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Department of Pathology



The Ita Askonas Bursaries provide support for postdoctoral researchers in the University of Cambridge to develop new collaborations and skills in any area of infection and immunity, accelerating their career progression.

Awards support research visits to other UK institutions for the purpose of initiating new studies, learning a new research skill or building collaborative networks.



Brigitte Askonas, widely known as Ita, was a leading figure in modern immunology. Her work made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the immune system as an intricate network of different cell types interacting and producing mediators to control their complex functions.

Ita did postgraduate work in the School of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and in 1952 moved to the National Institute for Medical Research. She became Head of the Division of Immunology in 1976 and stayed at NIMR until 1988 when she retired. She then made regular working visits to the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford and the Departments of Leucocyte Biology and Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London. Ita received many awards and marks of recognition, including election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1973, and in 2007 the Robert Koch Gold Medal and election as a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

Ita died in January 2013 and left money in her will to fund the Ita Askonas Bursaries. These are intended to allow postdoctoral students in the fields of infection and immunology to pursue specific research projects or networking opportunities at another institution. The Bursaries provide a wonderful opportunity for postdoctoral researchers in infection and immunity to take the initiative in their research and their first steps to scientific independence.


Scope and Funding Available

Applications are invited from any postdoctoral scientist (non-PI) within the University of Cambridge working in the areas of infection and immunity, or those from alternative backgrounds wishing to move into these fields. The Management Committee encourages applications from postdoctoral researchers planning for an independent research career, and the bursaries aim to accelerate this career development. As such, the expectation is that holders of an Ita Askonas Bursary will have identified collaborative opportunities themselves, will be responsible for driving the interactions and will be alive to the possibility of using the results to support applications for future substantive funding (for example, independent fellowship applications). Applications should be clearly distinct from ongoing research in the applicant’s “home” laboratory.

Ita Askonas Bursary will fund travel, accommodation and (modest) research expenses for research visits to any UK research institution. It is anticipated that Bursary holders will return to Cambridge with new skills and/or collaborations that will accelerate their ongoing research. To this end, requests for software or very small pieces of equipment to allow the new research to be continued in Cambridge after the visit will be considered. Applications that do not demonstrably support the independent career development of the applicant, that request substantive costs for use of research services (e.g. large-scale ‘omics costs), or requests for conference attendance will not be supported. The applicant must be employed by the University of Cambridge for the duration of the research visit and salary costs cannot be requested. Strong justification of requested expenses must be provided. Enquiries about the scale of an application may be made to the Academic Secretary of the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge.


Assessment Criteria

Applications will be assessed by the Ita Askonas Bursaries Management Committee, comprising the Head of the Department of Pathology – Professor Geoffrey L Smith, Head of the School of Biological Sciences – Professor Anna Philpott, two Addenbrooke’s representatives – Professor Gillian Griffiths and Dr Tim Halim, a Vet School representative – Professor Julian Parkhill, and an Appointed by the executor(s) – Professor Anne Cooke.


Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Independence and novelty of the proposal
  • Scientific promise and feasibility
  • Career development impact
  • Suitability of host institution
  • Justification of timing and expenses
  • Application Process and Deadlines


Applications are invited at any time and will be assessed by the Management Committee. Candidates will be informed of the outcome within one month of an application being received.

Re-submission of previously unsuccessful applications is allowed, but such re-applications should clearly state how the submission has been improved with reference to the assessment criteria listed above.

Please note: Applications from previous Ita Askonas Bursary holders are not encouraged.


Ita Askonas Bursary awardees are required to provide a short summary of their research activities within three months of the research visit ending and to acknowledge the funding in any publications arising from data acquired during the research visit. The report should also indicate the ways in which the award has enhanced the career of the recipient.

The management committee retains the sole discretion to deviate awards from the amounts requested. The committee will endeavour to provide helpful feedback to an unsuccessful applicant but correspondence regarding outcomes will not be entered into.


Apply Now

As part of the online form below, applicants will need to upload: a proposal (maximum 2 pages of A4, with Arial size 11 font, and margins of no less than 2cm), a justification document (maximum 1 page of A4, with Arial size 11 font, and margins of no less than 2cm), and a CV and publications list. Applicants will also need to complete the following information fields: name, position, email address, department, collaborator name and/or their institute, expected outcome of the collaboration, amount requested, other sources of funding.


Ita Askonas Bursaries Application Form




Potential applicants might also find it useful to consult a variety of other sources of funds via the links provided below:


British Society for Immunology (BSI):

European Federation of Immunological Sciences (EFIS):

Microbiology Society (MS):

Cambridge Immunology Network (CIN):

Cambridge Infectious Diseases (CID):

School of Biological Sciences (SBS)  funding page:

School of Biological Sciences ‘Infection and Immunity’ Research Theme: