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
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine
- Royal College of Pathologists
- Royal College of Midwives
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
The scheme is currently in a pilot phase and we are open to applications from studies led, or co-supported by the following specialties:
- Ear, Nose and Throat
- Anaesthesia & Peri-Operative Medicine & Pain Management
- Trauma & Emergency Care
- Reproductive Health & Childbirth
- Stroke and Renal (certain studies only - see below)
The scheme is being rolled out on a phased basis for Stroke and Renal with a small number of studies participating in the first instance. It is expected that the scheme will be rolled out to all remaining stroke and renal studies at a later point in the autumn.
Currently the scheme is open to the following studies in the Stroke and Renal specialty:
- OPTIMAS (Stroke)
- RECREATE (Stroke)
- H4RT (Renal)
- AFiRM (Renal)
The ambition is to obtain endorsement from all the Medical Royal Colleges and implement this scheme across all specialty areas.
To find out what studies we currently have registered for these specialties, please see our full list of studies registered to the scheme.
The Associate PI scheme has now opened up to the following NIHR COVID-19 studies:
If you want to apply to be an Associate PI for one of the COVID-19 studies, please fill out the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form for COVID-19 Studies.
To find out more about Associate Principal Investigator opportunities for RECOVERY, watch this webinar about the RECOVERY and NIHR Associate PI scheme hosted by the Royal College of Physicians with NIHR.
To find out more about the REMAP-CAP study, please visit the ICNARC website.
To find out more about the HEAL-COVID study please visit the HEAL-COVID page.
There are also specific FAQs relating to the COVID-19 studies and the Associate PI Scheme.
How it works
The scheme is open to any 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, and the completion of the Associate PI Scheme learning course in NIHR Learn, 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 register my study?
Step 1 - Check your study meets the Study Eligibility Criteria
For a study to be eligible for the Associate PI Scheme, it must meet the eligibility criteria that is laid out in our Study Eligibility Criteria Document. If you have further questions about the eligibility of your study, please contact the Associate PI Scheme Team.
Step 2 - Register your study
It is the responsibility of the study team to register the study for the Associate PI Scheme. 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 your study to check it has not already been registered. Once we receive your application, it will be assessed by our Associate PI Scheme Team against our eligibility criteria. Confirmation will also be sought from the CI of the study and the CTU signatory.
Step 3 - Receive your confirmation
Once we have deemed your study eligible and have confirmation from the Study CI and the CTU Signatory, you will receive an email confirming that your Study has joined the Associate PI Scheme and that applicants are now to apply to be Associate PIs for your study. We ask that you make all of your sites aware that the study is on the Associate PI Scheme so that your sites and local PIs can encourage individuals to join the scheme.
How do I apply to be an Associate PI?
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 be an Associate PI, you must meet the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Eligibility Criteria. If you meet this criteria, then you must first obtain approval from the Local PI before you submit your application for the Scheme. Then you need to complete the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form.
If you want to register for any of the COVID-19 Studies, please use the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Registration Form for COVID-19 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- Login to NIHR Learn
Once your application has been confirmed, you will receive an email from the NIHR Associate PI Scheme confirming your application.
In this email, you will receive a link and an enrolment key for you to enrol on the Associate PI Scheme learning course on NIHR Learn.
You need to enroll yourself onto the Associate PI Scheme learning course so you can take part in the learning course.
Step 4 - Complete your Associate PI Scheme Learning course
You now need to complete your 6-month learning course on NIHR Learn during your time on the Associate PI Scheme.
This virtual iteration of the Associate PI Scheme within NIHR Learn will provide you with structure to your time on the scheme by breaking down the elements of the checklist into monthly targets, as well as exposing you to useful additional learning. We also hope to encourage more communication between Associate PI’s who are taking part in the scheme through the API Forum.
You will need to download your checklist from NIHR Learn, and once you have completed your time on the scheme, simply fill in the checklist and submit it. We can then issue your certificate to officially recognise you as an Associate PI.
As you go through the monthly tiles, you will be asked to complete journal entries to evidence what you have achieved, and you will also need to fill out your checklist alongside inputting these journal entries.
Please note, we are aware that individuals may already be part way through their Associate PI Scheme journey before we launched the materials on NIHR Learn. If you are entering part way through your journey, simply select your current month of study. Previous months materials are still available for you should you wish to access them.
Step 5 - Complete and submit the checklist
You will need to download your checklist from NIHR Learn.
The checklist must be completed during the six months you are involved in the study you are registered with. Once all the criteria have been met, the checklist must be signed off by the local PI and study coordinator at the Clinical Trials Unit prior to 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.
Once you have completed your time on the scheme, simply fill in the checklist and submit it on NIHR Learn (you can use the evidence you will have submitted in your monthly journal entries). We can then issue your certificate to officially recognise you as an Associate PI
Step 6 - 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 7 - 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.
Within NIHR Learn, we have also included additional courses and bite-sized learning that you may find useful.
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 email@example.com
You may find the answers to some of your questions in our Associate PI Scheme FAQs.
For any questions relating to the Urgent Public Health Studies, please visit our NIHR COVID-19 Studies FAQs.
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.