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24/50 Efficacy studies seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of Women


Published: 21 May 2024

Version: 1.0 May 2024

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Efficacy studies seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of women

The MRC-NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme is inviting applications for efficacy trials that aim to improve the health and wellbeing of women. This could include, but is not limited to, trials investigating conditions that only affect women, or conditions that affect both men and women but may affect women either disproportionately or in a different way.

This is a brief of broader scope, from which the programme may be interested in potentially funding more than one proposal.

In August 2022, the Government laid out its policy paper on Women's Health Strategy for England. Women make up 51% of the population, live longer, and spend a greater proportion of their lives in ill health and disability compared to men. However, historically the health and care system has been established using a ‘male as default’ approach, leading to gaps in our data and evidence base. This means that not enough is known about conditions that only affect women, for example menopause, endometriosis or other gynaecological conditions. It has also meant that not enough is know about how conditions that affect both men and women impact them in different ways.

Over the last year, and in line with research recommendations identified through the publication of the Women’s Health Strategy in July 2022, we have advertised a number of calls to strengthen the evidence base around areas of specific relevance to the health and wellbeing of women. This is an area of continuing priority. The EME Programme is therefore inviting applications for efficacy studies to strengthen this evidence base further, which are complementary in filling in the gaps in the NIHR portfolio while meeting the priority areas as set out by the Women’s Health Strategy.

Call scope

All proposals submitted must describe an evaluation of an intervention or technology, which falls within the scope of the EME Programme. Applications are expected to detail the clinical need, scientific rationale and proof of concept for the intervention, as well as how the study has the potential to improve women's health. Applicants are encouraged to consider opportunities to embed the testing of mechanistic hypotheses within the main study, where

Under this call, the EME Programme is interested in all conditions and areas of research that focus on improving the health and wellbeing of women.

Applications are particularly encouraged in the following areas:

  • Areas of research within which women have been historically under-represented.
  • Topics that are under-represented in the EME and HTA portfolios. Applicants can undertake searches of the funded portfolio on the NIHR Funding and Awards website.
  • Hypothesis-testing mechanistic studies to examine a differential response to a treatment between men and women (“mechanism of action” research). This may be embedded within an efficacy study, or make use of patients or samples from an existing NIHR study or other completed study, with the same eligibility criteria as a mechanistic study application to the current EME Researcher-Led funding opportunity.
  • Rare diseases that affect women.

Out of scope

Comparative effectiveness studies and those evaluating interventions already in use in the NHS may be more suited to the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme.

Non-NHS public health interventions at a population or group level may be more suited to the Public Health Research (PHR) Programme. Women's health is an area of continued research interest for the PHR Programme.

Studies looking to provide evidence to improve the quality, accessibility and organisation of health and social care services may be more suited to the Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme (HSDR)

Duration and costs

There is no set upper limit for the duration or cost of applications, however value for money will be a key consideration.