The Universities of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield have come together to set up the 4ward North Clinical PhD Academy. This Wellcome Clinical PhD Scheme in Northern England brings exciting research opportunities to the brightest clinical trainees.
We operate a feeder year for selection followed by a 3-year PhD directed by the four trainees.
Year 1: the lead-in selection year
The strategic aim of Year 1, during which trainees will remain in their current roles (e.g. clinical training), is to identify a supervisory team and develop a scientific question that will underpin their fellowship application.
- July/August: Open competition by national advert selects 20 trainees based on CV and vision statement.
- July-August onwards: Trainees will use study leave or ACF allocations to scope their project and supervisory team via one-to-one advisory meetings with the programme directors, ‘speed-dating’ events with the supervisor pool and meetings with individual research groups.
- October-November: Trainees select lead and co-supervisor(s), including at least one leading clinician, and prepare their PhD application using a modified national WT form, specifically detailing interactions and co-supervision across N4, patient and public involvement and public engagement (PE) (deadline January). This timeline also meets the MRC CRTF deadline (or allows deferred application).
- March: Following peer review, interview by the four programme directors and others as appropriate (e.g. FCI member). 5 will be selected for the 3-year PhD programme (4 WT-funded + 1 match-funded) plus reserves based on ‘person-place-project’.
A lead programme director will be assigned to each appointed fellow and in partnership develop a Personalized Training Programme (PTP) exploiting opportunities across the N4 and potentially further afield (e.g. the FCI).
Years 2-4: The Wellcome Trust clinical PhD cohorts
The fellow will register for a PhD at one of the four Academy institutions. In addition to the support and training offered by the individual institutions, our fellows will also benefit from the collaborative ethos of N4. Each fellow will have:
- Honorary contracting between N4 partners to improve the research experience and opportunities (e.g. access to centres of excellence and facilities as if one institution) or, clinically, to maintain competencies (e.g. in craft specialties).
- ‘Open door’ access to their appointed lead programme director.
- An integrated training programme comprising, amongst others, a seminar series delivered by guest FCI staff, updates on fellows' research progress, networking opportunities with both Academy supervisors, and industry partners, and an annual conference.
- Prizes will be awarded for the best research outputs in the preceding 12 months. We will join up some events with other successful WT clinical schemes.
Year 4: PhD completion and transition to postdoctoral clinician-scientist career
Each fellow will be monitored to ensure timely completion of their PhD, and this will lead into the start of a postdoctoral clinician-scientist career.
For those who do not make the final 5 ?
This is one of the major advantages of this scheme. Applicants who do not make it through to stage 2 will continue to benefit from gaining advice, guidance and mentorship through the application process for equivalent research training awards from other funders, such as MRC.