Returners Resources

Are you thinking about taking a career break? Are you in the middle of a career break and considering your options to return?

Returners to Bioscience Week 9 – 13 November 2015

To raise awareness of the challenges returners face and the talent that they offer, we shared case studies, interviews and blog posts during the week. If you missed it, catch up on Twitter using #BioReturners and listen to our podcasts.

You can also listen to the individual interviews in full and read an article on returners from The Biologist.

We are always looking for more returners from any bioscience field (eg. academia, industry, teaching) to share their thoughts and inspire others. If you would like to get in contact with us about your experience as a returner or employer, or you have any other comments and suggestions, please get in touch.

The Royal Society of Biology is working to understand the barriers facing those seeking to return to work in the biosciences and to improve their chances of success. For more information see our Returners to Bioscience Group page.

This information resource is part of our activities in support of these aims.

We have also started an online discussion on Talk Biology forum. Have a look and join the conversation!

Please get in touch with the Science Policy Team if you would like to suggest further content.

Free Badged Open Course

Return to STEM
By the Open University
If you have studied or worked in either science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) and you are looking to return to work in one of these sectors, then this course offers a supportive environment to help you realise your ambitions.


Daphne Jackson Trust Fellowships

The Daphne Jackson Trust offer STEM professionals wishing to return to research after a break of 2 or more years the opportunity to balance an individually tailored retraining programme with a challenging research project in a suitably supportive environment. Fellowships can be based in a university of research institute anywhere in the UK.

Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry Fellowship

For postdoctoral scientists who have recently decided to recommence a scientific research career after a continuous break of at least two years. It gives such scientists the opportunity to return to high-quality research, with the potential to undertake refresher or further training. The fellowship is particularly suitable for applicants wishing to return to research after a break for family commitments. Background info can be found on the Wellcome Trust's Flexible Research Careers Page.

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship

For outstanding scientists in the UK at an early stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring responsibilities or health issues. Female candidates are particularly invited to apply.

British Heart Foundation Career Re-entry Research Fellowships

These provide an opportunity to re-establish a career in cardiovascular science in an established research institution in the UK, after a break of more than two years.

The Janet Thornton Fellowship

These are specifically for postdocs who have been out of scientific research for one year or more to return to high-quality postdoctoral training. One fellowship will be awarded each year. Each fellowship will last for three years and can be worked full time, part time or flexibly.

National Research Network for Low Carbon Energy and Environment (NRN-LCEE) Returning Fellowships
Returning Fellowships of up to £20,000 each are available for researchers who are returning/ have returned from a minimum period of 6 months leave, for reasons of maternity/ paternity/ adoption/ health/ caring.

Organisations and networks

A number of organisations and networks can offer support for those who have taken extended career breaks.

Staying connected

There are a number of means to stay connected with the bioscience community during a career break.

A number of learned societies offer reduced membership rates for those currently on a career break. The Royal Society of Biology offer a a 50% discount if you are retired, on a career break, not in paid employment, or a student in full-time education. The Microbiology Society offer full concessionary membership to professional/academic microbiologists on a career break, or those earning less than £35,000 a year.

Some learned societies also offer bursaries to support those returning from a career break or to enable those on a career break to attend scientific conferences and events.

  • The Physiological Society's Research grant scheme is intended to support physiologists in their first permanent academic position or returning to a permanent position after a career break. Funds of up to £10,000 are available for a 12-month period, to provide support for research or to provide seed-funding to start a new project.
  • The Biochemical Society's Stay Connected Bursary Scheme helps to cover the cost of registration, accommodation and/or care provider cover to attend one of the Society's conferences, workshops or training days. Anyone on a career break can apply.
  • The Microbiology Society's Inclusion Grant aims to support members who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the Society’s Annual Conference, but whose attendance would benefit their professional development.
  • The British Society for Cell Biology's Childcare Award provides financial help with childcare or care for dependants when the applicant is presenting at a scientific meeting.


Royal Society of Biology blog, Returning to work after a career break? The four things you should know
Naturejobs blog,
Women in science: A returner's perspective
Royal Society of Biology blog, Returners to Bioscience - a neglected pool of talented workers
Bioindustry Association blog, The first Returners to Bioscience Week 2015 - raising awareness and celebrating talent
Royal Society of Biology blog, Choosing between 'life' or research - survey data shows the outlook is good for returners
Biochemical Society blog, Five things having a career break has taught me
The Telegraph, How to return to work after a long career break
PLOS blog, 7 Tips for Women at Science Conferences
The Telegraph, You have 8.8 seconds to impress with your CV. Here's how
The Wellcome Trust blog, How to return to a research career after a break from the lab
Women Returners blog, Five ways to build your back-to-work networks
The Guardian, The five things I want to tell employers about women returning to work