in the North East and North Cumbria

First class research opportunities  

​The North East and North Cumbria is recognised as a hub for delivering first-class research across the breadth of basic science discovery through translational research to clinical trials and applied health research.

​Our region is recognised as a leader in the delivery of formal, high-quality research training and has dedicated integrated clinical academic training pathways. For those trainees who decide that the research should be a larger part of their training, our programmes offer out of programme research opportunities, doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships.

​The region is a national role model for trainee led research developing both career researchers and trainees who contribute to a research-ready workforce.

​Research and evidence-based medicine are part of the day to day professional roles of doctors and dentists and therefore is integrated into training.

Medical School

Granule Course

An online and face to face course designed to equip researchers with the practical skills to recruit patients into randomised surgical trials.

​By completing this course you will:

  • ​understand why we need randomised controlled surgical trials
  • understand how to convey clinical equipoise, explain randomisation and address patient preferences
  • be able to successfully recruit to randomised controlled trials in surgery

On completing this online programme you may find it helpful to attend further skills-practice sessions offered by GRANULE. The online program is available on the NIHR Learn. Access to NIHR Learn is openly available to staff who work for the NHS, UK universities, and other publicly funded organisations conducting and supporting clinical research.

To enrol in this course please visit:

Intercalation – BMedSCi

Intercalation means taking a year out of your main programme of undergraduate studies to study for an additional degree. Intercalation provides a broad perspective in the healthcare professions. Newcastle University has intercalation opportunities for both internal and external medical and dental students.

​Intercalating students enter one of the modular master’s programmes.

Students will work within a postgraduate, academically challenging environment to develop new and transferable skills that will enhance their professional development. Many of these programmes allow students to choose their own research projects in a topic that interests them and to work closely with experienced research and clinical staff during this period.

After completing an intercalating year, students resume their original studies.

​Information on intercalation can be found at




The NIHR Learn offers multiple online training and learning.  Access to NIHR Learn is openly available to those who work for the NHS, UK universities, and other publicly funded organisations conducting and supporting clinical research. Courses include Good Medical Practice (GCP) which is required by most studies to recruit to trials and also by most specialty training programmes to complete training requirements before becoming a consultant.

Academic Foundation Programme (AFP)

Around 20 doctors across the NENC join the AFP each year. This two-year programme includes two four-month blocks of research or occasionally medical education (one block per year).

The programme in NENC offers better protected research time than all other AFP programmes in England and gives new doctors the opportunity to develop an interest in research in a clinical area of their choice. It is a trainee-centred programme providing a good ‘first-step’ opportunity for those who wish to enter integrated academic training.

General professional training for dentistry is currently in the design phase and will provide similar opportunities to engage in research over a two-year period in practice and hospital. It is hoped that following this, academic components will be introduced into Dental Foundation Training and Dental Core Training programmes in line with the recommendations of the national Advancing Dental Care programme.

Core Training

Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs)

ACFs are joint appointments between Health Education North East and Newcastle University. They are funded by the NIHR and as the trainee has won their funding in national competition, they are supernumerary positions. This is the first formal stage of the Integrated Academic Training (IAT) programme.

ACFs spend 25% of their time in research and 75% in clinical training. The ACF lasts up to a maximum of three years. These posts attract high-achieving trainees who obtain clinical competencies more quickly than most meaning training is not prolonged despite the time spent in research. Research time may run throughout the year alongside the clinical training, but usually there are specific four-month blocks dedicated to research.

The purpose of an ACF is to enable trainees to apply for a doctoral training fellowship from a research council, major research charity or the NIHR in order to undertake a PhD or MD.

Recruitment to clinical studies

Clinical studies are continually on going in the region and in all specialties.

To recruit to clinical trials you need to complete Good Clinical Practice Training (available on NIHR Learn) and complete training delivered by the study team or principal investigator at the study site.

It can be quite difficult to know what studies are going on in which trusts. If you are interested in taking part in patient recruitment contact your hospitals research and development teams who should be able to give you more information.

Trainee collaboratives

In the North -East and Cumbria we have a number of specialties in medicine, surgery, dentistry and mental health who have trainee led research collaboratives.

Our trainee research collaboratives have successfully developed and ran their own clinical studies, national audits and research training. Collaborative research is accessible to all trainees throughout their training and caters to all levels of interest. It offers the opportunity to be involved in high impact clinical research that is often not possible as an individual researcher.​

Our trainee collaboratives (CORNET, NOSTRA and INNCARNET) have successfully bid to host the National Research Collaboratives Meeting at the Sage in December 2019 and will be showcasing frontiers in trainee collaborative research @NRCM2019


Out-of-programme research

Out-of-Programme Research (OOPR) can be taken at any time in specialty training (i.e. training undertaken after the foundation programme in medicine and the DFT and DCT programmes in dentistry).

OOPR is usually two or three years in duration and the trainee should aim to achieve an MD or a PhD. Ideally trainees obtain a training fellowship in national competition from Medical Research Council, Wellcome, National Institute Health Research or a national research charity.

Sometimes trainees are funded from less formal sources such as local charities, industry or as part of other large research grants. This is a critical step in the clinical academic career pathway and provides the opportunity for a trainee to receive high quality research training and to start to develop a strong personal research interest and to establish how much they wish to be involved in research throughout their career.

Associate Principal Investigator scheme

A Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for the conduct of the research at a research site; this is often a consultant who has a permanent contract at the research site. The Associate PI scheme helps develop junior doctors to be PIs of the future and promotes engagement in NIHR portfolio research of which most now include an associate principal investigator role.

Other leadership roles are available for some clinical trials and trainee representatives on Trial Management Groups (TMG) are becoming more mainstream. These roles are advertised directly from the trials unit who are conducting studies and are a great way to understand how clinical trials are designed, undertaken and managed.

Practical research training

It is a requirement of many training programmes that trainees undertake a research methodology training. In collaboration with Newcastle University and Clinical Research Network: North East and North Cumbria,

Health Education North East have developed a three-step learning package (including online learning, a two day methodological course, and assessment and feedback from a research mentor) aimed at giving trainees a greater understanding of basic research skills and how to develop those skills further, as well as a better understanding of the Clinical Research Network and how research happens in the NHS.

The course also allows for assessment and feedback on research competencies relevant to training and access to research mentors who have expertise and knowledge to develop research careers.

NIHR clinical lecturers

NIHR Clinical Lecturers (NIHR CLs) are joint appointments between Health Education England and Newcastle University. It is necessary to have at a minimum submitted a PhD or MD Thesis and to be in a higher training programme to be able to apply for an NIHR CL award. They are funded by the NIHR and as the trainee has won their funding in national competition they are supernumerary. NIHR CLs have 50% of their time spent in research and 50% spent in clinical training. This is the higher level of integrated academic training. The NIHR CL lasts up to a maximum of four years but sometimes trainees obtain their CCT and become a consultant (or gain a clinician scientist award) prior to completion of the CL post.

Trainees successful in securing CL positions are very high achieving trainees who have demonstrated their commitment to developing themselves into an academic clinician.

The purpose of an NIHR CL post is to enable trainees to apply for a Clinician Scientist Advanced Fellowship from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome, National Institute Health Research or a national research charity


Clinician Scientist Advanced Fellowship Awards

Clinician Scientist Awards are usually four to five years in duration. These are for senior trainees who are at the end of their training or recently appointed Consultants who have an established and successful research track record. The trainee will usually gain a Certificate Completion of Training (CCT) before the award is completed. The aim of the Clinician Scientist Award is to provide the award holder the opportunity to develop an independent research career so that at the end they are leading research and supervising other researchers and are able to apply for a senior fellowship award or for a university senior lecturer appointment.


The ‘Greenshoots’ scheme provides the opportunity to support and develop motivated consultants, nurses, midwives and allied health professions to become Principal Investigators. Aside from the opportunity to gain a research qualification (through the Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Research), the scheme ensures mentorship from experienced colleagues.

For more information about the Greenshoots scheme please contact: [email protected]