The SPOKES Wellcome Trust Funded Translational Partnership Fellowship (SWTFTPF) is aimed at mid-career researchers at the Charité who wish to spend a period of time improving the manner in which their research is conducted. Fellows will receive a grant of up to 25 000 Euros over up to 18 months to spend on their own project. This grant may be used to pay part of their salary (or that of a colleague), hire a student, purchase consumables or pay for investments related to the project.

In early 2020, the SPOKES Review Board will be selecting a group of up to five fellows. Formal eligibility criteria are as follows. Fellows must:
(1) Be a senior postdoc or junior group leader (see FAQs, below)
(2) Be in possession of a current Charité contract which is valid for the entire project period (until at least November 2021).
The application must include a description of and motivation for the proposed project, a concise budget/timeline and details regarding predicted impact.

Once selected, Fellows will meet regularly at the BIH QUEST Center to work on their own projects, as well as exchanging ideas, knowledge and progress developments. Ultimately, Fellows will be aiming to increase the quality of science in their daily work. This can be undertaken via a variety of methods e.g. podcasts, meta-research, implementation of 3R guidelines in their institute etc. On completion of the Fellowship funding period, Fellows will be required to demonstrate precisely how their undertakings have increased the quality of their research.

The selected Fellows will be required to be in regular contact with QUEST team members (monthly meetings) providing informative insights from their experiences as well as sharing their projects online and via further media formats. Ultimately, this should draw increased attention to research quality with a focus on high-value research becoming commonplace within the Charité/BIH communities.


What is the SPOKES Wellcome Trust Funded Translational Partnership Fellowships?

Via the Charité/BIH Wellcome Trust Translational Partnership, the SPOKES sub-project has established a new Charité/BIH Fellowship designed to increase the value of the translational research. The first cohort of fellows will be selected in early 2020.

How do I become a fellow?

Selection will be determined by the SPOKES Review Board and be based on projects ideas, likelihood of success and expected impact on translational research. The deadline for application is 19th April 2020.

What do I receive if I am selected for a Fellowship?

The SWTFTPF will provide you with a grant of up to 25 000 Euros over a period of up to 15 months. This funding can be used to pay part of your salary, top up the hours of a colleague or hire student assistants (see also Q10). Funds may also be used to purchase limited consumables or investments directly related to your project.

What is a “mid-career researcher”?

The SWTFTPF aims to empower individuals in the “middle rungs” of the academic system. This includes researchers who have finished their formal training (PhD or equivalent) but are not yet professors. Ideally, the SWTFTPF is seeking researchers with some academic independence and supervision/management responsibilities. In many cases, this will be a senior (>five years’ experience) postdoc or a junior group leader. If this description does not quite fit but you feel that you would be a good match, please contact the project team.

Important note: In summer 2020 SPOKES will additionally offer a new Think Tank Program aimed directly at doctoral students and junior postdocs. For further information, please see our website in the coming weeks.

Can you describe a typical fellow?

In this first round of fellowships, the SPOKES team will consider a broad range of candidates. We are seeking mid-career researchers who look beyond their petri-dish, animal model, algorithms or machines and wish to help improve the manner in which science is conducted. The main requirement is that you are “mid-career” (see Q4), and have a current Charité employment contract that is valid until at least November 2021.

What are the benefits of being a Fellow?

Fellows will receive up to 25 000 Euros to work on one project that they have always been dreaming about but never had time or funding to do. In addition, SPOKES believes that the Fellowship will help shape your academic profile. Participation will provide you with an opportunity to show colleagues – and future bosses – your passion for improving science.

What constitutes a SWTFTPF “project”?

During your Fellowship, the SPOKES Team expects you to work on your own project, and contribute, where possible, to the projects of the other Fellows. Although projects can be “biomedical” in nature (e.g. conducting experimental or observational research) this is not a prerequisite. Examples of project formats include podcasts, meta-research and implementation of 3R guidelines in their institute etc. Whatever topic is chosen, it must convince the evaluation team that it will improve the manner in which translational science is carried out at the Charité/BIH. 

Do I have to leave my lab/desk?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, this is the central idea behind the Fellowship. Leaving your desk is critical as it will ensure time is spent on your project. In addition, we want you to be in touch with other fellows and QUEST team members as collaboration will hopefully strengthen everyone’s work. This will likely be a full-day meeting about once a month, where Fellowship and team members share progress and receive input from others.

I’m a medical doctor with clinic duties but wish to participate in the Fellowship program. Is this possible?

Before applying to the SWTFTPF, it is important to discuss the Fellowship with your superior (“Klinikleitung”) and assess whether you will be able to spend time away from the clinic focusing on Fellowship work. If this causes difficulties, we suggest that you apply together with a colleague who does not have to fulfil clinic obligations (see question Q10).

My student/technician/lab manager has a great idea, but they aren’t strictly a “mid-career researcher”. Should they apply instead of me?

We suggest that you apply together for the Fellowship. We would also like to remind potential applicants of the SPOKES Wellcome Trust Funded Think Tank, an initiative aimed at doctoral students and junior postdocs beginning in summer 2020. Please see our website in the coming weeks.

I am already part of another BIH funding program. Does that matter?

If you are already part of a BIH funding program that facilitates protected time from clinical duties (i.e. the Clinician Scientist Program) you will not be eligible for application (i.e. no “Doppelbefreiung”). Instead, we suggest that you find a partner such as a postdoc without clinic duties and apply jointly. Please contact the SPOKES team to discuss your individual case and possible solutions.

How does the BIH benefit from the SWTFTPF?

Fellows will be working on a project to improve the manner in which we conduct translational research at the Charité/BIH. This is SPOKES main goal. However, the Fellowship will benefit the BIH community in other ways: As all Fellows will be in close contact with QUEST members, the SPOKES team believes that the exchange of ideas, experience and knowledge will not only improve the projects of the Fellows themselves but will also strengthen further QUEST/BIH activities. Furthermore, SPOKES hopes that this program will increase QUEST/BIH visibility within the larger scientific community

How important is the focus on translational research?

SPOKES is a sub-project of the Charité/BIH Wellcome Trust Translational Partnership, which seeks to improve translational research via various approaches. However, applicants whose focus is basic research are welcome to apply. If your project aims to improve science in general, it is likely that it will improve translational research. 

OK, you’ve got my interest, what do I do know?

Unfortunately, the call is closed now. We will present the projects of the funded Fellows on our pages soon.