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Guidance for HPSR Committee applicants 2019



Invitation for new Committee Members to join the NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research programme Funding Committees

Background information

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Significant gaps exist in health policy and systems research activity relevant to LMIC contexts, and the NIHR, through expertise in the UK and DAC list country context, is well placed to meet these needs, building on existing national and global health research programmes including Global Health Research Units and Groups and the Research for Innovation and Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) calls.

The NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) Programme launched in June 2019 and comprises a series of calls for awards which aim to support research to improve whole health systems and health services in ODA-eligible countries on the DAC list. Research proposals must support development of equitable partnerships between LMIC and UK researchers, who together will engage stakeholders to identify and address priorities for research in health policy and health systems and develop plans for capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing.

Our recruitment round seeks to appoint new Members to Global HPSR Funding Committees which are managed by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) based at the University of Southampton. NETSCC is a team of managers, academics, clinicians, researchers and support staff that oversee the management and delivery of a number of NIHR research programmes, including the recruitment process for Funding Committee Members.


What are NIHR Funding Committees?

These are composed of independent individuals with the broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and experience needed to get a well-rounded view of research needs and research assessment. We seek input from patients, members of the public, academics, subject experts, clinical staff, service managers, health, social care and public health professionals. We would also welcome practioners and experts in community involvement and engagement within LMIC contexts.

These committees are essential to our research programmes as they provide independent input, assessing research briefs and proposals, and as such are the cornerstone to ensuring that only the highest quality research is funded.


What do NIHR Funding Committee Members do?

Our Funding Committees help to ensure that research meets the call criteria and is high quality, scientifically robust, represents good value for money, and will meet the needs of LMIC stakeholders and communities to strengthen and improve health systems and support research capacity and capability and knowledge exchange.

Funding Committee Members read, critically assess and prioritise research proposals meeting the call and funding criteria.

Meetings are usually held in London, UK. The Committee will meet for a maximum of two days, with advance preparation of around a day's work per day of meeting. There may also be additional face-to-face meetings and teleconferences. The time commitment varies, but is approximately 4 days per year.


How are Funding Committee Members appointed?

Where possible Funding Committee Members are usually appointed via open advert for a fixed period of time. Where particular areas of knowledge, skills or contextual experience in DAC list countries are required to support the work of a particular Committee, an individual may be directly approached and appointed by the Programme on an adhoc basis.

Membership is open to all with the necessary experience. We embrace diversity and are committed to equality of opportunity  and welcome applications from all sections of the community. For Global Health Committees, we are particularly interested in opening up the membership to experience and expertise from a wide range of geographical locations and contexts, particularly from countries listed on the OECD DAC list. 

Members are asked to subscribe to our mailing list to receive email updates, newsletters and information about calls for proposals. Members can unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time.

The names of Funding Committee Members are published on the NIHR website under the relevant research programme.


Role description, responsibilities, and Terms and Conditions

Funding Committee Member role and responsibilities

  1. To act in accordance with the agreed Committee Terms of Reference (ToR). An offer to become a Member will include details of the ToR, an example Terms of Reference are shown in Appendix A

  2. To prepare for meetings by reading the agenda papers and research applications in advance and raising any issues for clarification with NIHR programme staff. The agenda and associated papers are lengthy documents and will require considerable preparation.

  3. From your professional perspective, undertake a detailed review of research applications along with other papers, as required by the role, and provide feedback and contribute to general discussion of the merits of each at the meeting.

  4. To declare any conflict of interest in accordance with the protocols and TOR of the Funding Committee and as instructed by the Chair.

  5. To submit reviews by the stated deadline via the Management Information System (MIS).

  6. To attend meetings in person and to be an active Member of the Funding Committee.

  7. To contribute to discussions and decision-making that take place during meetings, drawing on overall knowledge and experience, and with consideration of the papers provided.

  8. To participate in appropriate training, development and support activities (likely to be the equivalent of one day per year).

  9. To maintain the confidentiality of agenda papers, discussion and decisions made.

  10. To liaise promptly with NIHR programme staff regarding all administrative matters relating to the meeting, for example, submission of required paperwork, expense forms, commitment to meeting dates and confirming attendance.

  11. To inform NIHR programme staff of any changes to contact details and to update member profile regularly (e.g. annually when prompted by programme staff).


Generic person specification

Candidates should have experience at a senior level within their area of expertise, and have a significant record of research and publication, and/or extensive senior management or experience within the global health policy and systems research context.


  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of the importance of, and need for, global health policy and systems research.  A track record of research achievement and leadership is also required. For community engagement and involvement specialists a demonstration of a track record of actively working with LMIC communities on health system issues is required.

  • Relevant global health policy, health services and/or health systems research background; current or recent experience of working in or with the global health policy and systems research sectors at a senior level. For some roles an academic background may be appropriate.

  • Relevant professional qualifications and registrations, and experience at a senior level in field of expertise.

  • Work-based or professional knowledge or experience relevant to the remit of the programme. 
  • Experience of assimilating a large volume of written information and condensing it into a succinct critical appraisal of the information provided. 
  • Experience of participating in formal meetings, and ability to present reports and contribute to group discussion. 
  • Ability to communicate efficiently and effectively and to provide constructive feedback. 
  • Computer literate, and willing to use a computer-based management information system. 
  • Discretion in handling confidential information.


  • Knowledge and experience of peer review processes. 
  • Experience of peer review for large global health research funders e.g. NIHR GHR Programmes. 
  • Up to date knowledge of research and developments within global health policy and systems research including research methods and innovative developments.

Terms and Conditions

Duration of role: Successful candidates will be advised of their term of office at the time of appointment. 

Payment: Members are not paid to undertake the role (with the exception of those members from community and civil society organisations), however they can claim reasonable expenses associated with their Committee work (e.g. travel costs) in accordance with our policy (Financial Guidance for NIHR Global Health Research Programme Funding Committee Members: Travel and Subsistence).  

Support for members: Support is available from NIHR programme staff at any time. Programme staff will work with new members to ensure an appropriate induction programme is in place. 

Attendance: If members are unable to attend a meeting they should still undertake assessment of their allocated Funding Committee applications to ensure that their views are represented at the meeting. If a member is unable to attend three consecutive meetings (unless due to exceptional circumstances) they may be asked to tender their resignation so that a new member may be appointed. 

Declarations of interests/conflict of interests: All members are required to declare if they have any interest that might be in conflict with their Committee Member role, for example whether they are connected to an application to be discussed as either an applicant or co-applicant. We will ask any member with a conflict of interest relating to applicants to leave the room for that agenda item. Members should declare any conflict of interest as set out in the Terms of Reference such as if the member could gain financially if the research was funded. If there is a potential conflict of interest, the risk should be raised with the programme staff or meeting Chair immediately. In addition, NIHR Committee Members are required to complete and sign a declaration of interests form when they join; this information is to be reviewed and updated at least annually thereafter. Full details on the management and declaration of potential Conflict of Interests can be found within the Terms of Reference for the Committee. 

Continued Professional Development (CPD): In discussion with the relevant professional body, members may be able to claim CPD points. Where appropriate, NETSCC will provide written confirmation of a member's contribution.


How to apply

To apply for a role you need to undertake the following steps:

  1. Review the advert, role description and person specification (sections 2 and 3 of this document) and the additional information provided in appendix A.
  2. Complete the online application form, and equal opportunities monitoring form (optional). 

  3. In addition to your application form, provide an up to date and relevant summary curriculum vitae (two to four pages) and any additional relevant information such as a summary publications list. 

  4. Submit your application by the close date stated on the website.
  5. Once your application has been submitted you will receive an on-screen message confirming receipt of your application. If you have any queries regarding your application please contact in the first instance.


Appendix A

NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre  

NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research Funding Committee - Commissioned Awards

Terms of Reference

  1. Authority and purpose
    1. To review single stage proposals for Commissioned Awards funding within the NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) Programme.

    2. To score these against agreed advertised remit and funding criteria and provide a final ranked list of funding recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

    3. To provide feedback to applicants and make recommendations on conditional requirements for funding.

    4. All recommendations will require final approval by DHSC.

    5. The committee's recommendation and subsequent DHSC approvals will be final and will not be open to appeal.

  2. Reports to
    1. The NIHR Global HPSR Funding Committee reports to DHSC.

  3. Remit
    1. To consider scientific rigour, quality, value for money and sustainability of applications submitted under the following Commissioned Awards opportunity taking account of the aim and ethos of awards and remit and funding criteria (extract from advertised call guidance):

Commissioned Awards Remit

  • Relevance and quality of the proposed research to the call remit and key criteria for funding (a - e).
  • All eligibility criteria are met.

  • Strength of plans in terms of milestones and likelihood of successful delivery within the timeframe, and strength of structures for programme management, delivery, governance and assurance

  • Strength of plans for Community Engagement and Involvement.

  • Clarity of pathways to impact for the proposed work to translate findings and influence health systems strengthening in low resource settings. To include: likelihood of significant contribution of the research to the evidence base in the relevant area; capacity strengthening; pathways to improvements in health, wellbeing and lives saved; economic and social benefits in ODA-eligible countries; potential to effectively engage and influence policy makers, community and other relevant stakeholders.

  • Equity and strength of partnerships between Joint Lead Applicants, the research partnership/consortium and Collaborators, and their relevant expertise and track- record.  

  • A justified budget and resourcing that represents good value for money.


Commissioned Awards Funding Criteria

  1. Research plans build on established partnerships between two Joint Lead Applicants (one from an LMIC and one from a UK institution), and up to a further three research Co-Applicants, who will form a research team able to support knowledge generation and exchange and strengthen relevant capacity and capability development.

  2. Research plans are based on a review of the local context, and demonstrate how the application is rooted in existing research literature and health system(s);

  3. The proposed research draws on an LMIC-led needs analysis, which has refined relevant research questions and priorities through engagement with policy makers, evidence users and local communities, as appropriate. Where partner institutions are in middle-income countries on the DAC list, applications should clearly demonstrate how the research will improve the health and welfare of the most vulnerable populations and how their findings could have wider applicability to other low resource settings.

  4. There are clear plans for developing institutional and individual research capacity and capability (for example research career development programmes and training; exchanges with policy-making institutions/practice-based settings; and grant management, finance management and contracting etc)

  5. A clear and implementable strategy for pathways to impact including research uptake and dissemination, based on a theory of change or equivalent.


ODA compliance criteria

  • Applications demonstratehowtheywillmeetODA 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; an
    • how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of a country or countries on the DAC list.


  1. Frequency, location and timing of meetings
    1. The Funding Committee will meet once in 2020 to consider applications submitted to the Commissioned Awards call.

    2. Meetings will take place face to face in London, UK.

    3. The Committee will meet for a maximum of two days, with advance preparation of around a day’s work per day of meeting.

    4. There may also be additional face-to-face meetings and teleconferences.

    5. The time commitment varies, but is approximately 4 days per year.


  1. Membership
    1. Members will abide by a formally documented set of requirements that include these Terms of Reference, Committee Member Duties, Conflict of Interest policies and Guidance on the scoring criteria.

    2. 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.

    3. Acceptance of membership on the NIHR Global HPSR Funding Committee and the completion of the annual declaration of long-term predicable interests is evidence of Member’s agreement in writing.

    4. Funding Committee structure
      - Chair
      - 2 x Deputy Chairs
      - Members (known as Designated Committee Members – DCMs when allocated to specific applications for review) appointed by DHSC via NETSCC.

    5. Duration of Tenure
      Chair, Deputy Chairs and Committee Members have been appointed for the duration of one year in the first instance, with the option to extend for a further term. 


  1. Conflicts of Interest
    1. Conflicts of interest are judged on an application basis and will use a value-based approach.

    2. All Committee Members should consider and declare whether they have a perceived conflict of interest for any application under consideration by the committee.

    3. All perceived conflicts of Interest should be declared at the earliest opportunity before the committee meeting to the secretariat or Chair.

    4. 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.

    5. 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 only if:

-  they are a lead or co-applicant on a proposal under consideration

-  or if any of 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 potential 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 panel members will be asked to either:

 1) remain for the item and participate in discussions but not vote

 2) or remain and participate in both discussions and voting

 Declared conflicts, the decision and those leaving the room will be recorded in the minutes.


  1. Quorum arrangements
    1. Meeting Quorum:

Under normal circumstances, a Committee meeting will be quorate if two-thirds of the Members attend. However, where an emergency situation arises that severely limits the ability of members to attend, a Committee meeting may be quorate if         half  of the Members attend. Emergency situations include adverse weather/travel conditions and unexpected sickness or last minute absence affecting several committee members on the day.

In all circumstances, the Committee will be quorate only if attended by the Chair of the Committee, or nominated Deputy Chair.

Quoracy at per item level is not specified. 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 Committee           members being present on a case by case basis.

2. 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.

Committee member conflicts and attendance for each agenda item are considered by the secretariat in advance of 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 to enable robust discussion and to inform and advise the Chair.

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.

  1. Observers
  • May include
    • DHSC Global Health Research programme advisors
    • Representatives from relevant global health research funders e.g. DFID, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Wellcome, as appropriate
    • Representatives from other parts of NIHR

  1. Approval
  • Approved by the Chair of the Funding Committee.
  • Approved date:  dd/mm/yy
  • Review date: dd/mm/yy