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Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme



The Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme aims to develop junior doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to become the PIs of the future and provides formal recognition of a trainee's engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies through the conferment of Associate PI status endorsed by the NIHR and the following medical Royal Colleges:

  • Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • Royal College of Emergency Medicine
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Radiologists
  • Royal College of Surgeons (England)
  • Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine

Following a successful year-long pilot in Surgery and endorsement from the above colleges, the scheme is now also open to studies led, or co-supported by Cancer, Ear, Nose and Throat, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Anaesthesia and Peri-Operative Medicine and Pain Management, and Trauma and Emergency Care. The ambition is to obtain endorsement from all the Medical Royal Colleges and implement this scheme across all specialty areas.

A list of studies registered to the scheme

Urgent Public Health Studies

The Associate PI scheme has now opened up to the NIHR Urgent Public Health COVID-19 studies RECOVERY, REMAP-CAP and HEAL-COVID.

If you want to apply to be an Associate PI for RECOVERY, REMAP-CAP or HEAL-COVID please fill out the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form for COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Studies.

There are also specific FAQs relating to the Urgent Public Health Studies and the Associate PI Scheme.

How it works

The scheme is open to any junior doctor, nurse or allied health professional willing to make a significant contribution to the conduct and delivery of a study at a local level over a period of at least six months. On completion of the six month tenure applicants will receive a certificate confirming their Associate PI status, be acknowledged in the primary publication(s) generated from the study as well as gain the enhanced skills and understanding around the delivery of NIHR Portfolio research.


The Associate PI Scheme will be promoted through Clinical Trials Units, local Clinical Research Networks (CRNs), trainee research collaboratives, at junior doctor training sessions and at sites with open NIHR portfolio surgical studies.


Associate PI status is awarded by the NIHR Clinical Research Network based on the recommendation of the local PI and the Clinical Trials Unit (Study Coordinator/Trial Manager). A commitment of at least 6 months will be required for gaining Associate PI status. The NIHR CRN will issue a certificate to confirm Associate PI status.

How do I Join?

Step 1 - Check that the study is registered

For you to register to become an Associate PI for a study, the study must be registered to the scheme. This is the responsibility of the study team. Studies can be registered by the Chief Investigator and Director/Deputy Director of the Clinical Trials Unit or equivalent institution managing the study, using the Associate PI Scheme Study Registration Form.

Please check this list of registered studies before registering yourself as an Associate PI.

Chief Investigators should contact the NIHR Associate PI Scheme Central Team if unsure whether their study is eligible to register to the scheme.

Step 2 - Register yourself

Once the study you want to be the Associate PI for is registered, you can apply to become an Associate PI for that study at a site which is open and recruiting to the study. To apply to become an Associate PI you must obtain approval from the local PI and Clinical Trials Unit coordinating the trial. To do this, please complete the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form.

If you want to register for the Urgent Public Health Studies RECOVERY or REMAP-CAP please use the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form for COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Studies.

Please note that retrospective registrations are not permitted, all applicants must register to the scheme before assuming the role of Associate PI. Please note that Clinical Research Network (CRN) staff and research nurses are not eligible to join the scheme. You are only permitted to register to one study at one site at any time. Please email the Associate PI Scheme Central Team if you are unsure of whether you are eligible to join the scheme, we are happy to discuss individual circumstances.

Step 3 - Complete the checklist

Once you are registered to the Scheme you will be sent a welcome email with a link to the Associate PI Scheme Checklist which you will need to complete during the six months you are involved in the study you have registered to. Once all the criteria have been met the checklist will need to be signed off by the local PI and the trial manager at the Clinical Trials Unit before submission to the Associate PI Scheme Central Team. It is imperative that the Associate PI registrant drives the completion, sign off and submission of the checklist in order to receive their certificate and have the status of Associate PI confirmed.

Step 4 - Receive your certificate

Once you have submitted your fully signed off checklist to the Associate PI Scheme Central Team they will issue you with your certificate.

Step 5 - What next?

Depending on your circumstances you can then go on to register for a different study at the same site, the same study at a different site or a different study at a different site. The aim is for you to build up a significant portfolio of studies you have been involved in delivering. You can also include your certificate(s) in your specialty training portfolio as evidence of significant involvement in NIHR Portfolio research studies at a local level.

Further information

If you have any questions about the scheme including the eligibility of an applicant or a study to join the scheme please contact the Associate PI Scheme Central Team at

The Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme has been developed by the West Midlands Research Collaborative, Birmingham Surgical Trials Consortium, Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit and CRN West Midlands.