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Clinical Academic Research Partnerships Round 3: Announcement

Before submitting a proposal, please ensure you have thoroughly read the guidance available. Proposals which do not include the required components, or which are not formatted according to the guidance will not be considered.

We recommend applicants consider the Chair’s summaries from Round 1 and Round 2 of the pilot.


A strong multidisciplinary academic workforce is critical to the delivery of many aspects of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, in addition to the Medical Research Council (MRC) core mission of carrying out research for patient benefit. As team science approaches to scientific challenges increase, so does the need for the skills and experience to underpin effective collaborations across disciplines, institutions and sectors.

As part of a strong clinical academic workforce, healthcare professionals are uniquely positioned to contribute to research. Clinical contact enables them to identify emerging research needs and to understand the areas that will make the most difference to patients. It affords them a practical understanding of how to translate research into patient benefit in day-to-day practice. It is essential, therefore, to ensure that healthcare professionals remain involved in research at all levels.

This scheme provides a new flexible route for research-qualified healthcare professionals at consultant level or equivalent to increase their research skills and experience by engaging with groups and centres of biomedical and health research excellence, enabling the cross-seeding of perspectives, ideas and connections needed to underpin future translational biomedical and health research.

Working in partnership, the MRC and the National Institute for Health Research are committing at least £6 million, from which it is anticipated 20-25 awards will be made.


The scheme provides a mechanism for healthcare professionals at consultant level or equivalent with a PhD, or MD (or equivalent postgraduate qualification) who are not undertaking any substantive research activity but, wish to develop their research interests through collaborative high-quality research partnerships with established leading biomedical and health researchers.


This scheme is open to applicants across the UK. Applicants should  be a member of NHS staff or staff contracted to the NHS or working in the public health or care sector (doctors, dentist, nurses, midwives, allied health professions, healthcare scientists, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, registered public health practitioners, and others), in either primary care, secondary care, community care or public health.

Applicants should be working at consultant-level or equivalent. Individuals should be working at a senior level, holding specialized knowledge and will have demonstratable capacity for professional independence/leadership. Applicants must hold a PhD/MD or equivalent postgraduate qualification, for example ~3 years consolidated research time, where the applicant had been the intellectual drive behind a project and obtained strong outputs from their research experience.

There are no eligibility rules based on time since applicants obtained their PhD/MD etc, however within their current posts, applicants should not be currently undertaking any substantive research activity. Applicants will generally have no or very limited research funding. It is expected that most applicants will have less than one PA of research time in their current job plan. Applicants who have more than one research PA or have not had a significant break in research activity will need to articulate the added-value of the award, for example how this scheme will put them on a research trajectory they were not currently on and why this scheme is a more suitable option compared to other schemes they are eligible for.

Applicants without a significant break in research activity are encouraged to investigate other existing schemes, for example: MRC’s Clinician Scientist Fellowship or NIHR’s Advanced Fellowship.

Applications declined as part of the pilot scheme may be resubmitted. However, the new application must be substantially different from the previous, unsuccessful submission and you will need to include a covering letter with your new proposal, indicating how the application has been changed. Please refer to MRC Guidance regarding resubmissions.

Research partners

Research partners must have a proven track record of securing peer-reviewed research programmes from funders such as UKRI, NIHR, or significant third sector research funders for the duration of the planned partnership. They must also be based at an organisation eligible to hold research council funding. Further information on eligible organisations can be found on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) website.


Projects are welcome across all areas of the partnering funders’ remits and interests. Applications may range from basic discovery science to translational and applied health research, and may address research questions from disease-specific mechanistic hypotheses through to research in priority areas such as primary care, population health, public health, mental health, molecular pathology and other areas as outlined in  MRC's strategic plan. Applications addressing global health issues resulting in primary benefit to those living in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), or those proposing interdisciplinary approaches are also welcomed. The proposed project should be tailored to the interests of and expertise of the applicant and research partner and designed to provide a mutually beneficial collaboration for both parties.

Institutional support required

The NHS organisation (or equivalent) that employs the applicant must provide an upfront commitment on protected research time and a commitment to ensuring that the awardee can re-enter the clinic full-time without any loss of career progression/status at the end of the award. The academic organisation must demonstrate appropriate support (such as access to facilities) to enable the applicant to successfully undertake the project described. Letters of support should be personalised and include clear and feasible plans for the applicant’s time to be backfilled, especially for applicants from niche specialties where this will present a challenge.

We will ask to see a copy of the applicant's job plan as a condition of the award.

Funding available

Awards are flexible to enable applicants to tailor the support requested to their individual collaborative plans.

Awards will be a minimum of one year and maximum of three years in duration. Each award will support between 20-50% of the applicant’s basic salary to support protected research time, and costs for consumables to undertake the project. No additional support for salaries may be requested.

At least £6 million is available, from which it is anticipated 20-25 awards will be made. There is no limit to the total support an application can request, but applicants should be mindful of the budget available and anticipated number of awards. All awards will be on the basis of Full Economic Costing.


Applications are assessed in a two-stage process: external peer review, shortlisting, and assessment at a funding meeting. For more information please see our peer review guidance.

All applications are subject to an early suitability assessment, ahead of external peer review. Applications outside the remit of the scheme will be rejected.

Proposals will be assessed on:

  • the track record of the research partner, including their funding and productivity to date, and ability to offer a strong environment to host the applicant;
  • evidence of the research capabilities of the applicant, as demonstrated by the productivity and skills gained during their PhD or MD, and any other past research experience if applicable;
  • alignment of the project to research strengths and interests of the applicant and research partner;
  • demonstration of the project providing a mutually beneficial collaboration, enhancing the applicant’s research experience and contribution they can make to the research partner’s existing team;
  • strength of the institutional support provided, including the facilities and experience the research partner can provide, and strength of support from the employing NHS organisation.


  • call opens in Je-S: 7 August 2020
  • submission deadline: 29 October 2020
  • shortlisting meeting: March 2021
  • panel meeting: May 2021
  • take up of awards expected: July – November 2021

How to submit

All proposals must be completed and submitted through the Je-S system by 16:00 GMT on 29 October 2020. The call will be available to select on Je-S from 7 August 2020.

For full details on preparing and submitting a proposal see the CARP guidance for applicants

If you have a query about the scope of the call, please contact CARP@mrc.ukri.org

Further information

Webinar 1: Is the CARP scheme for you?

Date: 15 July 2020

Time: 10am – 11am BST

The Webinar 1 slides are available to download here.

Questions and Answers from Webinar 1 are available to download here.

Webinar 2: How to apply to the CARP scheme

Date: 19 August 2020

Time: 10am – 11am BST

The Webinar 2 slides are available to download here.

Questions and Answers from Webinar 2 are available to download here.

Case Studies

Find out about our current CARP award holders including why they applied to the scheme and their words of wisdom for those applying to scheme here.