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About Us

  commissioning and funding research focusing on improving outcomes for health and social care


The NIHR commissions and fund NHS, social care and public health research that is essential for delivering our responsibilities in public, health and personal social services. Our role is to develop the research evidence to support decision making by professionals, policy makers and patients, make this evidence available, and encourage its uptake and use, for example, through NHS Evidencewhich provides clinical and non-clinical evidence and best practice, to make informed decisions. It is for other organisations, such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), to provide national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health. We fund research, not implementation or service development.

Our key objective is to improve the quality, relevance, and focus of research in the NHS and social care by distributing funds in a transparent way after open competition and peer review.

Adding Value in Research
The NIHR is committed to 'Adding Value in Research'. This means ensuring that it answers the right questions, delivers the research efficiently and publishes the results in full in an accessible and unbiased report.

Adding Value in Research ensures that NIHR funded research:

  • answers questions relevant to clinicians, patients and the public
  • uses appropriate design and methods
  • is delivered efficiently
  • results in accessible full publication; and produces unbiased and usable reports.

Promoting Open Access to research
We encourage initiatives that increase the potential for quality research to be widely disseminated and freely accessed. We support the principle of Open Access to research as set out in our statement supporting Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC). A Europe PMC video highlights the benefits of publishing research to this unique open access resource. Europe PMC labs showcases new developments based on the content of Europe PMC, the developments are designed to enable deep searching of the literature and contextual linking to public databases in the life science domain.  

Promoting transparent and accurate reporting of research
The NIHR part-funds the EQUATOR Network, which aims to enhance the reliability of medical research literature by promoting transparent and accurate reporting of health research.

Use of animals in research
The NIHR recognises that the carefully regulated use of animals in research is important in understanding disease and in developing safe and effective ways of preventing or treating illness.

NIHR also recognises the need for robust application of the 3Rs – that animals are replaced with non-animal alternatives wherever possible, that the number of animals used is reduced to the minimum needed to achieve the results sought, and that, for those animals which must be used, procedures are refined as much as possible to minimise their suffering.

NIHR therefore supports the Government’s policies on research using animals set out in Working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research

NIHR works in close partnership with the Medical Research Council which funds animal research in carefully defined circumstances.

NIHR funding is focused on clinical and applied health and care research. NIHR therefore does not itself fund basic research or work involving animals and/or animal tissue.

Research programmes
The NIHR funds a range of programmes addressing a broad range of health priorities. Funding is based on the quality and relevance of the research to personal social services, public health and the NHS.
NIHR Research programmes

The research innovation pathway
The chart below shows how the NIHR's major research programmes and initiatives fit into the 'innovation pathway' (please note that the chart is not a comprehensive representation of all NIHR initiatives and does not show formal relationships between programmes and organisations).

The pathway starts with the creation of an innovation, which includes basic research in a laboratory, through to its use in a patient care setting. It covers the full range of interventions, including pharmaceuticals, biologicals, biotechnologies, procedures, therapies and practices, for the full range of health and healthcare delivery such as prevention, detection, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and care.


Further information
The attached leaflet provides further information about the NIHR’s funding and career development opportunities available for researchers based in the NHS, universities and other organisations concerned with health, public health and social care in England.

  NIHR Funding opportunities leaflet Sept 2013

Research Design Service
The NIHR Research Design Service provides support for health and social care researchers to develop and design high-quality patient focused research proposals, for submission to NIHR and other national, peer-reviewed competitions.
Research Design Service

The Clinical Trials Toolkit
The Clinical Trials Toolkit provides practical advice to researchers in designing and conducting publicly funded clinical trials in the UK. The interactive routemap provides information on best practice and outlines the current legal and practical requirements for conducting clinical trials.

The Toolkit is primarily focuses on Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (CTIMPs) and the regulatory environment and requirements associated with these. However researchers and R&D staff working on trials in other areas will also find useful information and guidance of relevance to the wider trials environment.
The Clinical Trials Tookit

NIHR briefing documents:

 3.1 Commissioned research programmes
   3.2 Response mode research programmes 


 3.3 Research Schools 


 3.4 Research Design Service