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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe Joint Collaborative Programme 

Applications currently closed.

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, 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. Projects requesting support for postdoctoral research associates (PDRAs; grade 7) may either request: (1) support for up to 2 years (in which case the maximum total project support of £110,000 applies), or, exceptionally, (2) PDRA support for two years with an additional third year, subject to performance assessment review. For projects requesting 2 + 1 years of PDRA time, the total project support may be increased to £165,000.

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:
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, Department of Biochemistry, 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 (applications are currently closed)

To view the list of funded projects, click here.


For any enquiries please contact