Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme

The Associate Principal Investigator Scheme aims to develop doctors, nurses and other health professionals to become the Principal Investigators (PIs) of the future.

What is a Principal Investigator (PI)?

A Principal Investigator is a person responsible for the conduct of a research study at a site.

What is the Associate Principal Investigator Scheme?

The Associate PI Scheme is a six month in-work training opportunity, providing practical experience for healthcare professionals starting their research career.

People who would not normally have the opportunity to take part in clinical research in their day to day role have the chance to experience what it means to work on and deliver a NIHR portfolio trial under the mentorship of an enthusiastic Local PI.

Participating healthcare professionals receive formal recognition of engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies through the certification of Associate PI status, endorsed by the NIHR and Royal Colleges.


How the Associate PI Scheme works

The scheme is open to any healthcare professional willing to make a significant contribution to the conduct and delivery of a study at a local level over a period of at least six months:

  • The healthcare professional works alongside the Local PI for six months on the study as an Associate PI trainee.
  • The Local PI acts as a mentor to the Associate PI trainee, helping them to understand what it means to be a Local PI on an NIHR portfolio study.
  • During their time on the Associate PI Scheme, the Associate PI trainee must complete a learning pathway on NIHR Learn, which includes a checklist of mandated study activities to complete . This checklist needs to be signed off by the Local PI and the National Study Coordinator at the end of a trainee's time on the scheme.
  • The NIHR Associate PI Scheme team will then issue a certificate confirming Associate PI status, which can be added to their training portfolio.

How to get Involved

"A fantastic opportunity to take part in research, and gain a detailed experience and learning about what conducting a clinical trial truly entails."
An Associate PI on the RECOVERY study

Supported Specialties and Royal College Endorsements


The scheme is currently open to studies and healthcare professionals from the following specialties:

The scheme is also open to selected COVID-19 Studies.

To find out what studies we currently have registered, please see our full list of studies registered to the scheme (spreadsheet).

Current Royal College Endorsements

The ambition is to obtain endorsement from all the Medical Royal Colleges and implement this scheme across all appropriate specialty areas.

“The Associate PI Scheme provides participating health and care professionals with hands-on research experience as a development opportunity that addresses many of the GMC’s generic professional capabilities through a research lens. It also supports doctors to demonstrate many of the expectations in Good Medical Practice for appraisal purposes, and assists in further embedding a culture of research”.
General Medical Council

Further information

If you have any questions about the scheme, including the eligibility of an applicant or a study to join, please contact the Associate PI Scheme central team at

You may find the answers to some of your questions in our Associate PI Scheme FAQs.


Visit the Associate PI Scheme resources website to browse our toolkits, 'how to" guides and resources for all key stakeholders who play a part in the Associate PI Scheme.

Watch now: Associate PI Scheme Launch Event

The Associate PI Scheme Virtual Launch Event took place on 3 November 2021, and a full recording is now available to watch on the event website. Please feel free to share this with colleagues who were unable to attend the live event.

Related pages


External links