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CRN WM Health and Care Research Scholars (RS) and Accelerated Research Scholars (ARS) Programme Guidance Document



CRN WM Health and Care Research Scholars (RS) and Accelerated Research Scholars (ARS) Programme Guidance Document


The Clinical Research Network West Midlands (CRN WM) is the largest of the 15 local Networks across England, covering a population size of 5.67 million. Regional and national analyses have highlighted that the number of Chief investigator (CI) led studies and total number of CIs conducting National Institute for Health Research Portfolio studies in the region falls substantially below national average. Given this background, the CRN WM leadership has identified and prioritised increasing CI capacity as one key strategic aim.

These posts are aimed at NHS, public health and social care staff in order to maximise access to research across the West Midlands wherever there is a health need; another major regional priority. The NIHR is committed to actively and openly supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Applications would be particularly welcomed in this round from Public Health, Social Care and non-medical healthcare professions, and also from Partnership Organisations who have not previously or do not regularly nominate candidates.

As part of this strategy the CRN is supporting two groups of potential CIs for two years; the former aimed at research active individuals who wish to become CIs: Health and Care Research Scholars (RS). These may be at an early part of their research careers, although not necessarily at the early part of their careers. The latter group are those who have already been CIs, giving them protected time to develop new grant applications: Health and Care Accelerated Research Scholars (ARS).

1) Health and Care Research Scholars (RS)
These successful applicants will spend one day per week (equivalent to two sessions or programmed activities (PAs) a week) participating in research activities working in a unit with time, skills and track record to support career development. Where appropriate an individualised bespoke programme will be developed, based within departments at a research active unit to support study development. Qualitative, quantitative, action research and trials methodology proposals will be considered.

Where relevant, attachment to one of the regional Clinical Trials Units (CTUs): Birmingham (two), Warwick and Keele working with methodologists, systematic reviewers, grant writers, data managers, statisticians or epidemiologists as appropriate to develop their grant applications or publications. Scholars will also receive 1:1 personal mentoring.

2) Health and Care Accelerated Research Scholars (ARS)
This programme is also for (up to) one day a week (equivalent to two sessions or programmed activities (PAs) a week), and is specifically targeted to support more established and senior researchers who might not be necessarily be suitable for the RS fellowship (as they are already existing CIs), who do not currently have access to major grant programmes, but who are felt to be able to deliver significant translational research and become our future world leading researchers.


- To provide Health and Care researchers an effective protected space and remunerated time for developing Chief Investigator ability to lead their own NIHR Portfolio studies and securing external funding in their specialty areas. The Scholarships provide funding for time but do not, however, cover additional costs arising from this such as conference attendance, publishing costs etc.
- To help the CRN WM deliver on regional and national priorities for Health and Care research (Appendix 1)
- To become a prime conduit between NHS doctors/staff, Nurses, Midwives, or Allied Health Professionals, Social Care and Public Health professionals and research methodologists
- To increase in participation in NIHR Portfolio studies
- To develop grant income via successful grants


- Consultants, Nurses, Midwives, or Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs) employed by NHS Trusts
- Qualified Primary Care staff (GPs or Nurses, Midwives, or Allied Health Professionals)
- Public Health professionals
- Social Care professionals
- Dentists

Written confirmation is required from their employing organisation to release them from health and care services for the duration of the Scholarship and to return them to operational duties if necessary. Additionally, the application should be reviewed and approved by the manager with responsibility for research (e.g. Head of Research, Research Director or manager or equivalent) within the employing organisation. If, however, large numbers of applications are submitted from a single organisation then there may be a need to internally prioritise those applications, and if this is necessary the review panel will contact the relevant organisation.

Essential Selection Criteria

- Experience and participation in NIHR Portfolio studies or participation in Social and Public Health care research and the potential to obtain funding to support NIHR CRN Portfolio research in the future
- Potential to generate substantial grant income

Desirable Selection Criteria

- At application, to hold or have submitted for a Higher Degree (PhD/MD/DPhil) in a relevant subject area, or additional qualifications e.g. MSc, or other post-graduate training
- Evidence of commitment to NIHR CRN WM and research
- Demonstrable commitment and career progression in the chosen specialty
- Knowledge of health and social care research, clinical trials, research leadership, NIHR Portfolio research delivery
- Presentation of work at a national or international meeting
- Publications in peer reviewed journals
- Demonstrate the potential to develop collaborations and to meet national and regional research priorities (Appendix 1)

Scholars Programmes

These scholarships will be a two year term, subject to satisfactory yearly appraisals. The
scholarship may be extended to a term of maximum of three years for exceptional applicants, who have demonstrated impact during the original two year term.

All scholars will be expected to recruit to and participate in the NIHR Portfolio in their specialty areas. They will also be expected to produce outputs of high-impact publications and grant applications, with the expectation that the latter will make the posts self-funding by the end of the scholarship period.


- The Department Director or Service Lead will be expected to support the application and identify how the service gap will be filled. They will need to confirm that backfill will be available to cover the sessions or PAs (maximum two), and that, where necessary, the successful candidate will be able to resume their clinical duties at the end of the scholarship programme
- Where appropriate co-funding will be considered


The proposed research area needs to align with the areas of research expertise and research strategy of the selected CTU

Other collaborations

In cases where the proposed research does not specifically need a CTU for development, we encourage the applicants to outline which other collaborators will be involved to help develop the proposal and how this will call upon their expertise

Progress Assessment

Progress will be monitored via the CRN WM Scholars Monitoring Group through six monthly interim meetings and annual appraisals to determine progress. Applicants will need to be able to demonstrate significant research impact through a range of metrics including:

- Grant applications and awards
- Enhanced research output
- Increased number of patients/service users/those with lived experiences who are active in research studies or trials
- Clear link between research area and health and care priority
- Ability to demonstrate research impact (income, recruitment, REF)
 -Clear plan for how the scholarship would generate future income to become self-funding at the end of 2 years.

Informal enquiries are encouraged.
The application form should be submitted to Helen Walcott at
If appropriate, where co-funding will occur, a financial summary outlining the CRN and host institutions contributions should be included

Timelines for New Scholarship Applications

23 November - Open call and advertise
15 January - Deadline for full applications
18 Jan - 22nd Jan – Initial scoring
29 Jan – Shortlisting video conference
1 Feb – Applicants advised of shortlisting
1-5 March – Interviews scheduled by video conference
12 March – Applicants advised of outcomes

Appendix 1

West Midlands Research Priorities:

We have provided below our perception of our regional needs; we would welcome applications in these areas, but equally welcome proposals or ideas in areas not covered below, where it can be evidenced that they address a local need.

- The NIHR has communicated nine healthcare priority areas. Bids could be submitted that focus on addressing challenges in delivering research in these healthcare areas (but not for funding to recruit to existing/planned Portfolio studies): Asthma, Cancer, COPD, Dementia, Diabetes, Heart failure, Mental Health (common), Mental Health (severe), and Stroke. In 2019/20 the West Midlands region recruited fewer people in seven of these areas when compared to prevalence

- The West Midlands has high prevalence of some specific health issues (e.g. diabetes, obesity, oral and dental health, stillbirth, neonatal mortality and liver disease) and multimorbidity is a growing public health challenge. Some health issues are very specific to CCG regions. Bids are welcome where the aim of the project is to address the availability or overcoming challenges in the delivery of research in specific health needs, as long as data is provided that evidences the health need
- Developing capacity and capability for research in social care settings
- Engaging under-served populations in research and improving the participants' access to research, with a focus on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE)
- Taking the beneficial new ways of working during the Covid-19 pandemic and expanding on these and/or implementing them more widely across the region (e.g. working digitally, collaborations, flexible workforce).