchers to conduct a fellowship in cell and oligonucleotide therapies. Fellows will have the opportunity to explore their own research ideas and develop links with industry, through secondments, training and mentorship opportunities.

Applications should focus on the following areas that align to MRC and AstraZeneca priorities within this field. ‘Cell therapy’ includes:

  • Mechanistic understanding to define and refine cell based-therapies.
  • Human cell engineering, gene editing and cellular reprogramming approaches for cell therapy.
  • Modulation and improved understanding of the human tissue niche.
  • Improving efficacy of engraftment and regeneration of transplanted cells.
  • Universal cells.
  • Application of immune cells in non-oncology cell therapy settings.

‘Oligonucleotide therapeutics’ includes:

  • Mechanistic understanding of processes involved in oligonucleotide delivery, intracellular processing and activity.
  • Exploration of factors affecting efficacy and tolerability of therapeutic antisense oligonucleotides in disease-relevant cell types.
  • Establishing generalised predictive systems to improve ‘in vitro-in vivo’ correlation in the development of oligonucleotide therapies.
  • Development of approaches enabling standardised analysis of oligonucleotide uptake, distribution and activity.

Eligible applicants must have completed a PhD or equivalent higher research degree, or expect to have done so by the time they take up the award. There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience, but applicants should have delivered at least one previous research project and show evidence of outputs; and be starting to establish research contacts independent of their current group leader or supervisor.

Registered healthcare professionals may apply. Doctors and dentists are expected to be at an appropriate point in their clinical training to undertake research. Healthcare professionals (excluding doctors and dentists) must have completed their professional training.

Applicants must also have the support of an eligible research organisation where they will be based for the duration of the fellowship. These include:

  • Higher education institutions.
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies.
  • Government-funded organisations.
  • MRC institutes.
  • MRC units and partnership institutes.
  • Institutes and units funded by other research councils.
  • Public sector research establishments (PSREs).

The host institute of the successful fellow will need to enter into a research agreement with AstraZeneca within three months of the funding being awarded.

The full Economic Cost (fEC) of the fellowship can be up to £500,000. The MRC will fund 80% of the fEC for up to three years. Funding can be used to cover salary, as well as consumables expenses; travel costs; appropriate capital equipment; travel and subsistence; and estates and indirect costs. Applicants must be able to justify the amount requested to meet the objectives of the research proposal.

Applicants should submit a mandatory expression of interest form by the 28 January 2022 (16:00) deadline.

Applications should be submitted via the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S) by the 8 March 2022 (16:00) deadline.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)