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Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP)


Published: 27 June 2023

Version: 1.0- June 2023

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Are you a Research Delivery Nurse or Midwife who wants to develop their research leadership skills?

The NIHR’s Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP) aims to address some of the current gaps in career opportunities for research delivery nurses and midwives by supporting them to become Principal Investigators (PIs) to deliver NIHR portfolio studies.

The programme will develop the skills, knowledge and experience required by research nurses and midwives to undertake a Principal Investigator (PI) role.

What to expect on the Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme

There are four core elements to the PIPP which are undertaken in sequential order. 

  • Element 1 covers the role and the responsibilities of the PI on a NIHR portfolio study and why the role is important in the delivery of high quality research. 
  • Element 2 provides supervised experience in the PI role, enabling the development of practical knowledge and skills in a safe environment. 
  • Element 3 continues to build on the practical experience gained in Element 2 by undertaking the PI role on a NIHR portfolio study.
  • Element 4 consolidates all of the programme learning by asking participants to mentor other learners in Element 3 of the programme. It is anticipated that the programme will take between 12-18 months to complete.

More information about each element can be found in the further information section

The programme is free of charge for eligible participants and is delivered through a variety of live virtual and on-line classroom environments, combined with real world hands-on experience. 

Programme eligibility 

We encourage applications from research delivery nurses and midwives working across a range of settings, including primary, secondary, community and social care. The NIHR is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture, as outlined in our Research Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027. We want everyone to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution. We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and communities. We are committed to having leadership and teams that are made up of diverse skills and experiences. To find out more, visit our equality, diversity and inclusion page

Applicants must be registered NMC nurses or midwives or GDC registered dental nurses working within an organisation funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and working in a research delivery role for at least 50% of your role.

This programme is open to applicants based in England only.

You must be able to demonstrate how you fulfil the following:

  • Have sufficient experience in a research delivery role to feel competent to wish to develop your role further to be a Principal Investigator. Please note - There are no eligibility requirements regarding AFC banding or a specific time frame working within a research role.
  • Have the support of both your line manager and a local PI(s).
  • Be able to commit to the timeframe of the programme.
  • Be able to identify NIHR portfolio studies to act as PI on.

You are also eligible to apply to take part in PIPP if you have previously undertaken the role of PI but wish to consolidate your prior learning or if you wish to act as the PI on a type of study that you have not already had experience on.

Key dates 

The first cohort of the programme will run from January 2024. The programme will run on an annual basis with a total of 15 research nurses and midwives recruited to each cohort and there will be 2 intakes to the programme per year. The dates below indicate the timeframes for the first 2 cohorts. Places are limited and you will be asked to state which cohort you are applying for.

COHORT 1 key dates:

30th September 2023: Close to applications

End October 2023: Applicants notified of outcome of application

January 2024: COHORT 1 begins

Cohort 1 Element 1 theory sessions:

Session 1: Thursday 18th January 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Session 2: Tuesday 23rd January 2024  09:00 - 13:00

Session 3: Tuesday 20th February 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Session 4: Wednesday 28th February 2024 09:00 - 13:00

COHORT 2 key dates:

31st May 2024: Close to applications

End June 2024: Applicants notified of outcome of application

September 2024: COHORT 2 begins

Cohort 2 Element 1 theory sessions:

Session 1: Wednesday 11th September 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Session 2: Thursday 19th September 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Session 3: Tuesday 1st October 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Session 4: Thursday 10th October 2024 09:00 - 13:00

Applicants are advised that the 4 half day sessions that comprise Element 1 contain the theory on which the rest of the programme is built. Therefore we strongly advise that you check your availability prior to applying. Should you be unable to attend one of the sessions there will be opportunity to watch and listen to the recording of the session. All 4 half day sessions will need to be undertaken prior to moving onto Element 2.

How to apply

Applications for PIPP Cohort 1 are now closed. The link to apply will be reactivated on 1st March 2024 to apply for Cohort 2.


We will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to this programme in the application process. If you have any additional support or have any access or communication needs throughout the application process, please contact us ( If appointed, we will also work with you to identify adjustments to undertake the programme.

If you have any queries regarding PIPP please contact

Further programme element information 

The aim of this career development programme, divided into four elements, is to provide knowledge and practical experience for individuals interested in becoming a Principal Investigator (PI) on a NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) portfolio study.

Element 1 consists of four half-day sessions spread over a two-month period. It covers various topics including the reasons to become a Nursing and Midwifery PI, qualities of a good PI, characteristics of a good research protocol, quality assurance in research study setup, identification of research studies, roles and responsibilities in research, PI oversight, and safety reporting. This Element is delivered virtually by an experienced Research Nurse Facilitator, so your availability to attend the online sessions is key.

Element 2 is designed to apply the theory learned in Element 1 through supervised practical experience. It recommends dedicating half a day per week for three months. The topics covered include expressing interest in a study, conducting feasibility assessments, study setup, governance, informed consent, and safety considerations. You will work alongside a local PI for this Element, so identification of this PI support will be needed in advance of starting the programme.

Element 3 builds upon the knowledge and practical experience gained in Elements 1 and 2. It involves taking on the role of a PI for a NIHR portfolio study. Ahead of commencing Element 3 you will need to link with your CRN Study Support Service, Research Delivery Managers or Specialty Group Leads in order to identify a study for which you may be able to undertake the PI role. This element focuses on self-directed learning "on the job" and requires participants to identify a study in which you can act as the PI. The recommended duration for Element 3 is half a day per week for three to six months in order to take part in a PI Masterclass and some recommended learning activities as well as acting as a PI.

Element 4 aims to support colleagues who are in Element 3 of the programme. During Element 4 you will receive resources, guidance materials, and support workshops to help you understand and fulfill the role of a mentor in the context of the Principal Investigator Preparation Programme (PIPP). The recommended duration for Element 4 is up to two hours per month for three to six months. The topics covered include the role and expectations of a mentor and ongoing support for mentors.
The overall objective of Element 4 is to continue in your Principal Investigator role whilst supporting colleagues in developing their knowledge and skills as a Principal Investigator.