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NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 4 Remit And Guidance


Published: 31 August 2022

Version: 1.0

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The closing date for electronic submission of applications is 1pm GMT on 23 November 2022. This will be a two-stage competition.


The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In 2015, the NIHR Global Health Research (GHR) portfolio was established to support applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the UK government.

The Global Health Research portfolio is underpinned by three principles which guide development and delivery. These are:

  1. Meet eligibility criteria as ODA, i.e. funded research directly and primarily benefits people in ODA-eligible countries on the OECD DAC-list
  2. Deliver high-quality applied health research, building on the Principles of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR): Impact, Excellence, Effectiveness, Inclusion, Collaboration
  3. Strengthen research capability and training through equitable partnerships

The NIHR has established a substantial portfolio of applied global health research and training in areas that are underfunded or where there is an unmet need. The portfolio aims are delivered through a combination of researcher-led and thematic calls, funding initiatives to develop and advance global health research career pathways both in LMICs and in the UK, and through partnerships with other major global health research funders. Together these have positioned the NIHR as a key player in supporting high-quality applied global health research.


Through the NIHR Global Health Research Groups awards (Groups), the NIHR delivers ODA funding to support the development of new equitable research partnerships between researchers from the UK and from ODA eligible countries. The partnerships support both identified training and capacity needs for academic research and programme support functions in low resource settings. Together these provide an important, sustainable platform for future research and resilience in those countries.

Find out more about the active and completed portfolio of NIHR Global Health Research Groups awards on our Funding Awards website.

The NIHR is pleased to launch Global Health Research Groups Call 4, which will meet the aims and ambitions set out in the following call specification.

Aims of the Global Health Research Groups programme

Building on the NIHR Global Health Research principles above, the strategic aim of the Global Health Research Groups programme is to:

  • build global research capacity by supporting specialist UK researchers to pivot to global health through new equitable and diverse UK-LMIC partnerships and networks;
  • support UK-LMIC partnerships seeking to expand research programmes into new health areas and/or geographies;
  • deliver high quality applied global health research targeted at the needs of people in LMICs, including e.g., scoping studies, needs analyses, economic analyses, pilot studies and potentially trials;
  • generate robust new scientific evidence that will improve health outcomes for people in low resource settings through improving practice and informing policy;
  • develop research leaders of the future and strengthen research management capability to support sustainability in partner countries.

Previous Group award holders who are building on prior funded research programmes or partnerships must clearly justify how their application:

  • demonstrates ambitious plans to complement and/or expand the previous research agenda into new health areas and/or geographies through equitable partnerships, and
  • continues to meet the capacity building aims of the Groups call through proposals for new Joint Leads with the appropriate support and mentorship from previous award holders. Previous award holders may act as Co-applicants to provide support and mentorship to the named Joint Lead.

Budget/Length of funding

Through this call, awards up to £3 million over a period of up to 4 years are available to NIHR Global Health Research Groups.

The amount requested and the length of the funding period should be fully justified according to the nature of the proposed research.

Applications must clearly describe the proposed way the award funds will be used and the distribution across LMIC and High-Income Country (HIC) partners. The budget should be driven by the complexity and level of ambition for the work plans and partnerships. The NIHR expectation is that funds will be distributed equitably between partners, and that the flow of funds will reflect where the majority of work is taking place (i.e. in LMICs), and strongly underpin capacity strengthening within LMICs. Where this is not possible applications should justify how the funds will primarily benefit LMIC organisations. The Funding Committee will carefully scrutinise the balance of funds between the UK and LMICs expecting a majority flow for the direct benefit of LMICs.

Any research or training activities must align with the funding call aims, be completed in the contracted award timeframes and adhere with finance guidance for the call.

Eligible costs for NIHR Groups

  • Direct costs
  • Staff costs
  • Travel, Subsistence and Conference costs
  • Equipment
  • Consumables
  • Community Engagement and Involvement
  • Dissemination
  • Risk Management and Assurance
  • Training and Development costs
  • External intervention costs
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning
  • Other Direct costs
  • Indirect costs / Overheads (guidance varies according to type of organisation)

Applicants will need to reflect the costing of the initial start-up phase within their proposed budget.

Applications can indicate a budget line for responsive or commissioned funding to address emerging priorities/needs and/or developmental work of up to 5% of the total budget. If included, the research costs must not exceed the maximum £3 million call limit These funds may not be used as contingency i.e., a reserve of money set aside to cover possible unforeseen future expenses. Activities supported from this budget line will be monitored by the NIHR through routine monitoring processes.

Further information is available in the NIHR GHR Finance Guidance 


Applications in any field of applied global health research for the direct and primary benefit of people living in one or more ODA-eligible country/ies will be considered.

In recognition that the COVID-19 outbreak continues to impact global health systems, applicants should consider the context of COVID-19 where relevant to their research proposal, both in terms of project planning and the generalisability of outcomes.

Applications for health systems research

Applicants wishing to propose a health policy and systems research approach may apply to this Groups call provided they meet the aims of the Groups call and that health policy and systems work is not the majority or sole focus.

Applicants with the majority of research and capacity strengthening plans focussing solely on applied health policy, health services and whole systems research should apply to future Global Health Policy and Systems Research programme calls. For examples of the types of Global HPSR funded please refer to Funding and Awards and to Global HPSR programme webpages.

Applications for research into multiple long-term conditions (MLTC)

Applicants proposing programmes of work to address the challenges of MLTCs should carefully review the guidance for the themed NIHR RIGHT 6 call in this area and consider best fit. If work will be delivered through existing partnerships and will focus on development and evaluation of interventions, they should apply to the RIGHT call.

NIHR reserves the right to transfer proposals between these calls.

If you are unsure which programme to apply for, please contact

Key criteria for funding

The following key criteria for this call encompass the overarching NIHR principles and contribute towards the aims of the NIHR GHR portfolio. The key criteria for funding are incorporated within the Funding Committee selection criteria which will be used to assess applications at stages 1 and 2.

Applications for Global Health Research Groups will be required to describe how they address the following key criteria for funding:

  1. Relevance of the proposed research: Applications should demonstrate that the proposed research addresses unmet health needs in ODA-eligible countries and fulfils a significant gap, with research plans based on a review of the local context/health system(s) and existing literature. The research will enable the development of individuals and research institutions to produce relevant high quality global health evidence to meet unmet needs in ODA-eligible countries.

  2. Research quality and excellence: The research plans should include clear research questions/objectives, sound design and detailed methodology to address the questions and meet planned objectives, with clear milestones, the identification and mitigation of possible risks, and factor in ethical considerations. Applications must include appropriate plans for effective programme management, governance, institutional support and contract management.

  3. Strength of the research team: Applications should demonstrate the research team has a depth of relevant expertise and promotes interdisciplinary approaches to working by including expertise / activities associated with a broad range of disciplines relevant to their chosen research area such as clinical medicine, health economics, epidemiology, health systems, statistics, and social sciences (noting this list is not exhaustive).

  4. Impact and sustainability: There is a clear and implementable strategy for pathways to impact, including research uptake and dissemination, with the potential to improve practice, inform policy, and support for future sustainability of research and partnerships in LMIC countries beyond the end of award (i.e., sustained 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).

  5. Capacity Strengthening: There are clear plans for a focused programme of research and research management capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level appropriate to the goals of the Group, including at least three academic training posts, with a named training lead, appropriate training of research support functions (training in finance, programme and research management) and informal training opportunities, which collectively enhance professional development and education in research.

  6. Community Engagement and Involvement: Relevant and appropriate stakeholder and community engagement and involvement should be evident throughout all stages of the research, from research priority setting and design, to delivery, dissemination, and impact evaluation activities. Plans to address barriers and effectively engage the most vulnerable and marginalised groups and relevant stakeholders and actors in the context over the lifetime of research programmes will be scrutinised by the committee.

  7. Equity of partnerships: The proposed research plans will establish or maintain equitable partnerships for research teams either new to delivering applied health research globally or expanding to new global partnerships to deliver applied global health research. Equity and collaboration should be demonstrated and embedded across all aspects of the research proposal, including; programme leadership, decision-making, capacity strengthening, governance, appropriate distribution of funds, ethics processes, data ownership, and dissemination of findings. Promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion is expected to be strongly reflected in all aspects of the planned research and within and across the research teams to ensure gender balance and leverage of existing expertise within ODA-eligible countries.

  8. Value for money: Evidence of a clear, well-justified budget that represents good value for money is required. Applications must demonstrate that all planned expenditure is proportionate and appropriate against the planned activities outlined in the application and consider Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity (please see the Global Health Research Programmes - Core Guidance for more information on value for money).

In Scope

This Global Health Research Group call will support applications which:

  • Involve specialist UK researchers developing new equitable and diverse UK-LMIC partnerships, or extending existing UK-LMIC partnerships to investigate new health areas and/or geographies, to develop ambitious and internationally competitive research programmes.
  • Deliver programmes with a planned start-up phase that will:
    • develop or expand research partnerships and networks, and
    • undertake LMIC-led needs analyses through engagement with policy makers, evidence users and local communities, to refine relevant research questions and priorities.
  • Propose applied health research programmes that primarily and directly address the challenges faced by people and patients in ODA-eligible country/ies.
  • Include interdisciplinary applied research teams with relevant experience, to ensure research has potential to transfer into benefits for people living in LMICs.
  • Include relevant engagement with policy makers, communities, patients and the public, civil society organisations and charities over the lifetime of the programme.
  • Demonstrate equity and collaboration in programme leadership, decision-making, capacity strengthening, governance, appropriate distribution of funds, ethics processes, data ownership, and dissemination of findings.
  • Propose a coherent and sustainable plan for capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level and generalisability to regional/national needs.
  • Include a trajectory for future leaders where less experienced Principle Investigators are fully supported and mentored to be a Joint Lead or Co-applicant.
  • Demonstrate the strength of institutional commitment to the research partnership and to sustained research capacity strengthening.
  • Research partnerships clearly meet locally or regionally identified needs.
  • Can inform local and national plans for change.
  • Supports and embeds South-South learning and bi-directional South-North learning.
  • Address issues of equity by incorporating research questions around gender, age, social barriers to health and economic impact.

Additionally, applications that include elements of methodology research as part of their wider programme of research are welcome. Proposed projects must:

  • meet a clear methods gap
  • contribute to the aims of the award
  • have generalised applicability to improve health research methods in LMICs.

Methodology research proposals should not form a significant part of the overall research plans and must not exceed 5% of the overall award value.

Out of scope

Global Health Research Group awards will NOT support applications which:

  • Do not meet the published call criteria for Global Health Research Groups.
  • Are not broad multifaceted research and capacity building programmes.
  • Build on prior work without the clear development of new equitable and diverse UK-LMIC partnerships and networks. Or are not clearly expanding the research programme into new health areas and/or geographies.
  • Consist solely of one of the following:
    • large single randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of interventions, any RCT must be part of a wider cohesive programme of research and capacity development work
    • epidemiological studies
    • evidence synthesis (e.g., systematic reviews)
    • evaluations of existing services, where the programme of work does not include evidence-based development and improvement of these services
    • replicating research already undertaken in High-Income Countries – research proposals should be clearly relevant to the ODA-eligible country/ies in which the research is being undertaken
    • implementation science
    • dissemination
  • Applications which primarily focus on:
    • establishing new patient cohorts, biobanks or bio-sample collections or data collection studies (samples or data from existing biobanks, patient registries cohorts may be used)
    • observational research, secondary research or health policy implementation
    • basic laboratory/discovery research or experimental medicine.


ODA eligibility

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

In order to be eligible to receive NIHR Global Health Research funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:

  • which country or countries on the OECD of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit;
  • how the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries;
  • how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of people in a country or countries on the OECD DAC list.

Where some elements of the research are not undertaken in an ODA-eligible country during the award (including where a country graduates from the DAC list during the lifetime of the award or there is a need for specialist expertise) the application must clearly state the reasons for this with due consideration to the benefit of the research to ODA-eligible countries.

Further information 

Who can apply?

NIHR Global Health Research Groups applications must have two Joint Lead Applicants based:

  • one at an eligible LMIC institution
  • one at an eligible UK institution

Funding and contracting must take place via the UK administering institution (UK Joint Lead).

Both the UK and LMIC Joint Lead institutions must be eligible Higher Education Institutions (HEI) or Research Institutes (please refer to the Core Guidance for details). Joint Lead Applicants will normally be Principle Investigators employed by the named UK Joint Lead or LMIC Joint Lead HEI or Research Institute. Dependent on the nature of the partnership, there may be other affiliated Co-applicants (in addition to the two Joint Lead Applicants), and Collaborators including service level providers.

An individual cannot be named as Joint Lead on more than one application to NIHR GHR Groups Call 4.

HEI or Research Institutes may submit more than one application as Joint Lead, provided each application is distinct in its aims and objectives. Institutions submitting multiple applications as Joint Leads must take into account that the NIHR will fund no more than four awards per Joint Lead Institution.

Institutions submitting multiple applications as Joint Leads should consider:

  • NIHR’s position on Equality Diversity and Inclusion - including but not limited to gender balance - at all levels of the awards, including leadership, governance and delivery;
  • the aims of the call which are to bring in new entrants and build research capacity, including through a diversity of leadership models to develop future global research leaders.

NIHR’s expectation is that Lead Applicants from a single institution will be equally balanced between genders. Justification should be provided where this is not possible and the plans in place to address this over the longer term.

Submissions to more than one NIHR Programme

NIHR will not accept the same or substantially similar applications across multiple NIHR Global Health Research Calls. Please refer to the Core Guidance for more information.

Existing NIHR GHR award holders are eligible to apply to this call provided there is assurance they have sufficient plans in terms of time and resources available to them to deliver concurrent awards successfully and make a robust and compelling case for funding. They should also clearly explain how the application specifically builds on, or is complementary to any previously funded research, and how the proposed research continues to drive forward an ambitious research agenda. This 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.

Eligible Co-applicant institutions

Non-health research institutions and commercial organisations including for-profit arms of organisations) or governmental agencies can act as Co-Applicants or Collaborators, provided their expertise is relevant to the plans proposed and the benefits are clear. There are no restrictions placed on the number of Co-applicants/Collaborators necessary to effectively deliver the aims of Group’s research awards, but they do need to be fully justified and manageable. For more detailed information see Core Guidance Research Expertise/ Structure of Team.

If you are unsure of eligibility, please contact us by emailing

Please refer to the Global Health Research Programmes Core Guidance for further supplementary and detailed guidance for your application. 

Selection Criteria

Stage 1 applications will be assessed against meeting the eligibility and call specification and scope in addition to the following four key selection criteria:

  • Relevance of the proposed research
  • Research quality and excellence
  • Strength of the research team
  • Impact and sustainability

Please refer to the key criteria for funding for details on the demonstrated requirements for applications to meet each of these criteria. At Stage 1, applicants are expected to consider key criteria 5-8 although less detail will be required at Stage 1. Applicants should, however, ensure these are met and embedded throughout their proposal during its development.

At Stage 2, the Funding Committee will assess research proposals based on all key criteria listed. Applicants who are successful at Stage 1 will be expected to further develop their proposal and provide sufficient detail on all the criteria at Stage 2 (listed below).

The selection criteria for Stage 2 are all eligibility criteria and following key criteria for funding are met:

  1. Relevance of the Proposed Research
  2. Research Quality and Excellence
  3. Strength of the research team
  4. Impact and Sustainability
  5. Capacity Strengthening
  6. Community Engagement and Involvement
  7. Equity of Partnerships
  8. Value for money

Selection process

NIHR Groups Call 4 is a two-stage competition. Stage 1 is an outline and short-listing stage. Shortlisted Stage 1 applicants will be invited to submit a stage 2 full application.

All eligible applications at Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be considered by an independent international Funding Committee that will make recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care on which applications should be supported.

If high numbers of applications are received, the NIHR may adopt a triage process where members of the Funding Committee will review and score applications against published eligibility and selection criteria ahead of the Funding Committee meeting. Those proposals which score below the agreed threshold will be rejected at that point. High-scoring applications will proceed to shortlisting consideration by the Funding Committee.

DHSC retains the right to make strategic decisions at the final outcome stage (following stage 2 Funding Committee). DHSC final funding decisions will be based on available budget, overall portfolio balance, alignment with relevant UK Government policies, NIHR strategic priorities, institutional balance and ranking based on scientific quality.


  • Call opens for applications - 31 August 2022
    • Webinar briefing event - 27 September 2022 (recording available here)
    • Deadline for remit queries - 15 November 2022*
    • Application deadline – Stage 1 Groups Call 4 23 November 2022 1pm UK time
  • Stage 1 Shortlisting - Funding Committee Mid-January 2023
    • Notification of outcomes - w/c 20 February 2023
  • Stage 2 Call opens for successful applications w/c 20 February 2023
    • Application deadline – Stage 2 24 May 2023 1pm UK time
    • Peer review – comments shared with applicants July 2023
    • Funding committee stage 2 October 2023
    • Applicants informed of outcomes October/November 2023
    • Contracts start 01 July 2024

*NIHR will not guarantee they will be able to answer queries about the remit or content of applications after this date.

Applicants will be notified of outcomes by end October 2023 and contracts for Groups must start on, or before, 01 July 2024.

Contractor Institutions should review the terms of the current DHSC ODA research contract and consider how these terms will be flowed to downstream research delivery partners.

The NIHR will request completion of a Due Diligence assessment from the contractor institution from successful applicants prior to contracting. Submission of Risk Registers and a Theory of Change will be included as contracted milestone deliverables.

Annual milestones and deliverables will be monitored and reviewed/agreed annually and aligned with original approved Group aims and deliverables. The NIHR will review the progress of funded Global Health Research Groups after the first six months of their contracts to ensure the effective set up and delivery of initial milestones has been achieved. Contracts will then be actively monitored through quarterly finance/high level progress reporting and annual milestones monitored through annual progress reports.

Completing your online application

You must complete an online application via the REALMS system. The closing date for applications is 23 November 2022 at 1pm UK time for Stage 1.

  • Applications will not be accepted if submitted after the exact closing date and time, the system will automatically prevent this from happening.
  • It is the applicants’ responsibility to allow sufficient time to submit an application.
  • Applicants must contact the NIHR Groups Global Health team by emailing or calling (+44) 023 8059 1859 immediately if they think there is a system problem, whilst attempting to continue with their submission.

Please refer to Guidance for completing your application form.

Briefing event

The NIHR Global Health Research Groups Call 4 Webinar was held on 27th September 2022. The recording of the webinar is available on YouTube. A transcript is also available.

Slides for the webinar are available on request, by emailing