Round-up: 2023 Early Career Grants Programme applications
Adheem Malik, RSTMH Grants Manager, 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 amazed by the record number of applications to our Early Career Grants Programme this year – receiving 2,127 applications. We are so delighted to have had such an incredible response again.
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. With 2,127 applications, there are nearly as many 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.
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 2,127 represents an increase of 10% on last year (1,914) and nearly a ten fold increase since we started accepting applications in 2017.
Over the last four years the chances of being awarded have also improved from 39 to 1, to 13 to 1, to a success rate of just over 9 to 1 in 2022. We hope this year the odds will stay as high as possible.
Diversity in terms of nationality has also increased in our applicants. Applications came from individuals from 104 countries this year, compared to 102 in 2022, a small but stable rise.
A highlight is that once again we have received applications from a broad range of nationalities, including Angola, Argentina, Costa Rica, Fiji, Gabon and Papua New Guinea. It is great to have representation from continents across the globe.
The countries which saw applications of 100 or more were Nigeria (407), Uganda (316), Kenya (156), Ethiopia (144), India (128), Tanzania (134) and Ghana (121).
We would like to thank our Student and Country Ambassadors, our members, Fellows and networks for continuing to raise awareness of the programme.
This year the balance of gender is 54% male and 46% female. This compares favourably to last year in terms of gender equity when we had 58% male applicants, 41% female and 1% not preferring to say.
Given the increase in number of applications from last year, it’s great to see we are getting closer to gender parity.
We continue to do all we can to try and achieve and maintain an equitable balance at seed-funding level, as we are aware that the gender gap between male and female widens significantly at more senior levels in our sector.
Where research is being carried out
The applications put forward this year cover research projects in 107countries, a growth from 98 country locations last year.
The top countries for research being carried is very similar to the top countries for nationality, such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Tanzania.
As mentioned above, it is great to see some of the additional countries for research across all regions, including Angola, Bhutan, Egypt, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Rwanda.
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 we are still working on analysing them but for now, we do have an overview of some of the frequent diseases and areas of health being looked at this year, with 203 applications on Malaria, 99 on AMR, 91 on TB, and 64 on snakebite.
Other notable disease areas which have seen an increase from past years include cancer, HIV, scabies, 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.
In the current round we received applications from 1,066 out of 2,127 from the world of academia. However, there is an increase in the number of applications from other sectors such as clinical and nursing as well.
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 donors such as NIHR, ITI, Wellcome, Hamish Ogston Foundation, Journal of Comparative Pathology and IACS who were able to fund over 200 applications.
We are currently in discussion with a range of current and new donors and will be sharing an update on this soon!
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.