Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP)

The Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP) offers research delivery nurses and midwives the opportunity to develop as Principal Investigators on NIHR portfolio studies.


Who’s it for? 

Research delivery nurses or midwives


12 to 18 months


Free if you’re eligible


Live virtual lessons, online learning and hands-on experience

Key dates

Cohort 3

Applications open at 9am on Monday 12  August 2024. We will add a link to the application form here. 

Applications close at midday Friday 27 September 2024

Programme starts in January 2025


The Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP) offers research delivery nurses and midwives the opportunity to develop as Principal Investigators on NIHR portfolio studies.

PIPP runs twice a year in two cohorts. Each cohort has 30 places.

Watch the video below for an overview of what to expect from PIPP.

Core elements

There are four core elements to the programme which take 12-18 months to complete:

  1. An overview of the role and the responsibilities of the Principal Investigator (PI) on a NIHR portfolio study and why the role is important in the delivery of high quality research. This is largely theory based.
  2. Supervised experience in the PI role, which helps you develop practical knowledge and skills in a safe environment.
  3. You assume the PI role on a NIHR portfolio study. This builds on the practical experience gained in Element 2.
  4. You mentor other learners who are at an earlier stage of the programme or on other PI development schemes, eg  Associate Principal Investigator scheme

See full programme details

What recognition do I achieve for having completed the PIPP?

After finishing each element you will receive an NIHR-endorsed certificate. It will list what you learned in that element of the programme and acknowledge you as a Principal Investigator (PI) delivering NIHR portfolio studies.

Is there a cost to take part in the PIPP?

The programme is free. However, learners need to negotiate the time required with their line manager before applying to the programme. We suggest this forms part of Personal Development Plans within appraisal conversations.


You can apply to PIPP if you are:

  • a registered Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) nurse or midwife, or a General Dental Council (GDC) registered dental nurse
  • employed by the NHS or another organisation funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • based in England

You also need to:

  • work in research delivery at least 50% of the time
  • have enough experience in research delivery to develop your role into a PI. There are no specific requirements based on your pay band or length of time working in research
  • have the support of both your line manager and a local PI(s)
  • can commit to the time frame of the programme
  • can identify NIHR portfolio studies to act as PI on

If you already have PI experience

You can also apply if you:

  • have taken on the role of PI in the past and want to consolidate your learning
  • want to act as the PI on a type of study that you don't have experience on

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture.  We encourage applications from research delivery nurses and midwives working across a range of settings, including primary, secondary, community and social care.

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at NIHR.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about eligibility

Is the PIPP open to all nurses and midwives?

To be eligible, you must be a registered nurse or midwife and work in a research delivery capacity for at least 50% of your role.

Nurses or midwives who are not funded for 50% or more of their time to work in research (and therefore not eligible for the PIPP), can apply to take part in another NIHR research development initiative called the Associate Principal Investigator Scheme.

Is PIPP only for nurses working in secondary care?

No, the programme is open to research nurses and midwives working in primary, secondary and out of hospital settings. This includes community, public health and social care settings.

Do I need to be on a specific Agenda for Change (AFC) band to take part?

There are no requirements about AFC banding or time within a research role. Applicants should have enough research delivery experience to feel competent to wish to develop their role further to be a Principal Investigator.

Is the PIPP open to Allied Health Professionals working in research or Clinical Research Practitioners (CRPs)?

The PIPP is currently only open to research nurses and midwives. Other professional groups are advised to contact their research network or speak to their organisational research office to find out about alternative research development programmes.

Is PIPP open to nurses who live and work in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

The programme is currently available in England only. We are in discussion with colleagues in Scotland about the future roll out of PIPP in Scotland - we will update the website with further information as these discussions progress.

How to apply

Cohort 3

Applications open at 9am on Monday 12  August 2024. We will add a link to the application form on this page.

Applications close at midday Friday 27 September 2024.

Programme starts in January 2025.

FAQs about applying

I’ve previously completed the NIHR Associate PI Scheme, can I take part in the PIPP?

If you have moved into a research delivery role since completing the NIHR Associate PI scheme, then you can discuss undertaking the PIPP with your line manager.

Is there an interview as part of the PIPP application process?

There is no interview, but you must discuss and get approval from your line manager before you sign up to the programme. This will ensure you get the support you need during the programme.

Is participation in PIPP available all year round?

The programme is offered twice a year.. There are currently 30 places offered per cohort.

What are the requirements around mentorship / support whilst undertaking PIPP?

Throughout the programme there will be colleagues to support your development journey.

  • Element 1: support is provided via the Research Nurse Educator
  • Element 2: supported is provided via your local PI
  • Element 3: support is provided by an identified mentor (who can be outside of your professional group and outside of your organisation)

Full programme details

Element 1

Element 1 consists of four virtual half-day sessions. They are run by an experienced Research Nurse Facilitator over a two-month period. 

It covers various topics including:

  • the reasons to become a nursing and midwifery PI
  • qualities of a good PI
  • characteristics of a good research protocol
  • quality assurance in research study setup
  • identification of research studies
  • roles and responsibilities in research
  • PI oversight
  • safety reporting

Check Element 1 virtual session dates

Element 2

You will work alongside a local PI who will supervise you to practice what you learned in Element 1.  

We recommend you spend about half a day per week for 3 months on Element 2.

The topics covered include:

  • expressing interest in a study
  • conducting feasibility assessments
  • study setup
  • governance
  • informed consent
  • safety considerations


There is no formal assessment. You learn by completing a number of listed activities and reflecting on them afterwards.

Element 3

Element 3 builds on the knowledge and practical experience you gained in Elements 1 and 2.  It consists of self-directed learning from a recommended set of resources.

You will take on the role of a PI for a NIHR portfolio study.  

Before you start this element, you will need to find a suitable study. Your CRN Study Support Service, Research Delivery Managers or Specialty Group Leads can help with this.

We recommend you spend about half a day per week for three to six months on Element 3.

We will also invite you to a PI Masterclass and recommend further learning activities.

Element 4

During Element 4 you will mentor other learners who are at an earlier stage of the programme or on other PI development schemes, eg  Associate Principal Investigator scheme.

We will provide resources, guidance materials, and support workshops to help you understand and fulfill the role of a mentor. Learning is through peer support and mentorship.

The topics covered include:

  • the role and expectations of a mentor
  • ongoing support for mentors

You should spend up to two hours per month for three to six months on Element 4.

FAQs about the programme

What is the time commitment of the PIPP ?

Taking part in the PIPP will need to be done in conjunction with your core day-to-day role. We recommend you plan how you will do this and discuss and agree this plan with your line manager.

There are 4 Elements to the PIPP, done one after the other. We recommend a minimum timeframe of 12 months.

The time commitment for each element is:

  • Element 1: 4 half days to attend virtual theoretical sessions
  • Element 2: 0.1 whole time equivalent (wte) for 3 months
  • Element 3: 0.1 wte for 3-6 months
  • Element 4: 0.1 wte for 6 months

Do I need to complete all 4 elements of the PIPP?

The programme has been designed to provide maximum benefit to participants and their employing organisations by undertaking all 4 elements over a suggested period of time. Each element focuses on achieving a result. Therefore, all 4 parts must be completed.

Element 1 virtual session dates 2024

Cohort 2

  • Session 1: Monday 16 September, 9am - 1pm
  • Session 2: Thursday 19 September, 9am - 1pm
  • Session 3: Tuesday 1 October 2024, 9am - 1pm
  • Session 4: Thursday 10 October 2024, 9am - 1pm

Contact for more information

Please email