Opportunities for Researchers after a Career Break

If you have been away from the workplace, you may feel that your career is on hold or slipping backwards, but with the schemes highlighted below, you have the opportunity to re-invigorate your academic career:

Within Biomedical Sciences, the Wellcome Trust Research Re-entry Fellowship is one scheme within their suite of Flexible Working options. This scheme is for postdoctoral scientists who have recently decided to recommence a scientific research career after a continuous break of at least two years. It gives such scientists the opportunity to return to high-quality research, with the potential to undertake refresher or further training. The fellowship is particularly suitable for applicants wishing to return to research after a break for family commitments. The next deadline is 06/10/14.

The Wellcome Trust also offers the  Sanger Institute Fellowship, which enables and opens routes back into science for those who have had a break from scientific research – for any reason. The funder understands that even a short time out of research can have an impact on your career, which is why they have created a postdoctoral fellowship providing an additional opportunity specifically for those who have been out of scientific research for one year or more to return to high-quality postdoctoral training. One Fellowship will be awarded each year. Each Fellowship will last for three years and can be worked full time, part time or flexibly. The next call for applications will be in mid-2015.

A Daphne Jackson Fellowship is a unique fellowship designed to return STEM professionals to their careers after a break. Fellows normally carry out their research part-time over 2 years, in a university or research establishment in the UK. The Fellowships are flexible and include a tailored training programme designed to update skills and knowledge and support you in your return to research. If you are ready to return to research following a break of 2 or more years, take a look at their sponsored fellowship opportunities. Alternatively, if you have a potential host institution and/or research area in mind, you can apply for a fellowship at any time. If your application is successful, the Trust will endeavour to find suitable sponsorship. 

The Royal Society’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship scheme is for outstanding scientists in the UK at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues.  Female candidates are particularly invited to apply. The scheme covers all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine. Applicants must be able to demonstrate a current need for flexible support due to personal circumstances at the time of application. This can include current parenting or caring responsibilities (such as raising children or looking after ageing or seriously ill family members), clinically diagnosed health issues or other personal circumstances that create a need for a flexible working pattern. This scheme is closed for 2014 but should open again in late 2014 / early 2015.

Although these are the main schemes, it is worth checking if smaller funders or charities in your field also provide such funding. For example, a quick internet search found a similar scheme offered by the British Heart Foundation.