Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Clinical research training fellowship

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Apply for funding to undertake a PhD or to reacquire research skills.

Your research can focus on any area of MRC’s remit to improve human health.

You must be a registered healthcare professional, either:

  • planning to undertake a PhD or similar
  • a PhD graduate working outside of research, usually five or more years ago.

You must be at an appropriate point in your clinical training to undertake a PhD.

You may also choose to apply for joint funding from one of the collaborating organisations.

We will fund your salary and project costs for three years.

This is an ongoing scheme. Application rounds open three times per year, closing in January, April and September.

Who can apply

Eligible professions

You can apply if you’re a registered healthcare professional. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • nurses
  • midwives
  • allied health professionals
  • healthcare scientists
  • pharmacists
  • clinical psychologists
  • doctors
  • dentists
  • general practitioners
  • veterinarians.

Types of applicants

We welcome both predoctoral and postdoctoral applicants.

Predoctoral applicants

This funding supports clinically active healthcare professionals to undertake a higher research degree, such as a PhD or MD.

To be eligible you must:

  • be able to demonstrate ownership of your project and show ambition to follow a clinical academic career
  • be at an appropriate point in your clinical training to study for a PhD, with clear plans for completing your speciality training
  • request a minimum of 24 months funding full-time equivalent to complete your PhD
  • have the support of an eligible research organisation.

You do not need to have registered for a PhD at the time of your fellowship application.

If you have spent more than one year on the course in a full-time capacity, you must explain within your proposal why you are a suitable candidate.

If you have spent significantly more time than one year on your PhD course, we will consider your application only in exceptional circumstances.

You do not need to have held a position that includes formal research time, for example, an academic foundation or an academic clinical fellowship.

If you are clinically qualified, we will expect you to be undertaking your specialty training and have completed your membership of the Royal College of Physicians’ exams or equivalent.

You should consult your deanery about studying for a PhD and your plans for completing specialty training before you apply for a clinical research training fellowship.

If you are earlier or later in your clinical training, you will need to make a clear case for why now is the right time for you to undertake a PhD. We recommend discussing this with a programme manager at fellows@mrc.ukri.org.

General practitioners (GP)

If you are a GP, you are considered to be at an appropriate career stage to apply up to three years post-qualification.

Veterinarians

If you are a veterinarian, you may apply if you are a registered vet and a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Your proposed project must be relevant to human health.

Clinical psychologists

If you are a clinical psychologist, you must have a professional doctorate-level qualification in clinical psychology that is accredited by the British Psychological Society before starting the fellowship.

Non-medical healthcare professionals

If you are a non-medical healthcare professional, such as a nurse, midwife or allied health professional, you must have:

  • completed your professional training
  • hold a research master’s degree or equivalent postgraduate research-oriented qualification.

Postdoctoral applicants

This funding offers applicants who already have a PhD, but have not been active in research since, an opportunity to refresh their research skills and re-establish research momentum.

You can apply if you:

  • have received a PhD or equivalent, usually five or more years ago
  • are at a similar career stage to predoctoral applicants and are undertaking your specialty training
  • have not undertaken substantial periods of academic research since your PhD (we may also consider your application if you have a National Institute for Health Research academic clinical fellowship or similar since your PhD)
  • have the support of an eligible research organisation.

If you have completed your PhD within the last few years and are not eligible to apply for a clinical research training fellowship, you should consider the clinician scientist fellowship.

International applicants

Proposals are welcomed from applicants of all nationalities, including those not currently based in the UK. This is subject to the fellowship being hosted by an eligible research organisation.

You will be expected to show a genuine commitment to the UK research effort beyond the end of the award.

Career breaks and flexible working

We will take into account any career breaks, flexible working and changes in discipline when assessing your research experience and current track record.

Read our guidance for reviewers on how to assess career breaks and flexible working.

MRC is supportive of applicants wishing to combine their research training with caring responsibilities. All our fellowship awards may be held on a part-time basis or within flexible working arrangements.

Read our policy on part-time and flexible working.

Find out more

Further information can be found in guidance for fellowship applicants.

If you’re unsure whether you are eligible to apply, email fellows@mrc.ukri.org before beginning your application.

What we're looking for

We welcome applications from across all areas of MRC’s remit to improve human health. This may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease, to translational and developmental clinical research.

We expect your clinical work will help to inform and strengthen your research work.

MRC science areas include:

  • infections and immunity
  • molecular and cellular medicine
  • population and systems medicine
  • neurosciences and mental health
  • translation
  • global health
  • methodology
  • public health.

Explore MRC’s areas of scientific remit.

We also welcome proposals for interdisciplinary approaches or research which will address global health issues and be of benefit to those living in low and middle-income countries.

What the fellowship gives you

Clinical research training fellowships usually last three years but never less than two years. For patient-oriented projects where additional time is needed to collect patient samples and complete follow up assessments, you may request up to four years’ funding.

These periods are based on full-time equivalents.

Awards may be held on a part-time basis to meet personal commitments but not because of other professional commitments.

We expect you to take up your fellowship no more than six months after the date of the review meeting.

This fellowship scheme provides a competitive salary, giving you the chance to concentrate fully on your research, training and development. You may:

  • spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time fellowships) on other commitments such as teaching, demonstrating, other funded projects
  • undertake up to two clinical sessions a week.

Read MRC’s guidance on research staff development.

We recognise the challenges faced by clinicians in combining research training with the demands of a clinical career.

We operate this scheme as flexible as possible. This gives you the chance to negotiate the extent of your clinical commitment depending on your specialty and your research needs.

If you are planning to undertake more than two clinical sessions a week during your fellowship or request more than three years’ funding, we advise you email fellows@mrc.ukri.org before applying.

Find out more about what to expect as an MRC fellow.

Types of funding available

Predoctoral fellowships

This fellowship provides:

  • a salary appropriate to your level of training, up to but not including NHS consultant level
  • up to £20,000 each year to cover consumables, equipment, conference travel, PhD and other course fees.

You may be able to request extra funding for costs such as:

  • the cost of training at an overseas or second centre or industry placement
  • the purchase and maintenance cost of animals, excluding experimental costs, related consumables or project licences
  • the costs associated with healthy volunteer studies, where costs for patient studies would be met by local clinical research networks.

Note that only these costs can be applied for above the £20,000 per annum limit.

Predoctoral fellowships are not subject to full economic costing. Estates and indirect costs are therefore not payable, and awards are made at 100% of the requested funding.

Postdoctoral fellowships

This fellowship provides:

  • salary costs appropriate to your level of training up to but not including NHS consultant level
  • funding to cover research expenses and travel costs under full economic costing.

There is no limit to the amount you can claim for expenses.

Postdoctoral fellowships are funded at 80% of the full economic cost. The research organisation must agree to find the balance of full economic cost from other resources.

Jointly-funded clinical research training fellowships

MRC collaborates with royal colleges and charity funders to offer jointly-funded clinical research training fellowships.

These awards offer the prestige of having the relevant organisation co-fund your fellowship and may offer additional opportunities to report on your project, present your work at meetings and take part in professional networking.

Jointly-funded clinical research training fellowships.

You can find more information under ‘how to apply’.

For further guidance

MRC’s guidance for fellowship applicants.

How to apply

Before applying, you should read the information on the application process in the guidance for MRC fellowship applicants.

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘new document’ then follow the appropriate process for the fellowship type you’re applying for.

To apply for a predoctoral fellowship select:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: total costs fellowship
  • call: clinical research training fellowship predoctoral Jan 2023.

To apply for a postdoctoral fellowship select:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: fellowships, FEC
  • call: clinical research training fellowship postdoctoral Jan 2023.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

The clinical research training fellowship award opens three times a year, closing in:

  • January
  • April
  • September.

If you need advice on your suitability for an MRC fellowship scheme, email your CV using the fellowship CV template, to fellows@mrc.ukri.org. You must also include:

Resubmissions and other applications

You may apply to any MRC fellowship scheme no more than twice, even if your proposal changes. You should allow at least a year between submissions whether applying to the same or a different scheme.

You are allowed to apply for fellowship funding from other funders or research organisations at the same time. However, you may not have simultaneous fellowship proposals under consideration by MRC and UK Research and Innovation fellowship schemes.

You must list any current applications in the ‘other support’ section of the Je-S form and mention your MRC application in any applications to other funders. For further information, see section 2.8 of the guidance for MRC fellowship applicants.

If you want to reapply within a year you should request permission from the relevant programme manager before resubmission by emailing fellows@mrc.ukri.org.

Applying for a jointly funded clinical research training fellowship

To apply for joint funding, your application must include the jointly-funded fellowship form.

Joint-funding does not alter the assessment process. We will offer all jointly funded fellowships under standard MRC terms and conditions, except where the co-funder has specified extra terms and conditions.

If you apply for a jointly funded award which is not available for any reason, we will automatically consider you for a standard MRC fellowship instead.

Industrial partner information

If you want to include one or more industry partners as a project partner, you must also complete the project partner section in Je-S.

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, a maximum of two pages on headed paper or a PDF of an email. The letter must:

  • be an integral part of the application
  • focus on the proposal it accompanies which includes the requirement to include a project partner letter of support.

Full details of the content the project partner should include in their letter of support, are provided in section 2.2.6 of the MRC guidance for applicants.

MRC industry collaboration framework

If your application involves the collaboration of one or more industrial partners, you should review the information published within the MRC industry collaboration framework (ICF) to decide if you should submit your application under the ICF.

After reading the ICF information, if you decide that your application will include industry collaboration, you will need to include the following within your application for each collaborating industry partner:

The completed ICF form should be uploaded to the Je-S attachments section using the ‘MICA form’ document type. Please type ‘Industry Collaboration Framework form’ in the description box.

The company letter of support must use the available template and be uploaded to the relevant project partner entry you are required to add to your Je-S application.

If you have concluded that your application is relevant to the ICF, you are also required to add ‘ICF’ at the beginning of your Je-S project title before you complete the submission of your proposal. Failure to do so may lead to the proposal not being processed correctly.

Further guidance

For more information on the application process, see:

How we will assess your application

When we receive your application, we will check it to make sure it is within remit. It will then be peer reviewed by at least three independent experts from the UK and overseas.

You can nominate up to three independent reviewers. We will invite only one to assess your application or we may decide not to approach any of your nominated reviewers.

Criteria

Peer reviewers will assess your application and provide comments. They will also score it using the peer reviewer scoring system against the following criteria.

Importance

We will assess the importance of the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed.

Scientific potential

We assess what the prospects are for good scientific progress.

Resources requested

We will consider whether the funds requested are essential for the work, and whether the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested.

We will also assess whether the proposal represents good value for money.

Further information related to our assessment criteria

For more information about our assessment criteria, read our detailed assessment criteria for each fellowship type.

Decision

A sub-committee of members of the clinical training and career development panel will review these scores and comments at a shortlisting meeting. We continue with the highest-quality applications with greatest potential to be funded.

If your application passes the shortlisting stage, we will invite you to interview and send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

Interviews with the clinical training and career development panel will usually last 30 minutes. We will contribute towards the cost of your return travel, modest subsistence costs and reasonable additional family care costs.

Feedback

We will let you know as soon as possible after we have made a final decision about your application. This is usually within five working days of your interview.

If you reach the interview stage, we will send you feedback and let you know the reasons for the panel’s decision. If you are not invited to interview we will send you copies of the external reviewers’ comments.

We aim to make a decision within six months of receiving your application.

Find out more about the MRC fellowship assessment process.

Read an overview of the MRC peer review process.

Interview guidance

For more information on the interview process, see:

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: fellows@mrc.ukri.org

Include ‘CRTF’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within ‘10’ working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

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