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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe Joint Collaborative Programme – Call for Applications 

Closing date: 11 November 2022

The Joint Collaborative Programme is aimed at enabling collaboration between research groups within the University of Cambridge and partner institutes on origins of life research.

This programme offers financial support of up to £800,000 in total for this funding round for research projects aiming to address any of the Centre’s research objectives:

  • What are the chemical pathways which led to the origins of life that are compatible with benign conditions for life in different planetary environments?
  • How do we characterise the environments on Earth and other planets that could act as the cradle of prebiotic chemistry and life?
  • What observational facilities and methods will allow investigation of bodies beyond the Solar System, the remote sensing of their atmospheres and the search for signatures of geological and biological evolution?
  • How can planetary environments be shaped by life, and how do they change through major evolutionary transitions?
  • How can philosophical and mathematical concepts refine our understanding of what we mean by life, leading to new interdisciplinary collaborations and modes of scientific enquiry?

Individual research projects can request financial support of up to £110,000. A minimum of 80% of the total requested amount should be used to cover research staff costs, which may include research assistant/associate costs for up to 2 years or PhD studentship costs for up to 3.5 years. The remaining amount may be used for any other associated costs, including consumables, equipment, and travel.

Lead applicants must either be affiliated with any of the Centre’s participating departments within the University of Cambridge or be a spoke leader at any of the Centre’s partner institutes (listed below). Lead applicants must either hold a faculty position or be a senior researcher (grade 9 and above) on a contract longer than the requested funding period. We welcome applications from supervisory teams based across different departments and involving early career researchers.

Participating Departments at the University of Cambridge:
Cavendish Laboratory, Institute of Astronomy, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, Department of Earth Sciences, Department of Zoology, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Divinity, and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
Partner Institutes:
University of Colorado Boulder, University College London, ETH Zurich, Harvard University, and the Centre of Theological Inquiry (Princeton, New Jersey).


Proposals will be assessed by a selection committee against the following criteria:
  • Alignment of the proposed research with the Centre’s objectives. 
  • Potential of the proposed research to impact other priority research areas within the Centre.
  • Feasibility and resource justification.
  • Other sources of financial support.

How to Apply

Please complete this application form and send it to by 11 November 2022. 

In the application form you will be asked to provide the following:

Research proposal: a general description of the proposed research to be carried out. This should include context, objectives, methodology, key milestones, and expected results of the proposed work; a brief description of relevant expertise of the lead applicant or team proposing the project.

Relevance to LCLU aims: a brief discussion of how the proposed project aligns with any of the Centre's research objectives.

Requested resources and justification: X5 costing is not required but requested resources should include appropriate estimation of costs supporting research assistants (grade 5)/associates (grade 7) or PhD students (please refer to this link for information on salary scales); a brief justification for resources requested, and information about any other financial support that might be available to contribute to the proposed research.



Opening Date

Closing Date



10 October 2022

11 November 2022

12 December 2022

Please note that this is a yearly call and subsequent funding rounds are expected to follow a similar time frame.

For any enquiries please contact