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Associate Professors Betty Raman and Adam Wilkinson have both won an eight-year Wellcome Career Development Award to further their research.

Betty Raman and Adam Wilkinson

The awards scheme

The prestigious Wellcome Career Development Awards Scheme provides funding for mid-career researchers from any discipline who have the potential to be international research leaders.

The awards are intended to help scientists develop their research capabilities, drive innovative programmes of work and deliver significant shifts in understanding related to human life, health and wellbeing.

Betty Raman's research

Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine Betty Raman and her team are working to identify innovative, highly sensitive measures of disease activity in people with a genetic predisposition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes thickened, making it harder for the heart to pump blood.

HCM is a major cause of sudden cardiac death among young individuals and athletes. Genetic testing now enables the identification of individuals carrying the gene mutations responsible for HCM. But not everyone with HCM genes will experience disease progression, and predicting long-term complications remains complex.

Betty's research aims to refine the prediction of disease progression. This is important, because ground-breaking therapies are being developed to treat genetic heart conditions. Her research will help clinicians to discern which patients are likely to experience disease progression and who might benefit from these innovative, disease-specific treatments.

Betty says: 'I'm particularly proud to be a Wellcome-funded Fellow, as Wellcome are committed to improving research culture and representation in institutions.'

Adam Wilkinson's research

Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology Adam Wilkinson and his team are working to uncover the biological mechanisms that control blood stem cell activity.

The blood and immune systems are crucial for our health, and they're primarily supported by a rare cell type called blood stem cells. These cells are also vital in treating severe blood disorders, such as immunodeficiencies and blood cancers, through a procedure called stem cell transplantation.

Understanding how these stem cells work has been challenging because of their scarcity and difficulties in growing them outside the body. Adam has developed a new polymer-based approach that supports the long-term growth of blood stem cells outside the body, making it easier to study them. He will now use this new model to uncover the biological mechanisms that control blood stem cell activity.

Adam says: 'This award will allow us to develop new stem cell therapies and find new targets for treating blood disorders. I hope that this research will ultimately help to improve treatment options for patients with blood disorders.'

Top tips for people applying to this scheme

Here are Betty and Adam's top tips for people applying for the Wellcome Career Development Awards Scheme:

  1. Prepare your proposal at least 4-6 months before the deadline. Try not to rush this, as carefully considered study designs go a long way. Get feedback on your proposal from as many people (preferably previous Wellcome funded fellows) as possible.
  2. Read the funders' requirements carefully, and learn about their key focus and research priorities. Every funder has a different emphasis, and it would help your application to be aligned with those priorities.
  3. Speak to successful and unsuccessful candidates to get advice on the process, tips on how to succeed at every stage, and information about potential red flags in unsuccessful applications.
  4. At the pre-interview stage, make sure to organise mock interviews with panel members coming from both within and outside your field.
  5. Be authentic and realistic.
  6. Be prepared to reapply and apply to other funders.
  7. As early as possible, let RDM know you are planning to submit an application and make the most of the support that they offer including arranging internal review and mock interviews.