The King's College London NIHR-funded Integrated Academic Training programme allows medical and dental trainees to undertake academic and clinical training concurrently. Trainees join the scheme at two stages during their specialty training:
Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF)
ACFs are trainees in the early stages of their specialty training with outstanding potential for a career in academic medicine or dentistry. Fellowships last for a maximum of three years (four years for GPs). ACFs spend 75% of this time in specialty clinical training and 25% of the fellowship undertaking research and/or education training.
Academic Clinical Lecturers (CL)
CLs are advanced in their specialty training, have obtained a doctoral research degree and have outstanding potential for continuing a career in academic medicine or dentistry. Lectureships last a maximum of four years and are split equally between specialty clinical training and research/education training. At the end of the lectureship, CLs will have completed their specialty training.
Description and management of the IAT Programme
The King’s IAT programme has been running for 17 years and has trained over 350 clinical academics. The programme benefits from a dedicated, experienced administrative team, fully integrated with clinical academic leadership. Trainees are supported from entry to an IAT post, with induction events delivered by senior clinical academics, a handbook to orient trainees to the IAT programme, including key decision points and how to register for the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Research Methods (PGCert) course.
The bespoke PGCert develops trainees' depth of knowledge, technical and transferable skills in translational research and evidence-based healthcare. 96 trainees have been awarded the certificate to date, with 95% achieving distinction (>70%) in the last two years (to 2022). CLs are encouraged to attend modules if/when it will supplement their education and training.
Our IAT programme operates across King’s and three NHS Foundation Trust partners - Guy's and St Thomas' (GSTT), King's College Hospital (KCH) and South London and Maudsley (SLaM). This broad spread of NHS provision ensures the capacity to host multiple IATs across a diverse range of specialties. The merger of the Royal Brompton and Harefield (RBH) with GSTT provides further specialist capacity in cardiovascular, respiratory and critical care medicine. Strong integration across the partners is facilitated through the Department of Health-designated Academic Health Sciences Centre, King’s Health Partners.
King’s has considerably strengthened its IAT programme support by establishing a dedicated King’s Clinical Academic Training Office (KCATO). The KCATO has been set up to offer advice, best practice and information on academic careers, recruitment, training and development for all health professionals across all stages of research training as well as support for grant applications and funding. KCATO facilitates an integrated approach to clinical academic career development. It provides a central, pan-professional hub offering guidance, career development and community building across the early career clinical academic pipeline in King’s and partner NHS Trusts. Trainees benefit from the wider offering of support, networking opportunities with doctoral and postdoctoral peers, and experience brought by the extended clinical academic management team. The IAT programme is fully embedded through KCATO.
The KCATO mission is to facilitate and support leading clinical academic training, enabling all health professionals to become clinical academics for the future. The academic leadership team (recruited 2022) is multidisciplinary, with representation across both physical and mental health. Professor Frances Williams (Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine; KCATO Director and IAT Co-Lead), Dr Rina Dutta (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience’ KCATO Deputy Director and IAT Co-Lead), and Professor Catherine Evans (Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care; KCATO Deputy Director) together lead KCATO and exemplify our integrated, multiprofessional training environment.
Clinical and academic training environment for ACFs and CLs
King’s College London and King’s Health Partners (KHP)
King’s is a large, multidisciplinary university with considerable strengths in biomedical research, extending from fundamental discovery science through translational research to applied clinical research. Expertise covers a wide range of areas including mental health & neuroscience, experimental medicine (notably cardiovascular, cancer, immunology, genomics and fetal/child/maternal health) and healthcare engineering/imaging sciences. King’s is ranked 10th in the world for “Clinical & Health” (and 35th overall) by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In REF2021, our research environment in all relevant units of assessment (Clinical Medicine, Allied Health, Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience) was 100% 4* (top rating); we ranked 3rd for impact amongst multi-disciplinary universities. In the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) King’s is in the top quintile for five of the seven perspectives (Research partnerships; Working with the public and third sector; CPD and graduate startups; Working with business; IP & commercialisation). Our health-related research is supported by >£170M/year research grant income. All our IAT themes are linked to strong multi-disciplinary research centres with state-of-the-art infrastructure and technologies, providing an excellent choice of projects for trainees and an outstanding training environment.
KHP allows strategic integration across partners to accelerate translational research, build clinical research capability and enable widespread adoption of innovation for patient benefit. KHP provides system-wide platform support for experimental and translational medicine, health data and digital science, populational health focusing on community diversity and health inequality and includes the impact of climate change on health, innovation and entrepreneurialism and leadership development. KHP also provides research capacity to the South London Integrated Care System (ICS).
Clinical Academic Career Progression
To facilitate effective transition from IAT training positions into long-term clinical academic careers, King’s offers pre-doctoral (after ACF) and post-doctoral (after CL) one-year bridge fellowships. These support trainees to secure PhD funding (e.g. Clinical Research Training Fellowships) or independent post-doctoral fellowships (e.g. Clinician Scientist Fellowships), respectively. Importantly, for clinical academics completing Clinician Scientist Fellowships, King’s has implemented a transparent process for guaranteed transition to open-ended Faculty positions, subject to satisfactory performance. Over 80% of pre-doctoral fellowship holders have successfully secured external peer-reviewed fellowships from funders including NIHR, MRC, Wellcome and other major health charities. Trainees are made aware of sources of grant income, with access to King’s and other funding databases. For example, 13 King’s CLs have obtained Academy of Medical Sciences starter grants since June 2020.
Every clinical academic career is unique, and therefore KCATO facilitate individual professional development discussions between trainee and supervisory team, to help trainees prioritise their own needs. KCATO support focuses on career transition points through mentoring, support in applying for fellowships, and demystifying career paths. Our programme size facilitates peer-to-peer interaction, collaboration and cohort building through frequent teaching days and professional development events. Trainees can also access individual careers coaching from researcher-specific consultants.
King’s academic supervisors undertake mandatory development programmes which focus on inclusive supervision. KCATO and the Centre for Doctoral Studies (CDS) are developing a bespoke workshop on supervising clinical academics, to empower supervisors to support clinical academic career advancement for trainees. An online Wellbeing Hub acts as a central point of pastoral advice for researchers and their supervisors. King’s has invested in a pool of faculty wellbeing advisors to support researchers who might benefit from independent coaching or counselling. Formal feedback occurs through the PGCert in which trainee and supervisor comment on progress. Recognising that this might inhibit trainee feedback on supervision, we have instituted a formal report of supervision from the trainee that allows KCATO to address areas of deficiency.
Bespoke research training opportunities
Trainees based at King’s benefit from a wealth of research training opportunities (in addition to the PGCert). A key strategic priority of KCATO is to coordinate the communication of these opportunities so that trainees can access what they need at the right time. Signposting is provided via our online KCATO Hub. Across all offerings, flexibility is provided via a mix of on-demand (online) and in-person training.
All IATs are trained in obtaining informed, written consent for recruitment of patients and volunteers into research projects and Good Clinical Practice. Trainees develop skills in Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and co-creation of research projects. King’s Innovation Scholars offers bespoke modular training in big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to the healthcare and research workforce. Developed in-house via £650k UKRI/MRC investment, the training spans three domains (health data science, ‘omics and AI), which are being embedded into our revised PGCert curriculum for 2023/24.
Research and professional development courses and resources offered through the King’s flagship Health Sciences DTC are available to ACFs and CLs. Trainees also have access to dedicated programmes within our research centres (e.g. BHF Centre, Cancer Centre, Medical Engineering Centre).
The Centre for Implementation Science comprises experts in implementation and improvement science and health economists and statisticians to drive the implementation of evidence-based practice in health and social care. The Centre supports research programmes within applied health and care - including the NIHR ARC South London, the NIHR ASSET Global Health Research Unit and the joint UCL-KCL Policy Research Unit in mental health. IATs can access the Implementation Science Masterclass and short courses on the science of implementation, outcome measurements, strategies and core implementation frameworks. Advice Clinic offers trainees advice in design and implementation of research. Summer schools cover academic writing, career planning and practical research methods skills.
Links with NIHR and other funder infrastructure
King’s IATs benefit from world-class infrastructure and outstanding research expertise across a very wide range of research areas. We have organised this strategically to ensure critical mass and synergy, to drive multidisciplinary research addressing key health challenges, to provide a clear line of sight to translation, for even the most fundamental research, and to create an optimal research training environment. This organisation broadly follows our key strategic themes: Biomedical & Experimental Medicine, Mental Health & Neuroscience, and Med Tech.
King’s is host to a number of major NIHR infrastructures that directly support our IATs:
- The NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre is the UK’s leading translational research infrastructure for mental health and neurology. The BRC incorporates 4 strategic priorities across multiple disease areas: (i) Whole person care (connecting mental and physical health); (ii) Precision psychiatry; (iii) Translational informatics; and (iv) New treatment approaches - pharmacological, neuromodulation, digital and psychological. It is linked to the NIHR Mental Health Bioresource and NIHR Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration.
- Two NIHR Clinical Research Facilities: one MHRA Phase-1 accredited with specialist expertise in advanced therapies, one with specialist capabilities in mental health and neuroscience.
- NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South London (£7m): enhancing implementation of health and care evidence into day-to-day practice.
Further research infrastructure at King’s is funded by UKRI and major charities, including:
- Research England-funded flagship research facilities: Advanced Therapies Accelerator (£10m); Comprehensive Cancer Centre (£15m); Neuropsychiatric Hub (£10m); London Institute for Healthcare Engineering (£16m);
- MRC/LifeArc/BBSRC Gene Therapy Innovation Hub (£6m): advancing gene therapies from discovery into patients.
- CRUK Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (£2.6m): part of a UK network to drive the development of cancer therapies and diagnostics.
- Innovate UK AI Centre for Value-Based Healthcare (£10m+£16m): a comprehensive centre enabling AI development using NHS data, and AI implementation in the NHS; 4 universities, >10 NHS Trusts, 4 major industry partners and >10 SMEs.
- Wellcome Centre for Medical Engineering (£20m), including 7T MRI, low-field MRI and PET/MR Facilities.
- Wolfson Surgical & Interventional Engineering Facility (technology-equipped mock operating room; £10m)) and Wellcome Medical Devices Manufacturing Facility (£5m).
IATs will also benefit from the ideal training environments provided by our Research Centres and similar strategic awards, which provide critical mass of world-class, externally-validated research expertise. NIHR awards include:
- NIHR Policy Research Unit (Health and Social Care Workforce; Mental Health in partnership with UCL).
- Health Protection Research Unit (Emergency Response and Preparedness).
- NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative: King’s is a founding member.
- NIHR Global Health Units and Groups
Collaborations with industry or other entities
King’s strategy recognises the importance of collaboration with industry - both pharma and med tech - and with national research infrastructure. These partnerships increase our ability to generate impact from research, provide access to important skill sets and resources, and offer the opportunity to translate important research findings into patient benefit.
Industry partnerships are underpinned by SC1 – a partnership between KHP and local borough councils which will create a life sciences innovation district in South London close to King’s campuses at Guy’s and St Thomas’. This will bring together researchers, clinical activity and industry into a shared physical ecosystem designed to encourage communication and cross-fertilisation of ideas. Within this framework, we partner with a wide variety of companies – from leading multinationals to SMEs. Formal strategic partnerships include:-
- GSK Ltd: focused on cancer, data science, medical imaging and advanced therapies
- UCB: an on-site UCH Hub focused on cancer, rheumatology, dermatology and neurology
- Unilever: an on-site research centre including stem cells, dermatology and more
- Celgene: an on-site research centre in haematology, cardiovascular and advanced therapies
- Orchard Therapeutics: an on-site research centre focused on gene therapy
- Siemens Healthineers: strategic partnership in medical imaging and data science (Siemen’s largest university partnership) with staff on-site
- Medtronic: strategic partnership focused on medical technologies
- Nvidia: King’s is the sole partner on the Cambridge-1 supercomputer; major collaboration through the King’s AI Centre for Value-Based Healthcare
- Nikon: Imaging Centre of Excellence supporting cutting-edge advanced in optical microscopy
- Innovate UK Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult: co-located with our experimental medicine facilities.
King’s research and training environment also benefit from partnerships with key national infrastructure, including:
- The Francis Crick Institute: King’s is a founding academic member of the UK’s flagship biomedical research institute and offers a range of attachment (secondment) options for clinicians
- Health Data Research UK: King’s is a member of the London “substantive site”, and King’s academics lead several national themes; this allows our researchers to link to outstanding expertise in applied statistics, deeplearning, graph analytics, natural language processing and data visualisation
- The Rosalind Franklin Institute: King’s is a university partner/member of this institute dedicated to transforming life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development
- The Alan Turing Institute: King’s has recently joined the UK's national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, following recent close collaboration through joint fellows
- UK Advanced Therapies: King’s initiated and hosts this national network bringing together universities, industry and the NHS in the field of cell and gene therapy
- UK Dementia Research Institute: King’s hosts a centre of this national research programme
- 100,000 Genomes Project: KHP hosts The South London-based Genomics Network Alliance (a Genomic Medicine Centre).
Markers of esteem
Trainees benefit from a rich academic training infrastructure integrated with high quality clinical training. Professor Lucy Chappell trained at King’s and is now NIHR Research Professor in Obstetrics at King’s, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, CEO of NIHR and chair of the NIHR Strategy Board. Overall, we have had 34 NIHR Senior Investigators and currently 4 NIHR Professors. King's has had over 70 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Science and 13 Fellows of the Royal Society and Professor Peter Goadsby is a recent recipient of the Brain Prize.
King’s has 26 academics listed on the Highly Cited Researcher 2022 list from Clarivate. Updated citation analysis (SciVal/Scopus) for highly-cited papers (2017-2021; rankings for King’s in UK for outputs in top 10% citation percentiles, excluding self-citation):
- Medicine: 3rd
- Psychiatry and Mental Health: 1st (Note: 1st worldwide for outputs in top 1% and 5%; 2nd worldwide for outputs in top 10%)
- Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, and Imaging: 1st
- Neuroscience: 2nd
- Neurology (clinical): 2nd
- Paediatrics, Perinatology and child health: 2nd
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine: 3rd
- Oncology: 4th
- Cancer Research 4th
Commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
King’s is committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion through a wide range of activities, forming part of the university’s strategic plan and academic leadership for Research Culture. We hold an Athena Swan Silver Award and are a member of the AdvanceHE Race Equality Charter (Bronze Award) and Stonewall. Our initiatives are designed to ensure that all our staff feel respected, included and able to thrive. Commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is embedded across governance, operations and culture. King’s provides a structured approach to embedding these principles at the level of the academic department. Each IAT post is linked to a specific school or department in the two faculties involved in the programme; each school/department has an EDI lead who is part of the school leadership team and responsible for embedding the above principles.
There is a Confidential Advisors Service for trainees experiencing bullying and harassment. ‘Dignity at King's' and ‘It Stops Here' are to eliminate bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct. There is a training programme addressing compassionate line management, microaggression, disability and neurodiversity.
King’s is a signatory of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and has held the HR Excellence in Research Award for over 10 years. King’s and the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Development Fund have recently released Managers’ Toolkits, which we use to support academic colleagues who manage research staff. King’s has implemented transparent pathways for the progression of researchers from fellowship to all levels of academic position with clearly defined metrics which need to be met in order for career progression. The Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), of which King’s is a signatory, recognises the need to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated, and we have research integrity advisors available to IATs for consultation.
Our track record for developing ACFs and CLs
The academic trainees from King’s have an excellent track record of clinical and academic progression.
- Of the 237 ACFs and 114 CLs who have completed their IAT post at King’s since 2006, 93% of CLs and 90% of ACFs are currently research active, as defined by publishing a peer-reviewed journal article in the last 3 years and/or currently registered for a research degree.
- Of the ACFs whose award end date fell between 2016-present (117 ACFs), 63 (54%) have either been awarded, or are working towards a PhD qualification, 41 (35%) at King’s.
- Since 2007, at least 97 of 236 ACFs (41%) have gone on to win competitive fellowships through Wellcome, UKRI, NIHR, BHF and other funders. Overall, 123 former ACFs are in academic positions at King’s (73) or at other institutions (50).
- Past ACFs are PI or Co-I on over £60M worth of grant funding based on King’s and publicly available UKRI, UK government, and UK charity data. Per Scopus/SciVal, current and former ACFs have co-authored over 4000 scholarly outputs since 2010. 231 (5.6 %) of these rank in the top 1% of outputs by field weighted citation index.
- At least 75% of CLs are currently in academic positions, with 48 in academic positions at King’s (40 at Clinician Scientist or Senior Lecturer level, 8 Readers or Professors). At least 12 former CLs have been appointed as professor at other institutions.
Clinical lecturers in the IAT programme are PI or Co-I on over £100M in grant funding (concurrent or following their time in programme), based on King’s and publicly available UKRI, UK government, and UK charity data. CLs have also been investigators on large/centre grants not counted in £100M figure, including CRUK City of London Centre and BHF Research Excellence Award. Since 2010, CLs have produced 4,931 outputs indexed in Scopus; of these, 192 rank in the top 1 percentile of outputs by field-weighted citation impact.
Current trainee enquiries:
KCATO Director and IAT Lead
at King's College London
Professor Frances Williams
KCATO Deputy Directors and
IAT Deputy Programme Leads
Dr Rina Dutta
Professor Catherine Evans
IAT Research Methods Course Director
Deputy Course Lead PG Cert
Dr James Galloway
Dr Andy Webb
Administrative & Projects Officer
General queries about IAT programme
Administrative & Projects Officer
Kasia (Katarzyna) Bojko
IAT Internal Funding