The NIHR today

We were established in 2006 to transform research in the NHS. We are a ‘virtual’ organisation which means that although what we do and the research we fund is very real, we are not a corporation or a legal entity or a ‘bricks and mortar’ enterprise in the traditional sense. Rather, we are an overarching entity which collectively represents all publicly-funded research in the NHS. we are now known as ‘the research arm of the NHS’.  

Since comprehensive records began in 2009, the total number of patients taking part in, and benefiting from, clinical trials has tripled, rising from under one million to more than five million.  In 2014, more than 630,000 people took part in studies hosted by our Clinical Research Network, a 7% increase on the previous year, and 100% of NHS Trusts are now involved in research and are running studies. We established the UK Clinical Trials Gateway to make information about ongoing studies available to patients and the public. 

We are the first research organisation in the world to establish a national advisory group, INVOLVE, to make sure the views of patients and the public are an essential part of the processes through which research is identified, prioritised, commissioned, designed, conducted and disseminated. This ensures that NHS, public health and social care research has patient concerns at the heart of all research activities and is relevant, reliable and usable.  A recent important development has been investing in young people taking part in research activities through a Young Persons Advisory Group and a Children’s Non Executive Board as they are the future of public participation and involvement in research. 

As well as investing in research to help the NHS and care providers meet the major health and social challenges they face, such as long term conditions, inequalities, poverty and ageing, we have responded rapidly to national research priorities, for example, establishing a wide range of activities to meet the Prime Minister’s dementia challenge and the Chief Medical Officer’s concerns over Antimicrobial Resistance.  As well as this, a number of themed calls to meet urgent needs have been issued including for Mesothelioma, Pandemic Flu, Compassionate Care, Antimicrobial Resistance, Very Rare Diseases, Long-term Conditions in Childhood, Primary Care, Healthcare Associated Infections and Obesity.  

We are committed to making research faster and easier for industry and other funders. The introduction of a 70 day bench-mark for enrolling the first patient into a trial by participating NHS Trusts will ultimately lead to faster translation of research into improved treatments, interventions and services for patients and means more studies are likely to be carried out in this country.

By 2015, nearly £3.5 billion of additional research investment from the Government, charities and the life sciences industry has been attracted through our centres and facilities for experimental medicine in the NHS, with a year on year increase in funding from industry and charities of at least 40%. Over 100 national and international patents have been granted and nearly 200 licensing deals conducted.

View the Chronology of the NIHR.