ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award

ScotPEN has been awarded funding of £500,000 from Wellcome to initiate a new 18 month pilot collaboration to support Wellcome grant holders in Scotland to engage the public with their research.

The funding pilot is designed to improve the quality and quantity of successful research engagement projects and increase opportunities for institutional collaborations. The ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award (SWEA) will replace Wellcome’s Research Enrichment for Public Engagement scheme for those based in Scottish universities and research institutes.

The second funding call has now closed. All associated documents can be found on the call page.

Recently funded projects: 2019

Dr Megan McLeod, University of Glasgow: ‘Co-Immunicate: communicating immunity with the community’.

This project will involve a 4-year relationship with nearby Anderston Primary School. Dr MacLeod and her team will engage and inform primary pupils about immune cell communication and how this allows vaccine-induced protection to occur. The project is designed to empower pupils to design their own activities and displays. Pupils will use these activities to share their learning with younger pupils, the local community and the wider public at a series of events including annually at Glasgow Science Festival.

Dr Clarissa Melo Czekster, University of St. Andrews: ‘Antibiotics under our feet’.

New compounds from soil microbes could  be an important source of new antibiotics to fight drug resistant infections. In this project staff and students from the University of St Andrews will work with the local community to create a citizen science project. Teachers and Primary 5-7 pupils will sample soil near the targeted schools, with the results used to develop a fully accessible map of Scotland/Fife. The map will show where different species are found, their resistance to common antibiotics, and their potential for use in new treatments. The researchers and schools will also co-produce information and resources for use in schools involving DNA, microbes, antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic discovery.


Professor Sarah Cunningham Burley, University of Edinburgh & Professor Anne Kerr, University of Glasgow: ‘Tailored treatments for cancer: tales of research and care’.

This project will co-produce a graphic novel with people involved in developments of novel cancer treatments. Sharing the experiences of patients, carers, health care professionals, scientists and others will help convey the complexities of genomic medicine and the social and ethical issues it raises. The graphic novel format will help avoid language and literacy barriers and participants will be empowered to question, influence and advocate. The finished novel will also be used in workshops to help patients and carers produce their own short graphic stories based on their experiences.


The project aims to enhance the ways that patients and others are engaged and considered in the process and outcomes of research.

Professor Andrew McIntosh, University of Edinburgh: ‘My depression, your depression - same name, different stories’.

Professor McIntosh’s Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL) project uses large datasets to investigate the causes and consequences of depression at a population level. However, this data-driven approach is not very effective at capturing individual differences. This public engagement project will enrich the research by using a person-centred approach – empowering those affected by depression to tell their stories in their own way by working with experts in digital and mental health storytelling. These stories will be shared with researchers, with policymakers and with the wider public at key exhibitions and events. As well as empowering participants to speak out about mental health, the project aims to help researchers understand and engage with the people and experiences behind the data. Researchers will also use the stories to bring participants’ voices to their discussions with policy makers.

Professor Sarah Reece, University of Edinburgh: ‘It’s about time! Malaria & mosquitoes on the road’.

In collaboration with the RAiSE project, scientists from the Reece Lab will engage rural school pupils with cutting-edge research to enhance science delivery, foster desire to better understand the living world, and show how science can tackle global issues. Malaria parasites and mosquitoes are continually adapting to their ever-changing world, and the daily rhythms of their behaviour are vital to understanding and treating the disease. Primary 4-6 children will conduct their own research projects on mosquitoes from their local environment and relate this knowledge to the role of mosquitoes in global health.


If you know of a rural school interested in a visit from the Reece Lab, please get in touch with them. Their website is and they are on twitter at @ReeceLab.

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