Since we were established in 2006 under the government's health research strategy Best Research for Best Health, our mission has been to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We deliver this mission through six core workstreams.
In June 2021, we published Best Research for Best Health: The Next chapter. This re-affirms our core workstreams and highlights seven ‘areas of strategic focus’ where the environment is changing and we need to deliver transformative change over the next five to ten years. Together, these comprise our operational priorities as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At all times we are guided by our operating principles of impact, excellence, inclusion, collaboration and effectiveness.
Our core workstreams
...that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
NIHR is committed to funding health, public health and social care research that leads to improved outcomes for patients and the public, and makes the health and social care system more efficient , effective and safe. We work closely with stakeholders across the system to ensure we address the challenges they face and are responsive to their research needs.
...to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
NIHR’s ‘infrastructure’ supports the research we fund and underpins research funded by others. Our investment has transformed the health system’s ability to turn scientific discoveries into new or improved treatments and services. Uptake of these innovations across the nation is enabled by applied research studies delivered through our infrastructure.
...improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research
NIHR’s research is shaped in collaboration with patients, service users, carers and communities. People contribute at every stage of the research pathway and also play a vital role by volunteering to participate in studies and trials. We are determined that their perspectives and experiences are heard and acted upon, and that their contributions are valued and recognised.
...to tackle complex health and social care challenges
NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of health and social care research training. We provide career pathways for clinical academics and non-clinical scientists and offer opportunities for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to integrate research with clinical practice. We also build the research capacity and capability needed to respond to health and social care challenges.
...to shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system
NIHR works closely with partners from across the public sector and with medical research charities and the life sciences industry. Together we aim to create an integrated research system that meets the needs of patients and the public and positions the UK as a globally attractive destination for high quality clinical research.
...to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries
Working closely with the global health research community, NIHR funds applied research and training for the benefit of the poorest people in more than 50 low and middle income countries. By sharing learning and knowledge, we are able to build R&D capacity and capability in both the UK and low and middle income countries.
We must reduce inequalities in the type of research we fund, who we fund and our decision-making processes.
We must diversify research participants in the studies we support and the voices of those who shape our research agenda.
We must systematically track, report and evaluate diversity within NIHR and use these data to set appropriate targets.
There are groups in our research community that lack recognition and career support including nurses, midwives, clinical research practitioners and methodologists.
We have introduced programmes to invest in their skills and provide advancement opportunities, and we actively promote ‘team science’.
We must build capacity across disciplines and in statistics, data science, economics, behavioural and social sciences.
We must engage clinicians in research and attract research-qualified full-time clinicians back into research.
We must make academic career pathways attractive for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals who often lack advancement into senior research posts.
We are determined to maintain and grow the UK’s share of the international clinical trials market and to be at the forefront of new technologies.
We have established Patient Recruitment Centres for late-phase trials and encouraged links between industry, academia and the health and care sector.
We must develop and promote a pan-NIHR offer for companies large and small across biopharma, diagnostics and medtech.
We must deepen our engagement with nascent industries such as artificial intelligence, digital health and design and help to develop new industries.
We must support the development of life science clusters across the country, stimulating internal investment and the rapid growth of home-grown SMEs.
Our operating principles
We prioritise the challenges that are most important to those who use, work in and manage health and social care services and that could most benefit from research evidence.
We accelerate the translation of discoveries and partner with others to ensure our evidence is used to improve everyday practice.
We track progress against our goals and strive to ensure that our research addresses the needs of patients, service users, carers, communities and the public.
The quality of our researchers, research outputs and training is world-leading, and we have a highly skilled research design and delivery workforce.
We embrace the latest developments in technology, research data and methods and knowledge mobilisation.
We operate to the highest standards of integrity and transparency in our funding and commissioning processes, and ensure that our evidence is accessible and actively disseminated.
We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion in everything we do.
Diverse people and communities shape our research, and we strive to make opportunities to participate in research an integral part of everyone’s experience of health and social care services.
We develop researchers from multiple disciplines, specialisms, geographies and backgrounds, and work to address barriers to career progression arising from characteristics such as sex, race or disability.
We partner with the NHS, public health and social care systems, people and communities, universities, government, regulators, the devolved administrations, industry, charities and other research funders to maximise our collective impact.
We encourage collaboration across disciplines and specialisms, between researchers and the public, and within our own organisation.
We foster equitable partnerships with researchers and institutions in low and middle income countries.
We are sound custodians of public money.
We have a strong track record of improving the efficiency of research and of generating evidence that enables health and social care systems to become more effective.
We have a culture of continuous improvement, finding ways to simplify and streamline our processes, improve our communications and accessibility, harness the power of digital technology, and enhance people’s experience of working with and for us.
Our governanceThe NIHR is a virtual organisation whose work is hosted by NHS Trusts, universities and life science organisations.Our funding programmesThe NIHR research programmes and the types of research they fund.Patients, Carers and the PublicWhy patients, carers and the public are essential to the NIHR's work and how they can get involved in our research.Partners and IndustryWorking with the life sciences industry, research charities, and other funders to deliver high quality health research.Global healthThe NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio uses UK aid to fund high quality applied health research and training in areas of unmet need.AcademyThe NIHR Academy is responsible for development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.