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Wellbeing of Women-RCP Entry Level Research Scholarships

Enable physicians to develop interests in research to improve outcomes for pregnant women with medical disorders, or who develop gestational syndromes.

Wellbeing of Women in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians will jointly fund one Entry-level Research Scholarship (ELS) to provide a single candidate with up to £20,000 for research lasting normally up to one year. Funds are for directly incurred research costs and may include a salary contribution. The research must be undertaken in the UK.

The award will fund one pre-doctoral physician in a basic science, clinical or translational research project aimed to improve outcomes for pregnant women with medical disorders, or who develop gestational syndromes.

Awards are intended to provide ‘pump-priming’ funds to enable physicians to be exposed to a research environment and to obtain pilot data that will enhance an application for a clinical research fellowship (PhD or MD). Applicants would normally be new to the research discipline and will not previously have been heavily involved in substantial or funded research projects.

In the UK there are approximately 750,000 pregnancies per year. Each pregnant woman makes remarkable metabolic, cardiovascular and immune adaptations to provide for the developing foetus. Most pregnancies result in a healthy mother and child, but pre-existing maternal medical disorders compromise a mother’s ability to adapt to pregnancy to the detriment of fetal development and her own health.

In the UK, more pregnant women die due to pre-existing medical disorders than direct pregnancy-induced disease such as peripartum haemorrhage (MBRRACE Nov 2019). The largest single cause of maternal death is cardiac disease. Young mothers with congenital heart disease and older mothers with acquired heart disease are at risk. Thromboembolic disease, often related to obesity, uncontrolled epilepsy often related to poor drug compliance and stroke are the next major causes of maternal deaths. Immune adaptations predispose pregnant women to intracellular infections, such as TB, malaria and viral infections.

Gestational syndromes include pre-eclampsia, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, gestational diabetes and peripartum cardiomyopathy. They compromise pregnancy outcomes and identify women at risk of disease in later life. Babies born prematurely, or with a low birth weight, are themselves predisposed to metabolic and cardiovascular disease in later life.

There is an understandable, but often misplaced reticence by physicians to investigate and treat sick pregnant women. As a consequence, one-third of UK maternal deaths are judged to be avoidable with improvements to medical care (MBRRACE 2019). This funding call seeks to support research that will improve the medical management of acute and chronic disease during pregnancy, mindful upon the effects on the developing fetus. Research into the aetiology, management and consequences of maternal gestational syndromes is also welcome.

Call timeline

Call launch: 17 June 2021
Submission deadline: 1pm on 12 August 2021
Application outcome: December 2021

How to apply

For information on how to apply, please visit the Wellbeing of Women webpage WoW-RCP Entry-level Research Scholarships - Wellbeing Of Women

If you have any queries, please contact the Wellbeing of Women research team at research@wellbeingofwomen.org.uk or call 020 3697 6350.