Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF) FAQs
This is selected guidance regarding this particular scheme and all applicants should also familiarise themselves with the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads').
1. What are the differences between the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral CRTF schemes?
Pre-doctoral scheme applications
Pre-doctoral fellowships offer support whilst you take your PhD or MD. These awards are FEC exempt (i.e. MRC awards 100% of the costs) and in addition to the fellow’s salary, offer support up to a limit of £20k per annum. (Please see Q33 for further detail).
Post-doctoral scheme applications
The post-doctoral scheme supports applicants who completed a PhD (usually - at least 5 years ago) but have not been in active research since this point due to clinical training commitments. These awards are made under the FEC framework (i.e. MRC awards 80% of the costs) and you can request reasonable research expenses.
In both cases the schemes support early-career researchers to obtain research training and opportunities to consolidate their research skills, and candidates’ experience at the time of application should be commensurate with the pre-doctoral career stage in the applicant skills and experience table
2. At what stage of my career should I apply for a CRTF award?
Candidates are expected to be undertaking their specialty training and to be at ST3/ST4 level. Additionally we would anticipate that their MRCP (or equivalent) has been completed.
Candidates should be at an appropriate point in their training to step out of programme and undertake a PhD. ST3/4 level is recommended as at this point a substantial part of specialty training will have been completed and the candidate will have a clear idea of their future career path. On completing the fellowship they will be able to rapidly complete their specialty training and enter clinical practice and thus be in a position to re-establish their research activity without de-skilling in the intervening period.
Nurses, midwives and members of the allied health professions must have completed their professional training and hold a Masters degree, or equivalent postgraduate research-oriented qualification.
3. I’m earlier/later in my training than ST3/ST4 – can I still apply for a CRTF?
Whilst it is anticipated that applicants will be undertaking their specialty training it is possible to apply to the scheme at other points in your training path.
Candidates applying earlier in their career will need to provide a robust case as to why they are ready to undertake research training. The MRC will be looking for confirmation as to how the applicant will plan to complete their training and combine their research and clinical work in their future career.
Candidates who are later in their careers (up to obtaining their CCT – see Q10) will need to make a robust case for why they now wish to embark on a research career. The MRC will expect the candidate to provide evidence that they are dedicated to a dual clinical-academic career path.
However there are exceptions to this, in particular with GPs. Here it should be noted that GPs are considered to be at an appropriate career stage to apply up to three years post-qualification.
5. Do I have to be registered for a PhD/MD/equivalent before I apply for a CRTF?
No. In most cases applicants wait until they have been awarded a CRTF before registering. Please state in the Career Intentions section of the form that you plan to register for a PhD/MD/equivalent if successful.
6. I’ve already started a PhD/MD. Can I still apply?
If you have already started a PhD/MD or equivalent and will have spent less than 12 months (or FTE) working on the project at the proposed start date of the fellowship, you are eligible to apply. If you have dedicated more than 12 months to your PhD before the proposed fellowship start date, you can still apply, but should explain within your proposal why you are a suitable candidate for a CRTF. Proposals from applicants who will have spent significantly more than 12 months on their PhD project by their proposed start date will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
7. Do I have to register for a PhD/MD/equivalent if awarded a CRTF?
If you are awarded a pre-doctoral CRTF then you will be required to register for a PhD or equivalent. If you have applied to the post-doctoral element of the scheme then you will not be required to register for a degree as you have already completed your PhD.
8. I was awarded my PhD some years ago but have not been active in research since. Can I apply for a CRTF?
Yes. The post-doctoral CRTF scheme supports those who completed their degree early in their training or before medical school, and have since been unable to establish a research career due to training commitments. The CRTF is a way to make the transition into research and to establish a competitive position from which to apply for further fellowship and grant funding.
To apply for a post-doctoral CRTF you should have completed your PhD/MD at least 5 years ago and should not have had a significant period of consolidated research activity since then. You may have held posts such as an NHIR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) or Clinical Lecturer (CL) which provide some research time within your contracted hours. Applicants who have undertaken more substantial periods of research or who have recently completed their PhDs will not be considered, and should consider the Clinician Scientist Fellowship instead. Advice on your suitability for the scheme can be obtained by emailing a CV, list of publications, and brief project outline to email@example.com.
Post-doctoral CRTF applicants are considered in open competition with pre-doctoral applications.
9. I already have my CCT. Can I still apply?
The expectation is that you will not be suitable to apply. However there may be mitigating circumstances relating to your specialty that has resulted in you being unable to apply for a CRTF before this point in your career.
It is recommended that you get in touch with a member of the MRC Fellows team to discuss your application prior to submission.
It should be noted that GPs are considered to be at an appropriate career stage to apply to this competition up to three years post-qualification as a GP.
10. Can I apply if I’m not clinically qualified?
Nurses and allied health professionals may apply to the pre-doctoral scheme for support while undertaking a PhD. Candidates must have an MSc in a relevant subject.
Researchers who hold a BSc and PhD in a relevant subject but are not clinically qualified are not eligible to apply to the scheme and should consider our non-clinical fellowship schemes.
Information about all MRC fellowships is available here.
11. Can clinical psychologists apply and do they need to have completed a Masters degree to be eligible?
Clinical psychology candidates can apply for a CRTF award. They do not need to have completed a Masters degree but must have obtained a professional Doctorate-level qualification in Clinical Psychology accredited by the British Psychological Society before taking up their award.
12. Can I apply if I hold a permanent academic or research position, or an award that already supports my salary?
All applicants to MRC Fellowships must articulate why a fellowship is the best way to achieve their research goals. Individuals who currently hold a permanent position are eligible to apply if they can:
- Demonstrate that a fellowship would be the best way to support their long term career goals and chosen career route.
- Provide a clear rationale why a fellowship would be different to their current role. As part of this expectation, applicants may be planning to move away from their current department, or will describe clear pathways by which they will differentiate the fellowship position from their current role.
- Clearly state that 100% of their time would be dedicated to the fellowship to focus on research, shielded from other professional commitments.
Applicants cannot continue to hold an existing position and a fellowship at the same time. If awarded a fellowship, the permanent position would need to be relinquished for the duration of the fellowship. Applicants wishing to retain an existing position and combine this with research funding, should consider funding options under one of the grant schemes.
13. Do I need to move institution to apply for a fellowship?
No. If an applicant currently holds a permanent position at an institution, moving department or institute may help to demonstrate why a fellowship would be different to a current role, but there is no requirement to move to a new institution.
14. What will happen if I am offered a permanent position during my Fellowship?
One of the benefits of a fellowship is the provision of a full salary for the duration of the award, enabling Fellows to dedicate their attention to their research and development.
Award holders who are offered a permanent role during the fellowship should contact the office on firstname.lastname@example.org. Award holders can accept this position as long as it adheres to the terms and conditions of the fellowship award, e.g. that it will not require spending more than 6 hours a week on non-fellowship duties. Any more significant time commitments would need to be deferred until after the end of the fellowship to allow continued focus on the research, shielded from other professional commitments.
If this is not possible and you wish to take up a position, the fellowship needs to be relinquished. Please contact us if you require advice.
15. Can I apply if I do not currently reside in the UK?
There are no residential requirements, though in the course of applying for a fellowship, you would be expected to show a genuine commitment to the UK research effort beyond the end of the award. If you were offered a fellowship by the MRC, you will need to be registered at a UK Research Organisation for the duration of the fellowship. Any queries regarding residence eligibility or visa requirements should be addressed to the research organisation concerned.
16. What are the tenure limitations on a CRTF award?
24 months is the minimum tenure for an award. If the fellowship is undertaken part time, the full time equivalent (FTE) must be at least 24 months (e.g. 50% time for 48 months).
Awards are usually a maximum of 36 months. However if your project is patient-based then you may be able to apply for support up to 48 months. This is to allow additional time to, for example, collect patient samples and complete follow up assessments.
17. Can the tenure of the award extend beyond the anticipated award date of my PhD?
Clinical Research Training Fellowship awards aim to support a discrete project that will lead to a higher research degree and do not fund unspecified follow-on work following the submission of the PhD/MD thesis.
Exceptionally a short discrete piece of specified research, building on the MD/PhD project may be supported; however, should the Panel decide not to support the follow-on work and as a result the tenure of the fellowship falls below the 24 months, you will then be ineligible for an award.
18. Can I work part time on my fellowship?
The MRC is very supportive of applicants who may wish to combine their research with personal or domestic responsibilities and we therefore offer all fellowships on a part-time basis. At least 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) must be dedicated to the fellowship and fellows are expected to dedicate their full contracted time to the award. Part-time awards are not available to combine the Fellowship with other research activities and projects or to continue clinical training, however applicants needing to maintain professional clinical responsibilities may request part-time support. See the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads'), our page on flexible working policies, and our guidance document on career breaks and flexible working (PDF, 40KB) for further details.
19. Is there an opportunity to spend time in an overseas research centre, a second UK research centre or a UK industrial centre?
Applicants are encouraged to spend time in an overseas research centre, a second UK research centre or a UK industrial centre where this will provide a concentrated period of training that cannot be achieved as effectively within the academic host institution. MRC considers this period at a second centre to provide an invaluable opportunity to broaden fellows’ development towards becoming a research leader. For applications including a second centre, we would normally expect the Fellow to make one visit of between 6 and 12 months. The interview panel may agree to requests for visits to more than one centre if this can be justified on the grounds of training and development needs. The Fellow should be prepared at interview to discuss in detail any visits proposed.
20. Would I be at a disadvantage if I did not take the opportunity to spend time at a second centre?
No. Whilst the MRC encourages applicants to take advantage of the opportunity to spend time at a second centre where this will benefit the fellowship, in cases where the host centre is able to provide all necessary training and career development benefits, the MRC recognises that spending time at a second centre may not be appropriate.
21. Can I apply with an industrial partner?
The MRC encourages and is very supportive of applicants who wish to spend time with an Industrial Partner to benefit from unique training opportunities. There are a number of ways applicants can include an industrial partner:
- Spending time at a second UK industrial centre (as per question 21);
- Applying with an industrial collaborator – this should be submitted as an MRC Industrial Collaboration Award (MICA) – for more information please refer to section 5.2.10 of the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads') and the MICA pages
22. Do I need a sponsor?
Yes. Sponsors are compulsory for all fellowships run by the MRC and the Sponsors section of the Proposal Form must be completed for all fellowship applications. In the case of CRTF proposals this section should be completed by the applicant’s supervisor(s) and each supervisor must also complete the CRTF supervisor CV template (DOC, 75KB) and attach this to the application in Je-S.
23. Do I need a mentor?
Mentors are not compulsory, but including a mentor is encouraged as it can help to demonstrate that applicants are gaining the independent career advice required to develop a fellowship.
A mentor is someone who provides independent career advice and is distinct from a sponsor or supervisor. Where a mentor is listed on the application a letter of support should be included detailing the support they will provide. A mentor’s time cannot be included in the costings for the proposal.
24. Can I apply with co-investigators?
No. Co-investigators are not permitted on fellowship awards.
25. Can I apply with collaborators?
Fellowship applications can include collaborations with individuals and affiliations and with organisations, both commercial and academic. If including a collaboration, a summary of the collaboration (max 2000 characters including spaces and returns) should be included in the ‘Collaborations Explanation’ section of the proposal form. A statement indicating the willingness of each collaborator to co-operate must be submitted with your application as a Letter of Support. If a collaborator will be providing clinical samples for the project, the letter should confirm their willingness to provide the samples and confirm that they have the appropriate ethical approval to cover the proposed research. For further information, please see the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads'). Collaborators’ CVs and Lists of Publications are not required and should not be uploaded as separate attachments.
26. Can I apply to other funders at the same time as my MRC application is considered?
Applications for fellowships may simultaneously be submitted to the MRC and other fellowship schemes from other funders or research organisations. You must list any current applications in the ‘Other Support’ section of the MRC form and mention your MRC application in any applications to other funders. For further information, please see the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads').
27. Can I apply to more than one MRC fellowship scheme?
You can only have one MRC fellowship application under consideration at any time. If your application is declined by one scheme you may resubmit to a different scheme so long as you can demonstrate your skills and experience match those of the relevant career stage in the applicant skills and experience table. Resubmissions must include substantive amendments from the original submission.
28. Can I apply for grant support whilst undertaking a CRTF?
CRTFs are early-career fellowships, and as such holders are expected to dedicate their time to the fellowship for the duration of the award. Post-doctoral awardees approaching the end of their award may apply as a principal investigator or co-investigator for grant support via an MRC research grant or grants from other funding organisations, subject to written approval from the MRC Fellows team.
Fellows should ensure that the additional work can be carried out within the 20% of time permitted for non-fellowship activities, as stipulated in the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads') and in the MRC Terms and Conditions.
29. I’ve had a previous MRC fellowship application declined. Can I resubmit?
MRC Fellowships are personal awards. As an individual, you may submit to any one MRC fellowship scheme twice. Resubmissions must include substantive amendments from the original submission, which should be detailed in the cover letter. Moving institution or submitting a different project does not reset the number of previous applications. Applicants should allow at least a year between submissions whether applying to the same or a different scheme. Applicants wishing to reapply within a year should request permission from the relevant Programme Manager prior to resubmission by contacting: email@example.com.
30. I have had my resubmission declined. If I apply with a new project does it still count as a resubmission?
Yes. You may only apply to any MRC fellowship scheme twice, regardless of the extent of changes to the proposal. Moving institution or submitting a different project does not reset the number of previous applications.
31. What is the next career step after I complete the CRTF?
Once their fellowship and time Out of Programme (OOP) is complete, Fellows are normally required to complete their specialty training. Clinical Lectureships funded by the Health Departments, charities or research organisations provide a route for clinicians to continue to combine research activities with their clinical training. MRC’s Clinician Scientist Fellowship scheme or MRC New Investigator Research Grant are open to applicants who have completed a PhD and their specialty training and who wish undertake a dedicated period of research make the transition to independent investigator.
32. Will my award be made with the Full Economic Costing (FEC) framework?
Pre-doctoral awards are FEC exempt and MRC will fund 100% of the requested amount. As they are FEC exempt, Estates Costs and Indirect Costs are not awarded for pre-doctoral awards. Post-doctoral awards will be awarded within the FEC framework.
33. Are there limits on the funding I can request?
Pre-doctoral candidates may apply for funding to cover their salary, which may be up to but not including NHS consultant level, and funding of up to £20,000 per year (pro rata if part time). This may cover consumables, equipment, conference travel, PhD and other course fees.
Certain costs may be requested in addition to the £20,000 per annum:
1) the costs incurred by undertaking training at an overseas centre/2nd centre/industry placement
2) the purchase and maintenance cost of animals (excluding additional experimental costs, related consumables, project licences etc, which must be requested within the £20,000 per annum)
3) costs associated with healthy volunteer studies not met by local clinical
Only these costs can be applied for above the £20,000 per annum limit. Proposals requesting costs outside these limits will not be considered.
Post-doctoral candidates may apply for their salary, which may be up to but not including NHS consultant level, and for reasonable research costs which will be awarded under the FEC framework. There is no limit to the research costs which may be requested, but candidates should bear in mind that their application will be considered in open competition with applications costed using the advice above.
34. How should I cost my salary in light of the new Junior Doctors Contract?
The salary requested should be commensurate with your NHS salary level, which will depend on whether you have transitioned to the new pay scale in the 2016. Trainees who were at ST3 and above on 2 August 2016 will in most cases stay on the pay arrangements of the 2002 TCS for the remainder of their training. See Schedule 14 of the Terms and Conditions of Service for NHS Doctors and Dentists in Training (England) 2016 for details and worked examples of pay calculations by UCEA. Your Research Office should be able to provide further guidance on costing your salary and the rest of your proposal.
35. Can I request for more than £20,000 per annum for a pre-doctoral project if my project is expensive and I explain why I need the extra funding in the proposal?
No. Only the costs described in Q34 may be requested in addition to this limit.
36. Can I include my sponsors or mentors time as a staff cost?
It is unusual for a supervisor to cost his time on a fellowship application. Such costs would have to be requested within the £20,000 per annum envelope for pre-doctoral applications and are unlikely to be considered a good use of resources by reviewers. Staff requests should be for staff actually undertaking activities on the project.
37. My project incurs NHS costs. Where should I include these in the proposal?
These should be noted in the case for support and a letter of support from the relevant health authority uploaded with the application stating that they are prepared to cover the costs incurred. An NHS Costs Proforma (XLS 83KB) (XLSX, 57KB) should also be attached to the application.
38. Is joint funding available?
The MRC is proud to collaborate with a number of Royal Colleges and Charity funders to offer a range of jointly funded Clinical Research Training Fellowships each round. 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.
All applications are considered in open competition; therefore a request for joint funding will have no effect on the outcome of your application and the submission procedure and deadline is the same as advertised on the MRC deadlines page. Any jointly funded fellowships will be offered at the same funding level as any other MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship and under standard MRC terms and conditions except where additional terms and conditions are specified by the joint funder. See website or contact the funder for further details.
All Clinical Research Training Fellowship applicants must upload the joint funding form (DOCX, 40KB) as part of their cover letter to state whether they would like to apply for joint funding.
See Jointly-Funded Clinical Research Training Fellowship for a full list of the organisations with which the we currently collaborate.
39. What happens if the joint funder I apply for is unable to offer funding this round?
You will automatically be considered for a 100% MRC-funded CRTF award instead.
40. If I apply for joint funding can I request more money?
No. The same limits apply.
41. How are jointly funded awards administered?
The award will be administered in the same way as a standard MRC CRTF, though some additional terms and conditions may apply. Your research organisation will not need to contact the joint funder regarding the award and MRC will administer all funding issues.
42. I have already secured funding from my research organisation/a charity for part of the period I will be undertaking a PhD, can I apply to the MRC to pay the remainder?
MRC’s current policy is that we will not ‘top-up’ funding already secured from other sources. You should therefore apply for the full amount needed for the remaining tenure of your proposed project, subject to the minimum tenure described in Q17. Should MRC offer you an award you would be expected to relinquish any previous award.
43. Can I request travel costs for my family if I spend time during my fellowship overseas?
Yes, travel costs for your spouse and/or children can be requested if the applicant intends to spend over 6 months abroad and their family will accompany them for the whole period. For more information please refer to the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under Document downloads) and our flexible working policies.
44. Can I apply for publication costs?
Publication costs are no longer awarded and should not form part of your application. This is in line with UKRI terms and conditions. These costs are available from your Research Organisation via the block grant they receive for publication costs. If you are experiencing difficulties in obtaining funds to cover publications, please contact the MRC Policy team on RFPD@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk.
How to apply
45. How do I apply?
All applications to the MRC must now be made through the RCUK Joint electronic - Submissions system (Je-S). The URL for the Je-S application system is: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk/
46. Which documents are mandatory to attach to my application and which are optional?
All applications consist of a number of components.
The following are mandatory:
- The Proposal Form
- Fellow's CV (CV template (DOCX, 27KB))
- Supervisor’s CV (CV template (DOC, 75KB))
- List of Publications
- Case for Support
- Justification of Resources
- Pathways to Impact
- Data Management Plan (Data management plan template (DOC, 98KB))
- Head of Department Statement
The following are optional:
- Covering Letter
- Additional Costs Proforma: NHS Support and Treatment Costs (Mandatory where NHS
- costs are incurred)
- Letters of Support (Mandatory if a mentor or collaborator is included)
- MICA Form (Mandatory where application includes industrial partners)
- Heads of Terms (Mandatory where application includes industrial partners)
Please see the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads') for further information about each component of the application (including information regarding content and page lengths).
47. Does my application have to be submitted through my research organisation’s administration department?
Yes. You will need to ensure that your research organisation is registered on Je-S as an administering authority in order to submit your proposal. Further information and guidance is available on the Je-S Help Pages.
Please note that when an application is submitted through Je-S it does not pass directly to the MRC, but to the Research Organisation’s administration team who will then process the submission to the MRC.
You are strongly advised to contact the team responsible for proposal submissions at your Research Organisation to confirm how much time they will need to process your application and complete the submission process. All applications must be submitted to the MRC via the RCUK Joint electronic-Submission system by 4pm on the advertised closing date.
48. How much time will my Research Organisation need to process my application before submitting it to MRC?
This will depend on your Research Organisation and you will need to contact the team responsible for submissions to confirm this.
49. Can I submit offline instead of using Je-S?
No. All applications must be submitted via Je-S.
50. Where should I navigate to in Je-S in order to create my application?
You should create a new document in Je-S. On the first step of the application, select the following options:
- Select Council – MRC
- Select Document Type – Fellowship Proposal
- “Total Costs Fellowship” for pre-doctoral applications
- “Fellowship, FEC” for post-doctoral applications
- Select Call – The exact name will vary for each competition but will be clearly labelled as Clinical Research Training Fellowship (CRTF) and will generally take the form of the scheme name and the month and year of the deadline date.
- Click on ‘Create document’
51. Where can I get advice on how to complete my application?
General guidance on fellowship applications can be found in the Guidance for Fellowship Applicants (available under 'Document downloads'). For guidance on using Je-S, please see the Je-S handbook or contact the Je-S helpdesk at JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk or +44 (0) 1793 44 4164.
52. If my application does not reach MRC by the deadline can it still be considered?
No. Applications not submitted by 4pm on the day of the deadline will not be considered.