NIHR Fellowships

In 2016, we initiated a Strategic Review of Training within NIHR to review the past and look proactively at future training needs. A report was published following this review which you can find here. The review made a series of recommendations, and as a result of these recommendations; NIHR’s current provision of personal awards are being combined into new NIHR Academic Career Development Fellowships.  

NIHR Fellowships will support individuals with the potential and on a trajectory to become future leaders in NIHR research. The Fellowships have been designed to support people at various points of their development to become leading researchers, from initial pre-doctoral training to senior post-doctoral research. Four different types of Fellowship will be available:

  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
  • Doctoral Fellowship
  • Advanced Fellowship
  • Development and Skills Enhancement Award

A summary document has been produced to outline further details of the NIHR Fellowships and there is also an FAQ document. Full guidance notes will be available on this page before the next round launches in October 2018.

Applicants for a Fellowship will need to be proposing research and/or research training that falls within NIHR’s remit ( The majority of Fellowships will be awarded in response mode but a strategic component will also be introduced, further details of which will be announced prior to the launch of each funding round.

NIHR Pre-Doctoral Fellowship - offers 1 year WTE (or on a part time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE) to give people the necessary skills and experience required to undertake a PhD. Applications will only be invited from individuals looking to undertake research training with a view to submitting a future PhD application in one of the NIHR Academy’s defined Strategic Themes. As developing research capacity amongst methodologists remains an important long-term aim for NIHR, this will include anyone looking to build a research career in any of the areas previously supported by the NIHR Research Methods Programme (medical statistics, health economics, clinical trial design, operational research and modelling), as well as other relevant methodologies more widely.

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


NIHR Doctoral Fellowship - offers 3 years full-time funding (may be taken up on a part time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE) to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research.  The majority of Fellowships will be awarded in response mode but with strategic components also being introduced.

Fellowships will be available to start from September 2019 with competitions launching biannually, the first launching in October 2018.

You can hear from NIHR Doctoral Research Fellows Rhiannon Owen and Lisa Newington about their own experiences.


NIHR Advanced Fellowship - between 2 and 5 years in duration and may be taken up on a part time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE at post-doctoral level and aimed at several specific points of a researcher’s career development for those who:

  • Have recently completed or about to be awarded a PhD but haven’t yet established themselves as independent researcher
  • Starting to establish themselves as independent researchers or those already established as independent researchers but not yet recognised as an international leader in their field.
  • Are looking to transition into applied health research from a basic science background or those looking to re-establish their research career following a significant career break. 

Advanced Fellowships will be available with a ‘clinical academic’ option whereby clinical applicants will have the option to request between 20% and 40% of their time be dedicated to clinical service/development which would be covered by the Fellowship.

Fellowships will be available to start from September 2019 with competitions launching biannually, the first launching in October 2018.


NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award - offers 1 year (part time basis of between 50 and 100% WTE available, however the maximum duration will still be 1 year regardless of WTE) post-doctoral level award aimed at supporting NIHR Academy Members to gain specific skills and experience to support the next phase of their research career. This will include NIHR Academy Members requiring support for career continuity in advance of applying for further NIHR Academic Career Development funding, who haven’t been able to source support from elsewhere e.g. from Research Capability Funding. Applicants will be required to demonstrate the new skills and experience they hope to gain through the award and how it will benefit their future career in research.

Awards will be available to start from December 2019 onwards with application windows open all year round, starting from May 2019.



Partnership Fellowships

At each level of Fellowship there will be opportunities to apply for jointly funded Fellowships, which are co-funded by either a charity or industrial partner.  Details of the partners co-funding Fellowships will be provided in advance of the launch of a particular round. Please note there will be additional specific eligibility criteria for co-funded Fellowships which will need to be considered alongside the general eligibility criteria for the level of Fellowship.



Information for applicants 

The application system can be accessed via

Applicants may only submit one application to a round of the NIHR Fellowships competition.

The NIHR is an ORCID member and encourages researchers and trainees to obtain this persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from other researchers. Lead applicants must now include an ORCID iD in their application. Without it, your application will not be validated and you will not be able to submit. If you don’t already have one, we recommend that you register for your ORCID iD as soon as possible.

All applicants must ensure that their proposed research project is compatible with the published NIHR remit.

Applicants will hear if they have been invited for interview 4 to 6 weeks prior to the interview dates.  All interviews will take place in Leeds.  


Previous Round

The 2017 round of the previous Fellowship programme closed in December 2017. Details about this round for information only are available here


Information for new Trainees

A Trainee Information Pack is available for new and current trainees with awards managed by the NIHR Training Coordinating Centre (TCC). The available documents, leaflets, links and contact details for Programme Managers are designed to assist trainees throughout the duration of their award and career progression. 


NIHR Fellows tell their stories

Current Fellowship Programme Trainees tell their own stories on how the NIHR has helped them develop a clinical academic career (filmed at the 2015 Trainees Meeting)

1. Rhiannon Owen, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow and Medical Statistician



2. Lisa Newington, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow and Physiotherapist. 




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Tel: 0113 346 6277