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Wellbeing of Women - RCP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Support early career physician researchers to gather data and strengthen their bids for longer-term substantive funding.

Wellbeing of Women in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians will jointly fund one Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (PRF) to provide a single candidate up to £30,000 for research lasting up to three years. Awards may include new and directly incurred research costs. Funds may not be used to pay for salary. The research must be undertaken in the UK.

The award will fund one postdoctoral 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 support research-active lecturers, or lecturer equivalent level, to gather data and strengthen their bids for longer-term substantive funding. These awards are only open to physicians who have been awarded an MD or PhD within the last 7 years and are employed by the NHS, HEI or on a postdoctoral research fellowship with at least 40 percent of their time funded to undertake research.

Evidence must be provided of previous research experience and future research career intentions in women’s reproductive health. Applications may be made to support projects that are already in progress, or for a new project, provided a substantial element of the project is carried out during the course of the Fellowship. Research projects must be capable of being brought to a conclusion within the duration of the Fellowship.

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 fetus. 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

This award is now closed

Call launch: 7 April 2022
Submission deadline: 1pm on 30 June 2022
Application outcome: December 2022
Award start: from February 2023

How to apply

For information on how to apply, please visit the Wellbeing of Women webpage WoW-RCP Postdoctoral Research Fellowships - 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.