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NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 4 Common application queries


Published: 24 October 2022

Version: 1.0 - October 2022

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Please note, these common application queries are from our Groups 4 call which closed in November 2022. We anticipate that applicants for Groups 5 may have similar queries so may find this page helpful, however, we will publish a new page for Groups 5 specific common application queries after our webinar on 28 September 2023. 

Scope and aims of call

Can a Group proposal cover more than one topic e.g. child health, NCDs, infectious diseases, mental health?

Applications may include research in one or more research areas or may cover broad thematic areas. A responsive line to address emerging research needs of up to 5% of the budget can be incorporated; however, it is important to note that these funds may not be used as a contingency.

Is work in a single geography/country a concern? Or must work involve several different country partnerships?

There are no set requirements from NIHR on the number or geographic spread of countries, or the number of partnerships involved within a Global Health Research Group. Research teams can work in one LMIC country/ with a single partner or may involve several partners in a region or across the globe. Clear justification should be provided for the chosen approach and scale of partnership plans should be both manageable and proportionate to aims of the Group.

Does the programme of work have to be a maximum of 4 years or can it be shorter?

Shorter durations that match the scale and ambition of the research programme are supported.

Are environmental exposures and their effect on health outcomes within remit for the Groups call? Is agriculture, nutrition and health nexus also within remit for this call?

If the proposed research meets the Groups call 4 aims and eligibility criteria and is focused on health-related and developmental outcomes which address LMIC needs, then proposals are likely to be in remit. Please contact for queries on the remit of individual proposals.

Can funding for Randomised Controlled Trials be requested?

Yes, funds for pilot or feasibility studies, and Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) can be requested but only where these are part of the wider programme of work. The Global Health Research Groups calls will not fund applications for single/individual trials or studies that are not embedded within a wider programme of research and capacity strengthening work. For more details see Groups 4 guidance on ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’.

How much research can be conducted in UK-based labs?

Research may be conducted in UK-based labs providing the direct and primary purpose of the research is to benefit LMICs and there is justification that this expertise cannot be provided by LMICs. Plans should be included to support development of this capacity in LMICs over the longer term.

Could the database for a project be housed in a country outside the UK that is not an LMIC?

Yes, it is possible to house a database in a country outside the UK, provided the standards of the UK data protection rules are met.

However, there may be restrictions depending on where the team are conducting the research, and whether/how data can be transferred outside of the country(ies). Applicants should consider whether there are data restrictions associated with the countries/partners they will be working with and clearly describe how they will manage these.

Can the partnership appoint one or more deputy leads for a Global Health Research Group?

Applications submitted to Global Health Research Group funding must be led by two Joint Lead applicants, one employed in a UK and one in an LMIC institution. Beyond this, applicants are free to structure their team and co-leadership as they deem appropriate.

Some plans will be developed with LMIC partners in the early stages of the award so it will be difficult to describe their methodology. What detail is expected in these cases?

It is recognised that for newly forming Global Health Research Groups and partnerships, the teams will not necessarily have identified all the research priorities and/or context relevant approaches and that some may research areas may be more early stage and developmental. Groups research programmes may include scoping studies, feasibility studies, needs analysis, economic analysis, pilot studies and potentially trials. However, plans to develop and refine research questions and adapt methods or approaches with LMICs should be described in the application.

Do you expect the UK partner to have a full time or part time programme manager?

See the core guidance. Programme management resourcing is dependent on the size and scale of the proposed programme of research and capacity strengthening and number of partnerships involved. Teams must consider the most appropriate split of programme management resource, whether full time in the UK or split between the UK and across LMIC partners, and this should be properly costed.

Can I apply to Groups to build on an NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) Development Award to undertake research in the same field, but expand the research questions and capacity strengthening?

Yes, where research is building on new or existing small scale partnerships within a research field developed through NIHR Global HPSR Development Awards (i.e. planning awards to inform substantive funding applications) you can apply for a Group award. If the major focus of the research programme is health policy and systems strengthening, then applicants should consider if the Global HPSR researcher-led calls are a better fit.

Who would own the IP generated from the study - would it be the UK host institute or can this be shared with an LMIC institute?

See the core guidance. It is the NIHR’s starting position that all arising foreground IP shall either (i) vest in the Contractor, or (ii) where a Collaboration Agreement is in place and has been approved by the Authority, vest in the relevant Collaborator (see section 2, clause 16 of the NIHR ODA Standard Research Contract v2.21). Teams should consider who is best placed to use, disseminate and/or commercially exploit the relevant intellectual property and/or database to maximise the opportunities to deliver patient benefit. This may be the Contractor or a Collaborator e.g. LMIC/non-LMIC.

Structure of team and expertise / institutional eligibility

Can there be Joint Lead Applicants from two different LMICs for Groups-call 4?

No for this call there must be two Joint Lead Applicants, one based at an eligible LMIC institution and one at an eligible UK institution. Contracting must be via the UK Joint Lead institute.

Is it possible to apply for funding that builds upon a prior or existing MRC / NIHR Global Health award? How different does the Groups programme and leadership need to be, for instance can this cover obvious next steps?

Yes applications are welcome that build on previous funding provided they meet the remit of the Groups call. Applications must clearly explain how the Group application specifically expands on prior research and partnerships to incorporate new health areas and/or geographies and capacity strengthening. Prior or current substantive NIHR GHR award holders should include a trajectory to develop future Principle Investigators (PIs) through clearly defined mentoring and support for less experienced PIs as Joint Leads/Co-applicants with mentoring by prior award holders/Joint leads as co-applicants.

Can I apply for more than one Group-call 4 award?

An individual cannot be named as a Joint Lead on more than one application to this call. Please note NIHR will not consider the same or substantially similar applications submitted across the different NIHR GHR programme calls.

I am a researcher at an LMIC-based research institution affiliated with a UK HEI, I have a part-time appointment in a UK/HIC institute. Am I eligible to apply as LMIC Joint Lead in a Global Health Research Group application?

Researchers at LMIC-based academic Research Institutes that are affiliated with a UK or other High-Income Country (HIC) HEI are eligible to apply as (Joint) Lead, provided that the LMIC academic Research Institute meets the institutional eligibility criteria outlined in the core guidance, maintains its scientific independence from the UK/other HIC HEI, and is considered an entity of its own. These institutes are expected to have strong local research governance and research support services; have a legal framework in place locally for conducting research and training, and be appropriately integrated into the local health system. It is expected that these organisations are fully operational in the LMIC, with capacity to employ staff, own assets, manage finances and take ownership of contractual obligations.

Lead Applicants are normally researchers employed at an eligible LMIC or UK-based Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Institute, who have a demonstrable ability to lead and manage a substantial large-scale programme of global health research with established reputation and appropriate standing within their employing organisations. NIHR will carefully review applications proposing a (Joint) Lead Applicant holding

Are Non-Governmental Organisations or Research Foundations eligible to be joint leads?

Please see the eligibility section of the core guidance, as linked at the top of this document.

Are you interested in research in all ODA-eligible LMICs or is there a specific interest in Low income countries? Are China and India still ODA-eligible countries?

NIHR funds applied health research that directly and primarily benefits people in any country on the OECD DAC list.

Are there any specific considerations for research based in upper middle-income countries?

All Group programmes, regardless of whether their research is based in lower income or upper middle income countries, are expected to ensure benefits for the most vulnerable and marginalised populations living in countries on the OECD DAC list, and to ultimately improve health outcomes and address their development challenges. Furthermore, the Funding Committee will consider the likely impact of the proposed work (i.e. likelihood of significant contribution to the evidence base in the relevant area, pathways to improvement in health, health equity, wellbeing, lives saved and economic, social and cultural benefits in ODA-eligible countries). All Group programmes are expected to ensure benefits for the most vulnerable and marginalised populations living in countries on the DAC list and to ultimately improve health outcomes and address their development challenges.

Some funders specify that for collaborations with India, the area of focus problem being addressed must be a global problem and not an India specific problem only. Is this also applicable for this call?

There are no country-specific rules for any countries on the OECD DAC list. All Group programmes are expected to ensure benefits for the most vulnerable and marginalised populations living in countries on the DAC list and to ultimately improve health outcomes and address their development challenges.

Can someone on an honorary contract be a Joint Lead on a NIHR Global Health Research programme application?

Please see the core guidance for this call to find out more.

Is it acceptable to have an LMIC partner, institution or department, with limited research experience?

Yes, these are ambitious and developmental programmes which aim to develop research and research support capacity in LMICs. NIHR encourage developing such partnerships as appropriate either as a Joint Lead or as co-applicants on the award in line with the ambition and scale of the award. Applicants should ensure any less experienced members of the team are fully supported and mentored at all levels and this should be clearly set out within your research plan.

Can there be a Co-Applicant from another European country or non-LMIC country (alongside LMIC partner(s))?

Yes, in addition to the UK and LMIC Joint Leads you can have co-applicants from LMICs and other non-LMIC countries. Please justify the inclusion of non-LMICs making it clear why the expertise cannot be found within an LMIC and how their involvement will directly benefit LMICs.

Training and capacity strengthening

Will the Global Health Research Groups Call support clinical PhDs (Doctors, Nurses, Allied Health Professions) as academic training posts and allow for clinical salaries?

Yes, funding for LMIC part clinical PhD and/or academic PhD posts based in ODA-eligible countries completing work related to research activities can be requested.

Do all studentships (Masters/PhDs etc) need to be registered in the LMICs?

Please see the core guidance for this call, as linked at the top of this document.

Can funds be requested for UK students?

Please see the core guidance for this call. No. Student fees or stipends for High-Income Country (HIC) students are not eligible, regardless of the programme of study.

However, funding can be requested for example for other capacity strengthening activities for all team members (regardless of their nationality/location), such as training in technical research skills and personal development skills and other wider institutional capacity strengthening activities.

Do academic trainees need to be involved in the work of the Global Health Research Group?

Yes, a minimum of three academic training posts should be included in the application. Academic trainees are expected to contribute to the outputs and overall outcomes of the research and capacity strengthening funded through the Group.

Application process

Is there a Word version of the online form to facilitate the drafting of a proposal? Is the online application form the only way to submit an application?

A Word version of the application form can be found under the 'completing the online application form' section:

The Word version of the application form can only be used to help draft an application to transfer to the online form. Applicants must complete and can only submit a final application using the online/ electronic form.

What happens if a Joint Lead, or other team member, moves institutes between the initial submission and any subsequent assessment stage/ or final outcome?

You would need to notify us of any expected institutional or team changes as soon as possible to ensure changes are taken into account. Each named Joint Lead would need to be employed by an eligible institution; with one employed and based in an eligible LMIC institute and the administrative Joint Lead based in a UK institute.

Funding / finance

What is the expected split between capacity building and research programmes?

Please see the core guidance for this call, as linked at the top of this document.

Are MSc/PhD fees and Studentship stipends eligible for LMICs?

Please see the core guidance for this call, as linked at the top of this document.

Can you provide more information about the institutional contributions you are looking for from all institutions involved in an application?

At a minimum, institutions must give clear agreement to participate in the study and to supply space, facilities and the time required for the researcher(s) to carry out the work activities outlined in the application.

Examples of institutional support can include (but are not limited to):

  • Support for partner visits, including provision of office and lab space, access to online institutional library services and databases, and access to training.
  • Provision of space and resources for workshops
  • Access to training programmes including distance learning, and distance learning scholarships
  • Provision of central administrative project support
  • Matched funding for key team members or studentships
  • Contribution of other key staff time outside of the project team
  • Reduction in institutional overheads
  • Sustained institutional support for research and research support posts (developed through the award capacity strengthening activities) beyond the end of award

What is NIHR’s expectation around split of funding between the LMIC and the UK institutions?

Please see the core guidance for this call, as linked at the top of this document.

How is financial spend reimbursed? Are payments in arrears?

Normally, DHSC will make payments quarterly in arrears, however monthly payments may be made if specifically requested and justified by the Contracted Organisation. Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their collaborating organisation(s) including those in LMICs. NIHR requires Contracted Organisations to account for financial expenditure on an accrual (resource) basis rather than a cash basis. More information can be found in our Finance Guidance.

Are costs for Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) audits/certification and other related costs to reach certification such as training, assessment visits eligible?

Yes, these GFGP and other related costs will be supported.

What is the FCRA and how will this impact funding for research projects in India?

The Indian government Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) relates to payments to organisations in India. Organisations should follow the latest Indian government guidelines to confirm whether they require a FCRA license and that they have the appropriate measures in place to receive funding.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that any organisations in India involved in the research proposal, whether as Joint Lead Applicants, Co-Applicants or Collaborators, are fully compliant with the requirements of the FCRA. They should also ensure that the FCRA license is valid until beyond the end of the proposed contract period.

Do open access fees need to be included in budgets?

The new NIHR Open Access publication policy - for publications submitted on or after 1 June 2022 applies to Groups, meaning costs for Open Access do not need to be included in the application budget.

Is it possible to create an allowance for miscellaneous e.g. fluctuation in price of goods and services? A certain percentage of quotation?

No, this is not possible. All costs listed in project costings need to be based on the applicant’s best estimates. It is also not permitted to include costs categorised as ‘contingency’. Please see NIHR Global Health Research exchange rate guidance for more information.

Do you allow a cost for interventions when undertaking a study within this call?

If the proposed research requires an intervention to be delivered in the LMIC it is permitted to claim for External Intervention Costs (EIC) that are in excess of standard care provided in that local setting. Costs for interventions in the UK are not eligible.

Should UK Clinical Trials Units (CTU) be involved in Global Health Research Groups to manage the studies? And what proportion of the costs could be allocated to them?

This depends on the scale of the study and where it was based. The preference would be for any trial to be managed in the country where it was taking place in order to build local capacity but it would be up to the researchers to decide the best model for the research they were proposing and clearly justify this in the context of ODA funding criteria. CTU costs are eligible, however applications need to specify how including CTUs will provide direct and primary benefit to LMICs, including local capacity strengthening in clinical trial management. Justification for these costs must include detail of the role of individuals from the CTU including the amount of time they would dedicate specifically to the project and their activities required to ensure a successful project. The proportion of costs allocated should be reflected in the justification.

Would UK joint leads be supported (with travel/accommodation) to make extended visits to the LMIC site, e.g. for 2 months per year in order to deliver training, project supervision, perform specialist procedures?

Yes, travel/accommodation/subsistence costs for UK-based team members are allowed when visiting their LMIC partners, and vice-versa. Applicants are required to consider value for money and environmental impact as well as whether a trip is necessary and if alternative cheaper options (e.g. teleconferencing or video conferencing) offer a viable alternative.

Can you clarify how staff costs can be charged? We operate on a day rate consultancy model basis where our day rates include salary costs, overheads (including management time) and profit. Are we able to charge on this basis?

The staff costs should be calculated on the basis of actual estimated costs. These should include basic salary cost, geographical weighting and other allowances payable by the employer (e.g. pension, national insurance, apprenticeship levy). Profit is not an allowable item.

We may also ask for a copy of pay scales to verify salaries. The finance budget form will ask applicants to populate fields for basic salary, allowances, % full time equivalent, as well as yearly cost on the project.

Depending on what type of organisation you are part of the rules around indirect costs/overheads vary:

  • UK HEIs - indirect costs should be calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology,
  • UK NHS organisations - no indirect costs are allowed,
  • UK other organisations - indirect costs should be calculated in proportion to staff effort,
  • All LMIC organisations - indirect costs should be calculated in proportion to staff effort,
  • HIC organisations - no indirect costs are allowed.

All indirect costs and overheads should be justified and a breakdown must be provided where possible.

Please refer to the full Finance Guidance, GHR Groups - call 4.


If successful, can the contract start before July 2024?

This may be possible; however, we do not anticipate the contracting process would allow a much earlier start date.

Can you assist to identify a LMIC/UK partner?

Not directly but details of all NIHR award holders are available on our NIHR funding and awards website and NIHR open data platforms and you can contact us and ask to join our SLACK channel.

Can you provide a list of committee members who will review the applications?

Funding Committee members and names will be published on the NIHR website when available and will be included in the public minutes for each committee meeting.

Where do I find out about other NIHR global health calls that may be coming up?

Please sign up to our newsletter to receive alerts. Through the newsletter you will find all relevant call announcements.

What is the best way to contact NIHR if I have a question?

Please email us at if you have any questions that are not covered by this document.