How can we help researchers, funders and young people collaborate more meaningfully in mental health research? Over the past six months, we worked with Wellcome and UKRI to try and answer this question.

Meaningful collaboration with people with lived experience makes research better. It improves research outcomes, aligns research priorities with actual public needs, and creates a more inclusive and rewarding research culture. When it comes to mental health research, collaborating with young people is especially important given how significant early intervention is in improving mental health outcomes. We need young people’s input on what is researched, and how, so that we can advance knowledge and practice that reflects real experiences and responds to urgent needs. However, those interested in collaboration often encounter obstacles that make this work tricky, and when they go looking for solutions, they may struggle to find resources that can help them.

In this post, we share key challenges and barriers facing collaborators in mental health research, particularly young people, researchers, engagement specialists, and funders. We also review some of the existing resources currently available to overcome these challenges. Finally, we reflect on the types of resources out there and theorise how they respond to three distinct learning needs that collaborators have – needs which could be better supported through developing, assembling, and referring to appropriate types of resources.

In this post, we use the term collaboration to refer to working with and alongside people with lived experience in research. This is distinct from participation in research, where members of the public share data rather than expertise. Collaboration is a broad term covering many different ways researchers work with people who have lived experience, including, but not limited to, patient and public involvement (PPI), participatory research, and community engagement.

Challenges & barriers

Any good resource in this space needs to tackle the factors that make research collaboration difficult. To identify and understand these, we spoke with over 30 stakeholders with different perspectives and experiences of collaboration. This included researchers with years of engagement expertise, youth mental health charity staff, early career researchers on international youth mental health collaborations, experienced engagement coordinators, funders of youth mental health organisations, and young people aged 15–29 years. We spoke with people from the UK and globally, including collaborators based in Australia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, the US, and Zimbabwe. Those we interviewed highlighted the following challenges and barriers preventing meaningful collaboration:

  • Recruitment & retention: Successfully reaching and recruiting a diverse range of young people to collaborate with can be difficult. Usually, collaborators are sourced through word of mouth or existing networks, making it harder for researchers to reach under-represented groups. 

  • Legal & ethical barriers: Legal teams often don’t know how to treat young people under 18 as experts by experience rather than participants. Are they employed, or reimbursed? Plus, there is a need for parental consent, and this takes time and requires trust between researchers and families. Additionally, there is a lot of siloed working and lack of coordination between health trusts and universities when it comes to collaboration, so many are addressing the same administrative problems in slightly different ways.

  • Youth capacity: Arranging collaboration activities around a young person’s availability can be difficult, considering they can be at school or have exam schedules. Zoom meetings and other research environments may also be unfamiliar to young people, and they need time to adjust and gain the skills to contribute in these settings. Researchers need ways to meet young people where they are, rather than expect them to immediately adjust to academic ways of working, and young people need adequate support structures so that they can contribute to research to the best of their ability. 

  • Lack of trusting relationships: Short project timelines mean that researchers don’t have much time to develop relationships with the young people they work with, and this limits the potential for meaningful collaborative work to take place. However, this is challenging when working with young people, as they age out fast. In addition, there can be a level of mistrust of researchers, especially amongst certain communities, and this prevents people from wanting to collaborate.

  • Jargon: Researchers need ways of translating complex scientific medical jargon into language that young people can understand and engage with. In addition, sometimes researchers can use medical terminology that young people don’t necessarily agree with and may feel strongly about, particularly in the domain of mental health. 

  • Power dynamics: Power dynamics can be a barrier, both subtly and explicitly. For instance, when young people are at a meeting with researchers or funders, they may feel intimidated and this can affect how they contribute. There are also more practical challenges to work through: How much weight should be given to a young person’s views on a funding panel? What happens when young people disagree with researchers, and how should disagreements be settled when there are differing levels of expertise between them? Collaborators need to be trained in how to navigate these issues.

  • Inclusion & customisation: People from different groups have different needs, whether this is because they come from differing cultural backgrounds, have accessibility requirements for their mental health condition, or are within younger or older age ranges. Making adequate customisations is essential, but there is little guidance around how to do this.

  • Not valuing lived experience: Young people sense when researchers don’t ‘get it’, when it comes to valuing lived experience expertise. A tokenistic approach disadvantages both researcher and young person when trying to work together, because the collaboration remains surface-level and not meaningful. ​​

  • Youth interest: Young people can have certain preferences or expectations for research they would like to be a part of, and researchers often find they struggle to match these expectations. Young people often want to do work that leads to immediate outcomes, however research isn’t always like this. 

These challenges and barriers demonstrate how complex collaboration can become. With so many moving parts and differing needs to accommodate, many different resources are needed.

Existing resources & their limitations

Defining a resource as anything which collaborators could turn to for help and guidance, through further research we discovered over 180 resources created to address such challenges and barriers to collaboration.

[View all resources]

The resources we found cover a wide variety of formats and perspectives, originating from disparate sources representing distinct theories of collaboration in very different disciplinary, institutional, and population contexts. They include materials and tools in the form of blog posts, templates, and webinars, but also more relational resources such as networks of young people. They were developed by charities, consultancies, universities, funders, as well as individual researchers and young people. Some focus on collaboration within mental health research whereas others are geared toward research collaboration more broadly. Some address specific collaboration considerations at particular stages of the research process. Some are designed for public and patient involvement (PPI); others for community engagement. Some provide basic, foundational guidance, and some assume users are already somewhat experienced in collaboration so don’t refer to more basic principles or frameworks.

We also noticed clear gaps in the available resources. Most are aimed at researchers, while fewer are targeted at funders and young people. There is a conspicuous lack of materials developed specifically for research collaborators in low-resource settings or in specific social or cultural contexts globally. Furthermore, guidance tends to focus on certain challenges and barriers more than others. For example, we found that more general resources on power dynamics and valuing lived experience are relatively plentiful, whereas those on the practicalities of recruitment and retention, inclusion and customisation, and legal and ethical barriers are much rarer.

Overall, our analysis revealed that while many mental health research collaboration resources already exist, what’s currently available is heterogeneous and scattered widely. This can make it difficult for collaborators to locate and piece together what they need, when they need it so that they can ultimately formulate a meaningful collaboration approach backed by good practice.

Meeting learning needs of research collaborators

One way to help research collaborators navigate the myriad resources on offer is to lead with their learning needs. Many people we spoke with shared strong testimonials for particular types of resources, whether theoretical frameworks, training and guidance, or stories of experience. We found that these endorsements generally reflected one of three distinct learning needs: the need to establish the right mindset, to refine methodologies, and to improve practice. Below, we describe each of these learning needs in more detail and give examples of resources which address them.

1. Establishing mindsets by understanding collaboration theory

When people need to understand what good collaboration is and why it is done, they find it beneficial to look at theoretical frameworks, sets of principles and values, and opinion papers. These tools support a mindset shift toward understanding, valuing, and integrating meaningful involvement of people with lived experience in research. Theoretical frameworks can also provide a heuristic against which collaborators can check their proposed approach, and allow collaborators to position their approach in relation to other styles of working. For instance:

2. Refining methodology through training and guidance

When people need to design and carry out collaborative work, they find it useful to have clearly outlined instructions for how to attempt the many varied aspects of collaborative work. This includes planning research activities, fulfilling ethical and legal requirements, and making the appropriate changes to processes and activities when working with particular groups. Having detailed guidance means that collaborators can learn from best practice and incorporate these learnings into their methodology. For instance:

3. Improving practice through experiences

When people need advice on how to improve their collaborations, they often look to experiential knowledge sources to help inform their practice. By reading about others’ experiences in case studies or reflective articles, or speaking directly with peers in networks, collaborators can learn what works more and less well across collaboration contexts. They can use this information to craft solutions for project-specific problems and accumulate learnings to shape their holistic perspective over time. For instance:

Finding the right resource at the right moment has the potential to critically impact the success of a mental health research collaboration. However, with such a wide variety of resources scattered across many locations, this doesn’t always happen. In addition to strengthening the resource offering, there is a need to make this space more navigable so that research collaborators can find resources that really help them. 

Whether we are developing more resources, strengthening existing ones, or collecting them together in databases, toolkits, or other platforms, we should prioritise addressing the known challenges and barriers to collaboration. However, we should also consider collaborators’ distinct learning needs. Knowing whether a group of mental health research collaborators have greater interest in learning how to establish the right collaboration mindset, refine a collaboration methodology, or improve their collaborative practice can indicate which types of guidance will be most relevant for them – and which resources we should develop, gather, and share in order to better support meaningful collaboration.

For the past year, we’ve been cultivating an interest in mental health and wellbeing, particularly the role that spirituality and meaning can play in this. From this interest we’ve been developing a programme of work that we’re introducing with this post. 

Science Practice works across many different domains and cause areas, but we have recently created a stream of work focused on mental health and wellbeing. We use ‘wellbeing’ as well as ‘mental health’ for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this term includes a wider range of problems – we’re interested in improving people’s wellbeing even if they don’t have a diagnosable mental health condition. Secondly, it includes a wider range of thought and practice – bringing in ideas, frameworks, and solutions from outside of the health field. 

This interest has developed out of our personal experience, long-time intellectual curiosity in this area, and a steadily growing portfolio of work we’ve done for funders. 

Through our own experiences, we’ve gained a deep understanding of how mental health issues can alter and challenge daily life, and we’ve experimented with a mix of methods and techniques to deal with these difficulties to varied effects. We’ve also seen friends, family, and members of our communities suffer from mental health issues and have become more generally concerned about widespread mental ill health among young people

This concern is heightened by social forces which can impact mental health, such as social media, social isolation, and sedentary lifestyles, plus the inadequacy of current mental health care systems to meet demand and sufficiently tackle the problem.

We’ve been excited by newly emerging possibilities for tackling this problem, some of which are genuinely new and some of which are rooted in ancient traditions. The most hyped is psychedelic psychotherapy, but others that also look promising include body-focussed trauma therapies, a wide variety of meditation and spiritual techniques beyond mindfulness, group approaches such as men’s work and women’s work, and simple therapeutic techniques that can be done alone or with peers. For this reason, a major area of interest for us is practices and techniques outside of current clinical mental health, with a particular interest in spirituality broadly considered. 

We’ve also been inspired by reading accounts from people who have significantly improved their wellbeing. They have often followed a complex path that involves psychotherapy, meditation, psychedelics, self-therapy techniques, and more. While these are only anecdotal, they do suggest change is possible when people can find the right combination of solutions for them, and use these in the right order. 

Similar directions have emerged out of our client work in the areas of wellbeing and lived experience. For instance, the idea of highly-customised, self-created solutions also came up in a project where we explored research priorities for chronic pain for the Wellcome Trust. When talking to people with lived experience, it was apparent that they had developed complex, customised methods to cope with their conditions. We’ve noticed a great deal of untapped expertise on customised interventions among people with lived experience, particularly people with lived experience of recovery. 

As our interest in mental health and wellbeing has grown, we’ve become increasingly motivated to contribute to solving the problems we see. As researchers and designers with existing expertise in problem identification, grantmaking ecosystems, and funding programme design, we’ve been looking at our existing knowledge and skills to figure out what role we can play in advancing progress in this exciting area. We’re also aware that this is a very messy space, where it is difficult to understand what is credible, what works, and what is safe. Thinking about evidence and epistemology will therefore be crucial. 

Directions we’d like to pursue

We think this is a timely and important moment to further define, grow, and evidence the field of mental health and wellbeing. Drawing on our expertise in doing strategic work for research and innovation funders, here are several areas where we think we would be best placed to contribute. 

Landscaping work

We’d like to help funders and other field-shapers to understand what is already being done, what the gaps are, and what promising directions they could support. 

  • Funder strategies: Landscape mapping to understand the range of possible strategies that funders could take in this space. This would involve understanding key strategic debates in mental health research funding, the positions different funders take on these, and gaps that funders could fill.

  • Spirituality landscape: A landscaping project to map out the space of spirituality and wellbeing, with the aim of understanding what research work has been done, how it intersects with mental health, and where the gaps are. We’d also like to understand how research funders could support work in this space.

  • Understanding breakthroughs: Research to better understand where valuable breakthroughs and interventions in mental health have historically come from and the conditions that enabled them, particularly looking at interventions that come from outside of academic mental health science.

  • Informal mental health practices landscape: Many people turn to practices outside of clinical mental health services. Research to better understand what informal practices people turn to and why, and what kinds of effects they have could help identify potentially impactful practices.

Building funding programmes for specific types of research

We would like to work together with funders to design and run funding programmes that target important gaps in the landscape such as:

  • Recovery case studies: Fund qualitative work gathering case studies from people who have recovered from mental health conditions to understand the full complexity of their recovery pathways. This could then be used to inform funding and research agendas that attempt to understand and work with this complexity.

  • Impact evaluation of wellbeing practices: Fund impact evaluation of interventions that practitioners and people with lived experience think are helpful, but for which little scientific evidence exists. 

  • Methodological issues in mental health and wellbeing: Fund work to address methodological issues that crop up in studying spiritual and other non-medical wellbeing practices for mental health and wellbeing, such as blinding, consent, and the adequacy of self-report.

Convening and field-building

As we build up connections in this field, we’d like to bring together people who share an interest in the intersection of mental health and wellbeing, and spirituality. 

  • Bringing research expertise together with practitioner knowledge: There is potentially a wealth of practitioner knowledge with unrealised potential. To better establish, consolidate, scale, and document this, we need to build connections between practitioners and researchers.

  • Supporting dialogue and debate in sub-fields with distinct, competing approaches: For example, in psychedelics, some favour a more medical-based model, whereas others advocate for community-led approaches. Creating a space where these perspectives can interact and build on each other could help advance the conversation.

  • Bringing people with lived experience together to share their own mental health and wellbeing pathways, challenges and successes: This could contribute to building up an understanding of what kinds of things help people improve their wellbeing and recover from mental health issues. Stories from this could be used to develop the recovery case studies mentioned above.

There is a huge need for greater wellbeing, and many promising solutions, but this is also an area with a history of hype, disappointment, and harm. We’d like to work together with funders and other field-shapers to further define and develop this space and contribute to better mental health and wellbeing for everyone. 

If you are interested in pursuing these directions and ideas — as a funder, researcher, practitioner, or person with lived experience — get in touch with us at We’d love to hear from you.

Funding practices do not always lead to the equitable outcomes we hope for. To help address this, we supported Wellcome’s Culture, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI) team to identify innovative practices that other organisations have used to address inequities in funding outcomes. This post introduces the Equitable Funding Practice Library we developed and shares how funders can use and build on this resource.

Through this project, we set out to put grant makers at Wellcome one step ahead on their journey toward achieving more equitable funding outcomes by identifying existing practices that they could build on, adapt, and refer to when designing their own context-specific interventions.

To do this, we explored the practices of many different funders working with many different sectors, populations, communities, geographies, and scales of implementation. We also looked beyond funding into other domains to see what was being done to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) outcomes within recruitment, university admissions and prize mechanisms.

We found more than 100 distinct methods, models, approaches, and ways of working funders have used to address funding inequities. Ultimately, we built a collection featuring 50 of these practices in greater detail. We’re excited to share this resource today.

What’s in the practice library?

The Equitable Funding Practice Library brings together repeatable ideas that can be mixed and matched or applied individually to solve common challenges in reducing and eliminating inequitable funding outcomes. Whether you’re a funder, grantee, applicant, advocate, or anyone else working to make funding outcomes more equitable, we hope you’ll find this collection of practices a useful reference and source of inspiration.

Explore the Equitable Funding Practice Library

For each featured practice, the library provides a short description of what the practice does. Users can click through for further details including why the practice is needed and examples of the practice in implementation. For a subset of 10 practices, we’ve also attached a more detailed profile and case study, highlighting implementation tips and insights as well as evidence of success where available.

Entries in the practice library

Entries in the practice library, curated cohorts, de-emphasise track record, dedicated pots & ring-fenced funding and diversity supplements.

How to use this resource

1. Browse the practices for inspiration

Browse the practice library to get ideas for how to address EDI challenges that persist in funding systems, programmes, and processes. Click on each practice to read the ‘why its needed’ field to understand the types of challenges a practice has addressed, and whether it could help you address similar challenges.

You can search, filter, and sort the practice library.

2. Identify practices at relevant stages of the funding process

Determine where in the funding process your own EDI challenges arise, then view the practice library by stage of the funding process to identify which practices could be relevant to your situation. Keep in mind that some practices may have relevance across multiple stages, even if the practice library only lists one stage.

The funding process

The funding process, from establishing the funding opportunity, through designing the decision-making process, to implementing the application process.

3. Discover practices by solution approach

You can also explore practices that match the solution approach most relevant to the scale of change you are aiming to achieve, and whether you would prefer a targeted or neutral strategy. Use the following questions to understand which solution approach best matches your interests. Then, view the library’s practices in that category.

  • Are you interested in giving certain groups of applicants dedicated sources of support to help them through a process? Explore practices in targeted support.
  • Are you passionate about changing the traditional funder-grantee power dynamic and shifting the power into the hands of communities who are most marginalised? Explore practices in shifting power.
  • Are you interested in identifying the causes of disparities and addressing these proactively to make sure all applicants have an equal chance of succeeding? Explore practices in process alteration.
  • Do you want to avoid complex EDI interventions and wipe the slate clean, introducing new models of funding which even the playing field from the start? Explore practices in radical simplification.

The solution approach matrix

In the solution approach matrix, the four solution approaches are: targeted support, shifting power, process alteration, and radical simplification.

4. Build your own interventions

The practices we’ve gathered are starting points to build on. We invite you to adapt what you discover in the library to ultimately create your own interventions fit for your particular context. If practices in this resource have helped you reduce inequities in funding outcomes, please get in touch to share your experience with us.

To suggest practices to add to the Equitable Funding Practice Library, share your experience using this resource, or learn more about this project, contact Gearóid Maguire or the Science Practice team.

Join our Good Problems Team to help us design a more inclusive, transparent, and strategic funding sector.

  • Permanent (3 month probation)

  • Full time (40 hours per week) or part time (at least 3 days per week)

  • £35k–£42k

  • Family-friendly and flexible working arrangements

  • Location: London, Old Street; hybrid or remote working options are available.

To apply, please submit your details via this form. The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday, 10th May 2022. We will review applications on a rolling basis.

About us

Our Good Problems Team at Science Practice helps science and innovation funders to design responsible and effective programmes to tackle pressing global and local challenges.

Since 2014, we have designed over 50 innovation programmes, including challenge prizes – such as the £10M Longitude Prize – and innovation funding calls around problems in healthcare, food and water sustainability, transportation, and humanitarian aid. Our clients include Wellcome Trust, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, Impact on Urban Health, and Nesta.

We are a small, dedicated team of researchers, designers and strategists passionate about transforming the philanthropic sector into a more equitable, collaborative and evidence-based one.

Our expertise covers a range of skills and expertise including research and synthesis, interaction and content design, programme strategy and design, innovation and entrepreneurship, and public policy.

Right now, we’re scoping opportunities for public engagement at the intersection of climate change and health, we’re exploring equitable practices to reduce research funding biases, and developing a methodology to explore sanitation problems in humanitarian settings.

The role

We are looking for someone to join our team and help us design impactful, problem-led funding programmes.

As a programme designer, you will be working on client-facing projects in a small team of two or three, or will lead projects with support from the wider team.

You will have an opportunity to work across diverse domains; at the moment, we are focusing on a range of healthcare topics (eg, climate change and health, pain, air pollution) and humanitarian challenges (eg, solid waste management).

We are looking for someone available to start ideally in May 2022.

Activities the role will include:

  • Conducting desk research and interviews with diverse stakeholders to better understand specific domains or problem areas.

  • Synthesising research insights into compelling and engaging materials for senior decision-makers.

  • Working together with funders to help them prioritise problems they are best placed to address or opportunities to act on.

  • Developing strategic recommendations for funders on how to respond to identified problems or opportunities.

  • Designing innovative funding programmes to address identified problems or opportunities. Testing proposed programmes through interviews and workshops.

  • Designing and facilitating workshops to gather feedback on priority problems, recommendations, or programme designs.

  • Managing relationships with clients and leading projects.

We’re looking for someone who:

  • Has strong research skills and enjoys exploring new topics through a range of research methods including desk research and interviewing diverse actors such as scientists, policy-makers, people with lived experience, industry representatives, and civil society.

  • Has experience designing funding programmes or programmes to incentivise innovations (eg, funding calls, prizes, competitions, grants, accelerators, hackathons).

  • Has excellent communication and organisational skills and can effectively build and manage relationships with diverse stakeholders and clients, including senior decision-makers.

  • Is interested in the philanthropic sector and motivated by improving how funding decisions are made and resources allocated.

  • Is naturally curious and interested in making connections between ideas, practices, and people from across different fields.

  • Writes well and communicates complex subject matter in simple, engaging language.

  • Can rapidly gain a competent understanding of new topics in unfamiliar domains (in particular, health research) and make judgements based on complex evidence.

  • Is excited about engaging with domain experts, other organisations and the general public through talks, workshops, events, and social media.

We are keen to hear from a range of applicants, not just those with explicit programme design experience. We are particularly interested in service designers or researchers interested in applying their skills to the development of impactful and evidence-led funding programmes.

We are a small but committed team. To help us evolve our practice and achieve our ambitions, we are looking for a new team member who will challenge us, build alongside us, and play an active role in shaping our ideas, practices, and approaches.

Right to work

To apply for this job, you should have the right to work in the UK or be eligible to apply to work in the UK through an authorised immigration scheme for work placements.

How we work

Our approach to working is open, agile, and iterative. This means that you will work closely with the team and clients to understand the challenges they face, develop programmes, and iterate on these based on ongoing conversations and feedback.

We have weekly team catch-ups on Mondays to plan the week and on Fridays to reflect, as well as daily written check-ins to coordinate and unpack any challenges. We also run a weekly Journal Club to delve deeper into topics that shape our practice.

Every quarter, we have team and individual reviews to reflect on what went well, what we can improve on and how we’re achieving our strategic ambitions as a team.

We aim to keep our work setup lean and simple. We use Slack, G Suite, and Airtable.

What we are offering

  • A competitive salary and matched pension contributions.

  • Family-friendly and flexible working arrangements. Part of the team is based in London and coming into the office every other day; others are working remotely from across the UK.

  • The opportunity to grow your skills and professional interests as part of a curious, supportive, and dedicated team.

  • A London office studio that we share with our sister company, Ctrl Group, who develop digital health products.

How to apply

We value diversity at our company. This is core to our work as developing a robust understanding of problems and how to tackle them requires a diversity of thought, experience, and perspectives. We welcome applications from all backgrounds and abilities, and encourage applications from those who identify as members of frequently excluded groups.

Throughout our recruitment process as well as once part of our team, we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that employees may need in order to be successful.

To apply, please submit your details via this form.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday, 10th May 2022.

We will review applications on a rolling basis.

The application process will consist of two interviews – one with our team lead to discuss the role and your experience, and (if shortlisted) one with the wider team to explore in more detail your interest in the position and relevant experience. We will start interviewing eligible applicants the w/c 25 April 2022.

We look forward to hearing from you! 🙌

No agencies, please.

A painting of St. Paul collapsing because Jesus has appeared to him in the sky

The Conversion of Saint Paul by Bartolome Esteban Murillo from Wikimedia Commons

This month we learned about the relationship between spiritual experience, psychosis, and transformation, as well as the neuroscience of consciousness, new science funding mechanisms, the effect of clocks on people’s sense of time, the evolution of pain, and the influence of scientists on nuclear weapons policy.

Pivotal mental states

by Ari Brouwer

There are striking similarities between transformative spiritual experiences that change people’s lives for the better, and those that lead to psychosis. The author has researched what they call “pivotal mental states” which they see as an evolved capability for sudden and radical psychic change.

Related: The academic article on which this is based: Pivotal mental states

The Scientists, the Statesmen, and the Bomb: A case study in decision-making around the development of powerful technologies

by Samo Burja and Zachary Lerangis

This case study looks at attempts by scientists to influence the development of nuclear weapons in the US. While the scientists often were able to gain access to key decision makers, they couldn’t influence them, and this was often the result of a culture class between scientists and decision makers. This case study is useful to inform current attempts to influence the development of new, potentially-dangerous technologies.

Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism

by E. P. Thompson

Historian E.P. Thompson traces how the spread of clocks and the development of industrial capitalism changed people’s conception of time. People in pre-industrial societies experienced time through the succession of tasks in a day, and had little demarcation between work time and the rest of life. But the synchronisation of labour required in factories led to a new “time-discipline” based on clock-time.

An evolutionary medicine perspective on pain and its disorders

by Randolph M. Nesse and Jay Schulkin

Evolutionary medicine can offer new perspectives for understanding chronic pain. This article suggests that chronic pain could be better understood through looking at signal detection in situations of uncertainty, the mismatch between modern environments and those from human history, and the relationship between psychic and physical pain.

Related: This article is part of a special issue on the evolution of mechanisms and behaviour important for pain.

So You Want To Run A Microgrants Program

by Scott Alexander

This article by psychiatrist and blogger Scott Alexander describes his experience of running a microgrants programme. He gives an unusually honest account of facing the uncertainty and responsibility of making grantmaking decisions.

Related: Scott Aaronson’s writeup of his microgrants programme.

Unblock research bottlenecks with non-profit start-ups

by Adam Marblestone, Anastasia Gamick, Tom Kalil, Cheryl Martin, Milan Cvitkovic, Samuel G. Rodriques

This article outlines the need for Focussed Research Organisations (FROs), which develop tools or datasets to accelerate research. These would be non-profit and would fill a gap not currently filled by academia or for-profit companies. They compare FROs to other types of organisation, outline the authors’ progress in setting new ones up, and discuss the challenges ahead.

Is Reality a Controlled Hallucination?

by Anil Seth

Neuroscientist Anil Seth outlines his work to explain how consciousness works, breaking it down into three aspects – the level of consciousness, the content of consciousness, and the experience of the self.

Related: Seth’s book Being You: A New Science of Consciousness

Thanks for reading!

We’re always looking for interesting reading materials so get in touch if you have any to share.

Looking for a good problem?

We are a close team of designers and researchers who are passionate about tackling ambitious and important problems. If you’re looking to grow your impact, we’d love to hear from you!