Pre-announcement: clinical academic research partnerships 2021

Apply for funding to develop your research interests through a collaborative partnership.

Funding is available for 20% to 50% of your basic salary and costs to undertake the project.

You must be a research-qualified healthcare professional at consultant level or equivalent. You must not be currently undertaking any substantial research activity.

Your project can be across any area from MRC or NIHR’s remits.

You must supply a letter of support from your employer.

Awards can last between one and three years.

Who can apply

You can apply if you:

  • are a member of NHS staff, staff contracted to the NHS or working in the care or public health sectors. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • doctors
    • dentists
    • nurses
    • midwives
    • allied health professions
    • healthcare scientists
    • pharmacists
    • clinical psychologists
    • registered public health practitioners
    • others, in either primary care, secondary care, community care or public health
  • are working at consultant level or equivalent. You should be working at a senior level with specialised knowledge and demonstrable capacity for professional independence and leadership
  • hold a PhD, MD or equivalent postgraduate qualification; for example, three years’ consolidated research time where you have been the intellectual drive behind a project and achieved strong outputs from your research experience
  • are not undertaking any substantive research activity. Applicants will usually have limited or no research funding. We expect you will have less than one programmed activity (1PA or 0.5 days/week) of research time in your current job plan. We welcome proposals from applicants with more than one research PA, but you should ensure that you articulate the added value of the award, for example to support you in working in new environments, with new research partners and providing a step-change in your research trajectory.

Eligible research partners

Your research partner must have a proven track record of securing peer-reviewed research programmes from funders for the duration of the planned partnership. From funders such as:

  • UKRI
  • the National Institute for Health Research
  • significant third sector research funders.

They must also be based at an organisation eligible to hold research council funding. This includes higher education institutions and NHS bodies with research capacity.

Your research partner must hold a contract of employment with the host research organisation for the duration of the award.

You must include a letter of support from the research partner as part of your application.

Support you need from the host research organisation

You should hold a contract of employment or an honorary contract with the host research organisation for the duration of the award.

The host research organisation must:

  • be eligible to hold research council funding (this includes NHS bodies)
  • be registered in the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S)
  • accept responsibility for administering the award, including making local arrangements where necessary to, for example, make payments to the NHS Trust to support backfill appointments
  • demonstrate appropriate support (such as access to facilities) to enable you to successfully undertake your project.

All applications must be approved by the appropriate administrative authority on behalf of the host institution. Administrative authorities are responsible for ensuring salaries and resources cited in the proposal are enough to undertake the proposed research.

Find out more about eligible organisations.

You must include a letter from the host institution confirming its support and approval as part of your application.

Support you need from your employer

The NHS organisation (or equivalent, such as a local authority, care organisation, Public Health England) that employs you must provide a letter of support:

  • confirming that you will have protected research time and will therefore be released for the proportion of time funded by MRC and the National Institute for Health Research
  • including clear and feasible plans for your time to be backfilled, especially for applicants from niche specialties where this will present challenges
  • guaranteeing that you can re-enter the clinic full time without any loss of career progression or status at the end of the award, if you choose to do so.

Please note that as a condition of the award we will ask for a copy of your NHS job plan to confirm the number of research PAs.

What we're looking for

We’re looking for research-qualified (PhD or MD) healthcare professionals at consultant level or equivalent, not currently undertaking any substantial research activity, to take part in collaborative high-quality research partnerships with established leading biomedical and health researchers.

We welcome project proposals across all remit and interest areas of MRC and the National Institute for Health Research. Your project can range from basic discovery science to translational and applied health research.

You can address research questions from disease-specific mechanistic hypotheses through to research in priority areas such as primary care, population health, public health, mental health, molecular pathology and other areas, as outlined in MRC’s strategic plan.

We also welcome applications which address global health issues and primarily benefit those living in low and middle-income countries, or applications proposing interdisciplinary approaches.

Your proposed project should be tailored to your interests and expertise and those of your research partner and designed to provide a mutually beneficial collaboration. The awards are flexible so you can tailor the support to your individual collaborative plans.

Awards will be for at least one year and no more than three years. Each award will provide between 20% to 50% of your basic salary to support protected research time and costs to undertake the project.

We do not expect salaries of research staff other than the applicant to be costed into the application. For example:

  • co-investigators
  • postdocs
  • research fellows
  • research assistants.

Staff costs can be requested where essential for the delivery of the project. For example, to assist data collection in another country, requirement for an independent statistician, a trial coordinator for blinding participants in a trial, this is not an exhaustive list.

Costs should be reasonable, fully justified and only form a small part of the request for funding.

How to apply

You will need to apply through the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

This page will be updated with information on how to apply.

Contact details



Additional info

To find out more about the scheme and the application process please sign up to our webinar being held on 29 July 10:00 to 11:00.

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