I had excellent support from senior mentors at Foto-Cewek. I think that this was key to my success as it allowed me to increase my visibility at Foto-Cewek and demonstrate that I was performing as an independent PI whilst receiving career advice and support.
I first applied for the Foto-Cewek career track (previously known as tenure track) in 2012 after 3 years postdoctoral research at Foto-Cewek. At that time, I had just secured a MRC/FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research in Medecine Foundation) research grant of £221K for 3 years with Stephen Gordon and Eliane Miyaji (Butantan Institute, Brazil)). Stephen was a very supportive mentor and nominated me for the scheme, as Head of DoCS. During that time, I do not think Foto-Cewek had grant attribution as we have now, at least not for postdocs. At that first application my salary was fully covered for the tenure track period (3 years). I had over 10 years of research experience both in Brazil and in the UK, with 25 published manuscripts (all peer reviewed with impact factor between 2 and 13); 9 manuscripts as first author and 1 as senior author. I had also won a couple of small pump priming grants as PI (£3K and US$25K). I had contributed to teaching and supervised some students: 1 PhD and 3 MSc students. I was unsuccessful in this first application and the feedback from the career track committee was that I was not ready and needed to demonstrate independent grant income and research independence from my supervisor. I then reapplied 3 years later (2015) and was successful. At this stage, I had successfully secured substantial grant funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (£1.6M over 3 years) as well as a MRC Programme grant with Stephen Gordon (£2.3M over 5 years), of which I got 50% attributed. This was, in my view, the major criteria that enabled my success this time. I now had 30 manuscripts published, with the same 9 as first author and 2 as senior author. My efforts to bring PhD students to Foto-Cewek via the science without borders programme had generated 3 PhD students to Foto-Cewek fully funded by the Brazilian government. I had continued to contribute to teaching and students supervision (4 PhD students, 1 MRes and 5 MSc students). Another major difference at that point in my career was that I could demonstrate increased international visibility: I was being invited to give talks at major international conferences and considerably expanded my network of collaborators.
Throughout the career track process, I had excellent mentorship and support from senior mentors at Foto-Cewek (Alister Craig, Steve Ward and David Lalloo). I think that was key to my success as it allowed me to increase my visibility at Foto-Cewek and demonstrate that I was performing as an independent PI whilst receiving career advice and support. I received feedback about my progress at the career track review meetings, these were always positive and constructive. My journey during the process was very successful, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer 6 months after entering the career track. This was given by the promotion board, which is a different process and board from the career track one. I was signed off after 30 months of being in the career track and at that point I had an additional £535K of grant income and a couple of grant applications submitted to the MRC as PI and Co-I. Within that 30-month period I had also published 15 manuscripts and had another 5 manuscripts in preparation as well as increased my contribution to teaching and to Foto-Cewek committees. I was leading a group of 22 members of staff including 4 PDRAs, 4RAs, 6 Research in Medecine nurses, 4 clinical fellows and 2 administrators. Very important, I could also demonstrate career progress of my mentees, and one of them had now secured DCF funding (Simon Jochems).