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We’re focused on investing in researchers at different stages of their careers as they make new discoveries and improve outcomes for patients . Our NIHR-MEC doctoral fellowships allow us to invest in, train and support tomorrow’s leading researchers.

NIHR-MEC doctoral fellowships are three year full-time awards that support individuals to undertake a PhD. It covers full salary support, including protected time to concentrate on research, PhD fees and research costs together with a bespoke training and development programme to meet individual needs. 

This fellowship may also be taken up on a part-time basis of between 50% and 100% whole time equivalent. Clinical applicants are able to include up to 20% clinical time as part of the fellowship, to ensure the maintenance of their clinical competence whilst undertaking their PhD.

Applying for our joint fellowships

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The application process for NIHR-MEC partnership fellowships is the same as for standard NIHR Fellowships and successful applicants will become members of the NIHR Academy in the same way as successful applicants to their standard fellowships. This is in addition to any additional benefits that come from being funded by the partner charity.

We would encourage all applicants interested in applying for an NIHR Charity Partnership Fellowship to contact the NIHR Academy in the first instance to discuss their application and answer any questions. Applicants should take note of the specific eligibility criteria for Moorfields Eye Charity; as well as the standard NIHR Fellowship eligibility requirements.

Application deadlines and decision timelines

There are two application rounds each year, launching in April and October.

Current funding round: Round 11

  • Opened: 19 October 2023
  • Closes: 13.00 on 1 February 2024
  • Interviews: 19-20 June 2024

The application process only has a single stage. This means that all application details must be provided by the deadline, including the financial and patient and public involvement sections.

Doctoral fellowships awarded in round 11 are available to start between October 2024 and March 2025.

Is this grant right for you?

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Our remit

  • Applications for a joint partnership fellowship must fall within both the charity’s and NIHR’s funding remits.
  • Moorfields Eye Charity is interested in funding research in eye health, vision research, ophthalmic related service improvement, education or clinical practice.
  • The overall remit of the NIHR is early translational (experimental medicine), clinical and applied health research, and social care research.

About you

  • Applications are welcome from individuals working in any scientific discipline or sector that can demonstrate a role in, and contribution to, improving the health and/​or care of the population served by the health and social care system in the UK.
  • Applicants will normally be hosted by either the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust or its main academic partner University College London.
  • If you are hosted by another eligible institution you must demonstrate a direct collaboration with and benefit to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which will normally include spending a portion of your time at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust or the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.


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Your research

  • For personal doctoral-level awards, your proposal must be for clinical and applied health research, or social care research, and have clear potential for directly benefiting patients/​service users, carers and the public.
  • Your proposal can involve: patients/​service users and/​or carers; samples or data from these groups; other people who are not patients/​service users and/​or carers; populations; health technology assessment; or health or care services research.
  • NIHR does not support basic research or work involving animals or their tissue.
  • If your work involves biomarkers, it must test whether application of new knowledge can improve treatment or patient outcomes (with obvious direct potential benefit to patients). This might include application of known biomarkers, or other prognostic factors, to refine and test novel therapeutic strategies. Research that aims only to elucidate mechanisms underpinning disease, or identify risk factors for disease or prognosis (including search for biomarkers) is out of remit.
  • The NIHR also supports high quality research into medical education’ (defined broadly as education for healthcare providers) and methodological research. It is expected that the research will have the potential to have practical application and the potential impact on patients/​service users, carers and the public must be made clear.

About you

  • Applicants will normally be hosted by either the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust or its main academic partner University College London.
  • If you are hosted by another eligible institution (please refer to NIHR Academy guidance) a direct collaboration with and benefit to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust must be demonstrated to be eligible for this funding programme. This will normally include the candidate spending a portion of their time at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust or UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

You must also:

  • Have completed any relevant pre-registration training (for clinical academic applicants), or;
  • Have completed a first degree (for non-clinical applicants).
  • Be intending to register for and complete a PhD, or;
  • Where already registered for a PhD (or MPhil with transfer to PhD), you should not have been registered for more than 12 months at 100% WTE by the time the award starts.

How much can I apply for?

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NIHR-MEC partnership Fellowships are individual training awards which will offer funding to cover the salary costs of the individual, their PhD tuition fees and the costs of an appropriate research project and training and development programme.

The scope of funding on these fellowships follows NIHR rules and therefore applicants are advised to contact the NIHR Academy if they have any questions regarding what they can apply for.

Apply now

Applications are submitted and processed through the NIHR Academy grant application portal.

Before you begin

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Please ensure you have read the following:

All queries about the application process should be directed to the NIHR Academy.

Email: academy-awards@nihr.ac.uk
Phone: 0113 532 8410

Got a research idea and not sure how to turn it into a funding application? Talk to the Research Design Service (RDS).

Useful resources for applicants