Who we are

The NIHR was established in 2006 under the government’s health research strategy, Best Research for Best Health. The goal was to create a health research system in which the NHS supported outstanding individuals, working in world-class facilities, conducting leading-edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public.

Today, the NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. Our people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems together represent the most integrated health research system in the world. We have transformed research in and for the NHS and helped to shape the health research landscape more broadly. 

With substantial funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), our scope is broad. We focus on the elements of the ‘innovation pathway’ from early translational research, though clinical and onto applied health and care research, working in partnership with funders of discovery science and those elements of the system focused on adoption and diffusion of innovation.

The NIHR provides evidence to improve outcomes for patients and inform decisions on the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of the health and care system. We address the research needs of a wide range of evidence-users including the public and patients, frontline health and care professionals, managers and policy makers.

We invest heavily in the nation’s research infrastructure, supporting world-class facilities and the latest technology for use by UK Research and Innovation, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers. We also invest in people, sustaining excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and providing high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure. Through our clinical research network we are able to recruit the right patients to take part in studies, and place studies in the right places for the patients who need them.

By connecting universities, the NHS, local government, other research funders, patients and the public, we deliver and enable world-class research that shapes policy, strengthens the health and care system, drives economic growth, advances science for national and international benefit, and improves lives.

The NIHR is centred on England, working closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which co-fund many of our programmes. Since 2016-17 we have received significant Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and now also collaborate with the international community on applied global health research for the benefit of patients and the public in low and middle income countries.