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Senior Investigators

Our Senior Investigators are among the most prominent and prestigious researchers funded by the NIHR and the most outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR research community. 

Collectively, Senior Investigators constitute the NIHR College of Senior Investigators, and are members of the NIHR Academy. 

NIHR Senior Investigators:

  • Contribute significantly to NIHR as a senior leader
  • Lead in training and development of NIHR’s people
  • Act as an ambassador for the NIHR in the wider system
  • Demonstrate research excellence
  • Integrate patient and public involvement in research
  • Play a leading role in NIHR’s contribution to growth; for example, through attracting, developing and retaining a highly skilled health research workforce, or by supporting collaborations and contract research with the life sciences industry.

Senior Investigators receive a discretionary award of £20,000 per year of appointment to fund activities that support their research. Funding is awarded for 4 year appointments on the recommendation of an independent Selection Committee. There may be on occasion an exception to this approach; for example, where a previous term of 3 or 5 years has been held.

As senior members of the NIHR Academy,  they help guide research capacity development and enhance the career paths of our researchers. This includes participating as mentors in the NIHR mentoring programme and supporting the NIHR Future-Focused Leadership Programme as guest faculty members.

The NIHR holds an annual, open competition to fund Senior Investigators, with selection informed by the advice of an independent Selection Committee

Members of NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR programmes. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

NIHR registry of interests

The selection criteria for Senior Investigators are:

  • NIHR and applied research focus
  • Training and leadership
  • Individual research excellence and impact

Senior Investigators receive a 4 year award on the recommendation of the Selection Committee. Senior Investigators can reapply for a second award on completion of the first award, with a maximum of two awards permitted totalling no more than 8 years.

After two awards, a Senior Investigator will be awarded an Emeritus status.

Our Senior Investigator Directory, updated each April, provides details of all researchers who hold current or emeritus Senior Investigator status.  Over 300 appointments have been made since 2008, with the number of active awards maintained at around 200.  

In February 2020, we announced the 45 researchers appointed as Senior Investigators in our 13th annual competition - 28 new appointees and 17 current or previous holders of the award. Sixteen new NIHR Emeritus Senior Investigators were created, giving a total of 161 Emeritus Senior Investigators.  See the full list of 2020 Senior Investigators.

The Senior Investigators selected in our 14th competition will be announced in spring 2021.

Clinical Excellence Awards recognise and reward NHS consultants and academic general practitioners who perform over and above the standard expected of their role. Applicants need to demonstrate achievements in developing and delivering high quality patient care, and continuous improvement in the NHS.

NIHR, as a nominating body, makes a specific number of rank ordered recommendations to Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards (ACCEA) for each round of Clinical Excellence Awards.  Senior Investigators can apply for NIHR support for national level 9 to 12 (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) Clinical Excellence Awards.

If you would like more information on being nominated by the NIHR via your status as an NIHR Senior Investigator, please contact

If you'd like be notified when the next Senior Investigator competition dates are announced, please register your details.

You can contact the team that manages Senior Investigator awards via the following methods:

Telephone: 020 8843 8003
Our operating hours are 09:00 to 17:00

Latest research news

Latest blogs from the Academy

It’s time for a wide range of researchers to get involved in mental health research

Bea Shelley is coordinator for the NIHR Incubator for Mental Health Research, which supports and advocates for academic research careers in mental health. She writes about her conversations with mental health researchers and how the Incubator aims to help the profession.

Working at the interface of academia, industry and health and care

Pete Thompson is Director of Programmes and Impact at NIHR Academy. In his blog he gives us an insight into his early career working with pharmaceutical companies and how as part of his current role he is encouraging more researchers and commercial companies to work together to drive forward improvements to care and interventions.

Using a clinical academic career to keep patients at the forefront of my work

Professor Dave Jones is Dean for the NIHR Academy. In his blog he talks about his path in research, why research careers are important as well as the career support, guidance and opportunities the NIHR provides. His blog has been published as part of the Your Path in Research campaign.

Research: Ability to change practice, improve care and learn more

Dr Polly Duncan, is a General Practitioner (GP) and Senior Research Fellow, and her interest in research was sparked by an undergraduate research project in Ethiopia. She writes about her NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship and how she now spends her time supporting research and encouraging others to get involved in research. Her blog has been published as part of NIHR's Your Path in Research campaign.

Using my COVID-19 experience as an opportunity for positive change

Maria Paton is an HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow (CDRF) and Lead Cardiac Scientist for Heart Failure and Device Services at the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT). She explains her experience of returning to clinical work and how COVID-19 provided a chance to learn and develop their service for the better.