Applications for the McDonald Fellowships are now open – closing date 30 June 2024

Please ensure you carefully check the eligibility requirements before starting your application. We strongly recommend you contact us before applying to discuss whether your proposal is in remit for this fellowship scheme.

Apply through the application website.

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. During the visit, 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. 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.

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 application.
  • Working or studying in another country on a project which started within the six months prior to application.
  • Studying in another country on a Du Pré grant project supported MSIF.

Those who previously have held a Du Pré grant are eligible to subsequently apply for a McDonald Fellowship, but not the other way round.

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 McDonald fellowship may also be used to part fund a PhD programme, where the candidate has already been accepted for the PhD programme in a recognised institute (within the six months prior to application) but who doesn’t have enough funding to cover the total cost.

If successful, candidates and Host supervisors will be required to read and sign the Terms and Conditions of the award.

The McDonald Fellowship should start within 12 months of being awarded the funding.

For more information please contact our research team using the contact us form, selecting “Research grants and awards”.

Please note:

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

A project host must be agreed before commencing the application.

The deadline for the host statement is the same as the entire application: 30 June 2024.

How to apply

Apply through the application website.

  • Identify your project and field of interest.
  • Contact and agree the project proposal with your host (project supervisor in a lab or clinic).
  • Applicant completes all sections of the online application form.
  • After Applicant submits, the Host is contacted to submit a supporting statement* using the same application form.
  • Applicant asks the three referees to send their reference letters to  before the 30 June deadline.
  • Applicants must read the Terms and Conditions of the Award to understand requirements around reporting and payments.
  • Applicants should pay close attention to the lay summary of the application. Advice on how to write a lay summary can be found at the bottom of this page.

*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 application form, reference letters, and supporting statement from the host, is 30 June 2024. 

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 before the deadline. Applications will be rejected if host statement and references are not received before 30 June.

  • Deadline of application: 30 June
  • Deadline of Host Supporting Statement: 30 June
  • Deadline of References: 30 June

Applicants will be informed in October 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:

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

Lay Summary

An integral component of the application is the 500-word lay summary.

Start your lay summary by introducing your topic of research and provide some background. Introduce what your research area is about, why it is important. Then explain the specific problem your research proposal aims to solve, e.g. a gap in the literature, a scientific conflict, etc. Finally, summarise what impact your research would have on people affected by MS.

  1. Use simple language: Use simple, everyday language to explain your research proposal. Avoid using complicated words and phrases that may be difficult for a 12-year-old to understand. Words like “Remyelination, “demyelination”, “myelin” are not common words and should be explained.
  2. Use concrete examples: Provide concrete examples to illustrate your research proposal. This will help the reader understand the research proposal more easily.
  3. Use analogies: Use analogies to explain difficult concepts. For example, the brain and nerves can be compared to a computer with wires that are insulated by myelin, the plastic wrapping of electric cables.
  4. Define technical terms: If you need to use technical terms, make sure to define them in simple language.
  5. Keep it short and simple: Focus on the key points and avoid going into too much detail, but use all 500 words to your disposal. Try to capture the big picture.
  6. Test it out: Before submitting your summary, test it out on a friend, family member, or colleague who is not educated in MS to see if they understand it. If not, make revisions until the summary is clear and easy to understand.
  7. Feel free to share the lay summary with the MSIF research team before submitting.