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NIHR Leaders Support and Development Programme


The NIHR Leaders Support and Development Programme seeks to maintain and improve the quality of leadership in health and social care research. We aim to do this by meeting the development needs of current leaders and early to mid-career researchers within the NIHR, whose focus is aligned with the strategic priorities of the NIHR.

Our programme embodies in its design, structure, and approach the NIHR’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.  We are continually developing our provision to meet the evolving needs of our leadership communities. Provision currently includes:

  • Future-Focused Leadership Programme. Our flagship leadership programme for NIHR Leaders and NIHR Emerging Research Leaders. 
  • The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme. This programme offers doctoral and postdoctoral NIHR Academy Members the opportunity to seek support for their academic and career development from a mentor drawn from our wide NIHR leadership community.
  • Leadership Development Resources. A suite of flexible, online modular resources to support your leadership and management development.

Future-Focused Leadership Programme

The NIHR Academy provides postdoctoral Academy Members with leadership development through its Future-Focused Leadership Programme.

The programme enables you to develop your capabilities and effectiveness as a leader by identifying and reflecting on your strengths and areas for development.

It is arranged into two streams, targeting distinct groups of Leaders:

  1. The Emerging Research Leaders stream is for early to mid-career researchers on an academic track, who are taking up their first significant leadership and management roles. This programme will enable you to collaboratively explore management and leadership in health research and what it means at an individual, team, institution and system level in order to improve your leadership and management capability.
  2. The Leaders stream is for current leaders based within NIHR or delivering a national role for NIHR. You will be developing into or taking up leadership roles at a senior level, facing significant leadership challenges, where support will be most needed and impactful. This programme will enhance your skills in leading across organisational boundaries, leading strategy and change and influencing others to achieve the strategic aims of NIHR.

Express an interest in joining the programme

Register your interest to be notified when applications for either stream reopen.

The success framework

The Future-Focused Leadership Programme has been developed specifically for the NIHR following an in-depth analysis to understand what makes a successful leader. The programme offers you the opportunity to explore new thinking on how to lead in the 21st century. We have created the programme with reference to years of research in the fields of occupational psychology and applied positive psychology.

The programme is designed around exploring Leading Yourself, Leading Others and Leading Beyond Authority.

Here's what some of our participants say about the programme

“Despite doing other leadership courses, I feel this has been the most relevant to me in terms of bite-size pieces of learning that are wholly relevant” - Leader

“I was lucky enough to attend the Emerging Research Leaders programme and I highly recommend it for NIHR Academy members. It helped me develop my leadership skills and have the confidence to take the next steps in my career." - Dr Jane Freeman, Associate Professor in Clinical Microbiology at University of Leeds

Programme format

The Future-Focused Leadership Programme extends over a period of twelve months and incorporates three residential workshops, webinars and online modules. You will be able to apply the insights you uncover and the new skills you learn to your current role throughout the year and will be encouraged to network and share your experience and learning with fellow delegates.

An overview of the Future-Focused Leadership Programme outlines the course structure of the last cohort.

For further information about the Future-Focused Leadership Programme please email the NIHR Development and Support team at

Future-Focused Leadership cohort dates

Please note these dates are subject to change. 

Emerging Research Leaders application dates

CohortApplications openApplications close Course launch
Cohort 2 18 April 2023 16 June 2023 18 October 2023
Cohort 3 16 January 2024 7 March 2024 - 13:00pm 6 June 2024
Cohort 4 TBC TBC TBC

Emerging Research Leaders cohort 2


Virtual Kick Off


18 October 2023

Residential 1 - Leading Self


24 - 25 January 2024

Residential 2 - Collaborate


24 - 25 April 2024

Residential 3 - Leading beyond authority


2 - 3 July 2024

Virtual programme close


20 November 2024

Emerging Research Leaders cohort 3


Virtual Kick Off


6 June 2024

Residential 1 - Leading Self

Birmingham 17-18  September 2024

Residential 2 - Collaborate

Manchester 27-28  November 2024

Residential 3 - Leading beyond authority


12-13 February 2024

Virtual programme close


13:00 - 16:00 7 May 2025

Leaders stream application dates

CohortApplications openApplications closeCourse launch
Cohort 2 3 October 2023 7 December 2023 - 12pm March 2024
Cohort 3 19 March 2024 7 June 2024 9  October 2024
Cohort 4 TBC TBC TBC

Leaders cohort 2


Virtual Kick Off


7 March 2024

Residential 1 - Leading Self


15 - 16 May 2024

Residential 2 - Collaborate


18 - 19 September 2024

Residential 3 - Leading beyond authority


13 - 14 November 2024

Virtual programme close


25 February 2025

Leaders cohort 3


Virtual Kick Off


13:00-14:00 9 October 2024

Residential 1 - Leading Self

Birmingham 29-30 January 2025

Residential 2 - Collaborate


TBC 18-20 March 2025

Residential 3 - Leading beyond authority


TBC 13-15 May 2025

Virtual programme close


17 July 2025

Future-Focused Leadership resources

Mentoring Programme

The NIHR Academy provides final year PhD and postdoctoral Academy Members with career development support through its mentoring programme.

The refreshed NIHR Academy Programme supports final year PhD and postdoctoral academy members from a broad range of professional and disciplinary contexts across our diverse health and social care communities to mentor others and to seek a mentor. It builds on the NIHR Academy mentoring programme that was previously delivered with the Academy of Medical Sciences.

This programme will not impact on the programme delivered by our partnership with Health Education England, supporting researchers who are in receipt of an Integrated Clinical Academic award.

The programme has been developed and guided by a Steering Group whose membership is representative of Academy Members.

The programme aims to support the academic and career development of our post-doctoral communities by:

  • extending the NIHR Academy mentoring offering to post-doctoral award holders from disciplines and professional backgrounds which may not have a strong mentoring tradition, or may not have had access to programmes such as this in the past
  • promoting interdisciplinarity; mentees will be able to seek a mentor from a cognate or complementary discipline or professional background, where appropriate
  • supporting mentoring relationships between individuals from different organisations and institutions
  • promoting equality, inclusion and diversity through engagement with, and learning from, under-represented groups

Mentors and mentees will be supported throughout their participation in the programme through regular professional development events and resources. They will also have access to a mentoring platform to support and guide their mentoring relationships. 

Note that this programme is for researchers undertaking research in England. Currently there are networking events specifically for GHR academy member  and a mentoring programme for GHR academy members is being developed.

Here's what some of our mentees and mentors have to say about the programme

“Thank you for the opportunity of being matched, this has been really helpful and something I would have struggled with without the NIHR assistance” - Mentee

“Mentoring others can create useful reflections on my own development” - Mentor

View more testimonials on the mentoring programme.

How to participate in the NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme

To join the programme as a mentee, you should be an NIHR Academy member who is in the final year of their PhD or hold a postdoctoral award/hold postdoctoral positions and are based in NIHR Infrastructure (e.g. BRC) or in an NIHR School. You will need to have a minimum of six months remaining on your postdoctoral funding or NIHR personal award from the close of applications of the mentoring programme.Express an interest in joining the programme

Express an interest in the mentoring programme

The mentoring programme  is currently closed for applications. Applications will open in September 2024.

Mentoring cohort dates

2023/4 CohortsCohort applications openCohort applications closeOrientation eventMentoring begins
Cohort 1 -2024 9 January 2024 9 February 2024 20, 22, 26 and 27 March April 2024
Cohort 2 -2024  25  March 2024 30 April 2024 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13 June June 2024
Cohort 3 -2024 10 September 2024 10 October 2024 TBC December 2024

Mentoring resources

The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme is a valuable development opportunity for post-doctoral researchers looking for a mentor. Mentees benefit from one-to-one support for their career development and time for personal growth and reflection.

Mentorship can be rewarding for mentors too, who are contributing to the development of our future research leaders. Both parties can gain new perspectives and fresh ideas, and expand their professional networks.

To help you learn about the value of mentoring and find mentorship support, you can read the following articles:

There is also a series of short webinars delivered by Julie Haddock-Millar to help you get starting with mentoring as a mentee or mentor. View the CPD Mentoring Webinar Series.

For further information about the NIHR Mentoring Programme, please contact the NIHR Development and Support team

NIHR Annual Mentoring Programme - evaluation report

Annually the mentoring programme is independently evaluated, creating an overview of the programme over the last year. The evaluation comprises of three individual cohort reports (cohort 1, 2 3, 2021) which includes case studies from a range of mentee/mentor matched pair interviews conducted at the end of the mentoring relationship. View the reports:

Leadership Development Resources

NIHR Leadership e-learning modules

We provide a suite of e-learning modules to support NIHR Academy Members who wish to enhance their leadership and management skills. The e-learning modules are also available to health and care researchers within the NIHR, NHS, UK universities, and other publicly funded organisations conducting and supporting clinical research within the UK. 

Whether you are new to leadership or well-seasoned, the self-led modules will provide you with the opportunity to build skills, learn about the latest leadership tools and reflect and practise new approaches. They will provide you with thought provoking content and insights, key learnings and practical ideas to support you in developing your leadership capabilities. You can work through the modules as standalone topics, or use them as flexible resources to dip into as and when you need them.

A total of 16 new e-learning modules will be delivered between 2023-2025. The following modules are currently available via NIHR Learn:

  • new leader toolkit
  • hybrid working
  • self awareness
  • inspiring others with a clear vision
  • strategic awareness
  • agile working and staying flexible
  • effective collaboration

Visit the Leadership e-learning resources module descriptions to find out about the content of each module.

To access the Leadership e-learning modules, log into the NIHR’s online learning platform NIHR Learn, select Leadership Development and then Leadership e-learning Modules. To register with NIHR Learn, visit Accessing NIHR Learn.

Please note, our previous suite of ‘Leadership Lab’ online learning resources can still be accessed via NIHR Learn but will be phased out as the new e-learning is launched.


We regularly host webinars designed to support your leadership and management development. All of our modular resources have webinars associated with them, such as ‘Compassionate and inclusive leadership’ along with additional webinars covering a wide variety of topics such as ‘Coaching for success’ and ‘Optimising your energy for peak performance’.

To learn about forthcoming webinars, visit our Events page. You can access the previous webinars on our Development and Support playlist on the NIHR YouTube channel.


Our leadership workshops have been designed to support the development of your leadership skills. Each workshop will offer you the chance to share, learn, and try practical tools and techniques to help you to become the leader you would like to be.

Find out about upcoming workshops on our Events page.

For more information about any of the leaders development resources, please contact the NIHR Development and Support team