Skills & careers

Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF)

Purpose of scheme

The CSF develops talented medically and other clinically qualified professionals who have gained a higher research degree to lead their own research plans and establish their own research team to make the transition to independent investigator. Applications are invited for the standard CSFs, the Tenure Track CSFs, or the jointly funded CSFs, all of which are considered in open competition. 

A CSF provides funding for a challenging research programme, and an ambitious programme of research training which offers accelerated personal and career development.

Applicants wishing to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, should consider funding options under one of the grant schemes. You may wish to pay particular attention to the New Investigator Research Grant scheme, which aims to support individuals wanting to transition to independence.


Applications are welcome across all areas of the MRC remit. Applications may range from basic studies with relevance to mechanisms of disease to translational and developmental clinical research; however, it is expected that applicants’ clinical work helps to inform and strengthen their research work.


The CSF provides four years' support.  Patient-orientated proposals where the project will require significant amounts of patient contact may request up to five years’ support. The Tenure Track CSF also provides up to five years’ support.

Tenure Track CSFs

These awards provide up to five years’ support. The host research organisation pays the final year of the fellow’s salary and must demonstrate a commitment to develop the applicant towards a permanent position.

All CSF applications are considered in open competition. There is no limit or quota each round for Tenure-Track awards therefore applying for a Tenure Track CSF will have no effect on the outcome of your application.

The submission procedure and deadline is the same as the standard competition. The host organisation’s support and commitment to support your final year’s salary must be confirmed in the Head of department’s letter of support and applicants must include the joint funding form (DOCX, 44KB) as part of their cover letter.  

Joint funding

The MRC is proud to collaborate with other funders to offer jointly funded CSF awards. 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.

Applications are invited for the following two jointly funded CSF schemes:

  1. The MRC/MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowships. These awards support clinicians wishing to pursue research into the pathogenesis and treatment of motor neuron disease. Successful applications will be funded by the MND Association and MRC. If you have any queries about the fellowship or your proposed research area, please contact Dr Brian Dickie or visit the MND Association website for further information.
  2. The MRC-Kidney Research UK Professor David Kerr Clinician Scientist Award. This award supports clinicians who have already attained a higher degree and whom wish to further pursue their research into kidney disease. Successful applicants will be jointly funded by the MRC and Kidney Research UK, and the award will be offered in both the 2016 and 2017 MRC Clinician Scientist rounds.

Professor David NS Kerr was a distinguished nephrologist, a past President of the Renal Association and also a founder member and past President of the ERA-EDTA, who is affectionately remembered by all the renal research community.  David had a long and distinguished career in renal medicine and was in the vanguard of establishing and developing renal research and careers in the UK. A highly respected man, he was held in great affection by nephrologists across the globe.  David was also chairman of the charity’s Board of Trustees between 2000-2003.

Additional benefits provided to successful applicants will include, attendance at Kidney Research UK’s annual Fellows Day and access to workshops through their automatic membership into the Alumni Programme.

For further information about this award, please email Elaine Davies, Director of Research Operations:

All applications are considered in open competition; therefore applying for a jointly funded award will have no effect on the outcome of your application. If a joint funded award is requested which is not available for any reason, the candidate will automatically be considered for a standard MRC fellowship instead.

The submission procedure and deadline is the same as the standard competition. Any jointly funded fellowships will be offered 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 include the joint funding form as part of their cover letter.  



The CSF aims to support individuals transitioning to independence and is open to hospital doctors, dentists, general practitioners, nurses, midwives and members of the allied health professions. Veterinarians may apply where they have equivalent qualifications and providing their project is of relevance to human health.

  • There are no eligibility rules based on years of post-doctoral experience. To be considered suitable for the scheme, applicants should be able to clearly demonstrate that their skills and experience at the time of their application match those of the transition to independence career stage in the applicant skills and experience table.
  • To be considered suitable, all applicants must clearly explain why a fellowship is the best way to support their long term career goals and chosen career route.
  • All applicants must have obtained a PhD (or equivalent), or expect to have done so, by the time they take up the award.

Medical or dental graduates should be of specialty registrar (StR) or consultant status, or be at the equivalent level in general practice. Nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals must have completed their professional training.

  • Applicants who have yet to complete their specialty training should have clear plans for doing so and have consulted their deanery prior to submitting an application.
  • Applicants may not have held a comparable intermediate fellowship (from any organisation) previously.
  • Career breaks, flexible working (PDF, 40KB) and changes in discipline will be taken into account when assessing research experience to date and track record.

Non-European Economic Area Applicants and Tier 1 visas

Successful applicants who require a visa to work in the UK will be eligible to be considered under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route. In line with the highly prestigious nature of the award, this visa route is designed for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts and enables the holder to be both adaptable and flexible during their research in the UK.

The grant of any visa is always subject to the standard Home Office general grounds for refusal of a visa.  RCUK is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Exceptional Talent visa.  Please contact for further details.

Funding provided

The CSF provides full personal salary costs, together with support for research staff, consumables expenses, travel costs and capital equipment appropriate for the research project.

In the case of a Tenure Track award the final year of the fellow’s salary is met by the host Research Organisation. All other costs associated with the final year of the fellowship are met by the CSF award.

Applicants are particularly encouraged to consider the opportunities the fellowship offers to establish collaborative networks and for cross-sector development, as the award will support a period of research overseas, at a second UK institution, or within industry where appropriate for the research project.

Awards are made under the full economic costing framework (FEC). There is no limit to the funding that can be requested under the scheme, but requests should be appropriate to the project and sufficiently justified in terms of delivering the objectives of the research proposal. 

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 five 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 the office prior to submission.

Greater flexibility on the time dedicated to non-fellowship activities (eg those detailed above or obtaining grant support) may be permitted during the second half of a fellowship. Existing fellows wishing to pursue other project funding or additional clinical sessions should contact prior to making any commitment.

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