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Skills & careers

Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF)

Please note from the Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF) January 2021 call onwards this scheme provides up to five years of support. Current CSF award holders holding a four-year fellowship will not automatically receive an extension however, you may be eligible to apply to the Transition Support scheme.

From January 2018 there will be three opportunities per year to apply for a clinician scientist fellowship. See the deadlines page for details of future opportunities to apply.

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, 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 support for up to five years. We expect you to take advantage of the full five years’ funding available. If you are intending to apply for a shorter period, you should contact the programme manager – fellows@mrc.ukri.org – before submitting a proposal 

Take-up date for the fellowship is between 1-6 months of the meeting decision date which is displayed on our deadlines page.

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 four 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, Director of Research Development, brian.dickie@mndassociation.org 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 we hope the award will be offered again in the 2023 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: elainedavies@kidneyresearchuk.org

  3. The MRC/Versus Arthritis Fellowship. Versus Arthritis invests in breakthrough treatments, the best information and vital support for all 10 million people with arthritis in the UK. Our approach to funding is to support exceptional research that aims to prevent the onset of arthritis, develop a cure for arthritis and transform the lives of those with arthritis. Our remit covers all conditions which affect the joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and osteoporosis. We support basic discovery research through to clinical and applied health research. 

    We welcome applications from clinicians whose research will help us make a positive and tangible change for people with musculoskeletal conditions. As a Versus Arthritis joint funded Fellow, you will be invited to attend Versus Arthritis's annual Fellows Day meetings and have access to workshops for public and patient involvement and the communication of research to a wider audience. 

    For further information about Versus Arthritis and our scope of research, please visit our website: https://www.versusarthritis.org  or e-mail research@versusarthritis.org

  4. The MRC/Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Fellowship.  Founded in 1996 and now with about 17,500 members across the world, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health trains and educates paediatricians throughout their careers to the highest professional standards, and promotes research and child health policy in the UK and worldwide. Its mission is to transform child health through knowledge, innovation and expertise, and its vision is a healthier future for children and young people across the world.

    The Children’s Research Fund has been established to grow child health research capacity in the UK and to reverse the decline in the number of paediatric academics and researchers. 

    We welcome applications from clinicians and non-clinical academics in any area of child health research, and we offer joint funding opportunities with the MRC administered through the Clinical Research Training Fellowship, Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF), and Career Development Award schemes. 

    For further information regarding the RCPCH and its work, please visit our website: www.rcpch.ac.uk/home or contact us at research@rcpch.ac.uk.

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.  UKRI is able to provide additional guidance regarding the appropriate evidence required to complete the visa application process under the Exceptional Talent visa. Please contact fellowtier1info@rcuk.ac.uk 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.

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 to 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 fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk 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

  • The CSF competition is held three times a year. Application deadline dates can be found on the deadlines page.

  • The Applying for a Fellowship webpage, Guidance for Fellowship Applicants, Applicant skills and experience table and CSF FAQs should be carefully consulted in preparing an application, as applications that differ from the requested format may be rejected without review. If you have further questions after reading these pages, please contact: fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk.

  • Please read the skills and experience required carefully.  In conjunction with your host institution, you should evaluate your track record and assess whether you meet the skills and experience required for a given scheme prior to applying. If you still need further guidance you may contact the relevant Programme Manager via fellows@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk to confirm your suitability for any MRC fellowship scheme. To enable us to advise, you must include your CV (using the correct CV template (DOCX, 33KB)), a one page project outline and a list of publications with your enquiry.