Imperial is proud to have one of the largest cohorts of National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) clinical academic trainees in the UK. We currently have approximately 70 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

Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) Posts at Imperial College London: 2018


There are some important differences to ACF posts for the coming year.  As in previous years, all are aimed at providing early research training and exposure, to facilitate an application for a research training fellowship (PhD or MD).

NIHR has awarded 18 ACF posts to Imperial College London for 2018.   Applications to these posts should be made through the Oriel online recruitment portal.  HEE manages recruitment to these posts on our behalf and application enquiries queries should be made directly to HEE

There are 12 ACF posts available in a range of clinical specialties which will recruited to in the usual way (so called "formula posts"). These are specific to individual clinical specialties, will be advertised in Oriel under the appropriate specialty, and would allow the candidate to develop a research interest in any area at Imperial College London.

In addition we have 6 ACF posts available in cross-disciplinary research themes to which candidates from a restricted selection of specialties may apply.   These “themed posts” will be advertised separately, and the application form itself may appear on a different specialty page within Oriel from the specialty you are applying for. These ACF posts aim to achieve the same outcome, i.e., a research training fellowship, however the proposed research will be restricted to that of the research "theme". Candidates would remain of course as a clinical trainee within their host specialty.

If therefore you win an ACF post in for example Therapeutics, then the research you explore in the ACF years MUST be in the area of Therapeutics (at Imperial College London), but does not necessarily have to be that suggested in our proposal, although this will be the preferred route. All of our research themes were identified as being major strengths within Imperial College, likely to produce high quality research and training fellowships, and hopefully an outstanding clinical academic future.

Interviews for formula and themed ACF posts will be completely separate: interviews for formula ACF posts will be specialty specific, interviewing for all ACF posts available in one specialty across London e.g., Cardiology or General Surgery). Interviews for themed ACF posts will be undertaken by research theme, and the best candidates appointed regardless of clinical specialty. You may therefore want to apply for more than one ACF post if available in a given clinical specialty, and may therefore need to attend more than one interview.  Clinical interviews will be completely separate!

For all ACF posts, clinical training will be provided in the NW London rotations, amongst the highest rated programmes in the UK, but may not always be in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust depending on the needs of all trainees within a programme.

For further details about both types of ACF posts available please click the relevant section below.



ACF Posts in “Research Themes” (2018)

ACF Posts in “Research Themes” (2018)

We have 6 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. 

THEME:  Medical Education Research focuses on the education and development of clinicians and clinical teams across medical training and continuing professional development and research may draw upon sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, linguistics as well as disciplines such as management and business.  

There is one Medical Education ACF post at ICL available to trainees from General Practice or Respiratory Medicine.  Both GP and Respiratory Medicine have excellent records in hosting Academic trainees. ICL has a strong medical education research unit (MERU) which has produced extensive research outputs. ICL support is shown by the provision of 60 grants for attendance at conferences of medical education or research.

Respiratory Medicine has a strong multiprofessional educational faculty including ASPiH associated simulation experts' forum incorporating the internationally active SPRinT team; they hold a number of grants from HEENWL for over £200k including to design multiprofessional simulation-based training programmes in non-invasive ventilation. The GP programme has increased the number of academic GPs in the last 5 years, and has accrued ~£500K for educational research from HEENWL, and at least 12 individuals completing higher degrees, and numerous completing Masters.

Both GP and Respiratory have excellent records in hosting Academic trainees (AF2s, ACFs, ITPs). Academic Primary Care's strong research performance is shown by the joint best score nationally in the “Public Health, Health Services & Primary Care" Panel in the 2014 REF. There are highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary research programmes, excellence in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, and a strong record of providing high-quality training environments.

We will provide research training in medical education in Primary Care and Respiratory Medicine encompassing both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, e-learning, simulation, acquisition of professional skills and the benefits of a novel teaching programme following patients long term. Our host departments are internationally recognised for their teaching and research and the university provides additional support into research in educational methods. Trainees will become expert in their ability to undertake research in medical education to identify best future methods and technologies which will ultimately enhance patient care.

Education research in Primary Care is focused within 5 hubs: (1) Innovation in teaching, (2) Faculty Development and Careers (3) Clinical reasoning and Leadership, (4) E-learning and Technology and (5) Longitudinal learning. Each area has an allocated clinical and academic supervisor. In Respiratory the ACF will be supported in one of: (1) the impact of simulation based education on multiprofessional staff (2) Analysing the way clinicians learn the art of consultation (tertiary centre clinicians and their outpatient practice) (3) Ensuring digital learning resources provide trainees with high quality educational experience. We will ensure the ACF has learning provided across the specialties.

The exact research training will vary between candidates, all ACFs will have the opportunity to complete a Post Graduate Certificate, Diploma or Master’s in Education. Additional modules are available from the range of MSc courses at ICL including Genomic Medicine. The ACF research training will include qualitative and quantitative research methods, epidemiology, statistics, trials methodology, medical sociology/health psychology and health policy analysis. ACFs will develop a first class application for a PhD.

Further information is available from Dr Jo Szram (respiratory medicine: or Dr Anju Verma (GP:

THEME:  Acute Care.   Research focuses on any aspect of acute care.

There is one Acute Care ACF post at ICL available to trainees in Intensive Care Medicine or Anaesthetics.   

We will provide research training in acute care from our academic departments of Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthetics, which focus especially on more rapid diagnosis and treatments of patients with sepsis (infection), acute lung injury, multi organ failure, and in peri-operative management and understanding pain. We have major research strengths in these areas and attracting research active trainees from around the UK.

 Academic ICM (led by Prof Anthony Gordon, an NIHR Research Professor) undertakes translational studies in critically ill patients. In the RAND Europe analysis (2015) Imperial had the highest percentage of highly cited publications in critical care within England. We have recently completed two NIHR-funded multi-centre trials testing drugs in septic shock, recruiting 1000 patients from >40 ICUs. We are part of the management of the national Genomic Advances in Sepsis consortium discovering polymorphisms that protect patients and a gene-transcription signature identifying patients at risk of early death.

Imperial Anaesthetics & Pain Medicine is one of the leading academic anaesthetic departments in Europe. It has a track record of attracting academic trainees from the entire UK. We lead two major strategic initiatives: (1) London Pain Consortium, funded initially by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award; (2) Centre for Perioperative and Critical Care Research, a cross departmental partnership supported by the NIHR-Imperial BRC. Notable achievements include novel receptor-specific antibodies to block inflammatory signalling to prevent acute lung injury; Understanding the effect of anaesthetics on organ function. Our group were the first to discover the neuroprotective effects of xenon. Preclinical and early clinical development of the Angiotensin II type 2 receptor antagonist EMA401 as a “first in class” analgesic for neuropathic pain, now being developed by Novartis.

 Our trainees have had a high rate of success competing for Research Training Fellowships (3 Wellcome, 1 MRC, 2 NIHR) and being awarded 20 PhDs/MDs in the last 5 years.

This programme will provide high quality research training including opportunities to participate in Imperial MScs. Research opportunities include: Clinical trials; Translational research in sepsis/acute lung injury; precision medicine tools in sepsis, testing novel rapid microbiological diagnostics; phenotyping studies (in conjunction with Imperial NIHR-MRC clinical phenome centres); Big Data analysis as part of the NIHR Heath Informatics Collaborative. For anaesthetics this also includes pain and peri-operative and critical care. Generic research training will be provided through the Imperial Graduate School.

 Further information is available from Prof Anthony Gordon (

THEME:  Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology.   Therapeutic opportunity exists beyond clinical pharmacology in specialities where application of therapeutics is key.

There are TWO Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology ACF post at ICL available to trainees in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Medical Oncology or Paediatrics.

Our major goal is training in personalised medicine using pulmonary hypertension, cancer and cystic fibrosis as exemplars. We will provide research training across 3 major research active departments in developing new treatments personalised for patients, in collaboration with our trials units, and clinical research facility for new trials in patients. Clinical Pharmacology itself leads on developments in pulmonary hypertension, but has wide skills in developing new drug treatments broadly, while the Cystic Fibrosis unit at the Royal Brompton Hospital is a world leading unit for developing new treatments for children with this disease. Our Medical Oncology plans revolve around developing completely novel treatments in collaboration with engineers and polymer chemists. The research training will allow cross-fertilisation of skills between different fields and produce academic clinicians with new skills in developing new drug treatments.

Imperial has a long track record in training in Clinical Pharmacology and translational medicine, exemplified in its support for the NIHR Clinical Research Facility (£11M renewed funding 2017-2022)and investment in the tools of experimental medicine (Imaging, Genetics, Bioinformatics) co-ordinated through the BRC Institute of Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Since 2008, Imperial has trained 18 clinical fellows to PhD and beyond into external fellowships (MRC, BHF). Imperial is one of 8 UK centres accredited for specialist care in pulmonary hypertension and leads the National Cohort study. All patients undergo whole genome sequencing, detailed phenotyping linked to a biobank. Current research is to describe the genetic architecture of pulmonary hypertension using proteomics,  transcriptomics and the metabolome to describe pathways for targeted therapeutics. Trainees would have access to the data, be mentored by bioinformaticians and design clinical trials in well characterised patients.

Medical Oncology has an excellent track record in research outputs and in supervising multiple fellows in the theme of drug delivery, RNA-therapeutics and nanoparticle technology supported by supervisors with expertise in nanoparticle design and delivery, bioimaging, RNA biology and drug development, uniquely from across Medicine, Surgery, Cancer & Engineering. There will be the opportunity to learn laboratory techniques with a focus on RNA biology, nanoparticle engineering, pharmacokinetics, sensing, molecular imaging and analysis. It will provide the opportunity to develop a novel therapeutic agent and assess its efficacy and toxicity in cell lines/animal models with a view to designing an early phase trial with the clinical trial unit.

The paediatric limb will provide training in clinical trial design especially for children, complex outcome measures, and specific research e.g. Predictive biomarkers; Safety and efficacy of anti-pseudomonal bacteriophages. Imperial Cystic Fibrosis (CF) research into novel therapies is based in the largest CF clinic in Europe, currently running 12 clinical trials from phase 1-4, with outcomes from cell based ion transport to advanced respiratory physiology. The unit is the Lead centre of trails of novel small molecule CFTR modulators including Ivacaftor, first licensed genotype-specific drug for CF.

Further information is available from Prof Martin Wilkins (Clinical Pharmacology:  Dr Jonathan Krell (Medical Oncology: or Prof Jane Davies (Paediatrics:

THEME:  Platform Science (-omics) and Bioinformatics.  There have been rapid recent advances in high throughput technologies that allow large-scale assessment of disease process. This is exemplified by advances in genomic medicine and the advent of large-scale genomic diagnosis resulting from the 100,000 genomes project. This includes genomics into the biology of transcriptomics, metabonomics, proteomics etc. and, critically, the underpinning sciences of bioinformatics essential for the utilisation of the technology. 

There is one Platform Science and Bioinformatics ACF post at ICL available to trainees in General Surgery, Vascular surgery or Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  

Our surgical departments are at the forefront of using studies of genetics, metabolism and other "-omics" in improving diagnosis and operational success in all these fields of surgery. They have developed completely novel tools such as the i-knife to identify tumours edges in real time using analysis of smoke during operations, and novel analysis of biopsies. We will provide training in the skills needed to develop these technologies. In Obstetrics and Gynaecology we will support the understanding of the gut and vaginal bacterial load on a number of diseases and premature labour and provide training in the appropriate skills.

This programme will ensure wider spread of novel -omics technologies across surgical disciplines and is interwoven with the ICL computational and systems medicine programme. The metabolic phenotyping research programme trains clinical scientists in biomolecular profiling of human disease. We host a dedicated translational medical research infrastructure supporting a diverse portfolio of surgery projects across vascular, upper and lower GI, hepatobiliary, breast and bariatric surgery. The National Phenome Centre and NIHR-Imperial BRC Clinical Phenome Centre can perform >1million assays/year for metabolites in biofluids/tissues. Unique mass spectrometric imaging and augmented hitopathology were developed at Imperial using Desorption Electrospray Ionisation technology permitting a new layer of molecular image information to be overlaid onto histopathological images. We have developed intelligent surgical devices combining dissection with mass spectrometric analysis of by-products (smoke, liquefied tissue: iKnife), and technologies for analysis of volatile compounds in breath and urine for non-invasive cancer diagnosis.

The Vascular Unit at Imperial is the leading vascular academic centre in the UK with >£8M grant income in 3 years. Vascular surgery has longstanding collaborations in metabolomic studies and shown putative biomarkers for deep vein thrombosis, leg ulcer healing, high risk carotid disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Imperial O&G has the second highest number of highly cited publications of all NHS organizations. Recent O&G research success include criteria for miscarriage diagnosis, improved surveillance for IUGR, a paradigm shift in understanding miscarriage, a patent for miRNA markers to predict preterm birth, and a link between vaginal microbiome, preterm birth and cervical cerclage.

 All previous ACFs and CLs have produced high impact papers and secured ongoing funding.

Academic training will be based on a structured individualised post-graduate research training programme in key areas: Scientific methodology and analysis through the Imperial International Phenome Training centre. All trainees will be enrolled onto our Metabonomics short courses and provided with fundamental skills in computational analysis and data interpretation. Trainees will access training in the Clinical trials unit and in evaluation of new technologies. O+G trainees will focus on preterm labour as largest cause of death of children under five using –omics analysis including NMR and MS based metabonomics (urine, blood, vaginal fluid), miRomics (miRNA profiling, blood), transcriptomics (myometrium), microbiomics (vaginal swabs and stool). Trainees will also access the Imperial Graduate School generic training programmes. All trainees will be given unique exposure to our industrial partnerships.

Further information is available from Mr Daniel Leff (General Surgery:, Prof Alun Davies (Vascular Surgery: or Prof Phillip Bennett (O+G:

THEME:  Older People and Complex Health Needs.  Research needs to focus on age-related morbidity in any clinical speciality.

There is one Older People and Complex Health Needs ACF post at ICL available to trainees in General Surgery or Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery or Plastic Surgery.  

 We will provide research training in sensor technologies as applied in medicine, specifically to support older people. Age-related chronic diseases account for loss of function, and impacts on recovery from surgery, and leads to falls and general decline. Our programme creates and tests new sensors that promote lifelong health and wellbeing by sensing gradual age-related changes in physiology to prevent illness; innovative strategies to maintain musculoskeletal function, detect abnormalities in balance and develop personal and environmental assistance to prevent falls; to provide continuous monitoring especially after surgery to limit complications and expedite safe discharge of the older surgical patient. We have major funding in skills in this area in collaboration with engineers and designers.

­Age-related chronic diseases account for loss of function, impacting on health and response to disease and its therapy. What is urgently required is a sensing paradigm that is continuous, ubiquitous, and “invisible” to older adults, such that their natural behaviour is not modified during monitoring. Our programme creates and tests new pervasive sensors that promote lifelong health and wellbeing, (a) sensing to detect subclinical age-related changes in physiology, for disease prevention (b) innovative strategies to maintain musculoskeletal function, detect abnormalities in balance and develop personal and environmental assist devices to prevent falls (c) to provide continuous rather than episodic monitoring, ensuring timely intervention (d) direct care to limit complications and expedite safe discharge of the older surgical patient. Wearable sensing with applications to senescence and frailty has been a key area of research growth in the Department of Surgery at Imperial, which has recently shown translational benefit into several clinical areas: acute settings e.g. peri-operative monitoring and detection of sepsis, and in the community with assessment of mobility and early detection of deterioration in health. This work is supported by a significantly portfolio of grants including programme grants in collaboration with UK sport and Age UK towards development of pervasive wearable sensors for athletes and how this can be translated into preventative medicine and age-related changes; Smart sensing for surgery focusing on technical development of smart devices, both wearable and implantable to help understand/prevent clinical problems such as surgical site infection, gastrointestinal anastomotic leak, and free tissue flap failure; an NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre grant has recently adopted wearable sensors to support continuous monitoring of patients in hospital and community towards early detection and treatment of deteriorating health, including post-operative complications and sepsis.

Academic training will be based on a structured individualised programme leading to a PhD application. Training will be provided in fundamental skills of big data analytics, statistical analysis, design, sensor technology and generic training from the Graduate School and CATO. There are close links with industry. Surgical trainees will also have training from consultant Geriatricians in the physiology of aging, frailty etc.  Active areas of research include:

  • Sensing to detect and prevent sepsis and cardiovascular decline: continuous monitoring of vital signs with wearable sensors. Investigating the pathophysiology of critically unwell patients using big data analytics approach to wearable sensor data for clinical decision support.

  • Risk profiling for elderly frail patients in general surgery: exploring the relationships between pre-operative activity and surgical risk, enabling pre-emptive planning of postoperative support.

  • Sensing to maximise mobility and movement control, and reduce effects of frailty:recording objective assessments of functional mobility in patients with osteoarthritis or movement disorders, or those undergoing surgery using wearable sensors. The measurements facilitate improved personalised medicine and communication between the multidisciplinary team involved in rehabilitation, to improve rehabilitation.

Further information is available from Mr Daniel Leff (General Surgery:  Prof Justin Cobb (Orthopaedics: or Dr Shehan Hettiaratchy (Plastic surgery:




ACF Posts in GMC clinical specialties (2018) ("formula" posts)

ACF Posts in GMC clinical specialties (2018) ("formula" posts) 

There are 12 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.  The posts available are:

  • Cardiology (1 post)

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes Mellitus (1 post)

  • Gastroenterology (1 post)

  • General Surgery (1 post)

  • Genito-Urinary Medicine (1 post)

  • Haematology (1 post)

  • Infectious Diseases (1 post)

  • Neurology (1 post)

  • Paediatrics (1 post)

  • Renal Medicine (1 post)

  • Respiratory Medicine (1 post)

  • Vascular Surgery (1 post) 

In these specialties appointed ACFs will undertake clinical training in the NW London rotations, and develop a research interest in any area of research within Imperial College. They will be introduced to possible supervisors and be able to explore the very wide range of potential research projects.


 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 Operations Department of Health Education South London and overseen by the NIHR. Details are available on the NIHR website and the London LETB Recruitment site.

Recruitment windows usually open in November/December 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 South London. The IAT team 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 20 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. 

Funding and bursaries

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. 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 Trainee Coordinating Centre Bursary (NIHR TCC)
  • Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) funding
  • Research Training Award (RTA)


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.

Courses and development

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. Further details about potential areas of learning can be found in the AHSC CATO guide (PDF).

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 ICL via funding available in the NIHR Research Training Award.  CLs wishing to undertake Genomics modules should contact the CATO Team directly to explore potential funding options. 

ACFS and CLs 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.


Support and resources

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.

CATO Guide

The AHSC CATO guide (PDF) is an extensive resource of information about the programme at Imperial, and a useful and important ‘how to guide’ for trainees undertaking the IAT pathway. If you have any further questions please email the CATO team,