Round-up: 2022 Early Career Grants Programme applications
Tamar Ghosh, Chief Executive of RSTMH, provides a breakdown of the applications to this year's Early Career Grants programme - another record breaking year for applications.
We have once again been blown away by a new record number of applications to our Early Career Grants Programme, this year receiving an incredible 1,914 applications.
We are so delighted to have had such an incredible response. This figure means that there are almost 2,000 themes or challenges in global health or tropical medicine that individuals early in their careers are keen to explore.
These projects could be the first step towards the innovations and discoveries that change all of our work, helping us to achieve health equity and the eradication of even more diseases.
The aim of our Early Careers Grants Programme (formerly called the Small Grants Programme) is to develop the next generation of global health researchers by providing up to £5,000 to enable them to take on a one-year project of research in any area of tropical medicine or global health.
The programme funds projects across the research spectrum, from initial lab-based studies, through translation, implementation, community and policy-related research.
We are now working with our team of Global Assessors to check and assess all the applications and will update you over the coming months on when the funding will be awarded.
In the meantime, we wanted to share some data on the diversity and breadth of the applications.
Number of applications
This year the 1,914 represents an increase of 60% on last year (1,198) and a phenomenal eight-fold increase on applications over the last 5 years.
Over the last three years the chances of being awarded have also improved from 39 to 1, to 13 to 1, to a success rate of just under 6 to 1 in 2021. We hope this year the odds will stay as high as possible.
This year the balance of gender is 58% male, 41% female, with 1% preferring not to say. This compares to last year when we had 57% male applicants and 43% female.
As we see the number of applications increase since 2018 the split of gender between female and male applicants has moved from almost equitable at 50% / 50% to what we see today.
We continue to do all we can to try and maintain this equitable balance at this seed-funding level, as we are aware that the gender gap between male and female widens significantly at more senior levels in our sector.
Diversity in terms of nationality has also improved in our applicants. Applications came from individuals from 102 countries this year, compared to 87 in 2021, which is an incredible rise of 17%.
A highlight is that once again we have received applications from a broader range of nationalities than the previous years with notable additions from Asia, the Americas, and Oceania including Afghanistan, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Papua New Guinea, which were not on the list of countries in 2021. It is great to have representation from all continents across the globe.
The countries which saw applications of 100 or more were Nigeria (429), Uganda (228), Kenya (173), Ethiopia (157), Cameroon (118), Tanzania (109) and Ghana (102).
We would like to thank our Student and Country Ambassadors, our members, Fellows and networks for continuing to raise awareness of the programme.
Where research is being carried out
The applications put forward this year cover research projects in 98 countries, a growth from 93 country locations last year.
The top countries for research being carried out matches the top countries for nationality: Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Tanzania followed by India.
As above it is great to see some of the additional countries for research across all regions, including Bolivia, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lesotho, Mongolia, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
This reflects the incredible range of countries of relevance to our work, and we are so very proud to be able to consider applications from so many countries and regions of the globe.
As with last year, the spectrum of disease and global health topics is very broad, and it is difficult to segment them accurately given the time we have had. Many projects are on more than one topic, on a range of topics or do not specify the disease or health area in their title or summary.
For now, we have an overview of the frequent diseases and areas of health being named and the top 3 are consistent with last year as malaria (12%), AMR (10%) and COVID-19 (8%). This year we also have high numbers of snakebite projects, at around 6%.
Other notable disease areas which have seen an increase from past years include cancer, one health, zoonotic infections, diabetes, climate change and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
It is great to see the disease and health areas of the research ideas broadening out alongside the well established and important areas we have been working on for decades.
When applying, we ask people which sector they are working in as we are keen to ensure that all professionals from across the tropical medicine and global health community can access our Early Career Grants.
At the moment though, our applications still come, for the most part, from the world of academia – 1,543 out of 1,1914.
However, there is an increase in the number of applications from NGOs and the public sector.
This shows that as the Early Career Grants programme continues to grow, we must ensure that it encourages those who might not think about applying for funding to take part.
Supply and demand
Last year, we were lucky enough to have support from NIHR, ITI, CIFF, Wellcome, Journal of Comparative Pathology and IACS and so were able to fund over 202 applications – which was up from 124 in 2020.
This year we are again partnering with NIHR, ITI, Wellcome, Journal of Comparative Pathology and IACS, and are very grateful for their support.
It is our hope to be able to fund as many quality applications as possible this year, although this depends on topic areas, assessments and other funds available.
If you know any partners who may want to join in the success of the programme by funding a number of early career researchers, please tell them to get in touch.
Watch this space for further reports as we move through assessment to awarding our next group of applicants. We wish all applicants who are through to the next stage of assessment the very best of luck.