Request for Applications: SAMRC Early Investigators Programme 2021/2022 Intake

Request for Applications
Launch date
Deadline date
SAMRC Early Investigators Programme 2021/2022 Intake 15 October 2021
1 November 2021 - Extended to 5 November 2021

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) 's Division of Research Capacity Development (RCD) invites applications from early investigators in health/medical research with at least four years of demonstrated postdoctoral research tenure or two years of post-PhD research experience for clinicians. The SAMRC Early Investigators Programme is an excellent opportunity for South African academic institutions to support future health research leaders to establish their own research teams and make the transition to Mid-Career Scientists and independent researchers.

The Aim of the Award
The overarching objective of the SAMRC's Division of RCD is to enhance the long-term sustainability of health research in South Africa by providing funding for the next generation of health researchers. The SAMRC, under the initiative of its President/CEO, has established the Early Investigators Programme as an intervention to the current SAMRC Mid-Career Scientists programme to accommodate funding for promising scientists with leadership potential to become independent researchers, but who are not yet at the level of a Mid-career scientist. The purpose of the Early Investigators Programme is to i) support the career development of South African scientists at the end of their early postdoctoral stage, ii) facilitate their transition to the next level of established Mid-Career Scientists, and iii) foster their retention in the public sector in areas of strategic interest to the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the SAMRC for a solid scientific and academic leadership in the country. It is expected that funded investigators will be able to strengthen their leadership skills, increase their research outputs and management skills, train and graduate research students, and attract further funding to grow their own research programmes.

The purpose of this particular Request for Applications is to attract black scientists within the following research priority areas: Non-Communicable Diseases, Maternal and Child Health, Violence and Injury, Communicable diseases (COVID-19, HIV, TB and Malaria), Health Systems Strengthening and Preparedness and Resilience to Pandemic Response (not restricted to COVID-19), Public Health Innovation (Genomics and Bioinformatics) and Digital Health. Research projects that contribute to the mandate of SAMRC and demonstrate potential for public health impact will receive preference.

Value and Period of the Award
The value of the award will be up to R500 000.00 per year for five years comprising the first two years renewable for a further period of three years, subject to satisfactory performance and availability of funds. Payment of the grant funding will be linked to clear milestones and deliverables and subjected to terms and conditions of the awards.

Conditions of the Award
The grant will be used for research purposes as per agreed budget. In the case where the grant is partially used as a salary, a formal request must be included in the initial application indicating the institutional commitment to cover the running expenses. The award must demonstrate an intentional and measurable contribution to the objectives of the programme to facilitate retention in the public sector in areas of strategic interest to both the National Department of Health (NDoH) and the SAMRC.   

Eligibility Criteria

  • Only bona-fide South African citizens and permanent residents may apply.
  • Applicants must have a research doctorate in health/ medical research with at least four years of demonstrated postdoctoral research tenure or two years of post-PhD research experience for clinician-scientists. 
  • Applicants must be younger than 45 years; over 45 years candidates need strong motivation.
  • Preference will be given to female candidates and the historically disadvantaged groups. For this reason, we require race and gender to be specified.
  • Disabled individuals are strongly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be affiliated to a recognized academic institution in an established academic post, i.e. permanently employed, or in a long-term contract of employment (at least for the duration of the project, salaried by the university) or must have secured a commitment from the institution to host the proposed project and provide necessary financial support to the applicant for the duration of the grant.
  • Full-time employees of the SAMRC may not hold the SAMRC Early Investigators award.
  • Applicants who have already demonstrated independence as evidenced by substantial grant income as principal investigators or have already established their research groups (for more than four years) are not eligible.
  • The SAMRC Early Investigators Programme award may not be held concurrently with another SAMRC research grant.

Selection Process

  • Eligible applications will be subject to the peer-review process, and review reports will be assessed by the panel (Selection Committee), who will also score the application against standard objective criteria (evaluation guidelines)
  • While previously disadvantaged individuals will receive preference (targeting 80% of the awards), the academic merit and the quality of the proposed research must be ranked higher. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial programme of research with integrity. The applicants must also provide a clear rationale of why the Early Investigators Grant will best support their long-term career goals and chosen career route.
  • The research area and expected outputs must be outlined and linked to the SAMRC's strategic research priorities.
  • Applications from historically disadvantaged institutions and SAMRC Extramural Research Units will receive preference.

The South African Medical Research Council reserves the right to disqualify ineligible, incomplete and/or inappropriate applications, change the conditions of the award, extend the closing date or make no awards at all. Please note that only successful candidates will be contacted within 30 days after the closing date.

Application Process
Applicants must complete the online application and also submit the Application form, Milestone table, Budget form, and reviewers nomination form (four forms in total per application) with supporting documents to RCD Grants Administration at; cc: Ms Asanele Ngcauzele (

The full application includes an application form with a full research proposal and annexures, applicant motivation letter, CV with complete publication list and citations, contact details of two confidential referees, supporting letter with a written commitment by the hosting institution to provide the infrastructure and enabling research environment and, where applicable, matching contribution towards the applicant remuneration and running expenses of the research project.

The completed application and supporting documents must reach RCD before or on 1 November 2021 (Extended to 5 November 2021). Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. The outcome of the applications will be released before 31 January 2022.

Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA)
Please note that by submitting the application and other supporting documents, the SAMRC concludes that you are a competent person to consent and that you are giving consent to the SAMRC  to process and further process all personal information contained in the application forms and supporting documents in accordance with the Protection of Personal Information Act, Act No 4 of 2013 (as amended).

    Enquiries and guidance

    Contact Dr Frederic Nduhirabandi by email at or +27 21 938 0461.

    Friday, November 5, 2021 - 23:59