Skills & careers

Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF)

Purpose of scheme

The CRTF supports clinically active professionals within the UK to undertake a higher research degree. The scheme can also provide post-doctoral funding for applicants who achieved their PhD more than five years ago but who have not been research active since due to clinical training commitments.

Remit

Applications are welcome across all areas of the MRC’s remit. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research.

Tenure

The CRTF provides between two and three years’ support. A further year’s funding is available for patient-orientated CRTFs where the project will require significant amounts of patient contact.

Joint funding

The MRC is proud to collaborate with a number of Royal Colleges and charity funders to offer jointly funded CRTF awards each round. These awards offer the prestige of having the relevant organisation co-fund your fellowship and may offer additional opportunities to report on your project, present your work at meetings and for professional networking.

For a full list of the jointly funded awards that are available to apply for, please see the Jointly Funded Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

All applications are considered in open competition; therefore a request for joint funding will have no effect on the outcome of your application. Any jointly funded fellowships will be offered at the same funding level as any other CRTF and under standard MRC terms and conditions except where additional terms and conditions are specified by the joint funder.

To apply for joint funding, applicants must upload the joint funding form (DOCX, 44KB) as part of their cover letter.  

Suitability

The CRTF supports clinicians to undertake a higher research degree (PhD or MD). Medically qualified applicants who obtained their PhD some time ago may also be considered. The fellowship offers such applicants a valuable opportunity to undertake early post-doctoral training and consolidation of their research skills in order to build up a track record in their particular research field, enabling them to then be competitive at the Clinician Scientist Fellowship level.

Pre-doctoral applicants:

  • Clinically qualified applicants are expected to be undertaking their specialty training and have completed their Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) (or equivalent) exams.
  • Applicants should be at an appropriate point in their clinical training to step out of programme and undertake a PhD, and are usually ST3/4 level depending on their chosen specialty.
  • Applicants should have clear plans for the completion of their specialty training and have consulted their deanery about the planned period out of programme prior to submitting an application.
  • Clinical Psychologists must have obtained a professional Doctorate-level qualification in Clinical Psychology accredited by the British Psychological Society before taking up their award.
  • Veterinarians may apply where they have equivalent qualifications to those above and providing their project is of relevance to human health.
  • Nurses, midwives and members of the allied health professions must have completed their professional training and hold a research Masters degree, or equivalent postgraduate research-oriented qualification.
  • Applicants may have started a PhD (or equivalent), however are only eligible to apply for a CRTF if, at the proposed start date, they have not been registered for more than 12 months (or full-time equivalent).

Post-doctoral applicants:

  • Applicants will be clinically qualified individuals who received a PhD (or equivalent) five or more years ago and will not have undertaken substantial periods of academic research since.

  • Post-doctoral applicants must obtain written confirmation from the MRC that they are suitable for consideration to apply, at least four to six weeks before the application deadline date.

Funding provided

Pre-doctoral fellowships:

The CRTF provides a competitive personal salary up to but not including NHS consultant level, and funding of up to £20,000 per year. This may cover consumables, equipment, conference travel, PhD and other course fees. 
Certain costs may be requested in addition to the £20,000 per annum:

  1. the costs incurred by undertaking training at an overseas centre/2nd centre/industry placement
  2. the purchase and maintenance cost of animals (excluding additional experimental costs, related consumables, project licences etc, which must be requested within the £20,000 per annum)
  3. costs associated with healthy volunteer studies not met by local clinical research networks

Only these costs can be applied for above the £20,000 per annum limit. Proposals requesting costs outside these limits will not be considered.
Further information is available in the  Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (PDF, 686KB)  and CRTF FAQs.

Post-doctoral fellowships:

At the post-doctoral level, the fellowship provides a competitive personal salary, up to but not including NHS consultant level, research expenses, and travel costs at an appropriate level for the research, under full economic costs (FEC).

Non-fellowship activities

All MRC fellowship schemes provide competitive salaries, allowing fellows protected time to fully concentrate on their research, training and development. As part of a full-time award, fellows may spend up to six hours a week (pro-rated for part-time fellows) on other commitments (eg teaching, demonstrating, other funded projects) or may undertake up to two clinical sessions a week. For patient-orientated projects where the clinical sessions undertaken will be of direct relevance to the research, applicants may request up to four years’ funding and undertake up to four clinical sessions a week.

We recognise the challenges faced by clinicians in combining research training with the demands of a clinical career. We therefore operate the scheme as flexibly as possible, with the extent of the fellow’s clinical commitment negotiable depending on the specialty and the needs of the research. Applicants planning to undertake more than two clinical sessions a week during their fellowship are advised to contact MRC head office prior to submission.

Benefits of being a MRC fellow

Beyond the fellowship award, MRC fellows enjoy a range of opportunities to develop their skills and networks. For more information on the opportunities available, click here.

Deadlines and submission details

Related content

Fellowships application submission deadlines

Clinical Training and Career Development Panel

Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF) FAQs

Applying for a fellowship

Fellowship assessment process

Fellowship application success rates

Document downloads

Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (PDF, 821KB)

Guidance on career breaks and flexible working (PDF, 40KB)

Joint funding form (DOCX, 44KB)

Fellowship CV Template (DOCX, 30KB)

CRTF supervisor CV template (DOC, 75KB)

Find fellows at your institution (XLSX, 29KB)

Review of Early Career Clinical Academics (PDF, 1.25MB)