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					Training & Career Development:
MRC Clinical Fellowships and Awards
Dr Paul Colville-Nash
Programme Manager, Medical Research Council

Academic Opportunities for Junior Doctors
Imperial College, London
17th November 2011
MRC mission

              • Encourage and support high-quality
                research with the aim of improving
                human health

              • Produce skilled researchers

              • Advance and disseminate knowledge
                and technology to improve the quality
                of life and economic competitiveness in
                the UK [and worldwide]

              • Promote dialogue with the public about
                medical research
MRC funding

MRC funding for research - £758m (2009/10)
• 50% of funding is directly to MRC research establishments
    3 institutes, 28 units (2 overseas)
• 50% of funding is to universities and centres
    22 centres, research grants, training awards and fellowships
• £78m pa on training and career development

• Supports 5,700 staff
• 350 research fellows and 1,500 students
Research Changes Lives

MRC Strategic Plan 2009-2014
  Over the next five years the MRC aims to support medical
  research which increases the pace of the transition to better
  health. We will achieve this through:

• Strategic Aim One: Picking research that delivers

• Strategic Aim Two: Research to people

• Strategic Aim Three: Going global

• Strategic Aim Four: Supporting scientists
Delivering MRC strategy

                                             MRC Fellowship Priorities

                                         •   Integration of biological & engineering
•   New frontiers                            technologies
     • Stratified medicine
     • Regenerative medicine             •   Development & application of innovative
                                             maths & stats methods
     • Systems medicine
•   Living a long and healthy life
                                         •   Innovative methods at the interface of
     • Mental health & wellbeing             preclinical & clinical medicine and in
     • Lifestyle behaviours and health       population health sciences
•   Global and population health
     • E-health                          •   Postdocs developing careers at the
     • Infections                            academic-industry interface
•   Safeguarding the UK skills base
     • Industry CASE PhD
     • Industry Collaborative Postdoc
      MRC & NIHR: Delivering research with
      societal and economic impact to benefit
      patients & the public
       Discovery & Exploratory Research                                     Application & Delivery Research

                     MRC lead                                           Health Departments‟ lead

Genetics/genomics      Pharmacogenomics
Structural biology                                                                             Programmes in
                       Animal/human models
Imaging                Regenerative medicine
                                               Experimental                                    Applied research
Systems medicine                                                                 HTA Trials
                                                 medicine                                      Research for Patient Benefit
Global health
                                               Methodology                       EME Trials    Service Delivery and
Ageing: lifecourse
                                                                            (Late stage III)   Organisation
                                               Global health
Stem cells
                                               Stratified medicine
                                                               Public health
Population science


                                                                     NIHR (England)
                                                                     CSO (Scotland)
                                                                     WORD (Wales)
                                                            HSCNI (Northern Ireland)
MRC‟s positioning in research training &

Our strategic focus
   •   Research leaders of tomorrow
   •   Strategic skills gaps
   •   At key stages of a career
Our brand
   •   Excellence - of the individual, research & training
   •   Responsive
         • Strategic partnerships (industry, OSCHR, charities) – Healthy
         • Adding value to the development of early career scientists
Our positioning
   •   Different to other RCs
         • Shared interests: Roberts agenda; interdisciplinary capacity building
         • Differences: Clinical research & emphasis on postdoc training & careers
   •   Partnerships
         • NIHR fellowships: enabling and applied research
         • MRC, NIHR, Wellcome Trust, medical charities: coordination &
   •   Remembering that potential fellows have choices!
MRC Clinical Research Fellows

 •   Potential research leaders of the future
      - Outstanding candidates (potential not just project))
      - Vision (appropriate to their career stage)
      - Synergy between clinical & research training
 •   Development through excellent research
      • Intellectually demanding
      • Using advanced methods, skills & technologies
      • Access to essential research facilities & resources
 •   Development in an excellent environment
      • Inspirational leadership & supervision
      • High quality and impact science
      • Engagement in research translation
      • Access to national & international excellence
      • Great mentorship
 •   Enabling career choices and advancement
      • As clinician and researcher
Research Fellowships

Extraordinary opportunities
An MRC fellowship enables you to do
something truly out of the ordinary…

Great outcomes
MRC postdoc Clinical Fellows report
  • More collaborations per award…
  • More instances of further funding…
  • More impact on policy
Citation analyses
  • Clinical Fellows‟ papers more cited than „expected‟
Career destinations
  • Class of 1991: 17% are Fellows of the AMS (11/61)
Patrick Maxwell‟s RTF class of „91
Our website should be
your first port of call
Opportunities for Clinical Scientists

 INTEGRATED ACADEMIC TRAINING PATH                                                                CCT
       Medical         Foundation                                                                         Academic
                                                         Specialist Training
       School          Programme                                                                           Position

                                            Academic               Academic           Clinical
          MB                                 Status                 Clinical                             Senior Lecturer
                         Academic                                  Fellowship
                      Foundation Year
                                             Clinical          1       2        3     4     5           Further specialty/
                                             Training                                                     sub-specialty
        MB/PhD                                                                                               training
                       F1         F2
                                                                                                         Senior Clinical
        Graduate                              Personal                Clinical        Clinician           Fellowship
         Entry                               Fellowship              Research         Scientist
        Training                                                     Training        Fellowship
                                                 Other              Fellowship         up to 4
                                             fellowships             3-4 years          years
                                           (Wellcome Trust,

 The timings of personal fellowships are indicative – there is flexibility according to individual career progression
Clinical Research Training
  Early career entry for those with minimal previous lab

•Combining research with clinical training
  2 clinical sessions/week (3 for surgeons)
  12 month abeyance of award for concentrated training

•Personal salary
•Research expenses - £15K p.a. plus animal costs
•Overseas training allowance
•2 rounds p.a. (Jan & Sept)
•Research overseas (1yr)/ 2nd UK Centre/UK Industrial Training
•Exceptionally, will provide post-doctoral “catch-up” time
Jointly Funded Clinical Research
Training Fellowship
   • Alzheimers Society
   • Asthma UK
   • British Association of Dermatologists, British Skin Foundation
   • British Infection Society
   • British Lung Foundation, Mick Knight Mesothelioma Fund
   • Chronic Granulomatous Disorder Research Trust
   • Cystic Fibrosis Trust
   • Kidney Research UK
   • Fight For Sight
   • MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowships
   • Multiple Sclerosis Society
   • Novo Nordisk UK Diabetes Research Foundation
   • Pancreatic Cancer UK
   • Prostate Cancer Charity
   • Stroke Association
   • Target Ovarian
   • Ulverscroft Vision Research Group
Royal   Colleges
   •    Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
   •    Royal College of Ophthalmologists John Lee Fellowship
   •    Royal College of Physicians Dinwoodie Trust
   •    Royal College of Radiologists
   •    Royal College of Surgeons of England and Royal College of
            Surgeons of Edinburgh
Welsh Assembly Clinical Research Training Fellowships
Clinician Scientist Fellowship

 •   The MRC‟s Clinician Scientist Fellowships aim to develop outstanding
     medically and other clinically qualified professionals who have
     gained a PhD/DPhil to establish themselves as independent

 •   They will demonstrate a rigorous and insightful approach to
     research, and the ability to relate their research to clinical medicine
     and to the improvement of health.

 •   They will have a clear sense of how they wish to develop their
     careers as clinicians and scientists and show the potential to
     become research and/or clinical leaders in the future.

 •   The proposed project and centre will provide valuable training
     experience and the applicant will gain generic and transferable skills
Senior Clinical Fellowships

 •   The MRC‟s senior clinical fellowships aim to develop outstanding
     medically and other clinically qualified professionals such that they
     become research leaders.

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

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

 •   It is expected that applicants‟ clinical work helps to inform and
     strengthen their research work.

 •   There is not the same expectation to move centres.
Common reasons why proposals fail

•   Not clear what impact the research will have (“so what…?”)
•   “Worthy” “solid” (but dull)
•   More of the same, duplicative, unambitious
•   No clear hypothesis or important question
•   Unfocused. Overambitious – too much, no clear plan
•   Methodology insufficiently detailed, limitations not appreciated
•   Lack of preliminary data / appropriate experience
•   Modest publication record (for experienced researchers)
•   Inadequate knowledge and expertise
•   Lack of collaborators, supervision & mentorship

Being successful

Understand the funder
    • Science: remit and opportunities
    • Administrative: Forms; CV; page length & number; finance
      & signatures…
Be bold
    • Ambitious, original… and NOT boring
Plan well & be realistic
    • You will be over-optimistic! A complex study will roll out
      slower than you think.
    • Agreements and authorisations will take time.
    • Not everything will work. Clarify dependencies, risks and
      plan contingencies

Being successful

Discuss and learn
    • Draw on experienced colleagues, mentors, research Board
      members, funding officials & patient groups
    • Learn from “failure” and feedback (<25% of proposals may
      be funded)
Present clearly: person, project, „place‟
    • Be specific: what you aim to achieve, why and how
    • You will need to inform and persuade a diverse audience
    • Explain and justify
        • research question / hypothesis
        • design / strategy
        • delivery (methods, collaborations, management);
        • ethics
        • resources


 Your application will only be as strong as its weakest link

Need & Potential
   for Impact                                      Ethics

Overview: Applying for Your Grant

1. Plan your options vis-à-vis           •   3-5 expert referees assigned.
   published Fellowship competitions &   •   Referees write report & score
                                         •   Shortlisting by referees‟
     • Advertised 1 or 2x pa                 scores
2. Identify remit/scope, eligibility,         • 25-50% declined
   criteria, process & dates.
                                         •   Panel Meeting
3. Develop proposal well ahead: take
   advice                                     • Two(+) designated Panel
4. Applications forms = web-based
                                                 members present the
5. Submission through web, CD or
   internet.                                  • Discussion
     • Sign off = critical                    • Scoring
6. Admin check by funder.                     • Ranking
                                         •   Outcome within days
     MRC Fellowships for Clinical
     Researchers 2009/10

                                                           Senior Clinical Fellows
                             10                    Training /

                                      Clinical Scientist Fellows
       50 awards
         (+8 Clin              Clinical
       Pharm/Path)            Training /

      Clinical Research Training
     Training /
                           Years post PhD

-3      -2        -1   0          1        2   3       4        5    6      7        8   9
   Thank you!

   •General Enquiries

   •Scientific queries via Programme Managers
      Details on MRC web-site under each Research


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