Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Clinician scientist fellowship

Apply for funding to support your move to independent investigator in a medical research field.

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

You must:

  • be a registered healthcare professional
  • have a PhD or equivalent
  • show evidence of career progression
  • show clear plans for developing as a leader in your specialist area of research.

Your research plans must not overlap with those of your current group leader or proposed sponsor.

There’s no limit on the amount of funding you can apply for.

We will fund your salary and project costs for up to five years. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

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

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

Who can apply

You can apply if you are 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.

Who is eligible

To be eligible for the clinician scientist fellowship, you must:

  • have completed a PhD or equivalent
  • have the skills and experience that match those of the ‘transition to independence’ career stage in the MRC applicant skills and experience criteria, such as showing evidence of career progression and productivity across past appointments
  • have your own research plans which do not significantly overlap with those of their current group leaders or proposed sponsors
  • have the support of an eligible research organisation.

There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience.

You are not eligible to apply if you have previously held a comparable intermediate fellowship from any organisation.

Medical and dental graduates

Medical or dental graduates should have specialty registrar or consultant status, or be at the equivalent level in general practice.

If you have not completed your specialty training, you must have plans in place for doing so and have consulted your deanery before applying.

Non-medical healthcare professionals

For non-medical healthcare professionals, you must have completed your professional training.

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.

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

The aim of this scheme is to support talented clinically active healthcare professionals who have gained a higher research degree to:

  • lead their own research plans
  • establish their own research team
  • make the transition to independent investigator.

You must be able to:

  • explain why a fellowship is the best way to support your long-term career goals and chosen career path to become an independent researcher, for example by identifying opportunities for learning new skills, professional development, and undertake training that will underpin your future career ambitions
  • show ambitious and credible ideas for using the fellowship to enable a step-change in your career
  • describe your experience of identifying and maximising potential in others, for example, through the day-to-day support of masters and PhD students or early career scientists
  • show how your skills and experience match those of the transition to independence career stage in our applicant skills and experience criteria.

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

The clinician scientist fellowship provides support for up to five years. We expect you to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available.

If you are intending to apply for a shorter period, you should contact the programme manager (fellows@mrc.ukri.org) before submitting a proposal. 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, or other funded projects
  • undertake up to two clinical sessions a week.

Read MRC’s guidance on research staff development.

For surgeons and fellows undertaking patient-oriented projects where the clinical sessions will be of direct relevance to the research, applicants may undertake up to four clinical sessions a week.

We may allow greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities (for example, those detailed above or obtaining grant support) during the second half of a fellowship.

Email the programme manager at fellows@mrc.ukri.org to discuss your plans.

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

Funding available

The clinician scientist fellowship award will cover the full cost of your salary, as well as:

  • research staff costs
  • consumables expenses
  • travel costs
  • appropriate capital equipment.

This award will also support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution or within industry, whichever is most appropriate.

We encourage successful applicants to take advantage of the opportunities this will provide to develop collaborative networks and establish cross-sector development.

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can request under this scheme.

Requests must be appropriate to the project and you must be able to justify the amount you need to meet the objectives of your research proposal.

Awards are made under the full economic costing framework.

MRC will typically fund 80% of the full economic cost. The research organisation must agree to find the balance of full economic cost from other resources.

You cannot hold a salaried position and a fellowship at the same time. If you are awarded a fellowship, you may need to change to a proleptic appointment.

If you want to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, we recommend you look at one of our grant scheme funding opportunities instead.

Search MRC grant funding opportunities.

Joint funders

MRC collaborates with royal colleges and charity funders to offer jointly-funded clinician scientist 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.

We are inviting applications for the following jointly-funded clinician scientist fellowship schemes.

Blood Cancer UK

Blood Cancer UK is a community dedicated to beating blood cancer by funding research and supporting those affected.

Since 1960, we’ve invested over £500 million in blood cancer research, transforming treatments and saving lives.

We welcome applications from clinicians and non-clinical academics in any area of blood cancer research.

We offer joint funding opportunities with MRC administered through the clinician scientist fellowship and career development award schemes.

If you have any questions about the fellowship, please contact our research team via research@bloodcancer.org.uk or take a look at the Blood Cancer UK website: funding schemes.

For further information on the charity and its work please visit Blood Cancer UK’s website.

Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA)

MNDA’s Lady Edith Wolfson fellowships aim to support clinicians wishing to pursue research into the pathogenesis and treatment of motor neuron disease.

Awards under this scheme are available for clinical research training fellowships, senior clinical fellowships and clinician scientists fellowships.

If you have any questions about the fellowship or your proposed research area, please contact our director of research development Dr Brian Dickie at brian.dickie@mndassociation.org.

For further information, visit MNDA fellowships.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)

Founded in 1996 and now with about 17,500 members across the world, RCPCH trains and educates paediatricians throughout their careers to the highest professional standards.

It also promotes research and child health policy in the UK and worldwide.

Its mission is to transform child health through knowledge, innovation and expertise. Its vision is a healthier future for children and young people across the world.

The Children’s Research Fund has been established to grow child health research capacity in the UK and to reverse the decline in the number of paediatric academics and researchers.

We welcome applications from clinicians and non-clinical academics in any area of child health research.

We offer joint funding opportunities with the MRC administered through the clinical research training fellowship, clinician scientist fellowship, and career development award schemes.

For further information on the charity and its work:

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:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: fellowships, FEC
  • call: clinician scientist fellowship Sep 2022.

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

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

The clinician scientist 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 a:

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.

Apply for a jointly-funded fellowship

To apply for joint funding, you must include the joint funding form as part of your cover letter. Download 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 partners

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.

MRC industry collaboration framework

The MRC Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) supports applicants submitting collaborative research projects between academic and industry researchers.

It helps ensure the necessary discussions have been initiated and that the nature of the collaboration is compliant with MRC guidelines.

The ICF replaces the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) process to:

  • reduce administrative burdens on applicants
  • improve the supporting guidance on when it should be used.

This new framework applies to this funding opportunity and all MRC opportunities that open on, or after, 27 April 2022.

Should you wish to discuss the industry collaboration framework in relation to your future application, please contact rfpd@mrc.ukri.org.

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.

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 ‘CSF’ 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

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

The Global Talent visa

Clinician scientist fellowship holders are eligible for a Global Talent visa under the ‘exceptional promise’ category for future research leaders.

Find out about the Global Talent visa.

Differences between a clinician scientist fellowship and a new investigator research grant (NIRG)

The NIRG aims to support individuals seeking to transition to independence through their first grant as a principal investigator and clear host institution support.

The time spent on the NIRG should be combined with a portfolio of other activities, such as:

  • teaching
  • administration duties
  • other time spent in faculty
  • time spent on other research grants
  • clinical duties.

This list is not exhaustive.

A clinician scientist fellowship is a personal award that aims to support individuals seeking to transition to independence through protected research time and an ambitious programme of research training and personal career development.

You cannot apply concurrently for a clinician scientist fellowship and a NIRG.

Given both awards support the transition to independence, you cannot apply for a NIRG if you have held a clinician scientist fellowship and vice versa.

Supporting documents

Guidance for MRC fellowship applicants

Guidance for reviewers on career breaks and flexible working

MRC fellowships CV template

Jointly-funded fellowship form

Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic (see section 2.2.3.6.)

MRC data management plan template

Guidance on attachments, including the data management plan

Guidance on NHS costs

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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