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Study demonstrates benefits of the NIHR Associate Principal Investigators (PI) Scheme

Illustration of research staff for Associate PI Scheme

A recent study has revealed that the NIHR Associate PI Scheme is not only good for trainees, but also for the studies themselves. 

The Associate Principal Investigators and HEAL-COVID Trial: Good for Trainees, Good for Trials study conducted by J. Newman et al (2024) specifically focused on evaluating the impact of the Associate PI Scheme within the context of the HEAL-COVID study. The findings from this insightful study reveal compelling outcomes:

Key Findings:

  1. Patient Recruitment Boost: Sites with at least one Associate PI demonstrated over 3.5 times higher patient recruitment compared to sites without an Associate PI (medians 4 vs 14.5, p<0.05). This effect is independent of other factors including type of hospital or number of inpatient beds.
  2. Trainee Impact: In addition to the quantitative analysis, J Newman and the HEAL-COVID collaboration conducted a qualitative assessment through thematic analysis of trainee survey feedback. The results were remarkable, showcasing that trainees participating in the Associate PI Scheme reported significant learning experiences. These included insights into trial design, delivery of the study, leadership skills, and effective participant recruitment. Post-Scheme, trainees reported advancements in their careers, progressing to higher degrees, academic training, and contributing to the support of further trials.

The NIHR Associate PI Scheme has demonstrated itself to be a beneficial initiative, proving advantageous on two fronts:

  • Good for Applicants: The scheme actively supports professional development and research training, effectively building a robust workforce of future researchers while seamlessly integrating research into routine clinical practice.
  • Good for Studies: The scheme significantly enhances patient recruitment into trials, leading to improved trial efficiency by reducing the length, cost, and potential time to clinical implementation. Ultimately, this results in enhanced accessibility for patients.

How to get Involved

More information

Further information and resources about the Associate PI Scheme can be found on the NIHR Associate PI Scheme website

The full paper is linked here: Associate Principal Investigators and the HEAL-COVID trial: good for trainees, good for trials.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss how the Associate PI Scheme could benefit you and your study, please contact