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Skills & careers

Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCF)

To provide an insight into the working life of an MRC Senior Clinical Fellow, in this short film Dr Richard Coward describes his career pathway and how the fellowship is supporting him.

Applicants applying for a senior fellowship are strongly advised to contact the programme manager via fellows@mrc.ukri.org to confirm their application fits the scheme. 

Purpose of scheme

The SCF supports talented medically and other clinically qualified professionals, with an effective  track record of internationally competitive independent research, to make the transition to research leadership.

A SCF 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.


Applications are welcome across all areas of the MRC’s 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 will help to inform and strengthen their research work.


The SCF provides five years' support. Applicants are expected to take advantage of the full five years funding available.

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 the Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Association to offer jointly funded SCF 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 jointly funded SCF scheme:

  • The MRC/MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowships

This award supports clinicians wishing to pursue research into the pathogenesis and treatment of motor neuron disease. 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.

All applications are considered in open competition; therefore a request for joint funding will have no effect on the outcome of your application. The submission procedure and deadline is the same as the standard competition. Any jointly funded fellowships will be offered at the same funding level as any other SCF and 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  (DOCX, 62KB)as part of their cover letter.  


  • The SCF 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 experience, and their project is of relevance to human health.

  • 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.

  • 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 leadership career stage in the applicant skills and experience table.

  • Applicants will have gained a PhD (or equivalent), generally at least five years prior to their application, and have undertaken a significant period of post-doctoral research since. Please see the Fellowship Application Guidance for further detail regarding what is expected in terms of post-doctoral experience.

  • Applicants will have a strong track record of challenging, original and productive research, of effective collaboration, and of training in robust research methods and technologies.

  • In their future plans, applicants will demonstrate scientific vision, insight and originality; the ability to relate their proposed research to clinical medicine and the potential to lead other scientists.

  • 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 SCF provides 50% of the fellow’s 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, however awards do not typically exceed £2m (80% fEC). 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 year’s 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 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 SCF competition is held once a year. Application deadline dates can be found on the deadlines page.

  • The Applying for a Fellowship webpage, Guidance for Fellowship Applicants, Applicants skills and experience table and SCF FAQs page 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@mrc.ukri.org.

  • 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@mrc.ukri.org 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.