10 June - 01 September 2020
International postdoc grant for research on viruses and virus-caused disease conditions
The purpose of the grant is to give researchers who have recently been awarded a doctoral degree by a Swedish higher education institution the opportunity to increase their research competence and international networks to later establish independent research in basic virology and fundamental disease mechanisms caused by viruses.
The Swedish Research Council rewards research of the highest scientific quality in national competition.
Support form: Career support
Subject area: Medicine and Health
Focus: Virus and virus-caused disease conditions
Applicant: Individual researcher who has completed a doctoral degree no more than 2 years ago
Participating researchers: No participating researchers may be invited to join the application.
Grant period: 18–36 months
Grant amount: 1 050 000 SEK per year
Start of grant period: January 2021
Application period: 10 June 2020 (14.00/2 p.m.) – 1 September 2020 (14.00/2 p.m.)
Publication of grant award: No later than the begining of December 2020
- You must describe whether sex and gender perspectives are relevant for your research and, if so, in which way you will use such perspectives. How sex and gender perspectives are managed in the research project will form part of the assessment of scientific quality. Read more under the heading “Research description” and on our website.
- You will need to have a data management plan for data generated within the research we award funds for. You must not send the plan to us, but according to our general grant terms and conditions, your administrating organisation must confirm that a data management plan will be in place when you start your project or equivalent, and also that the plan will be maintained.
Specific instructions for the call
In addition to reading the call text, you also need to consult our Guide for applicants.
Open publication of data
If you are awarded a grant, you are expected to publish your research data and research results of relevance to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with open access as quickly as possible (only applies to the data that may be made accessible according to applicable legislation)
The Swedish Research Council has been mandated by the Government to coordinate the national participation in the European COVID-19 data platform. More information on a national data portal where researchers in Sweden can make relevant research data on COVID-19 openly accessible will be published shortly.
Clinical Studies Sweden – regional nodes supporting the work with clinical studies
The collaboration Clinical Studies Sweden consists of six regional nodes, one in each collaboration region. The nodes can provide contacts with relevant regional resources, such as research units, quality register centres, biobanks and cancer centres. The nodes can also support the work with a clinical study, for example
- study protocols, permit applications, data management and statistics
- infrastructures for implementation (such as FITH-Phase-IV and specialist units within primary care and paediatrics)
- training within clinical research methodology (such as GCP and statistics)
- expertise relating to statistics, epidemiology and health economics.
Further information about the nodes is available on kliniskastudier.se. This also includes a step-by-step guide that describes the study process and what you need to consider when conducting a clinical study.
Practical tips and advice relating to register-based studies
Registerforskning.se has information for those who are planning to use register data in research projects. Here you can also find the metadata tool RUT (Register Utiliser Tool), which offers researchers detailed information at metadata level about the variables used in Swedish registers and biobank sample collections.
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order for you to be eligible to apply for the grant. We carry out checks and reject applications that do not fulfil the requirements.
The Swedish Research Council invites researchers to apply for funds for research in the field of virus and virus-caused disease conditions.
Virus-caused infections are a leading cause of ill health and high mortality around the world, and are a great strain on healthcare and societal finances. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the problems that follow from limited knowledge about fundamental characteristics of a new virus, and the lack of effective antiviral treatments or vaccines against both unknown and known virus-caused infections. Virus-caused infections have great impact also under non-pandemic years, when outbreaks of influenza virus, RS virus, calici virus and measles among others have placed major hospitals under emergency conditions. Virus develop resistance against existing medicines, which is also a problem, for example in the treatment of immuno-suppressed inpatients in hospitals.
The field of virus and virus-caused disease conditions covers human-pathogenic viruses, and includes both pre-clinical and clinical research relating to
- acute, persistent and chronic virus-caused infections
- understanding of these viruses’ disease mechanisms
- causal relationships between virus-caused infections and other diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and neuro-degenerative diseases
- epidemiology, healthcare research, rehabilitation, mental health, global health and health economics.
Questions within the field can relate to fundamental pre-clinical and clinical research, and can include research relating to for example
- disease mechanisms, modelling systems, transmission, viral tropism, the development of virucides, vaccines and anti-viral agents, antiviral resistance, viral immune response, gene and cancer therapy with virus vectors, diagnostics and mapping of viruses in the natural world.
The applicant for an international postdoc grant must be an individual researcher. You must hold a doctoral degree from a Swedish HEI or the European University Institute (EUI), awarded no more than 2 years before the deadline for this call.
Grants from the Swedish Research Council shall be administered by a Swedish HEI or another Swedish public organisation that fulfils our criteria for administrating organisations. Your organisation must therefore be approved as an administrating organisation for you to apply. The administrating organisation must sign your application in Prisma no later than 7 calendar days after the deadline for this call.
If you are awarded a grant, you must be employed by the administrating organisation at the start of and throughout the grant period and any additional availability period, unless the Swedish Research Council approves an exception from this requirement. The administrating organisation will decide on the employment format, salary and employment terms and conditions. You are, however, expected to remain employed full-time throughout the grant period, which means that you are employed and pay tax in Sweden during your stay abroad. You do not have to be employed by the administrating organisation at the time of applying.
To apply for an international postdoc grant, your doctoral degree must have been awarded no more than 2 years ago, that is to say no later than the deadline date for the call, and no earlier than 1 September 2018. We base the career age on the date you fulfilled all the requirements for a doctoral degree, such as mandatory courses, oral defence and an approved doctoral thesis. For applicants with Swedish doctoral degrees, the award date (date of completed studies) listed in Ladok applies. You will not be able to complete your application if your doctoral degree was awarded more than 2 years ago. An exception applies if there are grounds for deductible time after your doctoral degree award that have affected your ability to gain merit as a researcher.
The Swedish Research Council’s recognised grounds are parental leave, positions of trust in trade union organisations and student organisations, mandatory service in the total defence forces, long-term illness (own reported illness or care of child/close family member), general medical internship (maximum 24 months) or further training/specialist medical internship for clinically active professionals (maximum 24 months). Please note that we do not accept other employment, unemployment or holidays as deductible time.
If you wish to claim deductible time, you must specify the recognised grounds and time involved in your application (please see instructions under “Descriptive information” below).
We conduct sample checks. This means that we might request a certificate in evidence of your grounds for deductible time.
Number of applications and previous grants
What grants may I apply for simultaneously from the Swedish Research Council?
You may only submit one application for this grant under this call. You can apply for this grant even if you are simultaneously applying for other Swedish Research Council grants for international postdoc, but if several of your applications are approved, you must choose only one of the grants.
Other restrictions on the grants you may apply for during the same year are shown in the table below.
What requirements apply if I already have a grant from the Swedish Research Council?
There are certain restrictions if you are the project leader of an ongoing grant, that is to say where the grant period (payment period from the Swedish Research Council) overlaps the grant period of the grant the application relates to. Please note that the availability period, that is to say the time during which you have the right to use your grant, is normally longer than the grant period. You can find information about the requirements for your grant in the “Approval of terms and conditions” you received from the Swedish Research Council.
The table below shows information and other restrictions on the grants you may apply for if you already have an ongoing grant.
Note: If you have been the project leader for previous grants from the Swedish Research Council that have ended, final financial reports for all of these must have been submitted within the permitted time frame in order for you to apply for a new grant. Please contact your administrating organisation if you are unsure whether all your final reports have been submitted.
What applies for applications to or grants from other funding bodies?
If your application to the Swedish Research Council relates to the same project idea as a grant you have already been awarded by, or are applying for to another funding body, please describe this.
You may not invite any participating researchers in this application. Any collaboration partners and their roles shall be described in the research plan (please see instructions under “Research plan” below).
Costs and grant amounts
The grant is awarded in a standard amount of 1 050 000 SEK per year, of which 900 000 SEK is for your salary costs and 150 000 SEK for research expenses relating to your stay and your research (such as consumables, travel including stays at research facilities, and publication costs). The grant amount includes cover of indirect costs. The standard amount for salary costs also includes social security contributions. Grants must not be used for scholarships.
The Swedish Research Council assumes that the administrating organisation, as the employer responsible, will cover any costs in excess of the standard amount.
The grant period is 18–36 months, starting in January 2021. The first payment will be made no earlier than December 2020.
A condition of this grant is that you spend at least two thirds of the grant period abroad. You may, however, divide this time up into several shorter periods.
You must confirm that you fulfil the mobility condition by attaching a letter of invitation from the foreign host university or equivalent research institution, and also a description and justification of your choice. Both documents must cover the period stated in the application.
Please refer to the application form in Prisma in parallel with reading the instructions below, which describe the call-specific content of the application. More information on what to do in practical terms is available in our Guide for applicants.
Foreign experts are involved in the scientific assessment of the applications. To ensure fair and equitable assessment and efficient processing, please therefore complete your application in English.
Sections of the application
The application form includes the following tabs:
- Descriptive information
- Research description
- Budget and research resources
- Administrating organisation
- Participants (only administrators in this call)
The information we request under each tab is described below.
State the country and the host HEI and department where you will be spending your stay abroad. You may state more than one host country/host department.
In the abstract, please describe in brief the following:
- What is to be done: purpose and aims
- How will the research be carried out: project organisation, time plan and scientific methods?
- What is important about the planned research
The abstract shall provide a summary picture of the purpose and implementation of the research. Please use wording to ensure persons with another subject specialisation can understand the information.
The description may cover a maximum of 1 500 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately 1/3 A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Popular science description
Describe the project in such a way that a person who is not familiar with the subject can understand it. Describe what is to be done, and why. Explain also in what way the new knowledge may be important.
The popular science description is an important tool when we inform about the research funded by the Swedish Research Council. If we grant your application, we reserve the right to use the description for information purposes.
The description may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately 1 A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Note: The popular science description must be written in Swedish, unlike the rest of the application.
Please state any longer interruptions in your active research time after your doctoral degree caused by any of the grounds recognised by the Swedish Research Council. Please state the interruption calculated as a full-time equivalent and rounded up into full calendar months. Please see the recognised grounds for deductible time under the heading “Career age” above.
Describe the ethical issues raised by your project or corresponding. You must also describe how you plan to address ethical dilemmas that may arise. Please justify why the research should be carried out against the background of the ethical issues you have identified. How do your research questions and expected results measure up in relation to the ethical issues? Please also state whether the research involves any handling of personal data, or experiments on animals or human subjects. If no ethical issues are raised, please justify this.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately 1 A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Sex and gender perspectives
Please state whether sex and gender perspectives are applicable in your planned research, and justify your decision. Please note that we are not asking for information about the composition of the research team (men/women). Read more about sex and gender perspectives in research content.
The following applies:
- If you answer “Yes”: Please justify your answer, and describe also how your take account of sex and gender perspectives in the research plan. If you have stated that sex and gender perspectives are applicable, but still choose not to include them in your research plan, you will need to justify this here.
- If you answer “No”, and thereby do not consider that sex and gender perspectives are applicable for your planned project, you do not need to justify your decision.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately 1 A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
The research plan shall be forward-looking and consist of a brief but complete description of the research task. It shall cover a maximum of 8 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins, including references and any images.
The research plan must include the following headings and information, listed in the following order:
- Purpose and aims: State the overall purpose and specific aims of the research project.
- State-of-the-art: Summarise briefly the current research frontier within the field or area covered by the project. State key references.
- Significance and scientific novelty: Describe briefly how the project relates to previous research within the area, and the impact the project may have in the short and long term. Describe also how the project moves forward or innovates the current research frontier.
- Preliminary and previous results: Describe briefly your own previous research and pilot studies within the research area that make it probable that the project will be feasible. If no preliminary results exist, please state this too.
- Project description: Describe the project design under the following headings:
- Theory and method: Describe the underlying theory and the methods to be applied in order to reach the project goal.
- Time plan and implementation: Describe summarily the time plan for the project during the grant period, and how the project will be implemented.
- Project organisation: Clarify the contributions of yourself and any other researchers and/or key persons to the implementation of the project, including a description of competences and roles in the project.
- Results: Describe the results you expect from the project.
- Independent line of research: If you are working or will be working in a larger group, please clarify how your project relates to the other projects in the group. If you are continuing a project that was wholly or partly started during your doctoral or postdoc studies, you must also describe the relationship between your project and the research of your former supervisor.
Provide the following information also. If a heading is not relevant to your application, please state this under the heading.
- Data analysis and statistics: Modern methods often generate complex data. Describe how you plan to analyse data collected in the project, and the statistical methods you will be using. If the project covers clinical studies, please include a power analysis.
- Equipment: Describe the basic equipment you and your team have at your disposal for the project.
- Need for research infrastructure: Specify the project’s need for international and national research infrastructure. In the first instance, you should use the research infrastructures supported by the Swedish Research Council, which are open to all. If you choose to use other infrastructures instead, please justify this need (also applies for local research infrastructure).
- Other applications or grants: If you are applying for or intend to apply for other grants from the Swedish Research Council, please clarify the relationship between the projects. This applies also if you are receiving ongoing grants from the Swedish Research Council with grant periods that wholly or partly overlap with the grant you are now applying for. You should also justify why you are submitting one or several further applications. Describe also the relationship with other applications to or grants from other funding bodies for the same project idea (from you or another researcher).
- Clinical significance: Explain how the results of the project may be transferred into practical clinical use within the area medicine and health.
Budget and research resources
Please state your activity level (per cent of a full-time equivalent) in the project. We assume that your activity level as project leader corresponds to a full-time equivalent during the grant period.
The grant is a standard amount and you therefore do not need to enter any budget applied for in the application form.
Please attach your publication list drawn up according to the headings and information below. The list shall cover a maximum of 5 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins.
Please sort the publications under each heading in reverse chronological order, so that the latest publication is at the top of the list. Please only include articles or corresponding that are published or accepted for publication at the time of applying. The author name order shall be identical to that of the published work, and your name shall be highlighted in bold. The application cannot be supplemented with publications after the deadline for the call.
1. Selection of publications: List the 5 publications of greatest importance to your application. Describe how you contributed to each publication, and its relevance to your research project (maximum 4 lines per publication). Highlight your name in bold in the author list. State “Part of PhD thesis” in bold in brackets for the publications included in your doctoral thesis.
2. All publications: Sort the publications, with your name highlighted in bold in the author list, under each heading (publication type) in the following order. State “Part of PhD thesis” in bold in brackets for the publications included in your doctoral thesis.
- Peer-reviewed original articles
- Peer-reviewed conference contributions, the results of which are not included in other publications
- Peer-reviewed edited volumes
- Research review articles
- Peer-reviewed books and book chapters
- Other publications including popular science books/presentations]
Invitation from the administrating organisation
The invitation from the Swedish HEI where you will be employed shall show that you are welcome to conduct your planned research there. By signing the application in Prisma, the administrating organisation confirms this undertaking.
The invitation shall be addressed to you as applicant, cover the period shown in this call and include:
- how the applicant’s proposed research relates to the research conducted at the department or research team involved
- the applicant’s scientific independence in relation to the department or research team involved
- how the results from the research programme will contribute to the department’s future activities.
Commitment of the administrating organisation
- the planned start and end dates of your employment at the Swedish HEI the applicant’s employment form, and any additional funding or support required to conduct the planned research
- how the HEI/department will fulfil the project’s needs for premises, equipment and other infrastructure
- the department’s plan for how the applicant can continue to develop their scientific career and competence during and after the grant period.
The document may cover no more than 2 A4 pages, and shall be in English. You can download the template for the invitation from the administrating organisation here. (word, 40.4 kB)
Invitation from host department abroad
The appendix shall include a formal invitation from the host department abroad showing that you are welcome to carry out your planned research there. The invitation shall be addressed to you as the applicant from the head of department or equivalent of the host department abroad where the research will be carried out. The name and contact details of the person signing the document shall be included. The invitation shall apply for the period shown in this call and shall include the following:
- the reason for inviting and hosting the applicant
- how the applicant’s proposed research fits into the research and expertise of the department or research team involved
- the applicant’s proposed role in the research team and/or in the department.
In addition, the invitation shall also describe the host department’s undertakings in the form of a description of:
- the support required to conduct the proposed research and how this will be provided for the applicant
- how the department will fulfil the applicant’s need for premises, equipment and other infrastructure
- how the research environment will support the development of the applicant’s scientific career, networks and competence.
The invitation shall include information on the host department, including theperiod/s of the stay/s, and contact person at the host department abroad (first name, last name, telephone number and email address). Please also state the faculty of the host department and the postal address.
The document may cover a maximum of 2 A4 pages (2 pages per invitation in the event you will be staying at more than one host department abroad). You can download the template for the invitation from the host department abroad here (word, 40.3 kB).
Description and justification of the host department chosen
The document must cover no more than 1 A4 page and shall include the following:
- A description of how the research at the host department abroad relates to the research at the Swedish department.
- A justification of your choice of host department abroad and description of your opportunities to develop your skills as a researcher.
Please state the administrating organisation and project site.
Here you may invite participating administrators to your application.
The following information, where available, must always be included in your CV, taking into account the stated limitation in numbers:
- Education: First, second and third cycle higher education and specialist degrees.
- Work: Current employment (including whether permanent or not) and longer relevant employment held, postdoctoral visits (also included as employment if relevant), research exchanges relevant to the research described and any longer interruptions in the research that have impacted on your opportunity to gain merit as a researcher.
- Merits and awards: Supervisees (doctoral students and students; state the number of persons in each category and list the names of the up to 10 most relevant to you), up to 10 of your most relevant grants awarded in competition, up to 10 of your most relevant prizes and awards, and up to 20 other merits relevant to the application.
- Intellectual property rights: For example, patents and open access computer programs developed by you; state up to 10 of your most relevant.
Scientific quality is the fundamental criterion when the Swedish Research Council allocates grants to research. Your application is evaluated in competition with the other applications based on the following evaluation criteria.
A review panel consisting of international researchers evaluates your application.
Five researcher review and grade your application individually. The entire review panel then meets at a review panel meeting to discuss and prioritise the applications, and finally to make a proposal for a decision to the Scientific Council for Medicine and Health.
A certain proportion of the applications with the lowest grades from the members’ individual reviews are screened out in the beginning of the review panel meeting. These applications will not be the subject of discussion, which gives room for more detailed discussion and prioritisation of the applications of higher quality, which have a reasonable chance of being funded. The applications screened out will, after the decision has been made, receive a final statement that includes which grades the applications received. The other applications receive a more detailed final statement that reflects the review panel’s discussion and overall assessment of the scientific quality of the application.
Evaluation criteria and guiding questions
The evaluation of the scientific quality of the application is made based on four basic criteria (Scientific quality of the proposed research, Novelty and originality, Merits of the applicant, Feasibility). The purpose of using several components is to achieve a multi-faceted evaluation. In general, the competency of the applicant is given greater weight when evaluating individual career support. The criteria are assessed on a seven-graded scale, except for feasibility, which is assessed on a three-graded grade scale.
In addition to the basic criteria, the application is also evaluated using an additional criterion (relevance to the call) on a three-graded scale.
For each criterion, there are guiding questions to support the panel members’ evaluation of your application. These can also function as guidance for you when you write your application.
The scientific quality of the proposed research (1 – 7)
- Will the project, if successful, significantly advance our understanding of the field?
- Is the research proposal relevant for medical research?
- Are the hypotheses clearly defined and based on the appropriate literature and/or preliminary data?
- Do the study design, research questions and hypotheses meet the standard of the highest scientific quality?
- Are the ethical considerations for the proposed project described and addressed properly?
- Are methods, including data analysis and statistics, appropriate for the project and well described?
- Are potential problems and alternative strategies identified and presented?
- If sex and gender is described as relevant to the research project, has the applicant considered sex and gender in the description of the proposed work, for instance as part of preliminary data, the choice of samples or study population, or data analyses?
Novelty and originality (1 - 7)
- Does the project generate or explore new research areas?
- Is there potential to generate new knowledge, novel technologies, or new directions for research and advancement of the field?
- Does the project significantly extend or challenge current understanding, views or practice in the field?
- Is the project built on a unique combination of ideas, preliminary data, and methodologies to create novel approaches to address the question at hand?
- Will completion of the aims improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice?
- Does the proposed line of research have the potential to significantly advance current knowledge in the field or will it only add minor details to existing knowledge?
Merits of the applicant (1 - 7)
- Does the applicant have sufficient research experience, expertise, level of independence and scientific network for implementation of the proposed project?
- How do the applicant’s academic qualifications and achievements relate to his or her career stage and active time for research?
Feasibility (1 - 3)
- Is the project’s design and choice of method adequate for the project’s implementation?
- Is the general design, including the time-frame, realistic for implementing the proposed project?
- Are the materials, methods (including statistics and/or power calculations), experimental models, and when appropriate, patient/study cohorts adequate and well adapted to the hypothesis or research question?
- Are any ethical questions relating to the implementation of the project addressed in an adequate way?
- Considering the project as a whole, is there sufficient competence in place to carry out the research task?
- Are adequate resources available for the project’s research question, including supervision and relevant equipment.
Internationalisation and research environment (1 - 3)
- To what extent does the foreign host institution seem relevant for the research the application concerns?
- How suitable is the foreign research environment for the applicant’s ability to develop new competences, their research network and their independence as a researcher?
- How suitable is the Swedish research environment for the applicant’s ability to develop their career as a researcher?
- To what extent does the stay abroad and the project contribute to Swedish research?
Overall grade (1 – 7)
The above subsidiary criteria are weighed together into an overall grade, which reflects the review panel’s joint evaluation of the application’s scientific quality.
Relevance (1 - 3)
Relevance to the program objectives is evaluated separately from the scientific quality, and is not included in the overall grade.
- To what extent is the proposal relevant to the described call objectives?