Emerging Leaders Prize


Last updated



The application process is now closed, and we will not be accepting any further submissions for this funding call.

2020 was an extraordinary year for medical research. We’ve seen scientists from a very wide range of different fields pivot their research to help us understand COVID-19, its effects on the body, and how it can be diagnosed and treated. In 2021 we really want to try and turbo-charge some of the scientific discoveries that have been made so far.
Professor Danny Altmann
Trustee and Chair of the Emerging Leaders Prize panel


What is the Emerging Leaders Prize?

Each year our Emerging Leaders Prize celebrates the achievements of researchers working on a different research theme. The prize funding provides a springboard for the winners’ careers and ensures they can continue to tackle key health challenges – both now and long into the future. In previous years, the prize has recognised researchers working in the fields of pain, antimicrobial resistance, adolescent mental health and lupus.

The funding is flexible, meaning that the winners decide how best to use it. This could mean spending time in a lab overseas, buying a cutting-edge piece of technology for their research, or investing in their personal career development.

Who can apply?

This prize is intended to celebrate the achievements of outstanding researchers who are making an impact in COVID-19 research, and who have demonstrated their potential to be a research leader in the future. We expect that these applicants will come from a wide range of scientific fields, and since January 2020 will have re-directed their research towards the pandemic. The prize will support their career development and enable them to take their research further, in either COVID-19 or their own field.

Applicants must be in the process of, or have recently, transitioned to an independent research position. They should demonstrate productivity throughout their career, as well as being able to demonstrate a track record of nationally competitive research, an ability to manage their own independent research group currently or in the near future, and clear plans to develop into an internationally recognised leader in their field.

Which fields of research will the prize cover?

Applicants may have conducted COVID-19 research related to (but not limited to) the following scientific areas: virology, viral phylogenetics, epidemiology, immunology, transmission, neuroscience, clinical symptoms and management, cardiology, stroke, vaccine development, therapeutic development, long-term effects of COVID-19 including Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome temporally associated with COVID-19 (PIMS-TS) and “Long-COVID”, and child, adolescent or adult mental health.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate their track record in their original field and their impact on COVID-19 or related areas.

How much funding is available?

Up to £200,000 is available to recognise the work of emerging research leaders who are making significant contributions to research in COVID-19. A top prize of £100,000 will be awarded and smaller prizes of various amounts for second place and highly commended candidates.


  • Deadline for Submission: 12:00 Wednesday 21 April 2021
  • Shortlisting notification: August 2021
  • Interview: Monday 20 September 2021
  • Funding Decision: September 2021
  • Feedback on funding decision: October 2021
  • Prize Giving Event: To be confirmed



Expert Panel

Applications will be reviewed by an expert panel, made up of core panel members with experience in assessing career development and fellowship awards, and specialist members with experience in research areas relevant to COVID-19. The Panel will be Chaired by the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Professor Nick Lemoine. Professor Lemoine is Medical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network (England), Director of the Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL, and Director of Research & Development for Cancer at Barts.

Core Panel Members

  • Professor Jane Armitage, University of Oxford
  • Professor Waljit Dhillo, Imperial College London
  • Professor David Dockrell, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Eileen Joyce, University College London
  • Professor Mandy Maclean, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Melanie Newport, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • Professor Magnus Rattray, University of Manchester

Specialist Panel Members

  • Professor Mona Bafadhel, University of Oxford
  • Professor Ellie Barnes, University of Oxford
  • Professor Sinead Brophy, Swansea University
  • Professor Siobhan Creanor, University of Exeter
  • Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, University College London
  • Professor Ian Goodfellow, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Matthew Hickman, University of Bristol
  • Professor Tracy Hussell, University of Manchester
  • Professor Mark Jit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Mala Maini, University College London
  • Professor Áine McKnight, Queen Mary University of London
  • Professor Helen Minnis, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Robert Semple, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Tom Solomon, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Louise Wain, University of Leicester


Any queries on the prize, competition, application process, or eligibility should be addressed to or 020 7250 8216.

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