Applications for the 2020 McDonald Fellowships are now open to researchers working in multiple sclerosis. Deadline 31 August.

Register and apply here>

We would like to encourage prospective applicants to start considering their projects, and suitable hosts. If you have further questions you may reach us on research[at]msif[dot]org

We strongly recommend that you also contact using the above email to discuss the topic of your research proposal before you apply, so we can check that it is eligible for this award.

Deadline extension

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have decided to extend the deadline for the 2020 Research Awards round from June 30 to August 31. This applies to both Du Pré and McDonald Awards.

The 2020 McDonald Fellowship requirements for applicants have been amended. Due to travel restrictions we are considering alternative ways to carry out research projects, allowing flexibility around how the Fellowship is spent, as well as when and where the project would be carried out.

We encourage potential applicants to think creatively together with their proposed hosts about potential solutions.

A project may be:

A) in a research institute/hospital abroad if travel permits (as in previous years)

B) in a research institute/hospital in your home country

C) a virtual project, either in full or in part with host institution mentoring*

*virtual projects are only possible if the applicant and host are able to demonstrate how to get sufficient mentorship throughout the project duration.

Projects are only accepted if risk of travel is low; the project can be carried out safely with minimal risk to the applicant; there are sufficient resources and supervision to allow the proposed project to take place; and the project demonstrates sufficient value to the applicant.

Application forms will be revised to include a question asking the applicant to write a plan for how to conduct the work or a part of the work if unable to travel.

The specific Terms and Conditions of the Awards are being drafted and will be communicated as soon as they have been finalised.

The McDonald Fellowships are conditional on commencing no later than the end of 2021.

For more information, including assistance with identifying possible host institutions, please contact our research team using the contact us form, selecting “Research grants and awards”.

These conditions will only change for the 2020 Awards round.

What is the McDonald Fellowship?

The McDonald Fellowship enables early career multiple sclerosis researchers from low- and middle-income countries to work in a research institution outside of their own country. *For 2020 we are open to applications for virtual or local projects to overcome the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19. During the visit or virtual project, participants either gain expertise or carry out parts of joint research projects.

Following the award, we expect applicants will be able to use the newly developed expertise and networks, continuing to undertake MS research and/or patient care in low- and middle-income countries.

The fellowship consists of a two-year grant, around £30,000 GBP per year, to cover travel and living costs, and an additional contribution of £2,000 GBP per year to the host institution. *For 2020 we are more flexible on the use of funds if virtual projects are proposed.

Provided that it is safe to travel amid the pandemic, we expect that part of the second-year grant to the host institution will be used to cover the candidate’s expenses to attend the annual congress of ECTRIMS, the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS.

One fellowship is awarded in partnership with ECTRIMS and is known as the MSIF-ECTRIMS McDonald Fellowship.

Another fellowship is awarded in partnership with MSIF’s member, ARSEP, The Fondation pour l’Aide à la Recherche sur la Sclérose En Plaques. This is known as the MSIF-ARSEP McDonald Fellowship.

Please note:

This is a joint application from the applicant and host. Before nomination, candidates need to have identified a suitable project and host supervisor at an institution outside of their own country.

*For 2020, the host can also be identified within the applicant’s home country or neighbouring countries (if travel laws allow it in the country), provided there are sufficient resources (e.g. equipment, reagents…) and mentorship as well as an opportunity to learn new expertise and techniques.

A project host must be agreed before commencing the application. The deadline for the host statement is the same as the entire application: 31 August 2020.

Who is eligible?

All candidates must:

  • Be educated to post graduate level (at least MSc, preferably PhD/MD) in an area relevant to multiple sclerosis
  • Be citizens of a low- or middle-income country (all countries with a low, lower middle or upper middle income as defined by the World Bank)*
  • Focus their research in an area relevant to multiple sclerosis

Candidates must also be in one of the following situations:

  • Working or studying in a low- or middle-income country (all countries with a low, lower middle or upper middle income as defined by the World Bank) at the time of nomination*
  • Working or studying in another country on a project which started within the six months prior to nomination
  • Studying in another country on a project supported by an MS International Federation grant

*The fiscal year 2021 will start on July 1 2020, which means that the World Bank classifications may change. MSIF will consider applications from both fiscal year 2020 and 2021 so that no applications are undermined by the change.

Candidates are expected to return to their own countries at the end of the study period where they will contribute to advancing care and research in MS.

The fellowship may also be used as a supplement for work related to MS by a candidate who has been accepted for training in a recognised institute (within the six months prior to nomination) but who doesn’t have enough money to cover the total cost.

Candidates and Host supervisors are required to read and sign the Terms and Conditions of the award (see below).

How to apply:

  • Complete all sections of the online application form
  • The Host needs to provide a supporting statement at the end of the application*
  • Add names and contact details of 3 referees, including the applicant’s current supervisor or employer
  • Ask referees to submit reference letters to research{at}msif{dot}org before the deadline

*The host supporting statement is filled in once the Applicant has submitted their application. The proposed host will then be emailed with instructions to fill in the supporting statement in the application form in text only. This must be done before the deadline. 

What is the deadline?

The application deadline, including the online form, reference letters, and supporting statement from the host, is 31 August 2020.

You must submit your application with sufficient time for the proposed host to read through your application and provide a supporting statement. It is advised to give at least two weeks for your host to complete this. Equally, you must ask your referees to send a reference letter to research{at}msif{dot}org before the deadline. Applications will be rejected if host statement or references are not received before 31 August.

  • Deadline of application: 31 August
  • Deadline of Host Supporting Statement: 31 August
  • Deadline of References: 31 August

Applicants will be informed in November whether they were successful.

How are Fellowships awarded?

MSIF’s McDonald Fellowship panel, which includes scientists and people affected by MS, considers and selects successful candidates.

What evidence of results is needed?

A short report must be submitted at the end of the first year of the fellowship. Second-year funding depends on the submission of this report. Upon completion of the fellowship, a final report and expenditure summary is required. Electronic copies of reports, papers, abstracts and posters resulting from the visit should also be submitted. Papers produced as a result of or in connection with McDonald Fellowship-funded research should acknowledge the fellowship and include the address of the MS International Federation’s website: www.msif.org

Who do I contact?

For more information, including assistance with identifying possible host institutions, please contact our research team using the contact us form, selecting “Research grants and awards”.

Support from organisations

We are eternally grateful to our partner organisations ECTRIMS and ARSEP. Without their support, these awards would not be possible.

More information about ECTRIMS can be found here: ECTRIMS
More information about ARSEP can be found here: ARSEP

Terms and Conditions

Please note: these are due to be updated for 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Terms and Conditions of the Award must be agreed and signed by both the Award holder and the Host supervisor. The McDonald Terms and Conditions can be found here.