Associate PI scheme


This page is for doctors, nurses and other health professionals who are interested in joining the NIHR Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme for the REFINE (REduced Frequency of ImmuNE checkpoint inhibition in cancers) trial.


What is the Associate Principle Investigator (PI) Scheme?

The Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme is an NIHR initiative which aims to develop doctors, nurses and other health professionals to become the PI’s of the future.

The Scheme is a six month in-work training opportunity, providing practical experience for healthcare professionals starting their research career.

The REFINE (REduced Frequency of ImmuNE checkpoint inhibition in cancers) trial, run by the MRC CTU (UCL) and will be taking part in the Associate PI Scheme.

The video below explains how the Associate PI scheme works:


More details on the scheme can be found on the NIHR website on the following link:


What is the REFINE trial?

The REFINE (REduced Frequency of ImmuNE checkpoint inhibition in cancers) trial is a multi-stage, multi‑arm (MAMS) phase II basket trial testing reduced intensity immunotherapy across multiple cancer types. The initial cohort (basket) will be patients with renal cancer receiving ipilimumab and nivolumab. Patients responding to treatment after 12 weeks will be randomised to continue standard treatment or receive reduced intensity treatment.

  • Trial Entry, Randomisation and Treatment


REFINE aims to understand better how to limit individual patient exposure whilst maintaining efficacy with the potential for major benefits in terms of patient quality‑of‑life and financial costs. The prolonged physiological activity of these drugs means that wider spacing between doses (reduced frequency of administration) should be possible without compromising outcomes.


What are the benefits of taking part in the Associate PI Scheme?
  • Gain experience of research with the oversight of the local enthusiastic PI
  • Learn about the challenges and practicalities of running a portfolio study
  • On successful completion of the scheme you will receive an NIHR and Royal College endorsed certificate for your training portfolio

Furthermore, for Associate PI’s who are signed up to trials run by the MRC CTU (UCL) including REFINE, we will be running a monthly webinar series including sessions on trial design, pharmacovigilance, statistics and recruitment. The REFINE trial team will also support Associate PI’s with any trial related queries.

Which sites are running the Associate PI Scheme for REFINE?

See below for a list of sites which are running the Associate PI Scheme for the REFINE trial:


Addenbrooke’s Hospital
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
Mount Vernon Cancer Centre
Royal Bournemouth Hospital
St James’ University Hospital (Leeds)
The Royal Marsden Hospital

I am interested in signing up, what next?
  1. Confirm you meet the Associate PI Scheme Applicant Eligibility Criteria
  2. Obtain approval from Local PI before you submit your application
  3. Complete the Associate PI Applicant Registration Form
  4. Once your application is confirmed via email, use the link and enrolment key provided to enrol on the Associate PI Scheme on NIHR Learn (you need to enrol yourself onto the Associate PI Scheme learning course in order to participate in the scheme)
  5. Download your checklist and complete your Associate PI Scheme learning course

All links are available via the NIHR website:


The MRC CTU (UCL) will contact you with details of the clinical trials webinar series when you are registered for the scheme.


Who can I contact at the MRC CTU (UCL) about the REFINE trial?

The Associate PI Trial champion at the MRC CTU (UCL) is Dr Grisma Patel. For any queries about the REFINE trial and its involvement in the Associate PI scheme please contact:




Photography provided by Finn Hopson:

@finnhop on Twitter and Instagram