Research Design Service: West Midlands
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Clinical Research Network West Midlands Health and Care Research Scholars (RS) and Accelerated Research Scholars (ARS) programme 2022-2024

  Friday, 17 Dec 2021 | Funding Deadline

Background
The Clinical Research Network West Midlands is the largest of the 15 local Networks
across England covering a population size of 5.67 million.


Previous regional analyses identified a lack of Chief Investigators (CI) developing research
grants in the region and total number of CIs conducting National Institute for Health
Research Portfolio studies in the region falling substantially below national average.
Given this background, the Clinical Research Network West Midlands leadership team
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 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.


These ARS applicants will usually be able to demonstrate that they have been a CI with
significant previous grant income.


Aims
● 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 Clinical Research Network deliver on regional and national priorities for
Health and Care research (Appendix 1) and on the entry plan programme themes
(see here)
● 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


Eligibility
● Consultants, Nurses, Midwives, or Allied Health Professionals (NHMAPPS) 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 the 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
Clinical Research Network 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 Clinical Research Network West Midlands 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)
● Demonstrate the potential that your proposed project might contribute to the
Clinical Research West Midlands Entry plan themes (see here)


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.


Host
● 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


CTU
● 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 Clinical Research Network West Midlands 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.


Applications
Informal enquiries are encouraged.
The application form should be submitted to Jane Willcocks
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
Mid October - Open call and advertise
17December 2021 - Closing date
14 January 2022 - Shortlisting
3 and 4 March 2022 - Interviews

The Clinical Research Network West Midlands has also developed an Entry Plan which contains
four main themes (see here)