Published on 04/09/2023
A trainee GP at Aston University practises taking blood pressure
  • Academic clinical fellows, who are qualified doctors, receive academic training alongside medical training
  • At Aston University ACFs will work in specialisms including diabetes and endocrinology, neurology, paediatrics, psychiatry and general practice
  • It is the first time Aston University has participated in the funding round.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded Aston Medical School 12 prestigious NIHR-funded academic clinical fellow (ACF) posts in its latest competitive national funding round.

An ACF is a clinical specialist training post for qualified medical doctors which incorporates academic training. The standard duration of each post is three years. ACFs spend 25% of their time carrying out research with leading groups at Aston University, and the remainder of their time with local partner NHS trusts. Candidates must be able to demonstrate outstanding potential for a career as a clinical academic.

This is the first time that Aston Medical School has taken part in the funding round. The bid was led by Clinical Senior Lecturer Dr Zaki Hassan-Smith, who is also an honorary consultant endocrinologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, in collaboration with research colleagues in the College of Health and Life Sciences. 

Aston Medical School will receive funding from NIHR for posts in clinical specialisms including diabetes and endocrinology, neurology, paediatrics, psychiatry and general practice. ACFs will spend time in institutes and centres of excellence including the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN), Aston Centre for Membrane Proteins and Lipids Research (AMPL), Aston Centre for Health in Ageing (ARCHA) and Aston Pharmacy School.

The posts will be advertised in the coming months and the first fellows are expected to begin at the start of the 2024/25 academic year.

Dr Hassan-Smith said:

“This a milestone for Aston Medical School. It recognises our potential to train the medical academic research leaders of the future. We hope this is the first step in establishing a pipeline of integrated academic researchers. We are also setting up undergraduate internships and intercalated degrees, and in future hope to bid for clinical research fellowships for PhD training and clinical lectureships.”

Professor Anthony Hilton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School said:

"I’m delighted that AMS has been successfully awarded NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow posts. These important clinical specialist training posts support Aston University’s commitment to advancing healthcare through research, education and innovation. I’m looking forward to welcoming talented individuals to work alongside our leading academic colleagues in the college’s research institutes and centres of excellence and excited to see the transformative impact their work will have on future healthcare."

Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston University is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

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