Research Design Service South East

How we can help – your research career



How we can help – your research career


The NIHR aims to support the next generation of health and social care researchers.

One way in which this support is provided is through research career pathway schemes.

These are awards to individuals so that they can develop as clinical academic or applied health researchers, with the potential to become future research leaders. The awards are often referred to as Fellowships.

A fellowship holder is supported with research, clinical and professional training and development whilst a high quality research project is undertaken. Your salary and research costs are covered by the award plus bespoke training and development.

The pathways run from pre-PhD to Professor as shown in the diagram below.  You can move between schemes and entry may be at any level.

Diagram outlining NIHR research careers pathways

One important point to note is these are not project grants. This can cause confusion particularly if you are working with teams who are unfamiliar with Fellowships. There will be as much emphasis on you, your track record and your potential to be a research leader as on the research proposal.

A good application takes a minimum of 6 months to prepare and we advise a year to develop a competitive submission.

Find out more in our handy RDS SE guide: So you want to apply for an NIHR Fellowship  

Fellowship workshop

How we can help your fellowship application

The RDS SE can help you with all aspects of your application:

  • Assisting you to choose the right scheme and the right time to apply
  • Reviewing your career to date and your aspirations
  • Defining your research question
  • The design of your study
  • Identifying appropriate supervisors and/or mentors
  • Patient and public involvement
  • Developing your training plan
  • Accessing specialist advice 
  • Links to NHS Trusts and Local Authorities/HEI/CRN/CTU
  • Reviewing your application
  • Supporting your interview preparation
  • Dealing with feedback

Further information:

The NIHR website has more detail on training and career development.



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