The Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) has launched a new research fellowship scheme which will provide £4 million total funding over the next three years for National Health Service (NHS) scientists working on projects that have direct patient benefit.

The Healthcare Scientists Research Fellowship Competition, which is being funded by the Department of Health and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), invites NHS scientists to develop a research project that could both address a patient care issue and promote links between the NHS and university research groups.

Such projects could include, for example, helping patients to self-care and self-manage, developing diagnostic tests, enhancing therapeutic services or improving the NHS’s ability to monitor disease.

The CRO, Professor Sue Hill, said the fellowships will build on the aptitude and dedication of thousands of NHS health care scientists. “I hope the new opportunities offered to them will help to support the research capabilities of NHS departments by further encouraging scientists to undertake translational research within health to improve care for patients. Through this innovative and pioneering fellowship scheme, scientists working in NHS clinical departments of pathology, genetics, physiology and physics and engineering will be enabled to do this,” she said.

Academic values and the spirit of enquiry should be pervasive throughout the NHS if UK health research is to thrive, and schemes such as this will draw the clinical service and research communities further together and contribute to the goals set out in Professor Lord Ara Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS, added Mary Manning, executive director of the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMC), which works to promote advances in medical science and campaigns to ensure they are translated into healthcare benefits for society.

The successful applicants, who will be chosen by a panel including representatives the Department, the NIHR and the NHS, will be awarded funding for up to two years on a full-time or proportionate part-time basis.