The Wellcome Trust offers grants to projects on sexuality and health

January 2017

Wellcome trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation which is dedicated to improving health.

The Wellcome Trust has launched a funding call for humanities and social science research proposals that explore the interaction between sexuality and health. They are particularly keen to encourage applications from Brazilian researchers and are open to receiving applications related to sexuality and the zika epidemics. For further information see the Wellcome website.

Researchers can request support of up to £100,000 (around $130,000). We interviewed Charlene Colegate, from the Humanities & Social Science team at the Wellcome Trust. She explained what types of projects they are looking for and what makes an application successful.

Why has Wellcome chosen this theme?

Sexuality – whether you think it is simply a basic biological instinct, or a performative identity dependent on social and cultural norms – is a common human experience. It also has a major influence on physical and mental health. Sexuality can affect health-related needs and behaviours, and can influence the ways in which individuals and communities are treated by healthcare professionals and policies. But despite its strong presence in human lives, sexuality is often overlooked and under-researched as a factor in health and wellbeing.

Wellcome wishes to support research programmes exploring these themes by calling for Seed Award proposals in the humanities, social sciences and bioethics that will explore the interactions between sexuality and health.

Seed Awards are designed to help researchers develop compelling and innovative ideas that may go on to form parts of larger grant applications. We’re looking for proposals that aim to develop new approaches or collaborations. Pilot and scoping studies; planning sessions; meetings of collaborative networks are all activities that we’d expect to form part of a successful application.

What can researchers ask for through this call?

Researchers can request support of up to £100,000 (around $130,000) for a period of up to 12 months. The money can be used to pay for teaching buyout for academics, consultancy fees, research staff costs, conference or meeting costs and research expenses. Wellcome is a very flexible funder, but there are a few things you can’t ask for – our website has information on these.

What makes an application successful?

The absolutely crucial part of any successful Seed Award application is the demonstration of the larger research vision. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. You need to show the committee what might happen next, and why the larger research project or programme cannot thrive without being provided with Seed funding beforehand.

It is also key that you demonstrate that you, or a team of you and your collaborators/advisers, have the right combination of skills, knowledge and experience for the project. This team can be composed of other academics – either from your own institution, others in Brazil or abroad. It could also be made up of clinicians, community members, patients, NGO or Charity workers. The most successful applications are those that really make the case that their work is innovative and ground-breaking. They demonstrate precisely how they are going to achieve their aims by providing a clear plan of the activities that will take place during the award. If you would like to discuss applying for an award, you can contact me at

Charlene Colegate final


Charli Colegate is part of the Humanities
& Social Science team at the Wellcome Trust.


See in our blog:

It is crucial to understand the social context of health and disease

– João Rangel de Almeida, of the Wellcome Trust,
talks about the role of humanities and social sciences
to improve health and about several projects supported
by Wellcome in Low-and-Middle-Income-Countries.




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