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NIHR Fellowship Programme

The NIHR Fellowship Programme support individuals on their trajectory to becoming future leaders in NIHR research.

Our four fellowships have been designed to support individuals at various points of their development in becoming leading researchers, from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research.

  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship launch date: February annually
  • Open now: Development and Skills Enhancement Award launch dates: January, May, September annually
  • Open Now: Doctoral Fellowship launch dates: April, October annually 
  • Open now: Advanced Fellowship launch dates: April, October annually 

We are also partnering with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly-funded Partnership Fellowships at both Doctoral and Advanced levels. More details can be found in the summary and FAQ document.

Further Information

Call:  0113 532 8410

Email: Academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk, and detail which fellowship programme you are enquiring about in the subject area.

 Follow @NIHRcommunity

NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowships are designed to support people who are looking to start or advance a career in health research methodology, specifically in one of the following areas:

  • Medical statistics
  • Health economics
  • Clinical trial design
  • Operational research
  • Modelling
  • Bioinformatics
  • Qualitative research
  • Mixed methods.

It can be undertaken full-time over 24 months or on a part-time basis of between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent.

Applicants without a masters degree should use the fellowship to undertake a masters degree in one of the areas listed. Those already holding a relevant masters degree (or currently completing one) should use the fellowship to gain additional support and training to advance to the next level of their career.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for a NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship you must:

  • Have completed a relevant first degree.
  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • Be proposing to develop a career as a methodologist in one of the areas listed above.

This Fellowship is not open to clinical applicants looking to undertake training in research methods.  Clinical applicants looking to develop a career as a clinical academic should consider schemes from the relevant clinical academic programmes provided by NIHR.

Awards will be available to start from September 2019 onwards with competitions launching annually in February.

Useful resources for potential applicants

The NIHR Doctoral Fellowship is a three year full-time award that supports individuals to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. This fellowship may also be taken up on a part-time basis of between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent (WTE).

Clinical applicants are able to include up to 20% clinical time as part of the fellowship, to ensure the maintenance of their clinical competence whilst undertaking the fellowship.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for an NIHR Doctoral Fellowship you must:

  • Have completed any relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants)
  • Have completed a first degree (for non-clinical applicants)
  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services.
  • Be intending to register for and complete a PhD
  • Where already registered for a PhD (or MPhil with transfer to PhD), you should not have been registered for more than 12 months at 100% WTE by the time the award starts.

Doctoral Timetable

  Round 2 Round 3
Competition opens for applications for all Fellowships w/c 1 April 2019 1 October 2019
Doctoral Stage 1 closing date for submission of online application 18 June 2019 by 1pm 17 December 2019 by 1pm
Doctoral Stage 2 invitation w/c 30 September 2019 6 April 2020
Doctoral Stage 2 deadline 30 October 2019 by 1pm 5 May 2020 by 1pm
Interviews held in Leeds 26 – 27 November 2019 10-11 June 2020
Awards start on 1st of month 1 April to 1 September 2020 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021

Partnership Fellowships

The NIHR has partnered with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships.

For Round 3 of the Fellowships Programme (October 2019), Partnerships Fellowships are available at the Doctoral level with the following charity partners:

  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust
  • Diabetes UK
  • Kidney Research UK  
  • Moorfields Eye Charity 
  • Muscular Dystrophy UK

Jointly funded Partnership Fellowships enables researchers to:

  • Maintain and build a relationship with both the NIHR and a Charity Partner
  • Engage with and receive valuable input from patient groups, making the most of the public and patient engagement/involvement opportunities available
  • Receive greater research exposure through a variety of media and communication channels.

Please refer to the Guidance Notes for  further details regarding the specific eligibility criteria for each charity partner (in addition to the standard eligibility criteria), the level of award available and the contact details for the relevant charity.

We encourage all applicants interested in applying for a jointly funded Partnership Fellowship to contact the relevant charity partner to discuss their research area of interest before they apply.

Please note, all other queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR Academy.

Useful resources for potential applicants

The Advanced Fellowship is for those at a post-doctoral level and can be utilised at several specific points of a researcher’s career development.

The fellowship is between 2 and 5 years and can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis - between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent (WTE).

Advanced Fellowships will be available with a ‘clinical academic’ option, whereby clinical applicants will have the option to request up to 40% of their time be dedicated to clinical service/development which would be covered by the award.

When should you apply?

The NIHR Advanced Fellowship is aimed at individuals at various points of their career. You may have:  

  • Recently completed or be about to be awarded a PhD, but haven’t yet established yourself as an independent researcher
  • Established yourself as an independent researcher or you are in the process of doing so, but are not yet recognised as an international leader in your field
  • Transitioned into applied health research from a basic science background or re-established your research career following a significant career break.

In addition, you may use the Advanced Fellowship to undertake innovative knowledge mobilisation (to support the more effective use of research knowledge), whilst simultaneously researching implementation processes and impacts.

If you are unsure about your eligibility for the Advanced Fellowship, as related to your career stage, please contact the NIHR Academy office on 0113 532 8410 and a member of the team  will be happy to discuss your proposed application.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for an NIHR Advanced Fellowship you must:

  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • Hold a relevant PhD or MD, or have submitted your thesis for examination at the time of application (you must have been awarded a PhD or MD by the time you attend the interview)
  • Not already hold a Chair at the point of application
  • Complete the relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants).

Advanced Fellowship Timetable

  Round 2 Round 3
Competition opens for applications for all Fellowships w/c 1 April 2019 1 October 2019
Advanced Fellowship Stage 1 closing date for submission of online application 4 June 2019 by 1pm 3 December 2019 by 1pm
Stage 2 invitation w/c 18 November 2019 w/c 11 May 2020
Stage 2 deadline  17 December 2019 by 1pm 9th June 2020 by 1pm
Interviews held in Leeds 21-22 January 2020 w/c 13 July 2020
Awards start on 1st of month 1 April 2020 to 1 September 2020 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021

Partnership Fellowships

The NIHR has partnered with a number of charitable organisations to offer jointly funded NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowships.

For Round 3 of the Fellowships Programme (October 2019), Partnerships Fellowships are available at the Advanced level with the following charity partners:

  •       Castang Foundation
  •       Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust
  •       Moorfields Eye Charity
  •       MS Society

Jointly funded Partnership Fellowship enables researchers to:

  • Maintain and build a relationship with both the NIHR and a charity partner
  • Engage with and receive valuable input from patient groups, making the most of the public and patient engagement/involvement opportunities available
  • Receive greater research exposure through a variety of media and communication channels.

We encourage all applicants interested in applying for a jointly funded Partnership Fellowship to contact the relevant charity partner to discuss their research area of interest before they apply. Please note all other queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR Academy.

Useful  resources for potential applicants

The Development and Skills Enhancement Award (DSE) is a post-doctoral level award aimed at supporting NIHR Academy Members to gain specific skills and experience to underpin the next phase of their research career. As an applicant you will be required to demonstrate the new skills and experience you hope to gain through the award,  and how it will benefit your future career in research.

The award will run three times annually opening in May, September and January, and will support a mixture of researcher-led applications and applications from areas of strategic importance.

The highlighted themes for the current round are:

  • Health Data Science
  • Clinical Trials
  • Entrepreneurship and working with industry.

Awards will be up to a maximum of 1 year (in terms of NIHR funding) and may be taken up on a part time basis of between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent (WTE), however the maximum duration that NIHR will fund will still be 1 year regardless of WTE. There is an expectation that host organisations will match the level of support provided by NIHR at a level of 50%.

Eligibility criteria

All applicants must:

  • Be a current member of the NIHR Academy
  • Have completed any relevant pre-registration training (clinical academic applications only)
  • Have a proposed host who is an HEI, NHS body, or other provider of health and/or care services
  • 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
  • Ensure that any previous NIHR awards undertaken finished no longer than 12 months ago - this does not include any time taken off for statutory leave
  • Have not submitted a DSE application in the previous round.

For more information regarding the eligibility criteria for the scheme can be found in the Applicant Guidance Notes, which are published to accompany each competition.

Key Dates

Fellowship start dates are detailed below for the May, September and January rounds.

For exact dates of each round please visit the website closer to the time of opening.

Round Opens Round Closes Funding Recommendation Meeting Start Date
May (w/c 06.05.2019) July September December to March

September

(w/c 02.09.2019)

November January April to July

January

(w/c 06.01.2020)

 March  May  August to November

The closing date for the second intake of applicants is 1pm on 27th November 2019

For full details on the scheme, please read the Development and Skills Enhancement Awards Round 1 (2019) Applicant Guidance Notes.  

Useful resources for prospective applicants

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Professor Cheng-Hock Toh, highlights how the Royal College of Physicians has launched a project calling for every clinician working in the NHS to be supported to become research active. His blog is part of our Your Path in Research campaign.

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Dr Damian Roland writes about how he has pursued his path in research and encourages others to follow in his footsteps to further their career. His blog is part of our Your Path in Research campaign.

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Jayne Parry is chair of the NIHR Academy Advanced Fellowship Selection Committee. In this blog she gives her insight into what the committee looks for when shortlisting for interview.

Latest documents for the Academy

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NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) Guidance Notes

Doctoral Fellowship Selection Committee

Selection Committee information

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Case study information about Karen Heslop-Marshall, former HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow and Nursing Times’ Nurse of the Year 2016 nominee.