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The PRUK-NIHR Pre-Doctoral Clinical & Practitioner Academic Fellowship

By Desh Mofidi, Research Manager

Round 7 of the NIHR Pre-Doctoral Clinical & Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme launched on 25th January and we are proud to be partnering with the NIHR on this scheme, for the third year running. We are supporting applications from pharmacists and pharmacy professionals who wish to apply for a PCAF award and jointly fund the successful awards with the NIHR.

During Round 5 of the PCAF award in 2022, we committed to jointly supporting three successful PCAF applications led by pharmacy professionals. To learn more about each award, please read our previous blog available here.

Interest in the PRUK-NIHR PCAF schemes remained and we saw a consistent number of applications being submitted in Round 6 last year, where we were able to support two applications to the NIHR scheme. We have therefore supported 5 pharmacy professionals through this partnership and we are delighted to be able to continue support this year.

I get a number of questions from potential applicants about how this partnership works. Who makes the funding decisions? Does PRUK sit on the panel and assess applications? Can PRUK influence the final funding recommendations? If I apply for the PRUK award am I limiting my chances because of the small number of awards available? I aim to address these questions in this blog post.

The NIHR PCAF scheme is solely managed and administered by the NIHR. We are one of several other organisations who are also partnering with the NIHR on this scheme. When applying for a PCAF, applicants are able to select from a drop-down list saying which partner organisation they would like to receive joint support from. Once the round closes, we receive an update from the NIHR to confirm how many applications were submitted under the PRUK-NIHR partnership. We are then given access to the application forms and asked to confirm whether we would be happy to offer funding in the event that the applicant is successful. This is the only involvement that PRUK have, as the rest of the process is managed by the NIHR.

One important point is that applicants do not reduce their chances by applying for the PRUK joint award – essentially NIHR will choose the successful applicants from across all the PCAF applications, and then discuss with partners how many they can co-fund within their partnership. For example, if there were three successful applicants for the PRUK partnership award, but PRUK could only afford to fund two, then the third would be funded solely by the NIHR instead as the NIHR assesses all applications together.

Hopefully though, by partnering with NIHR on the award we are increasing the available funding for pharmacy professionals within the pot – but only where those applications meet the NIHR’s overall standards.

We know from our relationship with the NIHR just how much of a priority pharmacy research is and this is an area that they have expressed great interest in supporting further. Our commitment to this partnership ensures that good quality pharmacy research is supported and that pharmacy research remains an important part of the wider health research landscape.

Our colleagues at the NIHR state:

Collaboration with charities is one of NIHR’s key principles to maximise the collective impact of research for public benefit. Through collaboration with Pharmacy Research UK, we have already co-funded five fellowships. These have supported researchers to develop key skills and experience at the start of their research career in pharmacy research. We are therefore really pleased to be partnering with them again for the 2024 PCAF competition. These partnership fellowships offer our awardees more opportunities for networking, collaboration and engagement and we would encourage anyone eligible for a partnership fellowship to select this option on their application. 

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