BACKGROUND

Epilepsies with onset in childhood are associated with significant comorbidities affecting learning, motor control, cognition and behaviour. The epileptic seizure may be the presenting symptom and most dramatic expression of a brain disease, but it is the impact of the underlying condition on learning, behaviour, and participation in society which results in the most disabling consequences for the child and family. Anti-seizure medications are designed to control events but disappointingly have little or no, and in some cases a negative, impact on the neurodevelopmental comorbidities of epilepsy.

Young Epilepsy coordinates a collaborative research programme, under the Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy, into the causes, treatments and impact of childhood epilepsy. The programme, entering its 15th year, exists to establish successively better outcomes by driving early diagnosis and intervention in every aspect of childhood epilepsy.

To date, Epilepsy Research UK has invested over £2 million in research into epilepsy in childhood. With approximately 112,000 young people (<25 years) with epilepsy in the UK, Epilepsy Research UK and Young Epilepsy have therefore agreed to work in partnership to drive and enable research into the causes, diagnosis and treatments of childhood epilepsies.

Read the full announcement news article here.

APPLICATIONS OPEN

Applications are invited for awards of up to £300,000, over 1-4 years. Fellowship awards provide research funding for epilepsy researchers planning to develop a track record in paediatric epilepsy research and seeking to transition into research leadership. Funds will cover the Fellow’s salary, support staff costs, and project running costs.

Fundamental to the partnership will be engagement with the Young Epilepsy Young Reps, a panel of children and young people living with epilepsy, who will be asked to prioritise areas they would like to see answered by research. The outcomes from the engagement with children and young people with epilepsy will influence the decision-making criteria when awarding the joint fellowship.

We anticipate an exceptional number of applications this year in light on the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants will be asked to carefully consider the resources applied for; 4-year applications should be robustly justified.

Applicants for the ERUK and Young Epilepsy Fellowship who are unsuccessful may be automatically considered for an ERUK Emerging Leader Fellowship.

NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS PERMITTED PER GRANT ROUND

During any ERUK grant round, a fellowship applicant can submit a maximum of one application. An individual researcher may be named as a supervisor on a maximum of two fellowship award applications.

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants for all grants should be graduates in either medicine, one of the sciences allied to medicine, neuroscience, engineering or mathematics. We advise applicants who are external to the paediatric epilepsy field to include a senior expert in paediatric epilepsy as a co-applicant on their proposal. Applicants must be resident in the UK and affiliated to an academic institution in the UK.

At any time, an individual researcher may be named on a maximum of two active project/fellowship grants. This can either be as principal investigator on one and co-investigator/supervisor on the other, or as co-investigator/supervisor on both.

Please note that existing ERUK grant holders are not eligible for funding unless the reporting of outcomes from their existing ERUK-funded grants is up-to-date.

All time periods are based on full time equivalents, and awards may be held on a part-time basis to meet personal commitments.

The Fellowship is intended for individuals who wish to dedicate a significant and focused period to research and is less well suited to applicants wishing to hold the Fellowship as part of a wider portfolio of activities. To this respect, we recommend that a Fellowship is taken for a minimum of 0.5FTE to ensure the Fellowship supports the potential for research career development during its course. Professionally qualified clinical and medical applicants can include up to 20% clinical time as part of the fellowship, to ensure the maintenance of their clinical competence whilst undertaking the fellowship.

We hope to be flexible with regard to individual circumstances and recognise the Fellowship will be of interest to people with different experience and expertise. Please contact Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett in the ERUK office if you would like to discuss in advance of making an application.

APPLICATION PROCESS – TIMELINE

Fellowship applications are a two-stage process. Fellowship award applicants will have the additional step of an interview with members of the SAC.

15th July 2020 – grant round opens for ten weeks for preliminary applications

28th September 2020, 16:00 CLOSING DATE – for preliminary applications

November 2020 – preliminary applications are shortlisted by our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full application by 11 January

11 January 2020, 16:00 – CLOSING DATE – for shortlisted applicants submit their full application.

Full applications are then sent externally for independent peer review

February 2021 – Fellowship award applicants will have the opportunity to respond to peer review comments.

March 2021 – Fellowship award applicants will be invited to interview with members of the SAC. The SAC review the applications and make recommendations to the ERUK Board of Trustees for funding.

April 2021– Applicants are notified of the outcome of their application.

The SAC comprises a panel of the UK’s leading neurologists, neuroscientists and expert epilepsy researchers. The current SAC membership can be found at www.epilepsyresearch.org.uk/research/research-scientists/sac-membership.

During this grant round ERUK will be increasing the involvement of people with lived experience of epilepsy in the review and selection of Fellowships. The review process will involve Young Epilepsy Young Reps, a panel of children and young people living with epilepsy, who will be asked to prioritise areas they would like to see answered by research. The outcomes from the engagement with children and young people with epilepsy will influence the decision-making criteria when awarding the joint fellowship.

SELECTION CRITERIA

The SAC, in its grant-awarding capacity, abides by the code of good practice set out by the Association of Medical Research Charities (www.amrc.org.uk). As funds are limited, the selection of proposals for funding is highly competitive. In assessing applications at both the shortlisting and full application (interview) stage, the SAC will consider the track record and potential of the candidate, the quality and relevance of the proposed project, and the environment and support offered by the host institution. Successful applicants are likely to demonstrate the following:

  • A clear track record of successful research in paediatric epilepsy or a closely related field. This includes the number and quality of peer reviewed publications, any previous funding awards, and invitations to present at scientific/medical conferences.
  • A past and future commitment to research into paediatric epilepsy.
  • A supervisory team and project that develop research independence.
  • The ability to outline the research in plain English, including the potential impact on children and young people with epilepsy and their families.
  • A host research institute/environment that has the expertise and facilities that facilitate successful completion of the project and the potential (and ideally commitment) for additional career support following the fellowship.

The research proposal will be assessed by considering the following questions:

1 Hypothesis Is there a clear hypothesis?
2 Originality Is it an original idea?
3 Research gaps Does the proposal address a research gap identified by UKERN or another research network?
4 Practicality Is the idea sound? Can it be done, in the proposed timescale? Should the applicants collaborate with other groups or disciplines?
5 Quality Is the project well-structured and properly designed? Does the proposal contain a clear understanding of its limits as a study? Have appropriate statistical considerations been taken into account?
6 Impact How does this line of research stand to benefit people with epilepsy and their family and carers?
7 Experience Have the applicants indicated that they have, or that they could rapidly attain, the necessary skills/resources/facilities to undertake the project?
8 Plain English Is the summary readable, clear and accurate?
9 Ethics Is it an ethical study?

Download the Guidance for Applicants for the ERUK & Young Epilepsy Fellowship Award here.

Download the Preliminary Application Form for the ERUK & Young Epilepsy Fellowship Award here.

Epilepsy Research UK is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) non-commercial Partner. This means the studies that we fund may be eligible to access the NIHR Study Support Service which is provided by the NIHR Clinical Research Network. The NIHR Clinical Research Network can now support health and social care research taking place in non-NHS settings, such as studies running in care homes or hospices, or public health research taking place in schools and other community settings. Read the full policy: Eligibility Criteria for NIHR Clinical Research Network Support.

In partnership with your local R&D office, we encourage you to involve your local NIHR Clinical Research Network team in discussions as early as possible when planning your study. This will enable you to fully benefit from the support available through the NIHR Study Support Service. To find out more, please visit: www.nihr.ac.uk/study-support-service

If your study involves NHS sites in England you will need to apply for Health Research Authority Approval. For guidance on submitting an application please visit: www.hra.nhs.uk.