Global Health Research Units 2 and Groups 3 - Funding Committee Terms of Reference
Authority and purpose
- To review single stage proposals for NIHR Global Health Research Units Call 2 and NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 3 Award funding within the NIHR Global Health Research Programme.
- To score these against advertised remit, eligibility and selection criteria and provide a final ranked list of funding recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
- To provide feedback to applicants and make recommendations on conditional requirements for funding.
- All funding recommendations will require final approval by DHSC.
- The Funding Committee’s recommendation and subsequent DHSC approvals will be final and will not be open to appeal.
- The NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) are the agents responsible for the management of NIHR Global Health Research Units Call 2 and Groups Call 3 awards on behalf of the DHSC. NETSCC provide secretariat support to the funding committees and monitor the contractual delivery of funded awards.
- The NIHR Global Health Research Units Call 2 and NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 3 Funding Committees report to DHSC.
- To review and assess applications submitted under the NIHR Global Health Research Units Call 2 and/or NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 3 against the published remit, eligibility and selection criteria and provide recommendations for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care.
NIHR Global Health Research Units and NIHR Global Health Research Groups Selection Criteria
- All Eligibility Criteria and relevant Key Criteria for Funding are met: Excellence, Equitable Partnerships, Effectiveness, Capacity Strengthening, Stakeholder and Community Involvement, Impact and Sustainability. Key Criteria for Funding are available here for Units and here for Groups.
- Relevance of the proposed research in addressing LMIC needs and research requirements outlined in the scope.
- Quality of the research design and work plan (i.e. clear research questions/objectives, sound design and detailed methodology to address the questions/meet the objectives; clear milestones, identification of possible risks and factoring in of ethical considerations).
- Strength of the NIHR Global Health Research team (i.e. depth of relevant interdisciplinary expertise, including social science, and the respective track record of applicants in the specified area).
- Quality of the proposed management and governance arrangements (i.e. clear definition of roles, risk management arrangements and how the efforts of individuals will be coordinated).
- Impact of the proposed work (i.e. likelihood of significant contribution to the evidence base in the relevant area, pathways to improvement in health, wellbeing, lives saved and economic, social and cultural benefits in ODA-eligible countries) and plans for engagement with policy makers, communities and the public at an early stage.
- Strength of plans for Community Engagement and Involvement.
- Value for money.
Applications demonstrate how they will meet ODA compliance criteria by answering:
- which LMIC(s) on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit;
- how the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries; and
- how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of a country or countries on the DAC list.
Frequency, location and timing of meetings
- The Funding Committees will meet twice in 2021 to consider applications submitted to the NIHR Global Health Research Units Call 2 and NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 3.
- Meetings are usually held face-to-face in London, UK, but dependent on the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic may be delivered virtually.
- Each Funding Committee meeting will take place over a maximum of 1.5 days (a maximum of three days in total), with advance preparation of around a day’s work per day of meeting.
- Members are required to hold at least one full day for advance preparation per day of the Funding Committee meeting attended, in which to undertake in-depth reviews for their assigned applications, and to review all other applications.
- Additional time may also be required to support activities such as triage where high volumes of applications are received, and other ad hoc activities.
- Members will abide by a formally documented set of requirements that include these Terms of Reference, Funding Committee member Duties, and guidance on the scoring criteria.
- Funding Committee members should be aware of the Fraud Act 2006, specifically the potential legislative consequences of failing to comply with the conflicts of interest requirements.
- Acceptance of membership on the NIHR Global Health Research Funding Committee and the completion of the annual declaration of long-term predicable interests is evidence of member’s agreement in writing that they will abide by the terms set out in these documents.
- Funding Committee structure:
- Up to two Deputy Chairs
- Members (known as Designated Committee Members (DCMs) appointed by DHSC via NETSCC.
- Duration of Tenure:
The Chair, Deputy Chairs and Committee members are appointed for the duration of the Funding Committees, i.e. to attend both of the 2021 meetings inclusive of all required pre and post-meeting activities.
Conflicts of Interest
- Conflicts of interest are judged on an application basis and will use a value-based approach.
- All Funding Committee members should consider and declare whether they have a perceived conflict of interest for any application under consideration by the Funding Committee.
- All perceived conflicts of interest should be declared at the earliest opportunity before the Funding Committee meeting to the secretariat or Chair.
- If a conflict of interest is identified or declared the member will no longer have access to the conflicted application or any of the associated papers.
- Members with a material conflict of interest shall in all circumstances leave the meeting for the discussion of that item. The degree of conflict of interest is measured as follows:
The Chair shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest if:
any of the applicants are from the same institution
or there is a personal relationship with any of the applicants
Committee members shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest if:
they are a lead or co-applicant on a proposal under consideration
or if any of the applicants are from the same department
or there is a personal relationship with any of the applicants.
Where an applicant is from the same Institution as a Committee member, a conflict of interest will not necessarily arise. A value-based approach will be taken to manage potential conflicts at the discretion of the Chair. Should the Chair and secretariat decide that a material conflict of interest does exist, that Committee member shall leave the meeting for the duration of the relevant item.
For other less material conflicts which are declared, the Chair and secretariat will agree the best value-based approach for management. This will depend on the nature and extent of the conflict and will balance the value of the individuals input against any perceived impact on the integrity of the decision-making process.
For less material conflicts the committee members will be asked to either:
- remain for the item and participate in discussions but not vote
- or remain and participate in both discussions and voting
Declared conflicts, the decision and those leaving the room will be recorded in the minutes.
- Meeting quorum:
Under normal circumstances, a Funding Committee meeting will be quorate if two-thirds of the Members attend. Quoracy at per item level is not specified. However, where an emergency situation arises that severely limits the ability of members to attend, a Funding Committee meeting may be quorate if half of the members are present. Emergency situations include adverse weather/travel conditions, unexpected restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and unexpected sickness or last-minute absence affecting several Funding Committee members on the day. In all circumstances, the Funding Committee will be only quorate if the Chair or nominated Deputy Chair are able to attend. The secretariat oversees matters of quorum and advises where less than 50% of the members are present for each proposal discussion. The Chair has discretion to agree to lower numbers of Funding Committee members being present on a case by case basis.
- Appropriate levels of expertise required to inform funding recommendations:
Principles guiding the Chair’s decisions are the presence of appropriate and proportionate expert input to ensure transparent and robust, timely decision-making and scoring and sound advice to the Chair. The number of members present with the appropriate expertise must be proportionate to the cost, complexity, timeliness and potential risks of the proposed research, and considerations will further take account of the stage of the application process, the quality and number of appropriate external expert reviews to ensure robust Committee discussions and scoring.
Funding Committee member conflicts and attendance for each agenda item are considered by the secretariat in advance of the Funding Committee meeting and discussed during the Chair’s Brief teleconference. Where member attendance will be less than half of the membership for an agenda item, additional expert input will be considered on a case by case basis. Additional expertise will be sought where agreed necessary (e.g. additional expert review, member dial in, ad-hoc membership etc.) to ensure proportionate and appropriate expert input that will enable robust discussion to inform decision-making.
Where conflicts are declared late on the day then the Chair has discretion to decide where members present fall below 50%, whether the appropriate and proportionate levels of expertise and advice are present and available to ensure a robust discussion. Where this is not the case, the Chair has discretion to decide whether the item should be deferred to a later meeting/sub-committee discussion or teleconference.
- DHSC Global Health Research programme advisors
- Representatives from relevant global health research funders, e.g. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Wellcome, as appropriate
- Representatives from other parts of the NIHR