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Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowships – An Insider’s Guide. Joanna Dowman Academic Clinical Fellow in Gastroenterology Birmingham. Outline. What is a Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF)? Applying for an ACF Locations and number of Gastroenterology ACF posts available

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walport academic clinical fellowships an insider s guide

Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowships – An Insider’s Guide

Joanna Dowman

Academic Clinical Fellow in Gastroenterology


  • What is a Walport / Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF)?
  • Applying for an ACF
  • Locations and number of Gastroenterology ACF posts available
  • Advantages and disadvantages of an ACF
  • How might an ACF influence your career path?
what is an academic clinical fellowship
What is an Academic Clinical Fellowship?
  • Aimed at specialist trainees who can demonstrate potential as a clinical academic
  • Protected time for research leading to application for PhD / higher degree
  • Issued with NTN (A)
  • Duration up to 3 years
  • 75% time in clinical training; 25% in research
my acf year 1
My ACF – Year 1
  • Started ACF December 2006
  • Clinical training in large DGH
    • Usual SpR duties

eg. endoscopy, clinics, on-calls

  • 1 day/week in liver research labs
  • Experience of basic lab techniques

eg. cell culture, immunohistochemistry, PCR,

Western blots

acf year 2
ACF - Year 2
  • Clinical work at QEH Liver Unit
  • 1 week in 4 spent in research
  • Currently working on 2 projects

(NASH related)

  • Aim to apply for research training fellowship later this year
    • (Wellcome trust, MRC, CORE)
  • Start PhD next year if successful
what if i don t obtain funding or don t like research
What if I don’t obtain funding or don’t like research?
  • ACF trainee will rejoin non-academic clinical specialty training programme
    • If unsuccessful in obtaining fellowship after 3 years
    • If no longer wishes to continue research
  • An ACF does not represent

a commitment to a

PhD or academic career

applying for an acf eligibility
Applying for an ACF - Eligibility
  • Trainee must be eligible to apply for specialty training post or already hold SpR / StR post
  • Not aimed at individuals with PhD although not excluded
  • Open to FTSTAs
  • Applicants may also apply for non-academic specialty training
  • Part-time ACFs are an option; maximum of 5 yrs
application process
Application Process

Described in detail on

NCCRCD website:



  • Completed application form
  • Ability to ‘demonstrate outstanding potential as a clinical academic in research and/or education’
  • Academic referee
availability of acf posts
Availability of ACF posts
  • Total 250 ACFs in 2008
  • Spread across country
  • Most specialties included
  • Relatively few in

Gastroenterology – 30 ACFS

between 2006-2010 across

6 centres

Academic Clinical Fellowships




benefits of an acf
Benefits of an ACF..
  • Juggling full-time clinical work with research is difficult
  • ACF provides opportunity to continue clinical training with dedicated research time set aside
more benefits of an acf
More Benefits of an ACF..
  • More informed decision prior to undertaking higher research degree
  • Acquisition of basic lab knowledge/skills allowing immediate commencement of project later
  • Strong position when applying for research training fellowship
    • Established potential as clinical academic
    • Project to be undertaken in major research centre
even more benefits of an acf
Even More Benefits of an ACF..
  • Publications
  • Attending / presenting at

academic meetings

  • Networking
  • Experience and skills gained

will be useful whatever

your future career

disadvantages of an acf
Disadvantages of an ACF
  • Less time for clinical training –

a potentially greater problem in

procedure-oriented specialties

  • But training now competency rather than time based

- no longer a time-served requirement

disadvantages of an acf17
Disadvantages of an ACF
  • Initial teething problems for first

cohort of ACFs –

    • lack of structure in research setting
    • unfamiliarity with scheme in

clinical setting

    • should improve with experience
acf what next
ACF – What Next?
  • Option to resume non-academic

clinical specialist training

  • Apply for Clinical Lectureship (CL)
    • Part of integrated academic pathway
    • 50% research, 50% clinical
    • Requires prior completion of PhD

or equivalent

    • Duration up to 4 yrs
acf what next19
ACF – What Next?
  • After Clinical Lectureship, may proceed to Intermediate/Senior Lectureship or Clinician Scientist Fellowship
  • Additional opportunities for career progression through:
    • Networking
    • Presentations
    • Publications
  • ACFs offer unique opportunity

to combine clinical and academic training

  • Duration 3 yrs - 75% clinical; 25% research
  • Prepare trainee to undertake PhD/higher degree
  • May continue research as Clinical Lecturer
  • Many additional opportunities:
    • Publishing; conferences; networking
  • Main disadvantage is reduction in

clinical training time