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HEE-NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

The Health Education England (HEE) / National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme provides research training awards for health and social care professionals, excluding doctors and dentists, who wish to develop careers that combine research and research leadership with continued practice and professional development. 

Applicants to the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme schemes must hold registration with one of the ICA approved regulatory bodies or have plans in place to hold the required registration by the proposed award start date.

The programme offers five awards at pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral levels, which together support the development of a career pathway for practitioner academics. All awards require the support of an English health or social care provider and a university, which form a partnership to further the career aspirations of the awardee.

The programme also offers short duration Bridging Awards, which support ICA eligible professionals to build on their previous academic training and develop a proposal for a doctoral or post-doctoral award.

Doctoral and post-doctoral award holders can also access funded career mentorship through the ICA Programme’s bespoke Mentorship Scheme.

Further information

Call: 0113 532 8401 Email:, and detail which programme you are enquiring about in the subject area.

Internships are short duration awards for individuals with little or no research experience. They deliver a range of taught and academically supervised components that engage and expose the award holder to a clinical academic research environment. Interns develop the practical skills required to undertake a research project or to develop a project idea, supported by an expert supervisor.

The award covers salary costs for the days undertaking the Internship away from clinical practice.

ICA Internships are managed by local HEE teams.  Further details of the scheme and contact details for your local team are available from the HEE-NIHR Clinical Academic Career web pages.

The Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme supports early career researchers from the health and social care professions (excluding doctors and dentists), who are committed to a clinical academic career, to become competitive applicants for a peer-reviewed doctoral level research training fellowship. Applicants must hold registration with one of the ICA approved regulatory bodies by the award start date.
The PCAF scheme offers two distinct funding offers:

1. funding to support the submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a programme of academic training at Masters level
2. funding to support submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a small amount of academic training at Masters level (PCAF Bridge)
These two streams allow applicants to choose the level of support most appropriate to individual requirements. They are both available on a full and part-time basis and both funding streams provide:
  • salary costs (including the employer's contribution to National Insurance and pension) to support the time undertaking the fellowship
  • training and development programme costs
  • supervision and mentorship costs
Applicants can also request up to 20% clinical development time paid for through the award.
PCAF candidates may:
  • have little formal academic training/ research experience
  • have completed some Masters level training
  • have completed a Masters level qualification
  • require Masters level training/ a full Masters
However, all applicants must be committed to a career as a clinical academic.
Full scheme details are available via the Applicant Guidance Notes
Funding competitions open annually at the start of the year.

The Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship (CDRF) scheme funds registered healthcare professionals to undertake a PhD by research and, concurrently, to undertake further professional development and clinical practice.


The CDRF is a three year award (up to six years part time), approximately 80% of which you will spend working academically over the course of the fellowship. The remaining 20% of fellowship hours will be spent devoted to clinical practice and professional development.  

We require that you have a clinical and academic host, and a contract of employment with one of these for the hours and duration of the fellowship.


Our personal research training award offers funding to cover your salary costs, PhD tuition fees, the costs of an appropriate research project, and the costs of tailored clinical and academic training programmes.

Full Scheme Details

Available from the CDRF Applicant Guidance Notes:

  • Full eligibility
  • Funding available
  • How to apply.

Please read these guidance notes in full before you start an application or contact the NIHR Academy.


Funding competitions open annually in March each year and full scheme details are available in career development funding opportunities.

Useful resources for prospective applicants

The HEE/NIHR ICA Lectureships schemes support post-doctoral ICA eligible professionals to develop the specific skill sets required to achieve credibility as an independent researcher, whilst continuing professional practice and development.

Clinical Lectureships - support those in the early stages of their post-doctoral career who wish to establish themselves as independent clinical academic researchers over the course of the award.

Senior Clinical  Lectureships - support those established as independent clinical researchers but are not yet recognised as leaders in their field.


Award holders split their Lectureship time between their role in one of the ICA eligible professions and research activities at a ratio of: 

  • 60/40 academic/clinical or
  • 50/50 academic/clinical or
  • 40/60 academic/clinical


  • Up to 50% of awardee's total salary
  • The costs of the approved research project
  • The cost of a personal training and development programme, which includes clinical development, conference attendance and an overseas research visit.

 Full Scheme Details

Available from the  ICA CL and SCL Applicant Guidance Notes:

  • Full eligibility
  • Funding available
  • How to apply.


Funding competitions open annually in March each year.

The ICA Bridging schemes support non-medical clinical academics to build on their previous academic training and to develop proposals for a pre or post-doctoral award, and take the next step in their clinical academic career.

ICA Bridging awards  are managed by local HEE teams.  Further details of the scheme and contact details  for your local team are available from the HEE Clinical Academic Career web pages.

The ICA Mentorship Scheme offers individuals holding doctoral or post-doctoral ICA awards the opportunity for free one-to-one clinical academic career mentorship by an appropriate mentor.

The scheme is positively received, and recognised as providing a crucial layer of support to our aspirant clinical academic awardees. As a result, and following agreements between HEE, NIHR and Versus Arthritis (a merger of Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK) mentorship through the scheme is also available to approved NIHR Fellowship awardees and nominated Versus Arthritis fellows.

The ICA Mentorship Scheme is administered by Birmingham Health Partners, an overarching partnership organisation that brings together a collaborative network of healthcare and education providers in order to create an ideal environment to stimulate and support the growth of research active clinicians.

Information for prospective mentors and mentees

Mentoring is uniquely valuable to aspiring non-medical clinical academics and is afforded by the scheme through formalised and funded contact time with the most qualified individuals available. 

Mentorship goes beyond the guidance afforded by a supervisor and acts to support the awardee through the challenges encountered during the development of a clinical academic career.

The scheme’s mentors are recognised senior healthcare researchers and professional leaders. As such, they bring essential and unique sector knowledge, as well as an understanding of the leadership challenges that face clinical academic researchers from the non-medical healthcare professions.

The scheme administers:

  • A faculty of mentors comprising of senior healthcare researchers and professional leaders
  • One-to-one mentoring support for ICA Programme funded doctoral and postdoctoral awardees
  • Mentorship training
  • Training events and resources for mentees and mentors.

Accessing the scheme

All ICA CDRF, CL and SCL awardees, and ICA eligible professionals in receipt of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral NIHR Fellowship Programme awards are welcome to access mentorship through the scheme. Interested individuals should submit a preliminary matching request to our providers using this expression of interest form for mentees.

Individuals, including current ICA SCLs, interested in joining the scheme as a mentor can register their interest by submitting this expression of interest form for mentors.

Find out who are the current mentors.

Prospective mentors or mentees requiring further information should contact:

Latest funding opportunities for the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) Round 4

The PCAF prepares eligible healthcare professionals for doctoral-level clinical research.

All Integrated Clinical Academic funding opportunities

Latest documents for the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme

ICA Programme Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Applicant Guidance Notes Round 4 2021

Applicant guidance notes for Round 4 of the ICA PCAF scheme that supports early career researchers to become competitive applicants for a doctoral level research training fellowship.

Chairs’ Report for Round 3 (2020) of HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Scheme

A report from the chair of the PCAF selection committee for round 3 of the scheme.

Working with the Research Design Service

Details of what support the Research Design Service can offer.

ICA Programme Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship Scheme Chairs’ Report

Please find a copy of the Chairs' report for round 5, including their observations, and recommendations.

All Integrated Clinical Academic documents

Latest case studies from the Academy