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The NIHR-MEC pre-doctoral clinical academic fellowship (PCAF) supports registered healthcare professionals to become competitive applicants for a doctoral level research training fellowship.

This Fellowship is currently closed to applications. Please check back later for more information.

The Health Education England (HEE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic (ICA) Programme provides research training awards for health and social care professionals. These grants support individuals who wish to develop careers that combine clinical research and research leadership with continued clinical practice and professional development.

The NIHR-MEC pre-doctoral clinical academic and practitioner fellowship includes two different streams: the standard fellowship and the PCAF Bridge. The standard fellowship includes funding to support the submission of a doctoral fellowship application and to undertake a programme of academic training at Masters level. The PCAF Bridge also provides funding to support the submission of a fellowship application but only provides a small amount of academic training at Masters level.

Both awards can be taken on a full or part-time basis and applicants can request up to 20% clinical development / practice skills development time paid through the award. 

Application deadlines and decision timelines

There is one round of the scheme each year.

Round 6

  • Opened: January 2023
  • Closed: 16 March 2023 at 1pm
  • Funding decisions: June 2023

Pre-doctoral clinical academic fellowships are available to start on the first day of the month between September 2023 and March 2024. 

Is this grant right for you?

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Our remit

  • Applications for joint partnership fellowships 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.


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Your research

  • At the pre-doctoral fellowship level, applicants are not expected to have a fully developed PhD proposal (this will be an output of the award), however, you are required to identify in your application your area of research interest
  • For standard PCAF applicants, the identification of just the research area in which you will be developing your doctoral fellowship proposal is sufficient
  • PCAF Bridge applicants should be able to summarise a more developed research topic that will be refined as you prepare your Fellowship application
  • The research area should align with your professional practice. If your current professional practice does not align with your area of research interest, you will need to clearly demonstrate how you will work towards alignment to support a competitive doctoral fellowship application.

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:

  • Hold registration with one of the ICA programme approved regulatory bodies (see a list in the useful resources below) or have plans to hold the registration by the proposed start date
  • Have at least one year’s experience of practice in the health or care profession for which you hold the required registration
  • Hold a contract of employment with a provider of health and/​or social care services at the point of application and be spending at least 50% of your current role delivering health and/​or social care services that are free at the point of delivery
  • Continue to work in the health and care profession for which you hold the required registration over the course of the grant (if awarded), either through professional development time included in the award or through continuation of your professional practice outside of the award time
  • Not have registered for or completed a PhD in a relevant subject area or have registered for an MPhil with the expectation that it would progress to a PhD

How much can I apply for?

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NIHR-MEC Pre-doctoral clinical and practitioner academic fellowships are individual training awards which offer funding to cover salary costs, training and development programme costs, and supervision and mentoring costs.

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.

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).