Clare Morgan, Research Delivery Director, NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN).

Research - the 'investment bank' for health and social care


 Clare Morgan, Research Delivery Director, NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN)

Date: 17 July 2017

"What does the NIHR do?"

It’s always the first question I get asked when I tell people I am Research Delivery Director here.

“Amazing things to improve the health and wealth of the nation,” is my standard answer. But I guess I would say that wouldn’t I?!

The breadth, diversity and impact of NIHR is astonishing and it is only when you begin to describe its scope, that people start to get any appreciation of the scale of the support NIHR provides to make research happen. 

The future of health and social care depends on today's research. The NIHR is helping to deliver research which has both short and long term impact upon individual patient outcomes and the improved health of the nation. Research is like the investment bank of the NHS and social care system; by investing in diverse but prioritised research today it means that better, more targeted treatments can be delivered for patients in the future. Through research we can tackle the diseases, conditions and symptoms which affect our population now and in the future.

As the most integrated clinical research system in the world, NIHR drives research from bench to bedside for the benefit of patients and the economy by:

  • transforming research in the NHS and social care
  • increasing the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public
  • driving faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits
  • developing and supporting the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research
  • attracting investment by the life sciences industry through our world-class facilities for health research.

So what does this actually mean and how does this happen?


By investing in research as it leaves the lab and enters the clinic, the NIHR helps to translate discoveries into breakthroughs, practical products, treatments, devices, procedures and interventions for clinicians and other users of research evidence. This is predominantly delivered through clinical research infrastructure, from early phase Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), through our Diagnostic Evidence and Healthcare Technology Co-operatives to the later phase Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). NIHR Clinical Research Facilities provide purpose-built environments for patient-centred research where clinical researchers are able to make use of cutting-edge clinical facilities, technologies and expertise. Then, to make sure clinicians are always aware of trends, research outputs and health technology appraisals, the Horizon Scanning and Research Intelligence Centre collates and provides a single point of contact for the latest information. All of this infrastructure working together helps to ensure that advances in research feed through into improvements in healthcare.


The NIHR provides research funding to ultimately improve the health of patients, the public and overall health and care services. By supporting the highest quality research which has meaningful outcomes to patients, the NIHR is banking up future healthcare solutions which will impact on how we and our families will receive treatments and interventions. Our research programmes fund research using a wide range of study designs, including evidence synthesis, pilot and feasibility studies, randomised controlled trials and both quantitative and qualitative research.


The Clinical Research Network (CRN) then steps in to help researchers deliver their studies funded both by NIHR and other UK charities and funders, in the NHS. They do this by helping to identify potential participants and supporting them with the information they need to make an informed choice to take part. The focus is on helping to make sure the study team has everything they need to set up and deliver research as efficiently as possible. Only last year the NIHR helped over 605,000 people to participate in clinical research studies which were meaningful to them. 


In addition, the NIHR works closely with the life sciences industry to help patients gain earlier access to breakthrough treatments. Supporting research and bringing treatments to market quickly has a direct impact on the population’s health but it also encourages broader investment in, and economic growth from health research. The life sciences industry provides a source of significant economic investment in the UK.

Patients and the Public

Most importantly is the mantra that NIHR actively involves patients and the public at every step. By keeping this at the heart of all aspects of NIHR, it ensures that the research funded and delivered matters to patients and the public. INVOLVE, the NIHR-funded national public involvement centre and advisory group, helps ensure that patients and the public are effectively involved at all stages of research studies, making them more acceptable and meaningful for research users of all ages. Evidence also shows that healthcare organisations that are research active have better patient outcomes; a win-win for everyone.

So when people ask what we do, the answer has to be…’We are NIHR: We are Research’.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care.
  • Summary:
    Clare Morgan explains how the NIHR is investing in research to improve the health and wealth of the nation. Her blog is the first in our #WeAreNIHR series.
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     Clare Morgan, Research Delivery Director, NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN)

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