Wellcome commits £20m to increase representation of Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani researchers

Article by Adam Duckett

WELLCOME is launching a £20m (US$25m) funding drive to help tackle the underrepresentation of Black, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani researchers in UK science.

The UK charitable health foundation, which was created in 1936 from profits made in the pharmaceuticals industry, will launch the scheme later this year. Researchers from any discipline can apply for up to £200,000 and use it to support research or related career-boosting activities such as writing books or articles. The work must align with Wellcome’s research remit which includes health and wellbeing, climate, mental health, and infectious disease.

Analysis of census data and figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani researchers are significantly underrepresented in academia. While Black or Black British people make up 4.4% of the working age population, they only make up 2.9% of the academic research community. People of Bangladeshi heritage are 1.1% of the working population but just 0.5% of academia. For those of Pakistani heritage, the figures are 2.7% of the working population and 1.1% of researchers.  

Shomari Lewis-Wilson, senior manager for research culture and communities at Wellcome, said: “The world of academia is precarious. The ‘hidden’ requirements for connections and support in order to get ahead have a greater impact on racially minoritised researchers.”

Wellcome says that at the end of their awards the researchers should be in a better position to attract more funding, gain promotion and recognition, and develop their professional profiles.

Dan O’Connor, head of research environment at Wellcome, said: “We hope these awards will help researchers break through barriers in the system and realise their ambitions. We need the best ideas from everyone to make scientific breakthroughs and change lives.” 

Applications are set to open in the spring. Researchers can sign up for alerts here.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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