Career development support and training

The NIHR Academy supports a vibrant community of health and social care researchers from different professions, backgrounds and research interests. We have over 4,000 members who are accessing our training programmes or support these programmes, from doctors and dentists to nurses and midwives, from allied health professionals and social care workers to methodologists and public health professionals. Our members also work in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities, within local authorities or in community settings.

Academy Members receive career support and advice, networking events, guidance on research funding and access to leadership development and mentoring opportunities and online leadership development resources.

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different levels and accessible by different professional backgrounds. Details of our award rounds that are open for application are available in career development funding opportunities

NIHR research career pathways


The Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) is a clinical specialty training post in medicine or dentistry that incorporates academic training, and the In-Practice Fellowship (IPF) provides pre-doctoral academic training to fully-qualified general practitioners, general dental practitioners, and community dentists. The Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme supports early career researchers who are not doctors or dentists. The Pre-doctoral Fellowship supports those looking to start a career in health research methodology. The Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship (PLAF) supports those based within local authority settings.


The Doctoral Fellowship is a three year full-time award that supports individuals from a wide range of professions to undertake a PhD in an area of NIHR research. The Doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (DCAF) funds registered health and social care professionals, excluding doctors and dentists, to undertake a PhD by research and, concurrently, to undertake further professional development and clinical practice. The Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship supports those based within local authority settings.


The Advanced Fellowship is for a wide range of professionals and can be utilised at several specific points of a researcher’s post-doctoral career development. The NIHR Clinical Lectureship (CL) is a post-doctoral award that provides a clinical and academic training environment for doctors and dentists to establish themselves as independent researchers and leaders. The Advanced Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (ACAF)  support post-doctoral non-medical healthcare professionals.

The Development and Skills Enhancement Award (DSE) is a post-doctoral level award aimed at supporting NIHR Academy Members to gain specific skills and experience to underpin the next phase of their research career.

The Clinical Academic Research Partnerships (CARP) is a one-to-three-year funding scheme run in partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and NIHR. It's designed to provide research-qualified health professionals, not currently undertaking any substantial research activity, the opportunity to form a collaborative high-quality research partnership with established biomedical and applied health researchers.


The Research Professorships scheme funds research leaders of the future to promote effective translation of research. This fixed 5-year award allows outstanding academics to work at professorial-level.

Senior Investigators

The Senior Investigators scheme supports the most outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research. Funding is awarded for 4 year appointments and Senior Investigators receive a discretionary award to fund activities that support their research. 


Academic career development in NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools

NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools include centres with a remit to grow future research capacity and offer a number of career development programmes and opportunities that may be of interest to individuals. Further information can be found on the individual centre/site website.

The NIHR’s vision is to open up its world class facilities, training and career development opportunities to early career researchers funded in NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools so that they can make the most of being part of such a vast network of NIHR funded centres and initiatives during their research training. The NIHR Short Placement Awards for Research Collaboration (SPARC) and the NIHR Visiting Speaker Award (VSA) are two training awards managed by the NIHR and are available to NIHR Academy Members supported by NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools.

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