About


The Wellcome – Health Research Board Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) Programme is a unique all Ireland cross-institutional, comprehensive national programme for Clinician Scientists based at six major Irish universities and their affiliated hospital groups.

The partner universities include Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Galway, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Cork. At its core is an integrated programme spanning 6-7 years of seamless, supported and mentored academic and clinical training targeting future academic leaders. We have selected the best supervisors from research-intensive universities with a biomedical focus that collectively demonstrate research excellence.
Ireland has a well-developed national infrastructure to support biomedical and translational research, and has invested in multi-university collaborative research activities. The universities agree that funding provided will follow the trainee and their chosen PhD, making this a unified programme focused on building human capital. The programme is managed by Clinical Research Development Ireland (the new name for Molecular Medicine Ireland), created by the universities to promote collaborative research and education.

ICAT Partner Universities

University College Dublin (UCD)


University College Dublin (UCD) is the largest university in Ireland with a strategy for 2015- 2020 focused on international engagement and excellence in research.

The UCD School of Medicine has developed a rich research culture, organised into 8 Institutional Academic Centres and a further 7 research groups that define our research strengths in areas including Systems Biology, Infectious Diseases, Maternal, Fetal and Perinatal Health, Diabetes Complications and Translational Oncology, supported by significant research infrastructure including the UCD Clinical Research Centres and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research. The School of Medicine produces more than 1,000 publications annually with a total of 183 PhD and 127 MD degrees awarded in the past 5 years.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)


Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is the highest ranking Irish University. Its strategy prioritises life sciences; particularly immunology/infection, neuroscience, aging and cancer – and the translational/clinical interfaces of these areas.

Trinity attracts 25% of Science Foundation Ireland research funding and its Medical School accounts for more than 20% of TCD’s research income and 40% of its top rank publications. Trinity is a partner to some of the largest and most progressive hospitals in Ireland with co-localisation of clinical and research facilities. St. James’s Hospital, the largest in the state, contains on its campus, the Trinity Translations Medicine Institute (TTMI); the Centre for Advance Medical Imaging (CAMI) with its 3T magnet; the Mercer’s Institute for Research in Aging (MISA); a national cancer treatment and research centre, and the Wellcome Trust/HRB Clinical Research Facility. The National Children’s Hospital, a €700M development, is about to commence on the St. James’s campus and will contain a paediatric research building. Life Sciences research at TCD is supported by three complementary Institutes: The Trinity Biosciences Institute, the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute and the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. These Institutes have interactive programmes of basic and applied research in which clinician scientists and basic scientists work closely together. More recently, TCD and UC San Francisco (UCSF), two leaders in brain science, obtained a €177M philanthropic grant to create the Global Brain Health Institute to train a new generation of health leaders in aging and dementia.

National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)


National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) focuses on research themes including medical devices, regenerative medicine, cancer biology, neuroscience and population health science with a strong emphasis on translation through early phase clinical trials and technology transfer.

These strategies are supported by €300m of infrastructural investment since 2011, including the Biosciences Research Building, Lambe Institute for Translational Medicine and HRB Clinical Research Facility, housing the Centre for Chromosome Biology, SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CURAM), the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), Regenerative Medicine institute (REMEDI), the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials and the Centre for Pain Research. NUI Galway’s central strategy champions translational research through collaboration between medicine, science and engineering in partnership with industry. This paradigm is exemplified through the CURAM programme for the development of medical devices, biomaterials and novel therapeutic systems which is based at NUI Galway. Individual researchers and research programmes at NUI, Galway have achieved independent funding, greater than €135 million in 2015/16 through the Wellcome Trust, EU Horizon 2020, Science Foundation Ireland, National Institutes for Health and Industry Development Authority. NUI, Galway also has a strong track record in training clinician scientists through previous programmes such as the NSAFP and MMI programmes for clinical PhD training.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)


Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has a strategic emphasis on clinical and translational research in the fields of cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular, infectious and neurological diseases together with regenerative medicine and population health.

Our programme will support addressing the Trust’s articulated challenges including those associated with ageing and chronic diseases, understanding the brain and maximizing the health benefits of genetics and genomics. RCSI has been the lead institute for developments including the Programme for Human Genomics and is the lead organization in a National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform. We have world-class core facilities in proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics, a Centre for Systems Medicine and a Clinical Research Centre based in specialist facilities on the campus of Beaumont Hospital. The College is rapidly expanding research under the Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) programme, that includes major new infrastructural developments at both the St Stephen’s Green and Beaumont Hospital campuses.

University College Cork (UCC)


University College Cork (UCC), the Irish Times University of the Year 2016, was founded in 1845; it provides over 120 degree and professional programs, has over 20 thousand full time enrolled students, a most recent 5 year total research income of €401 million and is ranked in the top 2% of Universities worldwide based on the quality of its research output and peer esteem.

The College of Medicine and Health is one of its 4 constituent colleges; in 2015 the College had 230 PhD students and a research income of €22.6 million. Its five-year strategic plan prioritizes research on the Microbiome (APC Institute), on Perinatal Health (INFANT centre), Simulated Research and Learning (ASSERT Centre), Cancer (Cork Cancer Research Centre) and Epidemiology & Public Health, with a particular focus on Academic Clinical Trials. This Clinical Trial focus builds on the recent investment in clinical research infrastructure in Ireland by The Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Board supporting Clinical Research Facilities in Dublin, Cork and Galway. Linking these in an overarching structure is the HRB Clinical Research Coordination, Ireland (CRCI) with the goal of enhancing Ireland’s capacity for conducting innovative high quality clinical research for the benefit of people’s health and the economy. Critical to the long term success of this endeavor is the ability to provide rigorous training in bedside translational research in general and in Clinical Trials in particular, as will be facilitated by this application.

Queens University Belfast


Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is a member of the Russell Group of leading UK research-intensive universities providing high quality education underpinned by world-class research.

QUB has invested in co-locating researchers to fully integrate basic science with translational and clinical research across several faculties on a single Health Sciences Campus. This has enabled a critical mass of clinical and scientific investigators working in a cross-school, multidisciplinary manner. Our four priority disease areas are respiratory, ophthalmology, diabetic vascular complications and cancer which have been chosen because they represent global and nationally-relevant health challenges and reflect our existing research strengths. The clinical academic research infrastructure has been significantly enhanced in the last 5 years by important investments e.g. the establishment of the Wellcome Trust-Wolfson Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility (NICRF) in 2013 based at the Belfast City Hospital (adjacent to QUB medical school) and the Wellcome Trust-Wolfson Centre for Experimental Medicine at QUB opened in 2015. The clinical academic training programme is fully supported by both the Northern Ireland postgraduate deanery (NIMDTA) and the Belfast HSC Trust.

Other partners and funders

Clinical Research Development Ireland

Clinical Research Development Ireland (CRDI, the new name for Molecular Medicine Ireland) is a not-for-profit research and education partnership of TCD, UCD, NUI Galway, RCSI and UCC. CRDI develops and supports collaborations that are building the infrastructures and environment for translational/clinical research and precision medicine. CRDI works with multiple stakeholders in innovative research and education programmes. The ICAT programme is coordinated by CRDI.

Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies

The Forum was established in December 2006 with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of the postgraduate training bodies in maintaining the highest standards in Medical Education and Training. The Forum facilitates discussion and best practice sharing and promotes common strategies across all postgraduate medical training bodies in Ireland.

Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency

The Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) is responsible for funding, managing and supporting postgraduate medical and dental education within the Northern Ireland Deanery. It provides a range of services for those engaged in the delivery of postgraduate Medical and Dental education and training.

Health Service Executive (HSE) National Doctors Training and Planning

National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) incorporates Medical Education and Training, Consultant Appointments and Medical Workforce Planning and was established in September 2014. This provides NDTP with a strategic overview of medical training from Internship through to appointment as a consultant.

Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland R&D Division

The Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D) Division is part of the Public Health Agency. Established in 2009, it is responsible for the administration and coordination of the HSC R&D budget on behalf of Department of Health, Northern Ireland (DoH NI). Its work is based on the principle that the best health and social care must be underpinned by knowledge, based on well conducted research, which can then be applied in the delivery of care.

Wellcome-HRB ICAT Programme Clinical Principles

wellcome-logo-blackThe Wellcome-HRB ICAT Programme aligns with the Wellcome Trust Clinical Principles. More information can be found here:  

Wellcome-HRB ICAT Programme PhD Supervisors

The ICAT Supervisor pool is reviewed annually by each partner institution and nominated supervisors are approved by the ICAT Executive Team. More information on the review and nomination of ICAT Supervisors can be found here.