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NIHR funding programmes
The NIHR commissions and funds health, public health and social care research that is essential for improving the health and wealth of the nation. Their key objective is to improve the quality, relevance and focus of the research they commission by distributing funds in a transparent and accountable way through open competition and peer review. The NIHR also funds career development for researchers whose work focuses on people and patient-based applied health research.

The below provides some information about the NIHR’s research funding and career development opportunities available for researchers based in the NHS, universities, industry and other organisations concerned with health, public health and social care.
Research programmes

The NIHR funds a range of research programmes to produce the evidence to enable professionals, policy makers and patients to make informed decisions and provide the means to turn new interventions into better care. Research applications are rigorously evaluated, by independent peer review, to ensure that only the most outstanding proposals are funded. Calls are issued for either commissioned research or researcher led in response mode. The NIHR also issues themed calls, with research into obesity, dementia and surgery being recent examples. The application process can vary between programmes. For some programmes a full application is required – a one stage process. Other programmes request that outline proposals are submitted; if applicants are successful, they are invited to complete a full application in a two stage process.

A full list of the latest calls for proposals can be found here.
Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME)

The EME Programme bridges the gap between preclinical studies and evidence of clinical efficacy. The aim is to secure the progress of new technologies and interventions through their early clinical trials and onto larger, later clinical trials. The EME Programme aims to support excellent clinical science with an ultimate view to improving health or patient care.

The EME Programme supports clinical trials and evaluative studies in patients which: evaluate clinical efficacy of interventions where proof of concept in humans has already been achieved; add significantly to our understanding of biological or behavioural mechanisms and processes; explore new scientific or clinical principles; and include the development or testing of new methodologies.

The EME Programme has two workstreams, researcher-led and commissioned. The commissioned workstream funds large, often staged, projects with clear milestones. Proposals may include pilot and feasibility studies and late development of technologies. Proposals are expected to be in the form of a substantial collaboration with at least two of the following three partners: industry, NHS and academia.

The researcher-led workstream offers researchers the opportunity to submit applications on a topic within its remit at three cut-off dates per year.
The EME Programme is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NIHR. It is managed by the NIHR. Researchers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are eligible to apply.

Calls/competitions Researcher-led and commissioned calls
Application process Typically two stage
Alerts http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/eme
Contact info@eme.ac.uk
Website: NIHR EME Programme Page
Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR)

The HS&DR Programme funds research to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services. This includes evaluations of how the NHS might improve delivery of services. The audience for this research is the public, service users, clinicians and managers. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS including research on implementation and a range of knowledge mobilisation initiatives.

The HS&DR Programme aims to support a range of types of research including evidence synthesis and primary research. This includes large scale studies of national importance.

The HS&DR Programme has two workstreams:
The researcher-led workstream accepts applications from researchers on any question that is within the programme remit.
The commissioned workstream issues calls on specific topics that have been identified as high priority for the NHS.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led and commissioned calls
Application process Two stage (apart from Rapid Evidence Synthesis
in the commissioned workstream)
Alerts and contacts hsdrinfo@southampton.ac.uk
Website NIHR HS&DR Programme Page
Health Technology Assessment (HTA)

The HTA Programme delivers research information about the effectiveness, costs and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care in the NHS.

The term ‘health technology’ covers a range of methods used to promote health, prevent and treat disease and improve rehabilitation and long term care including drugs, devices, procedures, settings of care and screening.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led and commissioned calls
Application process Primary research – two stage*
Evidence synthesis/Secondary research – one stage*
Alerts and contacts hta@hta.ac.uk
Website NIHR HTA Programme Page
*Flexible depending on the type of call
Invention for Innovation (i4i)

The i4i Product Development Awards support collaborative translational R&D projects that cultivate new techniques or technologies within innovative interventions to address existing or emerging healthcare needs. Led by experienced management teams, projects are informed by evidence already obtained through prior research, or are borne out of techniques or technologies used in sectors other than health.

The key aim is to encourage and provide support for projects which have a strong potential for commercialisation and acceptance for use within the NHS. Projects are expected to have a clear end product in view at all times. Applications submitted to i4i are assessed by one of two multidisciplinary selection panels consisting of individuals from industry, the NHS and academia.

A new funding stream, the i4i Challenge Awards, has been established to address the widely acknowledged gap that exists between the innovation and development of technology and its adoption into clinical pathways. Projects must be led by a clinician in an NHS organisation or other provider of NHS services in England in cooperation with a university and/or the company commercialising the product. The purpose of the funding is to identify and support the application of emerging technologies and demonstrate their usefulness and broader applicability within the clinic.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led and commissioned calls
Application process Two stage
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact i4i.programme@nihr-ccf.org.uk
Website NIHR Invention for Innovation Programme Page
Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)

PGfAR provides funding for major programmes of research that are a priority for the NHS. These awards support work that will deliver findings with practical application, typically through improved healthcare or better healthcare delivery, within three to five years of a programme’s end.

The programmes funded are interrelated groups of high quality research projects requiring a multidisciplinary approach, including input from clinical, health economics, statistics, qualitative and behavioural sciences backgrounds to ensure that research objectives can be met.

Calls/competitions Researcher-led
Application process Two stage
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact programme.grants@nihr-ccf.org.uk
Website NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research
Programme Development Grants (PDG)

If aspects of a proposed Programme Grant application need preparatory work, Programme Development Grants are available to strengthen the basis for a full Programme Grant application.

Calls/competitions Researcher-led
Application process One stage
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact programme.grants@nihr-ccf.org.uk
Website NIHR Programme Development Grants
Public Health Research (PHR)

The PHR Programme funds research that evaluates public health interventions, providing new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider impacts of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health.

The scope of the PHR Programme is multidisciplinary and broad covering a range of public health interventions. Examples include examining whether regeneration programmes improve public health and reduce health inequalities, evaluating employer schemes to encourage walking or cycling to work and assessing interventions that encourage healthy eating among school children.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led and commissioned calls
Application process Two stage
Alerts and contacts info@phr.ac.uk
Website NIHR PHR Programme Page
Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB)

The RfPB Programme funds high quality NHS research. The projects funded are for regionally derived applied research in health services and social care. The programme’s strong regional element is unique within NIHR’s research programmes. Applicants need to demonstrate the regional benefits of proposed research although studies with national benefit will also be considered.

Members of the regional committees that assess the applications are drawn from local academic institutions and health organisations. Members of the public and service users from within the region are also appointed to the regional committees.

RfPB does not specify topics for research and encourages proposals for projects covering a wide range of health service issues and challenges. The programme funds a broad range of topics and research methodologies that increase the effectiveness of NHS services, provide value for money and benefit patients. The programme also supports relevant pilot and feasibility studies to help reach the next step of a definitive trial. All researchers in the NHS in England can apply and joint applications with academic partners are encouraged.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led
Application process One stage
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact rfpb@nihr-ccf.org.uk
Website NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme Page
Systematic Reviews (SR)

The SR Programme consists of a number of initiatives, including the Cochrane Review Groups and the UK Cochrane Centre, the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, the Health Technology Assessment Reviews and the Diagnostics Evaluation Unit, which provide high quality research evidence to support decision-making. Systematic reviews identify, evaluate, combine and summarise the findings of all relevant individual studies, to provide decision makers with the best possible information about the effects of tests, treatments and other interventions used in health and social care.

The SR Programme supports the production and updates of systematic reviews both by core infrastructure funding and open competition via two funding streams:
The Cochrane Collaboration Programme Grant Scheme supports high quality systematic reviews that are of direct benefit to users of the NHS in England. This call runs every three years.
Cochrane Incentive Awards are available to Cochrane Review Groups to facilitate, and possibly accelerate, activity that is already planned or under way. This call runs annually.

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led
Application process One stage
Alerts and contacts SRPinfo@southampton.ac.uk
Website NIHR Systematic Reviews
Career development and support


The NIHR provides training and career development awards, ranging from undergraduate level through to opportunities for established investigators and research leaders. The research must be relevant to the NHS and is expected to produce an outcome that will benefit patients and/or the public within five years of completion.

The Trainees Coordinating Centre (TCC) manages the training and career development programmes. They are aimed at a range of professions and designed to suit different working arrangements and career pathways and can be researcher or institution-led.

Fellowships Programme

The NIHR Fellowships are open to all professions and offer five levels of fellowship. The awards cover the salary costs, research costs, and training and development costs of the trainee. The following fellowships are available on an annual basis:

Doctoral Research Fellowship (PhD) funding
Post-Doctoral Fellowship (post-doctoral experience < three years)
Career Development Fellowship (post-doctoral experience < seven years)
Senior Research Fellowship (independent researchers)
Transitional Research Fellowship (post-doctoral experience < five years)

Calls/Competitions Researcher-led
Application process Shortlist and interview
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact nihrfellowshipenquiries@nihrtcc.org.uk
Website NIHR Fellowship Programme
Integrated Academic Training Programme

Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACF) and Clinical Lectureships (CL) are open to doctors and dentists. They are specialty training posts which incorporate protected time for research in order to enable pursuit of an academic clinical career. Appointments to these posts are made through selected Academic Programmes that have been allocated to university/NHS trust/deanery partnerships.

• In-Practice Fellowships (IPF) offer fully qualified General Practitioners (GPs) and General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) the opportunity to pursue a pre-doctoral level academic qualification and prepare an application for a Doctoral Fellowship.
• The Clinician Scientist (CS) award is a post-doctoral level award, open to researchers working in medicine and dentistry who are capable of leading research in their discipline. The awards last up to five years and cover salary, research, training and development costs.

Calls/Competitions Institution-led (ACF/CL) or researcher-led (IPF/CS)
Application process Apply to institution (ACF/CL) or NIHR (IPF/CS);
shortlist and interview
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk and IAT partnership websites
Contact iatenquiries@nihrtcc.org.uk or nihr.clinicianscientists@nihrtcc.org.uk
Website Integrated Academic Training Programme
Research Methods Programme

The programme supports the development of talented individuals with expertise in research methods, including statistics, clinical trials, health economics, operational research and modelling through its Research Methods Fellowships and Internships scheme. There is also a Research Methods Opportunity Funding scheme which provides funding to academic departments with research expertise to undertake research relevant to the NIHR. Capacity development in research methods is also supported by the NIHR through its funding of Masters Studentships in Health Economics and Medical Statistics.

Calls/Competitions Institution-led
Application process Shortlist and interview
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk and institution websites
Contact research.methods@nihrtcc.org.uk
Website Research Methods Programme
NIHR/HEE Healthcare Scientist (HCS) Programme and NIHR/HEE Clinical Academic Training (CAT) Programme for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professions

These programmes are managed by the NIHR in partnership with Health Education England (HEE). The HCS Programme supports healthcare scientists through doctoral, post-doctoral fellowships and Senior Clinical fellowships, whereas the CAT programme provides a comprehensive clinical academic training pathway for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals working at pre-doctoral, doctoral, Clinical Lectureship and Senior Clinical Lectureship levels.
Calls/Competitions Institution-led or researcher-led

Application process Apply to NIHR or institution (Masters), one
stage or shortlist and interview
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk and institution websites
Contact Healthcare Science: hcs@nihrtcc.org.uk
Clinical Academic Training: cat@nihrtcc.org.uk
More information: www.nihr.ac.uk/funding-and-support/funding-for-training-and-career-development/training-programmes/

Research Professorships

Research Professorships are open to all professions and are appointed through nominations invited from universities and NHS partnerships. They aim to facilitate strong research leadership at the highest academic level. Outstanding clinical and translational research nominees should have spent no more than five years as a professor, reader, senior lecturer/fellow, clinical scientist or group leader. Each award provides support for salary cost, a post-doctoral appointment, research cost and indirect costs.

Calls/Competitions Institution-led or researcher-led
Application process Shortlist and interview
Alerts www.nihr.ac.uk
Contact nihrresearchprofessorships@nihrtcc.org.uk
Website NIHR Research Professorships