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Clinical research fellowship

Maximum duration: 3 years
Deadline: 16:00 on Wednesday 17 January 2018
Contact: Shereen Sabbah and Julie Marsden at

What do clinical research fellowships provide?

Clinical research fellowships are our entry level scheme for talented medical and non-medical healthcare professionals. They're awarded to encourage clinically qualified professionals into an academic research career in rheumatology or any related field concerned with the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions (including surgery and general practice). They aim to provide training in clinical and/or laboratory research techniques leading to a higher degree (usually a PhD).

Who can apply for clinical research fellowships?

Applications are now open to both medical and non-medical healthcare professionals. Medical graduates are expected to apply usually during speciality training (including surgeons/surgical trainees), whilst non-medical healthcare professionals need to have at least 1 year's experience of clinical practice. Non-medical healthcare professions that are eligible to apply include: dentists, physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, psychologists, veterinary surgeons, radiographers and pharmacists.

All applicants should be associated with an established sponsor, within a multidisciplinary research group in a UK university department, hospital or research institute. Projects must demonstrate a clear relevance to our purpose.

What can you apply for?

Clinical research fellowships are normally awarded for three years and aren't renewable. We also encourage applications from candidates who wish to apply for less than three years' funding, due to having already secured part-funding towards a PhD, for example through receipt of a Royal College of Surgeons one-year research fellowship or similar from other funding bodies.

You'll be expected to register for a higher degree (usually a PhD). Applications for Masters degrees will not be accepted.

There's no formal limit on costs that can be applied for; however, detailed justification of costs requested should be provided in the fellowship application.


  • Salaries should be requested according to experience on the appropriate clinical salary scale, including London weighting if relevant.
  • Consultant level salaries will not be funded.
  • NHS salaries above Band 7 will not be funded.


  • Reasonable research expenses directly related to your proposal can be applied for; such as small pieces of equipment up to £30,000 in value and consumables. PhD tuition fees won't generally be provided.
  • Costs for the purchase and maintenance of laboratory animals can be applied for. Studies involving animals must provide adequate details on the number, species, strain and associated costs of animals to be used in the study. Justification for the use of animals and why a suitable alternative cannot be used must also be provided. We are a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research and support the principle of the 3Rs.
  • Costs to cover travel to a collaborating institution can be requested.
  • Costs for conference attendance should not be included in the application form. A travel support fund for presenting outputs arising from the fellowship at national and international conferences will be allocated to the grant if successful.

Please note that we don't support the funding of a major or substantive clinical trial as a fellowship. Clinical trials should be funded via our treatment subcommittee. However, we would support a feasibility/pilot clinical study within a fellowship, or methodological development work or supplementary analysis as a bolt on to an established or proposed trial. For more information please see the guidance on how to apply for a grant. If you're unsure as to whether your study constitutes a clinical study/trial, please contact the research office.

How to apply

All applications must be submitted through our grants management system, Grant Tracker.

Applications should be made jointly by the candidate with their sponsor, outlining the proposed programme of research and the nature of the training to be provided. Candidates will need to provide names of two people that can be contacted as referees (this shouldn't include the proposed sponsor(s) on the grant).

Routine clinical work (this is, not related to research) should be limited to no more than two programmed activities (8 hours) a week during the fellowship and the host institution must provide a signed statement agreeing to this restriction.

The fellowship application is a one-stage process – a full application should be submitted by the deadline. As part of the full application you will be asked to complete a short scientific summary which will be used by the awarding panel for the purposes of triage. Information on completing the scientific summary can be found within the online application form.

How clinical research fellowships are awarded

There are four stages to the assessment process:

  1. Triage: at this initial stage the scientific summaries of each application are assessed by the fellowship funding panel. Applicants will be informed at an early stage if their proposal has been triaged and all other applications will undergo full peer review.
  2. Peer review: the full applications of those successful at triage are sent for external peer review by experts from the UK and abroad and of international standing in the field of the proposal.
  3. Shortlisting: the full applications and peer reviews are assessed by the fellowship funding panel members. Shortlisted applicants are invited to attend interview.
  4. Interview: the fellowship awarding panel interviews the shortlisted applicants and makes funding decisions.

Awards are typically made 4–5 months after the deadline date.

Submissions after 16:00 will not be accepted.

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