Imperial College London is proud to have one of the largest cohorts of National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) clinical academic trainees in the UK. We currently have approximately 80 NIHR and locally funded Academic Clinical Fellows in posts across Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and associated Trusts across North-West London.

Please see below for information on how these posts are arranged. 

Accordion widget - NIHR ACF


As in previous years, ACF posts are aimed at providing early research training and exposure. They are also aimed at facilitating an application for a research training fellowship (PhD or MD).

Response Mode Posts

ACF Response Mode Post Number 1

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

ACF Response Mode Post Number 2

General Surgery

ACF Response Mode Post Number 3

Vascular Surgery

ACF Response Mode Post Number 4

Respiratory Medicine

ACF Response Mode Post Number 5

Infectious Diseases

ACF Response Mode Post Number 6

Endocrinology and Diabetes Mellitus

ACF Response Mode Post Number 7


Research Theme Posts

ACF Research Theme Post Number 1

Clinical Radiology

(Theme: Digital)

ACF Research Theme Post Number 2

Intensive Care Medicine

(Theme: Digital)

ACF Research Theme Post Number 3

Public Health Medicine

(Theme: Prevention and Public Health)

ACF Research Theme Post Number 4

Medical Oncology

(Theme: Clinical Therapeutics & Pharmacology & Industry) 

ACF Research Theme Post Number 5


(Theme: Dementia)

ACF Research Theme Post Number 6

General Practice

(Theme: Clinical Education Research)

ACF Research Theme Post Number 7

General Psychiatry

(Theme: Mental Health)

ACF Posts in “Research Themes” (2024)

We have ACF posts available in cross-disciplinary research themes to which candidates from a restricted selection of specialties may apply. Applications to these posts should be made through the Oriel online recruitment portal. 

Candidates applying for research themed posts must be aware that potential research projects will be within the research theme as advertised.

ACF Posts in GMC clinical specialties (2024) ("Response Mode" posts) 

There are ACF posts at Imperial College London available in a range of clinical specialties which will recruited to in the usual way. Applications to these posts should be made through the Oriel online recruitment portal.  

Candidates applying for Response Mode posts must be aware that posts can be in any area.

Recruitment for all ACF opportunities on the Integrated Academic Training programme is conducted via Health Education England regions and managed through Oriel, the national NHS online recruitment system. For Imperial College London, recruitment to ACF posts is coordinated by the London Recruitment team, based in the Healthcare Education Team, HEE, London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex

Details are available on the NIHR website and the London LETB Recruitment site.

Recruitment windows usually open in October/November for posts starting in the following September. ACF opportunities at Imperial College London are available in different specialties each year.

ACF posts are designed to include 25% time learning and carrying out academic research, usually as three-month blocks per year, combined with 75% time in clinical training. The posts are for a fixed term of 3 years. The ACF awards use clinical training opportunities on current GMC approved training programmes. At Imperial, these opportunities are available in most GMC defined medical specialties. Once in the programme, London academic trainees are administratively overseen by the Integrated Academic Training Team (IAT) in Health Education England, London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex . The IAT team at HEE has good links with and regularly liaises with members of the Imperial AHSC CATO team on matters relating to the administration of NIHR clinical academic training programmes. Day-to-day management is by clinical and academic supervisors and training programme directors at Imperial.

The ACF programme is aimed at medical trainees usually without a higher degree (PhD/MPhil) with the aim of preparing them to obtain a Clinical Research Training Fellowship or other funding to complete a PhD/MD (Res). Trainees who already have a higher degree may also apply. Imperial College usually has around 17 ACF opportunities available each year in a range of clinical specialties.

  • Appointment to ACF programmes is usually at ST3 level (Specialty Trainee) but may be at CT1, ST1, ST2, ST3 or ST4 depending on the specialty.

ACFs will have a contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and an honorary contract with Imperial College London. Honorary contracts normally run concurrently with the substantive contract and are issued to allow trainees to work in the organisation where they do not have a substantive contract.

Contracts will be issued by the relevant HR department and coordinated at departmental level by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare Trust. There are a number of requirements, checks and different forms to fill out in order to finalise the contracts and it can take some time to complete, so trainees are advised to make contact early and establish who their departmental administrators are to assist them with these tasks. This is particularly important for trainees who are new to the College or Trust who will have to complete a more comprehensive process than those who have been employed by Imperial before.

Clinical Academic trainees will also be required to complete other routine HR new starter and induction formalities such as collection of ID cards and completion of induction training activities such as Information Governance Training and other statutory and mandatory training. 

For queries about contracts please contact the following:

  • Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Human Resources Department, Medical Personnel (

There are currently three sources of funding available to Imperial NIHR academic clinical fellows to support their research. Each fund has a distinct purpose, eligibility criteria and application process - and all three are coordinated through the CATO Team. Academic trainees are advised to consider their academic training, research consumables and skills development needs early on in their programmes in order to achieve maximum benefit from the funding available. See our funding webpage for further information. 

The three funding sources for ACFs are listed below: 

  • National Institute of Health Research Bursary for Academic Trainees
  • Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) funding
  • Research Training Programme Award (RTPA)

CATO trainee forums and meetings

During the course of each year, the CATO team organises a number of educational events and other activities which clinical academic trainees are strongly encouraged to attend. These are provided to disseminate information, present trainees with opportunities to ask questions, share information and encourage networking, social interaction and support.

During the course of their clinical academic training ACFs are required to attend a range of generic courses to progress their academic and research skills, teaching skills and personal and professional development. These could be courses or workshops delivered internally by Imperial College London (The Graduate School and the Education Development Unit), Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, or by external providers and other organisations. In many cases, trainees could apply for NIHR/CATO funding to cover the costs of attending these courses.

Genomic Medicine                                                                                                                                                                                                              

In recognition of the major impact that genomics is expected to have on healthcare research and delivery in future, Imperial aspires for its clinical academic trainees to lead the way by having an understanding of this area.  Through CATO ACFs can be supported to undertake all or part of the MSc in Genomic Medicine at Imperial College London via funding available in the NIHR Research Training Award. 

ACFS  are encouraged to consider the many potential benefits that training in Genomics can bring to their careers.  Although not a mandatory requirement, CATO strongly encourages the acquisition of knowledge and skills in this area.

Further details about the Genomics MSc can be found on the FoM website.


There are a number of individuals who can help and support doctors during their clinical academic training at Imperial, including the CATO team.

Other clinical academic trainees

Through the events organised by CATO and other occasions arranged by each specialty/division trainees will have an opportunity to meet and network with other trainees following academic programmes at Imperial. Trainees are encouraged to take full advantage of these opportunities to meet and stay in touch with others who are in similar situations to themselves, to share experiences and offer and benefit from some peer support.

Departmental administrators

Each of the schools, institutes and departments at Imperial College has administrative divisional/specialty teams who will be able to help academic trainees during their time at Imperial College. To find an up to date list of contacts, visit the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine web pages and search for the administration teams in the Departments section of the Faculty of Medicine.

Trainees in NIHR funded ACF posts may wish to continue to develop their research careers after the ACF post and undertake a PhD. Imperial College London provides an ideal environment to undertake research.  A number of different funding bodies provide clinical research training opportunities and programmes of academic research at Imperial, such as the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council (MRC). 

These include:

Visit the list of PhD opportunities in the Faculty of Medicine for details about other PhD opportunities.