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NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award (DSE) Guidance Notes


Published: 01 August 2023

Version: 1

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This is version 1 of the Guidance Notes. These notes will be next reviewed on 4th November 2023.


The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Academy is launching the next competition for the Development and Skills Enhancement (DSE) award as part of the NIHR Fellowship Programme, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The DSE Award is a post-doctoral level funding opportunity aimed at supporting early to mid-career researchers in gaining specific skills and experience to underpin the next phase of their research career. Examples of this include:

  • enhancing knowledge of clinical trials by spending time at a Clinical Trials Unit
  • building collaborations with industry
  • expanding academic networks and collaborations
  • formal training courses, or
  • any other development of skills or experience which would benefit future applications and longer-term career plans.

The DSE Award should not be used solely to spend time writing and preparing an application for future funding.

The DSE is now open to applications from non-Academy members.

NIHR Support

A DSE Award provides funding for:

  • the salary of the award holder for up to 1 year Whole Time Equivalent
  • training and development costs of up to £5000
  • conference costs of up to £1000, and
  • mentorship costs of up to £1000

Full Economic Costings (FEC) are not covered by this award.

Award Length and Part-Time Options

DSE Awards are 1 year Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) in duration and can be undertaken on a part-time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE. When completing an application, select the percentage WTE that you would like to undertake the award, and the total duration of the award will be automatically calculated in months.

Who is the award for?

The DSE is a post-doctoral level funding opportunity for individuals looking to further develop skills and experience in any area which will benefit their development as a researcher within NIHR’s remit.

Applications are particularly encouraged from:

In addition, we are particularly keen to see applications to develop skills and experience in the following areas:

  • clinical trials
  • Health Data Science, and
  • entrepreneurship and working with industry.

Further details of the expectations in terms of outcomes from the award for these three areas are given below, in the section called 'Strategic Themes'.

In all cases, applicants will be required to demonstrate the new skills and experience they hope to gain through the award and how it will benefit their future career in research.

Matched Funding

There is no longer an expectation that host organisations will match the level of funding provided by NIHR for this award. However, the assessment of applications will still include a review of the support that the host organistion will provide over the course of the award and following completion.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The proposed host organisation must be an English HEI (Higher Education Institution), NHS body or other provider of health and/or care services.
  • For clinical academic applications: completion of relevant pre-registration training.
  • Applicants must hold a relevant PhD or MD, or have submitted their thesis for examination at the time of application. Applicants must have been awarded their PhD or MD by the time they start.
  • Applicants must not have submitted a DSE application in the previous submission window.

While not ineligible, senior post-doctoral researchers (especially those that have previously held an NIHR post-doctoral research training award) would normally be considered for this scheme. If a senior post-doctoral researcher applies, a clear justification should be provided to explain why the support is required and why it is not already available through the host organisation.

Applications to the NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award must be based in the UK at their host organisation for the duration of the award, except for travel for research, training or development activities as outlined within the proposal. Applications in which the fellow is living overseas from their host organisation will not be supported.

Start dates

The DSE application form is continuously available for applicants to access and begin populating. When ready, applicants can choose from three possible submission windows throughout the year:

Submission window   Review period   Start dates
29 July 2023 to 24 November 2023 (1pm)   December to February   April 2024 to July 2024
25 November 2023 to 29 March 2024 (1pm)    April to June August 2024 to November 2024

For the start dates, please note that awards must start on the first of the month.

Assessment Criteria

DSE applicants will be expected to demonstrate a continued commitment to a research career in an area of relevance to the NIHR and a clearly articulated plan for how the award will support an application for future funding, including the skills and experience they hope to gain by undertaking the award. The level of host organisation support will also be assessed.

The DSE Selection Committee will assess each application against the following criteria:

  • applicant is on a trajectory to become a future health or social care research leader
  • applicant demonstrates a continued commitment to a career in undertaking research with the NIHR's remit
  • demonstrable track record of the host department in training and supporting people who have gone on the develop successful academic careers
  • the provision of a strong academic environment
  • appropriateness of the proposed academic supporting and mentorship
  • the quality and relevance of the academic training proposed
  • applicant clearly articulates a plan for how the award will enable the development of the skills and experience required to submit a stronger proposal for future funding within the NIHR remit
  • additional support that will be provided by the host organisation to enable the progression of the applicant's research career, and
  • evidence of the host organisation's commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture, including evidence of commitment to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and research integrity.

Strategic Themes

We have a number of strategic areas which we are keen to develop expertise in, although applicants do not necessarily need to target these areas. If you are proposing training which fits within one or more of the following themes, you should indicate this on the application form.

Health Data Science

Health Data Science (HDS) is a recently established inter-disciplinary field whose importance to all aspects of health research will continue to grow. The three pillars of HDS are: statistics; computation; domain knowledge. The first two of these are underpinning methodologies, the third is context-specific, ranging from molecular to whole-population studies. 

This award can be used to develop skills in data science as applied in clinical, biomedical or population health settings and may be used to fund MSc level modules or full courses in HDS.

For further information see Annex C, further on in these Guidance Notes.

Clinical Trials

The DSE Award can be used to support individuals who would benefit from further training within the setting of a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU). The collaboration should offer the applicant the opportunity to experience all aspects and stages of clinical trials and should not be limited to one study.

A list of potential UKCRC registered CTUs that you could link with can be found on UKCRC Registered Clinical Trials Units Network website. For further information see Annex D, further on in these Guidance Notes.

Entrepreneurship and industry

The NIHR aims to increase the number of researchers and clinical academics who are equipped with the skills to work at the interface of academia, the NHS and industry, and therefore able to contribute to the translation of ideas into new treatments and products from which patients can benefit.

By using a DSE Award to increase skills and training in entrepreneurship, combined with the experience of working with industry partners, it is hoped that successful applicants will contribute to this aim and to on to become research leaders, able to confidently engage and collaborate with the life sciences and med-tech industries throughout their career. It is also hoped that individuals will develop skills, experience and make useful networks which would allow them to develop their research ideas and outcomes into business opportunities.

Entrepreneurship and industry applications should include a letter of support from their collaborators as part of their application.

For further information on the core elements your training could include see Annex E.

Scope of Funding

  1. Applicants need to identify an eligible Host Organisation which will act as their employer for the duration of the award. Any organisation wishing to host an NIHR Fellowship must be able to provide the applicant with a contract of employment for the duration of the award and be capable of fulfilling the role of research sponsor as set out in the Research Governance Framework for Health & Care. Further guidance on the roles and responsibilities of a research sponsor can be found on the Health Research Authority’s (HRA) website. Host organisations can either be a recognised Higher Education Institute (HEI) or any other organisation which provides health or social care services and is based in England and in receipt of public funding (for example, social enterprises or local authorities). Applicants with a non-HEI host organisation should include details of a partner HEI in the proposed training and development programme question of the application form.
  2. An NIHR Fellowship award requires that the award holder has a contract of employment with the Host Organisation for the duration of the Fellowship. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will enter into a Fellowship contract with the host organisation. Government procurement transparency regulations require the publication of all contracts made with the DHSC to be made available on the DHSC website. Confidential information including research proposals, detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.
  3. NIHR Fellowships are individual training awards which will offer funding to cover the salary costs of the individual, and the training and development programme.
  4. All Fellowships will be funded at 100% and Full Economic Costs will not be covered.

Application Procedure and Selection Process 

  • NIHR uses an adapted version of the NIHR Standard Application Form (SAF), which is a 1 stage process.
  • NIHR can advise on eligibility and remit enquiries, and answer queries you may have when completing the application form.
  • All applications will undergo an initial screen for eligibility. Following this, applications are reviewed by the Selection Committee in advance of a funding recommendation meeting at which the committee discuss the applications and make recommendations for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
  • Details of Selection Committee membership
  • The final decision as to which applications will receive funding rests with DHSC. Once confirmed, the funding decisions will be communicated to applicants.
  • Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by email when all required processes are complete.
  • The selection process and subsequent management of the awards will be managed by NIHR.
  • All documents must be submitted in English.
  • Awards cannot be deferred, without the consent of the NIHR.
  • If applicants are successful in being awarded a DSE Award while simultaneously being involved in another NIHR research training award competition, they will be asked to decide which funding opportunity they would like to continue with and will be withdrawn from the other.

Application Deadlines

Please make sure your application is submitted by 1pm on the last day of the submission window in order to be considered in that round of reviews.

Any signatories must have approved your application by this time, using the Academy Research Awards Management Information System (ARAMIS) online application system.

All components of your application must be submitted by the deadline. No additional supporting documents will be accepted after the deadline.

Please give yourself sufficient time to obtain your signatory’s approval before the deadline. No exceptions will be made.

Registering, Completing and Submitting the Application


All fellowship applications must be completed and submitted using the online application system

Before you can start an application you will be required to register on the system. You will be asked to supply a valid email address and to complete some basic information. Once this has been submitted you will receive an email confirming your registration and a temporary password. You should follow the instructions in the email to log onto the system.

Once signed into the system you will be able to update various details including your CV (in ‘manage my details’) and apply for any open applications. To start an application you will need to go to ‘My Applications’ and select ‘New Application’.

You should then select Development and Skills Enhancement Award from the list provided.

After answering all the eligibility questions you will be able to start completing the online form. Please make sure you read all available guidance text including this document as well as any online instructions thoroughly whilst you are completing the form. You can at any stage download a PDF version of the application which can be useful for sharing applications with others.

Completing and submitting the form 

Please see Annex B for flow diagrams of the application submission process.


You will need to complete all of the mandatory sections of the form and enter under the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section the names and contact details of participants and signatories. Please see below for more information. Once all other parties have made their contribution, you will be required to ‘Submit’ the application to the signatories for final sign off before the closing date. Please note that you will need to read and be aware of the roles of participants and signatories as described in these guidance notes.

You will only be able to press the ‘Submit’ button, which will send the application for final sign off by the signatories when:

  • all mandatory sections of the application form are complete;
  • all participants have agreed to be part of your application;
  • the signatory has agreed to their role;
  • the Head of Department has completed the ‘Host Organisation Support Statement’.

Please note; when completing the application form, you are advised to validate your application as you go. You will find a 'Validation Summary' button in the left hand menu. This section will detail any points within your application that are either incomplete or incorrect. Failing to validate your answers may result in you being unable to submit your application by the required deadline.


You are required to supply the names and email addresses (if not already registered on the ARAMIS application system) of the individuals who will be undertaking ‘participant’ roles as part of your application. Everyone named in this section will be acting as a ‘participant’ to your application and will need to agree to be part of this application. Participants are required to review the declaration for the role before confirming participation as part of the one-click ‘confirm’ process.

By confirming participation, participants are acknowledging their involvement and input into this application and agree to be involved in it before it is submitted. You must ensure all participants are happy for your application to be submitted before submitting it on the online system. Details of the individuals who will be required to approve your application after submission (signatories) should be entered in the ‘Participants and Signatories' section. Please note it is often the case that one or more of the participants named in this section are also named in the 'Participants and Signatories' section of the form.

Required Participants (if applicable):

Research Support: The individual(s) providing research support (mentorship) must confirm that they have read the application and the guidance notes and are willing to act as your mentor for career development and agree to abide by the conditions under which an award may be granted. If you have included external collaboration in your application (for example with a Clinical Trial Unit, Industry or Health Data Science) they must confirm their participation in this section of the application.

PhD Primary Supervisor: If you have submitted your thesis but have not yet been awarded the degree, your primary supervisor needs to be included in the application to confirm this. (The Signatory on ARAMIS is a Post-Doctoral Primary Supervisor)

Host Organisation Administrative Authority or Finance OfficerThe Administrative Authority or Finance Officer for the employing host must confirm that they will ensure the accuracy of the financial details of the application and that the host organisation is prepared to host and administer the award, at the stated costs, if made.

Participants must confirm their participation on your application before you will be able to press the submit button. They will have no further action to take in the submission process once you have submitted.


You are required to supply the names and email addresses (if not already registered on the ARAMIS application system) of the individuals who will be ‘signing off’ your application.

Once their contact details have been entered, the signatories will be invited to log into the system and confirm their participation. Details of what is required and expected of each of the roles can be found below.

Signatories will be required to agree to the role being asked of them in the application before the application is submitted by the applicant, and then approve the final version of the application after it has been submitted via the online system, i.e. all signatories must have agreed to participate and complete their sections before the applicant is able to press the SUBMIT button and send the application for signatory approvals. Signatories must approve the application after the applicant has selected the SUBMIT option but BEFORE the application submission deadline. Please see the Application Submission Process Flow Diagram for further information. It is at Annex B, further on in these Guidance Notes. The final signatory approval will result in the application being fully submitted to the NIHR. All parties (applicant, participants and signatories) will be notified of this via an automated system generated email.

The NIHR will not accept any applications unless fully approved by your signatories prior to the 1pm deadline, no exceptions will be made.

Required Signatories:

You will be required to include the Head of Department from your host organisation. The Head of Department (in which this award will be based) must confirm that they support this application and that, if funded, the research and training will be supported and administered in the named organisation and that the applicant for whom they are responsible will undertake this work. As such, the Head of Department will be required to complete questions in the ‘Training & Development and Research Support’ section of the application form.

Once the application is ready (see list of required steps under the ‘applicant’ heading above), you will be able to ‘Submit’ the application for final sign off by the signatories. At this point, the signatories will be prompted to log back into the system and approve the finalised application. 

The application will not be submitted to the NIHR for consideration until the Head of Department or Senior Manager has approved the final version. When the last signatory presses the approve button, the application will be submitted to NIHR.

Please note that all the steps described here need to take place before the deadline of 1:00 pm on the final day of the submission window. No exceptions will be made.

Should you require assistance in completing the online form, please contact the NIHR Academy at 0113 532 8410 or by emailing

Stage 1 Guidance

1. Application Summary Information

Host Organisation

Please give details of the organisation who will be the contractor if the award is funded.

Please note that we expect the applicant’s proposed host organisation (substantive employer) to act as the contractor.

Please also bear in mind that:

  • The contractor is expected to respond to annual financial reconciliation exercises, provide the final financial reconciliation statement for the project and to provide ad hoc requests for financial information during the lifetime of the project.
  • In the same way, the contractor is expected to respond to any queries relating to Intellectual Property, commercialisation and benefit realisation.

If the name of your host organisation does not appear in the pre-populated list please email

Application Type

Please indicate the type of award you are applying for using the drop down lists available. Please ensure you have read the relevant guidance above before selecting your responses to these questions.

Proposed Start Date

Note this should be from 1st of the month regardless of whether this is a working day or not. Please be realistic about your possible start date taking account of the necessary contracting, and staff recruitment prior to starting your project.

WTE of Award

Awards can only be undertaken with the WTE options given. 

2. Applicant CV

Please note some of the responses to these questions are automatically pulled through from information you have entered in the ’Manage My Details’ page.

The ‘Publication Record’ section of the application form is automatically populated from publications added into the 'My Research Outputs' page of your ARAMIS account.

Degrees and Professional Qualifications

Please give the full details of any key qualifications completed and, where relevant, the full details of any key qualifications you are currently undertaking. 

This information can be edited in the ‘Manage My Details’ page of your ARAMIS account.

Present and previous positions

Please give the full details of any relevant present and previous positions. This information can be edited in the ‘Manage My Details’ page of your ARAMIS account.

When entering details of your current and previous positions please indicate at what percentage (WTE) in each post you were undertaking research. For example, if you were a Clinical Lecturer and undertook research for 2.5 days a week and clinical work for 2.5 days per week; please enter 50% for that position. If you have worked part time at 60%, and undertook research for half of that time, please enter 30% for that position.

Research grants held

Please give the details of all relevant grants obtained in the last five years, including personal research training awards or fellowships, plus any additional previous grants relevant to this application. Please indicate clearly any co-applicants and provide brief details of the nature and full extent of your involvement (e.g. project design, project management, day to day running, data collection, data analysis, writing papers for publication, etc.).

Please also include in the ‘Role in Research Grant’ box for each entry: registration number and name of registry and the DOI of the main related publication. Where the study is still ongoing or final results have not yet been published, please provide an estimated publication date. This is in line with the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results.

Please note that your research grant record must be completed within the application form and not via the CV section on ARAMIS.

Publication Record

The publication record is automatically populated from the information added to the “Research Outputs” section of your ARAMIS account. To update, please “save and close” your application, return to the “home” screen and select “Research Outputs” from the left-hand menu.

When publications have been added, the Lead Applicant name can be edited to show in bold within application forms via the “Assign Grant Contacts” option.

To ensure publications display correctly, with all of the required information, applicants are strongly advised to use the “import” function and import their publications from Europe PMC.

Do not include abstracts, conference proceedings or articles in preparation. If relevant, details of these may be included in the ‘Applicant Research Background’ section.

Details of articles which are in press and have been accepted as final by the publisher may be included. Depending on professional background and expertise, applicants are not necessarily expected to have an extensive list of publications.

Only publications relevant to your application should be included.

Relevant Prizes, Awards and other Academic Distinctions

Please provide details of any awards or distinctions that are relevant to your application including details of what the award was for. For example, travel bursaries for a conference, presentation prizes etc.


The NIHR is an ORCID member and encourages all researchers to obtain this persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher. You must include an ORCID iD in your application. Without it, your application will not be validated and you will not be able to submit. For more information and to register please see the ORCiD website.

3. Applicant Research Background

Professional background

Select the one option which best describes your professional group. This will determine the options that appear below for your professional background.

Please describe your research career to date

Please use this question to provide a narrative describing your relevant research experience and career to date and how this makes you suitable for this award. All applicants should describe contributions across the four sections below.

Contribution to knowledge 

Explain how you have contributed to the generation of new ideas and hypotheses, and which key skills you have used and how you have communicated on your ideas. to develop ideas and test hypotheses. You can highlight contributions and skills acquired from previous roles and research projects, funding you have won, awards received, and a small selection of key outputs explaining why they are of particular relevance and why they are considered in the context of knowledge generation. Where outputs have a DOI please only include this.

Contribution to the development of others

You might include experiences from project management, supervision, mentoring or line management contributions to the success of a team or team members, establishment of collaborations, or where you exerted strategic leadership in shaping the direction of a team, organisation, company or institution. Highlight expertise you provided which was critical to the success of a team or team members e.g., project management, strategic leadership, teaching activities, mentoring, establishment of collaborations.

Contribution to the wider research community

Highlight activities where you have engaged in to progress the research community e.g., commitments such as committee memberships, editing and reviewing and contributions to the evaluation of researchers and research projects. You can also highlight contributions to increasing research integrity and improving research culture (gender equality, diversity, mobility of researchers, reward, and recognition of researchers' various activities).

Contribution to broader society

Provide examples of where you have been involved in societal engagement and knowledge exchange i.e., engagement with patients and the public, industry, across private sector,and public sectors, clients and with the broader public. Describe where you have contributed to policy development or public understanding, and other impacts across research, policy, practice and business, and other examples of and how you have ensured research reaches and influences relevant audiences.

Impact of Award

Please describe the impact this award will have on your future career, including details of why you are looking to undertake this award and where you see your career going as result of doing so. Specifically, how will the proposed training and development enhance your chances of achieving your career goals.

Has this application been previously submitted to this or any other funding body?

Select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate whether this or a similar application has previously been submitted to this or any other funding body. This must include any previous submissions for an NIHR research training award, even if the proposed training programme has changed. Please detail the title of any previous submission(s), the funding body and scheme, the outcome and the date this is due if a decision is pending. If the application was unsuccessful please indicate why and detail how this application differs from previous submission(s) and how any feedback received has been used to inform this application.

Current and previous NIHR awards

In order to help track the progression of NIHR academy members please indicate whether you have previously held or currently hold another NIHR research training award. Please indicate in this section if you are applying as part of the NIHR Infrastructure; for example BRCs, ARCs etc.

Mitigating factors

Please use this question to detail any mitigating factors you wish to make the Selection Committee aware of. NIHR wants to know about any circumstances so that they may take them into consideration during the assessment of your application. Mitigating factors may include:

  • Career breaks due to parental leave, or periods of illness.
  • Reduced time spent undertaking research due to a disability or caring responsibilities. This could include any physical or mental difficulty that may have impacted your research career. These are situations that have a significant impact on your ability to undertake research
  • Reduced opportunities to career support (for example, mentorship) and limited opportunities to undertake prior research and training.

Please also use this section to detail any other factors that may have impacted your research career not listed in the examples provided. The impact on your career to date will be specific to your particular circumstances but could include such impacts as limited opportunities to obtain grant funding, or fewer publications. In general terms, mitigating factors should be significant, and relevant.

NIHR acknowledges that you may be reluctant, or uncomfortable disclosing relevant information that is sensitive. However, you should bear in mind that we are unable to take into account factors that you do not disclose. Please be assured that information provided by you is sensitive and will be treated confidentially and in line with General Data and Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Please also use this section to indicate any specific impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your application.

4. Training and Development and Research Support

Proposed training and development programme

Please use this section to detail the training and development you will undertake as part of the award. This should cover both the training you may need to undertake any future research plans but also training designed to support your development as a future health and/or social care research leader. Training may include, but is not limited to; formal courses, training in specialist skills and research methodologies, placements with other research groups or centres, leadership skills, conference attendance and overseas research visits. All of which should support the individual in applying for further post-doctoral level fellowship funding to progress their research career within NIHR’s remit.

Any training that you include as part of your award should detail how this will add to development and enhancement and must be justified.

Whilst not ineligible, we wouldn’t expect professorial level applicants to require this award. For applicants at a more senior academic level, i.e Chair or Pre-Chair, there must be a clear justification why the training in your application is required. There should also be a clear explanation of why the support for such training is not available through your host organisation. If applying for this award at this level it should be viewed as a training award rather than bridging between awards. 

Please ensure that you include detailed information regarding any research visits that you plan during your award. For example ensure that you include length of time of the visit and what you will do/achieve during that time and why this particular training element is required.

Research support

The individuals you list here must also be added in the ‘Participants and Signatories’ section of the application form. Although we acknowledge that formal supervision may not be appropriate for applicants, we believe that the applicant will benefit from research support or mentorship. The individuals who provide research support may or may not be based in your host organisation. They should, however, have a clear understanding of the research process, the demands your chosen area of training and development are likely to place on you, and your particular strengths and weaknesses.

Research support is referred to in the literature as ‘mentorship’ and there are numerous models to be found that could be employed. Clearly describe how the proposed arrangements will support your overall development and provide an initial assessment of the time that will be allocated to the research support process.


Explain what collaborations you intend to establish to support your training and development programme. Collaborations should complement and enhance the skills and experience you are looking to gain through this award and can include (but not limited to) individuals, research groups, CTUs, organisations and industry partners.

The NIHR is particularly keen to enhance the cadre of researchers equipped to work at the university/NHS/industry interface, translating ideas into new treatments and products from which patients can benefit. Therefore, where appropriate, you should consider any industry collaborations you may wish to establish during the course of your award. You should include; the training and development the collaboration will provide; the facilities and expertise you will have access to; and how the collaboration will strengthen links between academia, industry and the NHS.

Host Organisation support statement

The statement is completed by the Head of Department and should detail how the host organisation is going to support the applicant to successfully complete their training and development programme as detailed in this application. This statement should be tailored specifically to the applicant, their training needs, and include how the organisation intends to support the applicant to develop their research career in the long-term.

NIHR see the responsibility for training the next generation of research leaders as a joint enterprise with host organisations. Therefore information should also be provided on the organisation’s track record of supporting early career researchers, such as evidence of bridging or other support provided to fellows upon completion of an award.

In addition, the statement should also describe the host organisation’s approach to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive research culture for all.  The statement should provide evidence of how the organisation values and supports equality, diversity and inclusion as well as acknowledging the organisation’s responsibilities with respect to research integrity.  Statements may wish to refer to the principles and best practice outlined within relevant Charters and Concordats in these areas, such as the Researcher Development Concordat and Advance HE’s Equality Charters.  It should be noted that being a signatory to Concordats or holding bronze/silver status from the Equality Charters isn’t a requirement of funding and evidence can be provided through other means.

Host Organisations are expected to comply with the relevant Principles and Obligations for clinical academic training and it is recommended Host Organisations read these documents, where relevant, before completing the statement of support.

Read about the Principles and Obligations for medics and dentists.

Read about the Principles and Obligations for other professions.

NIHR expects that all commitments made to the applicant within this statement will be honoured for the lifetime of the award.

5. Detailed Budget

Justification of costs

This section should be completed in conjunction with your host organisation’s finance office. You should only include the funding requested from NIHR, any matched funding from your host organisation should be detailed in the support statement.

Please provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the award and provide justification for the resources requested. This award provides:

  1. Salary for the applicant for up to 1 year.
  2. Up to £5,000 towards training.
  3. Up to £1,000 towards conference/meeting related travel expenses.
  4. Up to £1,000 towards the costs of mentorship

NIHR Fellowships are not project or programme grants; therefore, extensions to the duration of awards to allow for completion of training and development are not permitted. This doesn't affect suspensions of awards to allow for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or sickness leave.

Detailed Budget Breakdown

The finance section should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal.


  • The information entered in this section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the fellowship proposed and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money.
  • It is in the best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs.
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation will be made annually thereafter at rates set by DHSC. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded.
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed fellowship. For example, if your fellowship is expected to start on 01 April 2022 then its second year starts 01 April 2023.
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested to support the application at a later date.Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s).
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, commercial and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form.
  • There is no need to individually itemise costs where the total is below £1,000.


This award does not cover Full Economics Costs therefore all prices should be entered at, and will be paid at, 100% regardless of the type of organisation (NHS, HEI or other).

If the Employing host organisation is a Higher Education Institution, please select the 'other' option when entering the 'Type of Cost' to prevent costs being submitted at 80%.


These are costs that are specific to the fellowship, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

I) Details of posts and salaries

This section presents an overview of salary costs for the applicant, including normal salary increments broken down individually.

Please state the proposed salary point and scale at the start of the fellowship. Please note immediate promotion to a higher grade as a result of securing a fellowship will not be funded.

The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs from 1st April 2017 where relevant.

II) Salary costs

This section specifies the annual costs of the applicant. You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the fellowship, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay, and build in any known annual increments (again at current rates). You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your fellowship is underway.

Please note the salary figures need to be calculated using the current annual costs, %WTE and number of months.

It is important to double check that the %WTE, total months and yearly costs information are consistent with the information presented in ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ (‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ should show the full current staff costs independent of % WTE etc, whereas the yearly costs in ‘Salary Costs’ depend on % WTE etc).

III) Travel, Subsistence and Dissemination costs

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and dissemination costs, including conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs relating to meetings with supervisors.

If a cost relates to travel, subsistence or fees for a conference please select ‘conference’. Conference costs don’t need to be individually itemised for each conference. The justification box should detail the conferences the costs will cover.

Journey Costs

Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter).

Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.


Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.

Conference Fees

There is a £1,000 limit on the amount that can be spent on conference related costs (including all related travel and subsistence as well as conference fees).

IV) Training and Development

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with training and development. Please provide estimates if exact costs are not available at the time of application. Any travel and subsistence associated with training and development should not be included here and should be included in the travel section of the form.

Details of mentorship/supervision costs up to £1,000 should be included here under ‘other’.

6. Uploads

To support your research plan you are able to upload the following documents in the ‘uploads’ section of the form:

  • Statement of Support (optional): you may provide a letter(s) from the research support participants set out in ‘Training & Development/Research’ Support Section.
  • Personal Statement (optional): you may provide a personal statement that reflects on your overarching goals and motivation for the activities in which you have been involved.
  • Collaborators letter of support (optional): Where you are working with a CTU or industry please include a supporting letter.
  • Training & Development Gantt Chart (Required): Please include a Gantt chart of your planned award to aid the selection committee members in understanding the timeline of your training and development programme.

7. Participants and Signatories

A number of participants and signatories are required to be added to your application and, where applicable, to complete sections of it.  Details of the required individuals are provided on the online application form along with details of how they should be added. The flow diagram in Annex B goes through the actions required of participants, signatories and the applicant.

8. Acknowledge, review and submit

Conflict checks

Please declare any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest that you may have in undertaking this research, including any relevant, non-personal and commercial interest that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.  Please check with your supervisor if unsure.

Agreement to terms and conditions

Please click the check box to confirm you agree to the Terms and Conditions of submission as detailed on the application form.

Additional Supporting Information

Plagiarism in NIHR funding applications

NIHR expects all content within applications for funding to be original material of the applicant's own work, with the exception of sections that other participants are required to complete. Whilst we anticipate and expect that applicants will get help and advice from various sources when putting together an application, including on occasion input from those previously awarded funding, care must be taken to ensure this does not lead to plagiarism of either published work or other previous applications. If an allegation of plagiarism is raised against an application this will be investigated in accordance with the NIHR Academy’s policy on plagiarism, a copy of which is available on request from

NIHR Privacy Policy

Our purpose for collecting information is to communicate with you about your application and have the necessary information to evaluate you for a fellowship. The data we collect here is collected in the public interest. Information provided here may be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

The NIHR Academy is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), NIHR. The contracting agent for the NIHR Academy is the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT). The DHSC is the Data Controller and LTHT is the Data Processor under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EC 2016/679. DHSC NIHR respects the privacy of individuals who share their data and processes it in a manner that meets the requirements of GDPR. The DHSC Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at

The NIHR privacy policy includes further information including ways we may use your data, our contact details and details on your individual rights regarding how your data is used. Your data may be shared across the NIHR, including with other coordinating centres, to allow the application to be managed and for statistical analysis, and with external grant reviewers as part of the process for managing the allocation of a grant. Information collected from you will not be shared outside the EEA without your consent.

This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.

Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information (age, sex, ethnicity and race, and disability).  By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that we fund and their experiences of being funded: particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation.  Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select 'prefer not to say' as a response.  However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Requirements for systematic reviews to be registered with PROSPERO 

Applicants undertaking systematic reviews should note the commitment of NIHR to publication in the database. PROSPERO was developed by the NIHR’s Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), and is the first online facility to register systematic reviews for research about health and social care from all around the world. Access is completely free and open to the public. PROSPERO registration is a condition of NIHR funding for eligible systematic reviews.

UK Biobank 

UK Biobank is a major national health resource, and a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years in 2006-2010 from across the country to take part in this project. They have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis as well as detailed information about themselves. The health of members of this large cohort will be followed over the coming years and the participants have consented to be approached about health research. 

Applicants are encouraged to consider whether Biobank may be able to provide suitable data for their study. We do not want to discourage establishment of new collections of participants and their data where this is necessary to address the research questions under consideration, our aim is to avoid applications for funding to set up Biobank-like cohorts where the use of Biobank would prevent wasteful duplication of Biobank-like activities.

NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines

Researchers applying for NIHR funding are asked to consider the carbon footprint of their research and take steps to reduce carbon emissions where appropriate. Advice on how to do this can be obtained from the NIHR Carbon Reduction Guidelines

Transparency Agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is in the Procurement and contracting transparency requirements: guidance


Ethics/Regulatory Approvals

Guidance on the application process for ethical and other approvals can be found on the HRA website. Please note that if your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England you should apply for HRA approval.

If you are using patient information from an existing database, you should check whether the patients have given their consent for their data to be included in that database for research purposes, or if not whether the database is exempt under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006. Where exemptions are not already in place, approval to use confidential patient information without consent must be requested from the HRA who make decisions with advice from the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG).

NOTE: NIHR is interested in taking advantage of the growing utility of routine data (such as HES, GP records etc.), and would like investigators, where appropriate, to ask study participants to consent to long term follow up (e.g. beyond the outcomes to be collected in the funded trial) using routinely collected data, and appropriate linkage to allow this data to be best used.

Contractual Arrangements

Financial support under an NIHR Fellowship is subject to a contract between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the host organisation.

Once funding for a Fellowship has been discussed and agreed, NIHR will confirm the financial arrangements with the host organisation. NIHR will provide the host organisation with a contract setting out the details of these arrangements.

The host organisation will be expected to issue the individual with an employment contract commensurate with their experience and seniority.

Government procurement transparency regulations require publication of details of all contracts made with the DHSC on their Website. Confidential information including research proposals (Plain English Summaries will be published), detailed finance information, bank details, and departmental staff names (other than the award holder’s name) will be removed from the published versions.

Freedom of Information Act

The NIHR Academy manages the NIHR Fellowship Programme on behalf of the DHSC. As such the findings of researchers funded by the programme are incorporated in to the Department of Health and Social Care Freedom of Information Publication Scheme.

Equal Opportunities and Diversity

NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research and asks applicants to provide Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information (age, sex, ethnicity and race, and disability). By answering these Equality and Diversity Monitoring Information questions, you will help us to better understand the different groups of people that apply to us for funding and their experiences of the funding process – particularly the groups protected by UK equality legislation.  Although it is mandatory to answer these questions, it is possible to select “prefer not to say” as a response. However, the more information you provide, the more effective our monitoring will be. This information will not be used to make decisions about funding.

Guidance and Advice

Please read these Guidance Notes carefully.

If you require any further information, advice or guidance please contact the Personal Awards team by calling 0113 532 8410 or email

Annex A: NIHR Remit frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The following FAQs are designed to help applicants decide whether the research they are proposing as part of a Fellowship or other research training application falls within the remit of the NIHR. Please bear in mind that in these applications, the research project proposal does not stand alone, but is part of a package of elements expected to provide an excellent training experience that will allow the successful applicant to take his/her skills and experiences to a still higher level. Therefore, along with the research proposal, NIHR panels will assess the abilities, academic trajectory, existing experience, commitment to a career in health and/or social care research, ambition and aspirations of the applicant, the standards in the research training environment, and the plans for explicit training in research methods. The research proposal provides a framework for research experience so has to be of high quality, but a good research proposal will not be supported if other elements are weak.

If you are proposing a programme of work as part of an application (particularly relevant for more senior awards) it maybe that certain elements of the programme would be outside the remit of NIHR if considered in isolation. If this is the case it is important that you make clear in your application that the research overall fits within the remit of NIHR and also why any elements which could be considered out of remit are necessary to include. It is also important to note that any elements of the research which are considered out of remit will not be funded by NIHR should your application be successful. This includes any work involving animals or their tissue, which NIHR does not fund under any circumstances. Applications which include a programme of work where the majority of the work is out of remit but with a small study within NIHR remit added on, will not be considered.

If you have queries over whether the research you are proposing as part of a research training application falls within the NIHR remit you are strongly advised to speak to a Senior Programme Manager for the award you applying for before submitting an application.

Do you fund the evaluation of education and/or training schemes?

Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall remit of the NIHR and outcomes measured should be health/social care related, or there should be good evidence for a link between the outcome measured and a health/social care outcome.

Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of decision aids for patients?

The development or updating of a decision aid will be considered as part of a larger project or programme.

Do you fund the development of interventions, devices, technologies or services?

The development or adaptation of interventions can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work. We will not fund standalone developmental studies.

Do you fund the development and/or evaluation of outcome measures, questionnaires or surveys (e.g. Patient Reported Experience/Outcome Measures)?

The development, adaptation or updating of outcome measures questionnaires or surveys can be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

Do you fund the development, evaluation and/or validation of models (e.g. risk factor models, health economic models etc)?

Yes – we will consider funding the development of models where there is a case for service need or patient/public benefit. There should also be an evaluation or validation aspect to the study.

Do you fund research requiring observational/applied epidemiological methods?

We fund research according to the potential for patient/public benefit rather than according to specific methodologies. We therefore fund research using a wide range of study designs including observational and applied epidemiological methods. Any study that uses observational and applied epidemiological methods should be an evaluation of an intervention itself, or have a clear, credible and articulated trajectory to further research within NIHR remits. An applied epidemiological component can also be considered as part of a larger project or programme of work.

Do you fund research into workforce?

Yes. Proposed studies should be within the overall remit of the NIHR and should concern the impact on health and well-being, whether of patients, the public, or of the workforce itself.

Do you fund research into patient and public involvement in research?

Yes. Proposed studies would need to demonstrate the potential for practical application and make clear the potential impact on patients and/or the public.

How does NIHR define the early translational (experimental medicine) research that it is interested in funding?

NIHR is interested in funding translational research which involves investigation undertaken in humans which can show a trajectory to benefiting patients.

Proposals must show a clear link to improving disease outcomes and/or improvements in health. This could include proof of concept studies in humans and phase 1 clinical trials. Research which is aimed only at furthering understanding of the underlying biology and physiology of disease, including research into disease mechanisms is not within remit.

Annex B: Submission Flow Diagram


This flow diagram shows the steps for submitting an application. The applicant starts the application and adds participant and signatory details. The participants and signatories can then log in and confirm their participation and signatories can complete the sections of the form as directed. The applicant can continue entering data and completes all relevant sections of the form (step 3). The applicant then presses the ‘Submit’ button. Once the applicant submits, signatories will receive automated emails to approve the application. However, automated ‘out of office’ replies to these emails will not be relayed to the applicant. Once all signatories have approved the application, it is automatically submitted to NIHR for consideration. Rejection of the application by any individual at this stage will return the application to step 3.

Annex C: Health Data Science

This award can be used to support existing NIHR Academy members who wish to develop their skills in data science as applied in clinical, biomedical or population health settings. Health Data Science (HDS) is a recently established inter-disciplinary field whose importance to all aspects of health research will continue to grow. The three pillars of HDS are: statistics; computation; domain knowledge. The first two of these are underpinning methodologies, the third is context-specific, ranging from molecular to whole-population studies. It is rare to find this combination of expertise in a single individual. Hence, HDS is best approached as a team science endeavour in which each member of the team is an expert in one of the three pillars but conversant in all three. NIHR Academy is interested in applications from individuals from all types of professional and research background who are seeking to develop skills in HDS.

Below is a list of key skills that are relevant to HDS. The list is broader than could be covered in any single award. Applicants should propose a training programme that balances breadth and depth in a way that reflects their current skill-set and their future career development goals. The double listing of machine learning is deliberate. A key characteristic of data science is that many of its methodological underpinnings bridge the traditionally separate disciplines of statistics and computer science.


  • Study design principles: formulating the research question, validity, efficiency, controlling for extraneous variation
  • Choosing a study design: observational, interventional or randomised trial
  • Probability: quantifying uncertainty in data, and in conclusions drawn from data
  • Inference: turning data into evidence - testing, estimation or prediction?
  • Critical appraisal of research evidence
  • Machine learning


  • Data collection, processing and management
  • Programming
  • Machine learning
  • Reproducibility of data-driven research
  • User-interfaces

Domain knowledge

  • Biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
  • Health services


  • Multidisciplinary team science: leadership, networking, collaboration
  • Communication: within and beyond the research team
  • Governance, including regulatory requirements and research ethics
  • Patient and public involvement

Annex D: Clinical Trials

This award can be used to support post-doctoral researchers with an interest in, and/or experience of, working with clinical trials, who would benefit from further training within the setting of a CTU. The award should expose the applicant to all aspects and stages of trials and should not limit individuals to one study. A list of potential UKCRC registered CTUs that you could collaborate with is available.

NIHR does not dictate what the training within an award should be or how it is delivered as it should be bespoke to an individual’s needs and requirements. However it is very important that the trainee experiences all elements of clinical trials from idea to dissemination. It is particularly important for example to ensure training in patient and public involvement and health economics (where needed) is included early in the lifecycle of a training award to ensure these elements can be utilised right from the inception of the study.

Below is a list of key skills that applicants should consider when putting together an application focused around clinical trials. The list is intended to cover all aspects of clinical trials that future health research leaders competent in clinical trials should be knowledgeable in and it may not be necessary for a training award to encompass all these elements depending on the skills and experience the applicant already has.

  • Evidence based medicine and critical appraisal of clinical trials
  • Systematic reviews
  • Basic statistics for clinical trials including power calculations
  • Clinical trial design and protocol design
  • Complex interventions and intervention development
  • Randomisation
  • Blinding
  • Governance including; GCP, regulatory requirements, ethics.
  • Recruitment
  • Data collection, processing and management
  • Data analysis
  • Trial reporting, dissemination and impact
  • Patient and public involvement
  • Outcome measurement
  • Health economics
  • Priority setting and question development
  • How to reduce bias and research wastage
  • Funding for pilot and feasibility work
  • Multidisciplinary working encompassing leadership, networking, and collaborating
  • Ideas generation

In order to experience all the elements of a clinical trial as described above it may also be beneficial to gain exposure to the following:

  • Trial development groups
  • Trial management groups
  • Data monitoring and ethics committees
  • Trial steering groups
  • Dissemination meetings

For more details see our Clinical Trials Guide.

Annex E: Entrepreneurship and Working with Industry

This award can be used to support post-doctoral researchers with an interest in, and/or experience of entrepreneurship and working in industry. NIHR does not dictate what the training should be or how it is delivered as it should be bespoke to an individual’s needs and requirements. However it is important that the awardee experiences enough aspects of entrepreneurship and working in industry which would allow them to work successfully in this area in the future.

Some of these core elements should involve:

  • People and Leadership - HR framework, policies, goals, team dynamics, role of the board and business pitch.
  • Clinical Need - health economics, patient benefit, product definition and competitive advantage.
  • Market analysis and strategy -market structure, routes to market, quantifying patient benefits, commercial potential and value proposition.
  • IP/Route to market - IP strategy and overview, protection, contracts, product roadmap, technical risks, project plan and product adoption.
  • Manufacturing - Scalability of process, process development, project plan and contracts and licences.
  • Regulatory - Compliance framework, milestones and approvals, risk assessment and management, pre-clinical development and clinical development.
  • Funding and Finance - Finance basics, financial models, valuation, sources of funds, funding strategy and elevator pitch.
  • Business plans - Purpose, content and presentation.

It is expected that applicants who are using the DSE to gain skills in entrepreneurship and working in industry will collaborate with an SME or an industrial partner. Below is a list of organisations who could facilitate finding an appropriate business to collaborate with. If you would like specific contact information, please get in touch with the NIHR Academy.

  • Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) - Represent innovative research based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of bioscience in the UK.
  • Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) - is the UK's leading industry association for health technology (HealthTech). ABHI supports the HealthTech community to save and enhance lives.
  • The British In Vitro Diagnostic Association (BIVDA) - is the national industry association for the manufacturers and distributors of in vitro diagnostic products in the UK.
  • NIHR Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure (NOCRI) - NOCRI is a unique resource for the global life sciences industry - improving the quality, efficiency and success of translational research.
  • NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) - build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests. 
  • Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) - Innovate UK’s network partner and also provides innovation networking for other funders in line with its mission to drive UK growth.
  • Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) - As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, we are catalysts that create the right conditions to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients.

NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme

Alongside placements with industry partners it is possible to take advantage of already established training programmes, such as the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. The programme is the biggest entrepreneurial workforce development programme of its kind. Open to both clinical and non-clinical NHS staff, the programme aims to provide the commercial skills, knowledge and experience needed to successfully develop and spread innovative solutions to the challenges facing the NHS. 

The curriculum covers all aspects of setting up and running a small business, including attracting investors, applying for funding, and ensuring appropriate corporate governance. A dedicated programme in how to build a start-up – and how to operate in this highly-charged environment – is delivered as a series of educational events attended by industry mentors. The programme aims to allow entrepreneurs to pursue their innovation without having to leave the health service,providing  a wider benefit to economic growth through inward investment in the health, social care and life science sectors.

As such, the programme currently offers mentoring, networking, bespoke commercial education, customer matching, resources and development tools to over 500 individuals including Doctors, Dentists, Healthcare Scientists, Nurses and Midwives, Allied Health Professionals and Pharmacists. More information can be found at the Clinical Entrepreneur training programme webpage