ICAT Programme Prospectus

The ICAT programme arises from the collaboration of established structures for clinical specialty and academic training in Ireland, which provides a strong platform for integrated clinician scientist training.

This programme now provides a linked structure between:

The 17 post-graduate training bodies across the island of Ireland, structured around basic specialist training (BST) and higher specialist training (HST) coordinated through the Irish Forum for Postgraduate Medical Training and the Northern Ireland MDTA.

The HSE and HSC which work with the training bodies to provide accredited training positions.

The six participating Universities, with strong established international reputations, to oversee research and academic training.

In establishing these links and collaborations, the ICAT programme shifts the paradigm for academic, clinician scientist training from a parallel “out of programme” approach, to one that is truly integrated across the training experiences of the participating individual.

Clinical and academic mentoring will be put in place to span the entire duration of higher medical and post-graduate academic training. Trainees will complete this programme with both PhD and CCST. Moreover, training emphasis will shift as the programme proceeds from how to begin a research career as a PhD candidate, followed by successful completion of the PhD, to establishing independence, through novel thought and independent research funding. Peer-interaction, collaboration and knowledge transfer from our affiliated panel of international advisors lie at the centre of the programme and how it achieves these complete training goals.

Candidates embarking on this programme will be offered the following:

  • Choice of research opportunities with internationally renowned investigators
  • An innovative national structured curriculum with taught modules in both discipline-specific and transferable skills
  • Annual Scientific Meetings
  • An annual salary based on level of training; laboratory expenses; travel allowance and PhD fees

Supervisor Research Fields

Research projects in this structured PhD programme will focus on the strengths of our participating institutions and will be in the general area of:

  • cancer/oncology28%
  • neuroscience and mental health27%
  • bioengineering/medical devices11%
  • epidemiology/population health research15%
  • genetics, genomics and molecular biology32%
  • infectious disease and the immune system21%
  • cell and developmental biology/regenerative medicine14%
  • physiology and non-communicable disease14%

Please refer to our supervisors page for a list of supervisors, together with details of their research interests, and description of indicative projects.

Structure of the ICAT Programme

Year 1

Clinical (70%)
Academic (30%)

During the first year, fellows will be appointed as Clinical Lecturers or equivalent within their chosen university.

They will also carry out normal clinical duties within their chosen specialty at the grade of specialist registrar within the university affiliated hospital. This year is fully accredited for clinical training. Fellows will be provided with a clinical mentor from the relevant postgraduate training body, and an academic mentor assigned from the ICAT Programme.

During this year, trainees will have the opportunity to experience the academic environment through dedicated, protected research time. They will take core research training modules, chosen from resources including the MMI Clinician Scientist Curriculum covering skills such as clinical and scientific research design, individual research techniques and biostatistics, scientific writing and the concepts of research funding, grant writing and the pathway to independence. Information on modules will be available through the Molecular Medicine Ireland portal and each of the affiliated universities. Fellows may also choose from a wide range of additional modules offered by any of the partnered university institutions institution. Through ongoing advice and mentoring from the local institutional programme directors, fellows will be supported to make their final choice of supervisor. At the end of this year, the fellow will be expected to have chosen their supervisor and with his or her assistance, submit a well-written, thoroughly planned research proposal, outlining their three year PhD fellowship. Submitted research proposals will each undergo review prior to funding release for years 2-4 of the ICAT programme.

Year 2- 4

Joint Clinical (10%)
Academic (90%)

From years 2 – 4, fellows will be fully immersed in their research activity and will pursue a PhD under the guidance of their chosen supervisor.

An additional but minimal clinical training component will be incorporated into these three years, and, with prospective approval of the relevant training body, part of the three years of the PhD will be accredited towards clinical training. Clinical training will not disrupt research activity and academic training during this time. Fellows will retain the title of Clinical Lecturer or equivalent during this time and will undertake additional training modules focused on their chosen research area. Fellows will also be expected during this period to present their research findings locally, nationally and internationally and will be expected to publish in peer-reviewed international journals.

Year 5-7

Joint Clinical (80%)
Academic (20%)

Fellows will return to clinical training positions in hospitals aligned with HST under the guidance of their clinical and academic mentors.

Fellows must complete clinical training requirements during this time to be CCST (RoI) or CCT (NI) eligible. Critically, they will also be expected to continue their participation in research and will have 20% of their time protected to do so. Early in this stage the PhD will be written up and fellows will take their viva voce examination. Additional training on research funding, establishing independence and the career path to a successful academic career will be given during these years. The fellow will also be expected to continue publishing the research findings from their PhD and work towards post-doctoral fellowships and sub-specialty training in the next stage of their career. Guidance and mentorship will be offered throughout this stage of the programme in order to ensure the greatest success of all fellows in their career paths.