Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: MRC clinician scientist fellowship: Jan 2021

This award can help you become an independent investigator through a programme of research and training lasting up to five years. We will provide your salary plus some support costs.

To apply, you must have:

  • research plans within MRC’s remit which do not overlap with those of your current group leader or proposed sponsor
  • a track record of challenging, original and productive research across past appointments, and an upward trajectory
  • identified opportunities for developing and progressing in your career

You must have a higher research degree in medicine or another clinical area.

Who can apply

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

  • medics
  • dentists
  • general practitioners
  • nurses
  • midwives
  • allied health professionals.

We also invite veterinarians to apply if they have equivalent qualifications, providing their proposed project is relevant to human health.

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

  • have completed a PhD, DPhil or medical degree, or expect to have done so by the time you take up the award
  • be able to describe why a fellowship is the best way to support your long-term career goals and chosen career route
  • be able to demonstrate how your skills and experience match those of the transition to independence career stage in our applicant skills and experience table

Medical or dental graduates should have specialty registrar or consultant status, or be at the equivalent level in general practice. For non-medical healthcare professionals, you must have completed your professional training.

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

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 career breaks and flexible working (PDF, 40KB). There are no eligibility rules based on years of postdoctoral experience.

You are not eligible to apply if:

  • you want to continue research that you are undertaking in your current position, if this is the same as your current group or group leader is working on
  • you have previously held a comparable intermediate fellowship from any organisation

You can find out more in our guidance for fellowship applicants. Our frequently asked questions page also has further details on eligibility.

If you need to discuss your suitability for this scheme before applying, you should email 

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.

What we're looking for

We’re looking for medically or clinically-qualified professionals who have a higher research degree and need support to progress to independent investigator.

We are looking for proposals that will focus on any areas of MRC’s scientific remit, ranging 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.

Science areas include:

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

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

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 – – before submitting a proposal.

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, or you may undertake up to two clinical sessions a week.

For surgeons and fellows undertaking patient-orientated projects where the clinical sessions undertaken will be of direct relevance to the research, applicants may request to 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 in relation to obtaining grant support) during the second half of a fellowship. Email the programme manager at to discuss your plans.

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

  • support for research staff
  • 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 establish collaborative networks and cross-sector development.

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

You cannot hold a salaried position and a fellowship at the same time. If you are awarded a fellowship, you will need to give up the permanent position for the duration of the fellowship or 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.

Check our Funding finder for current funding opportunities.

How to apply

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

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.

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

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

Your host organisation will 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 and September. Find dates for future competitions.

If you need advice on your suitability for an MRC fellowship scheme, email your CV using the template we provide (Word, 57KB), to including a one-page project outline, a list of your publications and a description of how you meet the skills and experience for this scheme.

You may apply to any MRC fellowship scheme no more than twice even if your proposal changes. We expect you to take up your fellowship no more than six months after the date of the review meeting.

Apply for a jointly-funded clinician scientist fellowship

MRC collaborates with other funders to offer jointly-funded clinician scientist fellowship awards. As well as the prestige of having these organisations co-fund your award, you may also have opportunities to report on your project, present your work at meetings and take part in professional networking.

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

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.

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

1. MRC/Motor Neurone Disease Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowships

These awards support clinicians who want to pursue research into the pathogenesis and treatment of motor neurone disease. The Motor Neurone Disease Association and MRC will co-fund successful applicants.

If you have any queries about this fellowship or your proposed research area, contact Dr Brian Dickie –

2. MRC-Kidney Research UK Professor David Kerr Clinician Scientist Award

Kidney Research UK is the leading medical research charity that funds research dedicated to deliver change for people affected by kidney disease. Under this joint funding initiative awards will be to those whose research will help us drive forward our research strategy.

This award supports clinicians who have already achieved a higher degree. Kidney Research UK and MRC will co-fund successful applicants. The award will be offered in the tri-annual MRC clinician scientist funding rounds.

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

Successful applicants will also be able to attend Kidney Research UK’s annual Driving Discoveries event

For further information about this award, email Elaine Davies, Director of Research Operations:

3. MRC/Versus Arthritis Fellowship

Versus Arthritis (VA) invests in breakthrough treatments, providing information and support for the 10 million people with arthritis in the UK. The organisation’s remit covers all conditions which affect the joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and osteoporosis, supporting basic discovery research through to clinical and applied health research.

We welcome applications from clinicians whose research will make a positive and tangible change for people with musculoskeletal conditions. As a Versus Arthritis jointly-funded fellow, you will be invited to attend VA’s annual fellows day and have access to workshops for public and patient involvement and the communication of research to a wider audience.

You can find out more about this funding opportunity by emailing Versus Arthritis –

4. MRC/Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Fellowship

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health trains and educates paediatricians throughout their careers to the highest professional standards, and promotes research and child health policy in the UK and worldwide. Its mission is to transform child health through knowledge, innovation and expertise, and its vision is a healthier future for children and young people across the world.

The Children’s Research Fund has been established to increase 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. As well as this jointly-funded clinician scientist fellowship opportunity, MRC also administers clinical research training fellowships and career development awards with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

For further information regarding the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, email –

For more information on the application process, read the:

If you need further information, you can email us –

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 3 independent experts from the UK and overseas.

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

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 – how important are the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed?
  • scientific potential – what are the prospects for good scientific progress?
  • resources requested – are the funds requested essential for the work? And do the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested? Does the proposal represent good value for money?

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 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.

Read the detailed assessment criteria for each fellowship type.


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 fellowship assessment process and an overview of our peer review process.

Contact details

For information about the clinician scientist fellowship, email –

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