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Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme

The Associate Principal Investigator Scheme aims to develop health and care professionals to become the Principal Investigators (PIs) of the future.

What is the Associate Principal Investigator Scheme?

The Associate PI Scheme is a six month in-work training opportunity, providing practical experience for healthcare professionals starting their research career.

People who would not normally have the opportunity to take part in clinical research in their day-to-day role have the chance to experience what it means to work on and deliver an NIHR portfolio trial under the mentorship of an enthusiastic Local Principal Investigator (PI). A Principal Investigator is an individual responsible for the conduct of a research study at a site.

Associate Principal Investigators receive formal recognition of engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies through the certification of Associate PI status, endorsed by the NIHR and Royal Colleges.

The video below explains the scheme:

How the Associate PI Scheme works

The scheme is open to any health and care professional willing to make a significant contribution to the conduct and delivery of a study at a local level over a period of six months.

  • The healthcare professional will work alongside the Local PI for six months on the study. During the 6-month tenure we refer to them as an ‘Associate PI trainee’.
  • The Local PI will act as a mentor to the Associate PI trainee, helping them to understand what it means to be a Local PI on an NIHR portfolio study.
  • During their time on the Associate PI Scheme, the Associate PI trainee must complete a learning pathway on NIHR Learn, which includes a checklist of mandated study activities to complete. This checklist needs to be signed off by the Local PI and a member of the National Study Team at the end of scheme.
  • The NIHR Associate PI Scheme team will then issue a certificate confirming Associate PI status, which can be added to their training portfolio.

How to get involved

Find out how to:

Apply to be an Associate Principal Investigator

Register your study for the Associate PI Scheme

List of registered studies 

View a list of regitered studies open to applications:

List of registered studies

Supported Specialties and Royal College Endorsements


The scheme is currently open to studies and healthcare professionals from the following specialties:

To find out what studies we currently have registered, please visit our 'Where can I take part?' dashboard.

Royal College Endorsements

Please note: if the Royal College you are affiliated with is not listed this does not prohibit you from participating in the scheme.

The ambition is to obtain endorsement from all the Medical Royal Colleges and implement this scheme across all appropriate specialty areas.

Further information

If you have any questions about the scheme, including the eligibility of an applicant or a study to join, please contact the Associate PI Scheme central team at


You may find the answers to some of your questions in our Associate PI Scheme FAQs.


Visit the Associate PI Scheme resources website to browse our toolkits, 'how to' guides, publications and resources for all key stakeholders who play a part in the Associate PI Scheme.