History of awards

The Lister Institute (Senior) Research Fellowships

Chelsea Site Snip

The Chelsea Site

Following their closure, the sale of the Chelsea Institute and the Elstree farm together with a stock of products resulted in a capital sum of £5.4m which was invested and over the years has grown to form the fund from which all our awards have been made.  The decision was taken that the next phase of the Institute’s contribution to the UK and Ireland’s research effort should be as a grant-giving body.

After much deliberation the Institute decided that a Fellowship scheme should be created which sought to support post-doctoral scientists, with a good record in research having completed one or more grant-aided projects and who would be poised to consolidate and expand a line of work that showed promise of being highly productive.  A key element of the Fellowship scheme was that it should provide the individual’s personal support for five years (although they remained an employee of their host institution), freeing them up to concentrate on their research.  Appropriate running expenses were also awarded.  Whilst this might not sound a particularly innovative funding scheme today, it was almost unique when launched in 1982.

The scheme proved very popular and the quality and subsequent achievements of the initial Fellows set the standard which has been replicated year on year.  The scheme ran for 25 years during which time 96 Fellowships were awarded formally closing when the last fellowship was completed at the end of 2007.  The success of the scheme and quality of the recipients may be judged by the achievements of so many; over 60% of former Fellows hold Chairs, many lead internationally renowned research teams in academia and industry, others have headed national research bodies, oversee prestigious UK universities  and received some of the most acclaimed international awards.  See Fellows and Former Fellows for a complete list.

Human cancer cell snip

Human cancer cell

The scheme closed to new applicants in 2002 for a variety of reasons.  The income from the Institute’s investment portfolio was very badly affected by the major downturn in the stock-market from 2000 – 2002 whilst at the same time the fellowship scheme was building up a large and potentially unsustainable future financial commitment.  By 2002 the funding environment had also changed; from being almost the only body giving 5-year awards in 1982, the Institute was, in 2002, one of very many with other schemes offering far more attractive financial packages.


The Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowships

The Institute again had to identify a funding niche where its limited funds could make a real difference.  With the perceptive guidance of the Institute’s then Chairman, Dame Bridget Ogilvie, the Prize Fellowship scheme was developed.  In an environment where research grants were becoming increasingly prescriptive  and constraining the uniqueness of the Lister’s Prize Fellowship scheme was that it offered the recipient a fixed sum (then £150,000) at the start of the award to spend in whatever way they wished to benefit their research over a five-year period.  The only constraint being that it could not be used for the recipient’s personal salary, but it could be used to buy them out of teaching or academic duties if required.  The award is now £200,000 and the large number of high-quality applicants each year indicates that it is much sought after.  Since its launch in 2004 41 Prize Fellowships have been awarded, normally five per year, and the current fellows can be seen by clicking  Current Prize Fellows together with the most recent recipients at Prize Fellows 2017.  A profile of the Fellows and their research is also provided.

If you are interested in the scheme please click What are they? for more details or the How to apply button.