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NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC): Where Can I Go?


Published: 07 June 2019

Version: 5.3 - November 2022

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This document details the types of activities taking place across the NIHR. Please note, this list is by no means exhaustive and we would encourage you to fully explore the wide range of facilities, expertise and opportunities available to you across the NIHR for your personal and professional development, and develop a placement that is bespoke to your individual training needs, background, skills/experiences and overall academic career development.

This document also highlights some of the links/collaborations NIHR sites may have with:-

  • Local authorities/local authority commissioned services/third sector and includes some of the relevant areas of work that they undertake together.
  • Tackling complex issues; with a focus on multiple long-term conditions/multi-morbidities; working across disciplines and specialisms.
  • Life Sciences/Med-tech/SME’s/Food Industry. 

This document will continue to be updated as we receive further information.

Please do reach out to the relevant NIHR centres Academic Career Development (ACD) Lead via the Find your Academic Career Development Lead document or named contact, to discuss any potential NIHR SPARC placement opportunities.

You can undertake a SPARC placement anywhere across the NIHR; however you must have discussed and sought agreement/permission from the Placement Host Institution.

Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs)

NIHR’s 20 Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies. The centres undertake research in research themes across a range of disease and therapeutic areas.

Barts BRC

Barts Biomedical Research Centre

Birmingham BRC

NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre

Bristol BRC

Bristol Biomedical Research Centre

Cambridge BRC

Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre

Exeter BRC

Exeter Biomedical Research Centre

Great Ormond Street Hospital BRC

Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre

The NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR GOSH BRC) is dedicated to paediatric research and aims to accelerate discoveries into the basis of childhood rare diseases and to develop novel diagnostics, imaging techniques and new treatments, including cellular and gene therapies.

For further information, please contact:

Imperial BRC

Imperial BRC website

Leeds BRC

Leeds BRC website

Leicester BRC

Leicester BRC website

Manchester BRC

Manchester BRC website

Maudsley BRC

Maudsley BRC website

Moorfields BRC

Moorfields BRC website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

The NIHR Moorfields BRC is partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. We are dedicated to pioneering discovery to transform the lives of patients facing sight loss. Our vision is to change lives across the UK and the world by preserving sight and driving equity through innovation, particularly for those with the greatest need. Our research themes all unite around the BRC vision and include:

  • Vascular Disease and Inflammation
  • Genomic Discovery and Therapeutics
  • Regenerative Therapy, Lasers, Medical Devices
  • Translational Data Science, and
  • Imaging, Visual Assessment and Digital Innovation.

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact Moorfields BRC.

Newcastle BRC

Newcastle BRC website 

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Newcastle BRC conducts world-class research in ageing and multiple long-term health conditions. We bring together Newcastle Hospitals, one of the largest and most successful teaching hospitals in England, the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University and the Cumbria, Northumbria, Tyne and Wear Mental Health Trust.

We have research themes in:

  • Ageing, Sarcopenia and Multimorbidity
  • Dementia, Mental Health and Neurodegeneration
  • Liver Disease, Multimorbidity and Lifestyle
  • Musculoskeletal Disease and Inflammation Medicine
  • Neuromuscular Disease, Rare Diseases and Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Skin Disease, Oral Disease and Immunogenomics
  • Digital Health, Ageing Innovation and Inclusion
  • Informatics and Precision Care for an Ageing Population

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Ageing, Sarcopenia and Multimorbidity: translating the understanding of fundamental ageing processes into advances in the diagnosis, treatment and
    prevention of common ageing syndromes.
  • Dementia & Mental Health - world-class Lewy Body Dementia research and excellence in translational mental health research.
  • Liver Disease - chronic liver disease and its associated multi-morbidities.
  • Musculoskeletal Disease - targeting musculoskeletal disease as a major impediment to healthy ageing, a leading cause of health-related disability and
    a common comorbidity amongst MLTC.
  • Neuromuscular Disease, Rare Diseases and Mitochondrial Dysfunction:novel approaches to diagnosing, monitoring and treating neuromuscular disease, mitochondrial dysfunction and a broader spectrum of rare diseases.
  • Skin & Oral Diseases - innovative, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on understanding of the underpinning pathogenic mechanisms.
  • Digital Health - addressing the complexities of enabling people with MTLC to age well through Digital Health Technologies.
  • Informatics - exploiting cutting-edge techniques in single-cell genomics, multi-omics, computational imaging and precision medicine.

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

We are a leading UK centre for Multiple Long Term Conditions Research. Examples include:

  • ADMISSION - Building on the expertise within our Ageing Syndromes theme, BRC Director Professor Avan Sayer leads a £3.85m MRC/NIHR Strategic
    Priorities Funded Research Collaborative which brings together scientists, clinicians and patients to focus on multiple long-term conditions in hospitalised patients.
  • The UK Multiple Long Term Conditions Research Registry: We have established a UK wide registry of people with multiple long-term conditions interested in taking part in research.
  • AI-MULTIPLY – Newcastle co-leads a £2.9M AiM Collaboration grant which is using artificial intelligence (AI) to characterize the dynamic inter-relationships
    between MUltiple Long-term condiTIons and PoLYpharmacy across diverse UK populations and inform health care pathways.
  • In 2022 Newcastle hosted the inaugural UK Multiple Long-Term Conditions (MLTC) Symposium welcoming over 130 delegates, including academics and patient and public representatives, from across the UK.

Industry Collaborations:

We have strong industry relationships across our research themes, with companies attracted by access to our experienced clinicians and scientists, well-characterised patient cohorts, robust delivery infrastructure and track record of effective collaboration. This includes BRC researchers leading three major European Innovative Medicines Initiative, two Joint Undertaking funded projects with a combined value of over €100m. We also host the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration, Chaired by Professor David Burn - visit NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration for information.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact Martin Dixon (Chief Operating Officer) on email.

Nottingham BRC

Nottingham BRC website

Oxford BRC

Oxford BRC website

Oxford Health BRC

Oxford Health BRC website

Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research BRC

Cancer BRC website

Sheffield BRC

Sheffield BRC website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Our research programme encompasses four main themes:

  • Translational Neurosciences
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Imaging and Engineering for Health

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

Translational Neurosciences:

  • Deep phenotyping to sub classify disease and facilitate precision medicine.
  • Identification of biomarkers to provide early evidence of therapeutic efficacy.
  • Expansion of advanced therapy approaches.
  • Influence of environmental factors on the development and progression of neurological disorders.

Cardiovascular disease

  • Individualised and targeted pharmacological strategies to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Virtual coronary physiology to provide cost-effective, personalised disease management.
  • Remote personal monitoring to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Infection and Immunity

  • Improved understanding of host immunity in immunocompromised patients to improve the prediction, prevention and treatment of disease.
  • Targeted intervention in the cycle of infection and inflammation.
  • Pathogen genetics and dynamics to enable rapid detection and improved therapy for anti-microbial resistance and mutating viruses.

Imaging and Engineering

  • Application of advanced imaging techniques to provide diagnoses and prognoses.
  • Using imaging biomarkers to aid the development and evaluation of new therapeutic interventions.

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

Across our themes we will engage in identifying environmental factors and map clusters of disease and their trajectories across our patient population. We are
supporting the design and delivery of novel interventions to provide patients greater access to treatments and prevent the progression from one long term condition to multiple.

We will address health inequalities by maximising research involvement, participation and engagement by the populations which experience the poorest
health outcomes and that can potentially benefit most from the research delivered by the BRC.

Industry Collaborations:

The Sheffield BRC has experience in collaborating with multiple industry partners, including:


Pharmaceutical Companies:


  • Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (,
  • Verge Genomics (,
  • SwanBio Therapeutics (,
  • GTIMC (

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact:

Email: Prof Oliver Bandmann (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead)

Email: Luke Barron (NIHR Sheffield BRC Manager)

Southampton BRC

Southampton BRC website

University College London Hospitals BRC

UCL BRC website 

Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs)

The NIHR funds Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) to support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. These 15 local partnerships between NHS providers, universities, charities, local authorities, Academic Health Science Networks and other organisations also undertake implementation research to increase the rate at which research findings are implemented into day-to-day practice.

The ARCs undertake research on a number of areas of need highlighted by the NIHR Futures of Health report, including - the challenges of an ageing society; multi-morbidity; and the increasing demands placed on our health and care system.

ARC East Midlands

ARC East Midlands website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Multiple Long-term Conditions
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Building Community Resilience and Enabling Independence
  • Translating and Implementing Sustainable Service Innovation (Implementation Science - academic and operational)
  • Data2Health
  • Ethnicity & Health Inequalities

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Centre for Ethnic Health Research (specialising in community engagement/research in traditionally seldom heard populations)
  • The Knowledge Mobilisation Support Unit (operational implementation, working to get innovation into practice)
  • East Midlands Research into Ageing Network (EMRAN)
  • Varied research programmes and access to international experts and advisors in MLTCs, diabetes, ethnic minority populations, mental health, stroke, frailty, plus e-health / digital health and implementation science.

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

We are the national programme leaders in this area on behalf of the ARCs. For more details, please see our website, or contact for more information.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

  • We have recently finished working with local authority organisations in the East Midlands on a study looking at home care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In addition, we have a continuing programme of work looking at care homes, falls prevention and community responses to long-COVID. (choose: Building Community Resilience and Enabling Independence theme)

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact; Emma Rowley (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead) via email.

ARC East of England

ARC East of England website

ARC Greater Manchester

ARC Greater Manchester website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Our research programme is focussed in the areas of:

  • Healthy Ageing
  • Mental Health
  • Organising Care
  • Economic Sustainability
  • Digital Health

Cross cutting Research Themes include:

  • Evaluation
  • Implementation Science

Current work programmes include:

  • Public and Community Involvement and Engagement
  • Research Capacity Building and Academic Career Development

Areas of Expertise and Strength’s for SPARC placements:

  • Healthy Ageing and Frailty in community settings
  • Dementia
  • Falls prevention
  • Mental Health - Children and young people
  • Mental Health - Parity of esteem for mental and physical health
  • Health and Care Inequalities
  • Digital Health Inequity
  • Care Homes Research
  • Evaluation methodology including rapid evaluation and evidence synthesis
  • Implementation Science and knowledge mobilisation
  • Economic sustainability of the health and care system
  • Inclusive Public involvement and engagement
  • Behaviour change

Industry Collaborations:

  • NIHR ARC-GM is hosted within Health Innovation Manchester with strong links to multiple Life Science and SMEs
  • We have been working with NovoNordisk and Novartis on research in diabetes and lipid management.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact;

Ross Atkinson (Programme Manager) via email.

ARC Kent Surrey and Sussex

ARC Kent Surrey and Sussex website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Living Well with Dementia
  • Starting Well - Children and Young People's Mental Health
  • Social Care
  • Primary and Community Health Services

Our cross-cutting themes are:

  • Public health
  • Digital Innovation
  • Health and Social Care economics
  • Co-production

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

ARC KSS has strategic focuses on:

  • Out of hospital care
  • Place-based research
  • Areas of public need, particularly coastal health, rural health and deprived populations within or surrounded by generally affluent areas.

ARC KSS has key strengths across our themes but particularly in:

  • Capacity building in social care/social work
  • Capacity building in public health
  • Capacity building in primary care and community care
  • Co-production
  • Health and social care economics
  • Implementation
  • Use of health and social care data

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise

We would be keen to discuss placements with individuals interested in:

  • Long term conditions in the context of coastal health - linked to our public health theme
  • Primary and community care interventions for those living with multiple long term conditions
  • Population health approaches to multiple long term conditions

Industry Collaborations

ARC KSS would be interested in placements involving Digital Innovation and particularly relevant to Industry or around:

  • Accessibility of digital innovation
  • Digital innovation in primary/ community care and/or dementia
  • Co-production of digital innovation

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

Experience of working with Kent County Council, Medway Council, East and West Sussex Councils and Surrey County Council. Our work mainly focuses on:

  • Social care provision, particularly around strength-based approaches, looked after children, carers and domiciliary care.
  • Use of integrated data for public health services
  • Understanding the wider determinants of health, particularly in coastal towns
  • Population health management, particularly with relevance to multiple long term conditions
  • Health and wellbeing of migrant populations

We also undertake collaborative work with a number of third sector organisations in the areas of:

  • Children and Young People's Mental Health
  • Social Care
  • Primary and community care models - particularly CIC GP models
  • Social prescribing

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact;


ARC North East and North Cumbria

ARC North East and North Cumbria website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Inequalities and marginalised communities (also national lead)
  • Prevention, early intervention and behaviour change (also national lead)
  • Multimorbidity, ageing and frailty
  • Supporting children and families

Cross-Cutting Research Themes:

  • Integrating physical health, mental health and social care
  • Knowledge mobilisation and implementation science
  • Enabling methodologies (aims to develop, apply, and support the use of qualitative and quantitative methodologies)

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Shared Decision Making
  • Alcohol harm reduction
  • Dementia, with a focus on excellence in care for those living with dementia, their families, friends and carers.
  • Stroke, especially hyperacute services
  • Familial hypercholesterolaemia
  • Analysis and interpretation of ‘big’ data
  • Implementation science
  • Evaluation science
  • Experience of collaborating with Local Authorities to improve health and reduce health inequalities
  • Working with commissioners and primary care to understand their research and evidence needs
  • Social work and social care

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

Research largely sits within our Multimorbidity, ageing and frailty research theme which undertakes high-quality research to

  • Promote healthy ageing
  • Prevent disability
  • Optimise the care and quality of life of older people living with illness, frailty and multiple health conditions.

Our cross-cutting research themes focus on

  • Integrating physical health, mental health and social care for people living with MLTC and their carers
  • Mobilising and implementing the knowledge developed through our research.

Further information on MLTC research is available at

Industry Collaborations:

  • The NENC ARC is building on the AHSN NENC Innovation Pathway, which was created to support ideas from development to commercialisation and provide healthcare sector access for SMEs, and has been implemented at scale with SME contacts. Work is ongoing to link the work of the  ARC themes with these SME contacts.
  • MedConnect North is a regional AHSN/CRN/NHS collaboration providing expert advice and signposting along the Pathway

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

  • North East North Cumbria has a co-ordinated approach to Local Authority research capability and capacity development in Public Health, Social Care, and Social Work. Active partnerships include NIHR infrastructure partners(ARC, Clinical Research Network, the School for Public Health Research (which includes FUSE, a collaboration between Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities), the network of 12 North- East Local Authorities (LA), Higher Education Institutions (principally Northumbria, Newcastle, and Teesside Universities) and Arms-Length Bodies (Health Education England and Public Health England).
  • Our work with LAs includes a Social Care Research Internship scheme with part-time secondment of two experienced social workers from Newcastle City Council and North Tyneside Council Children’s Social Care. The interns are funded by NENC CRN to support NIHR expansion to non-NHS settings and aims to support the development of research capacity and activity within LA
  • social care. Following positive evaluation, this pilot is being extended to three other LAs i.e. Northumberland, Stockton, and Hartlepool. A further two part-time posts are jointly funded by NENC CRN and ARC to embed senior researchers within Gateshead LA (in both Adult’s Social and Children’s Social care) to stimulate research activity.
  • We are supporting the development of research in several of our LA partners. Examples are: South Tyneside: embedding research-informed decision-making, Newcastle: developing and implementing research infrastructures, Gateshead: digital inclusion, transitional safeguarding, impact of COVID-19 on service provision to families affected by Domestic violence, and supporting people with multiple and complex needs in the community, North Tyneside: evaluation of a service to support families whose children are at imminent risk of care entry, Sunderland: evaluation of Barnardo’s StartWell service, and Cumbria: early help provision in rural areas. In Northumberland LA we are a member of the County Council Placement Oversight and Development Steering Group.
  • We would be happy to work with people interested in a placement with us to develop a plan that will support their development of translational research skills and develop networks and contacts in their areas of interest.

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact:


ARC North Thames

ARC North Thames website

ARC North West Coast

ARC North West Coast website

ARC North West London

ARC North West London website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Cross-cutting Research Themes include:

We also have an Ethnicity and Health Unit:

And work in Adult Social Care:

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Expertise in Public Health
  • Expertise in Primary Care
  • Expertise in analysis, interpretation and use of ‘big’ data
  • Expertise in reverse and frugal innovation
  • Using advanced statistical models to understand patient level and general practice level predictors of vaccine uptake.
  • Advanced statistical models to predict an individual persons: future need for social care, care home admission, and escalation of social care utilisation.
  • Improvement and evaluation networks.
  • Capacity building in innovation and quality improvement.
  • Engagement and involvement of patients, carers and community in applied health research.
  • Supporting digital health evolution and making best use of data.
  • Exploring and highlighting the links between ethnicity and health

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

Our Multimorbidity and Mental Health Theme is led by Dr Dasha Nicholls:

By carrying out collaborations in research and evaluation we aim to better understand health and care needs of the Northwest London population who live with
multimorbidity and mental health conditions.

We aim to learn how to effectively and efficiently achieve improvements in care, and support service providers and users to achieve better experience of healthcare and
health outcomes.


Industry Collaborations:

Recent collaborations include:

  • YourMD (Online AI powered symptom checker) collaboration; paper published with public partners included in BMJ Open.
  • Bia Care Ongoing collaboration resulted in a prize-winning presentation on the use of group online consultations for menopause care, RCGP Annual Conference. A related case study accepted for publication in NEJM Catalyst. Following award from Impact on Urban Health, work is planned to examine the experience of menopause of women from minority groups. 
  • eConsult, platform provider for online consultations in primary, secondary and emergency care. 
  • Initiated a study regarding healthcare professionals’ attitudes towards prescribing lifestyle medicine interventions.
  • Live Nation Trialled secure COVID platform, evaluating its utility to event organisers, ticket holders and public health authorities 
  • Innovation and Evaluation Theme continues to identify frugal innovations from low-income countries that have applicability in the NHS. Work with Arbutus
  • Miracradle

Third sector and industry partnerships:

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact;

Email: Dr Rowan Myron (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead); and Email: Nick Hewlett (Engagement Co-ordinator)

ARC Oxford and the Thames Valley

ARC Oxford and the Thames Valley website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Changing Behaviours for Better Health and Preventing Disease
  • Helping Patients to Manage Their Own Conditions
  • Mental Health across the Life Course
  • Improving Health and Social Care
  • Applied Digital Health
  • Novel Methods to Aid and Evaluate Implementation

You can find out more about these on our website.

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

The ARC-OxTV is involved in several research projects involving patients with MLTC. Please look at our website or contact us for more information.

Industry Collaborations:

  • Omron Healthcare the largest BP monitor manufacturer in the world.
  • The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has partnerships with Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Co-op.
  • Our Online Support and Intervention for Anxiety (OSI) platform is being developed by BitJam Limited for potential wider implementation, in partnership with the AHSN.

Local Authority Collaborations:

We have close relationships with public health teams in Oxfordshire County Council, Buckinghamshire Council, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, Wokingham Borough Council, Milton Keynes Council and Reading Borough Council.

Research collaborations include work on school children’s mental health and digital interventions for health improvement (physical activity and healthy eating). We also have social care research collaborations with Oxfordshire County Council, and with the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICS.

Our current research interns are a Public Health Consultant from Royal Borough of Winsor and Maidenhead Council, and a Social Worker from Oxfordshire County Council.

Wider public health links include research collaborations with the UK Health Security.

Agency (COVID therapeutics), and links to the regional public health team at the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities, and the Thames Valley NHSEI Screening and Immunisation team.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact our Public Health and Social Care lead via:

ARC South London

ARC South London website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus

Our core research programme is focused in the areas of:

  • Alcohol – tackling the impact on public health from harmful drinking
  • Children and young people – improving care for children with complex needs and disabilities
  • Maternity and perinatal mental health – addressing health inequities among women from vulnerable groups
  • Palliative and end of life care – improving the quality, availability and cost-effectiveness of palliative care
  • Patient and public involvement (PPI) research – understanding and strengthening PPI practice in health and social care
  • Public health and multimorbidity – understanding and developing interventions to address multimorbidity
  • Social care – understanding the value of day services for people with multiple complex conditions
  • Covid-19 – responding to the immediate challenges of Covid-19 and its longer-term implications

Our cross-cutting research themes include:

  • applied informatics – using the latest technologies and big data systems to analyse population health
  • economics and biostatistics – applying health economic and statistical methodologies to evaluate interventions
  • implementation science – developing ways to help researchers, NHS managers and commissioners to effectively implement interventions and new ways of working

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Mixed methods research
  • Qualitative research
  • Analysis and interpretation of ‘big data’ (electronic health records)
  • Cross-disciplinary research bringing together clinicians, academic researchers, patients, service users and the public
  • Evaluation of complex interventions
  • Implementation and improvement research
  • Training in multiple qualitative methodologies, research practice, and analysis of sensitive qualitative data (e.g. stillbirth; attempted suicide)
  • Experience of collaborating with national and local charities and support organisations in relation to research design, collection, analysis and dissemination
  • We have a strong emphasis on co-production of research with an established patient and public involvement and engagement [PPIE] group

Out training and short courses:

ARC South London offers a range of training – for health and care practitioners, researchers, managers, policymakers, patients and service users – designed to
provide the skills to put research evidence into practice.

Industry Collaborations:

Working with pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies

Vascular researchers in ARC South London's public health and multimorbidity theme have worked with a range of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies during
the reporting period. This includes:

  • Metadvice, a global healthcare technology company specialising in clinical decision support. Metadvice are sponsoring two PhD studentships.
  • GSK, who have funded three PhD studentships.
  • Imosphere, a health data analytics company.

Working with medtech/devices companies:

Our alcohol researchers are collaborating with Smart Start Inc, the developers of a sensor for measuring alcohol levels in the bloodstream.

Local Authority Collaborations:

ARC South London provides joint national leadership across the NIHR ARCs (with ARC East of England) in mental health, and palliative and end of life care. At the local and national level, we work with a range of partners including charities, local authorities, industry partners, university partners and academic institutions.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact Kirstie Coxon (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead) via email.

ARC South West Peninsula

ARC South West Peninsula website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Dementia
  • Mental health
  • Public health
  • Complex care
  • Methods for research and improvement
  • Children's health and maternity

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Ageing and frailty
  • Research with care homes
  • Evidence synthesis
  • Implementation science
  • Operational research and data science
  • Patient and public involvement and engagement
  • Statistics/cluster RCTs

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

Industry Collaborations:

Care homes research - Please contact Iain Lang or Jo Day 

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

To explore potential placement opportunities please contact;

Email Vicki Goodwin (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead); 

ARC Wessex

ARC Wessex website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Ageing and Dementia (National ARC Lead)
  • Healthy Communities
  • Long Term Conditions
  • Mental Health hub

Cross-cutting theme:

Workforce and Health Systems

Training in these cross-cutting themes is led by Prof Cathy Bowen - Email Prof Cathy Bowen

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Addressing inequalities, diet, domestic violence and a wide range of issues that touch on everyone’s lives in particular those in more vulnerable and under-served populations.
  • Addressing key social, environmental and behavioural factors that result in long-term conditions (LTCs) and health inequalities.
  • Ensuring our population has a good start in life focusing on improving maternal & child health & reducing childhood obesity.
  • Identifying undiagnosed LTCs earlier and improving outcomes for individuals and society.

Follow the link for more detail on specific projects

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

MLTC research is mainly embedded within our Long-term conditions theme: integrating person-centred approaches to optimise healthy living to identify, implement and evaluate strategies and technology for self-directed support to support active living by establishing and embedding interventions that mobilise patient capacity and engage patients and communities to minimise crises.

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Industry Collaborations:

In collaboration with the IT Innovation Centre within the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton we are building a critical mass of
NHS professionals in Wessex in regional systems with specialist knowledge ready to work with researchers and innovators on advancing data-driven health systems. A
further aim is to strengthen relationships with NHS providers in the area of data-driven health systems, AI, data engineering, data governance and cybersecurity.

Please contact the ARC Wessex central team as a first point of contact via email.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

Research is directly linked to Wessex population needs, determined in close consultation with senior Public Health colleagues in local authorities:

  • We are co-developing and funding three projects led by teams at Universities of Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Winchester in collaboration with local councils and other organisations
  • We have established a new collaborative interest through our Researcher in Residence with Southampton City Council to build and extend capacity in domestic abuse research. Focus: addressing the specific and complex issues of domestic abuse where it co-exists with long term and/or life-limiting illness.
  • We are working to build applied health research capability and capacity to enable research-led mental health services across the lifespan in pressing areas of mental health linked to substantial health inequalities in our region.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact the ARC Wessex central team as a first point of contact via email.

ARC West

ARC West website

ARC West Midlands

ARC West Midlands website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Long Term Conditions
  • Acute Care Interfaces
  • Integrated Care in Youth Mental Health
  • Maternity Services

Cross-Cutting Research Themes include:

  • Organisational Science
  • Methodology, Informatics and Rapid Response
  • Public Health
  • Social Care

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Osteoarthritis – Management and patient-centred focus
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Expertise in patient and public involvement and engagement (PPI/E)
  • Expertise in Acute ambulatory care and “Hospital at Home”
  • Health and wellbeing in schools
  • Neurodevelopmental conditions and learning disabilities
  • Maternity emergency department triage
  • Large-scale maternity data-focused projects
  • Organisational management and change
  • Informatics and “big data” analyses
  • Public health
  • Adult social care

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC):

  • Long-term conditions theme is the largest in ARC West Midlands
  • Systems-wide approach to promoting physical and mental health in people with long-term conditions
  • Focus on patient-reported outcomes
  • Strong links with Social Care Theme
  • Research into impact of Long COVID
  • Investigations into barriers to participation e.g. access to technology, disability, language and cultural requirements
  • Collaborators in the National Multimorbidity Priority study into Primary Care Improvement (PP4M)

Industry Collaborations:

  • Collaborative work in primary care with industry partner on machine-learning risk prediction
  • Working with industry partner to develop electronic templates for use during primary care consultations to identify factors affecting multimorbidity
  • Working with an SME to develop electronic Patient Reported Outcomes which could form a useful adjunct to future research projects
  • Collaborating with industry partners to embed templates for the Birmingham Symptom-specific Obstetric Triage System (BSOTS) in to electronic paediatric
    health records

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

  • Birmingham City Council
  • Coventry City Council

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact Anne-Marie Brennan via email.

ARC Yorkshire and Humber

ARC Yorkshire and Humber website

Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs)

The NIHR funds Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs); research partnerships between universities and Public Health England (PHE). The 15 NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) act as centres of excellence in multidisciplinary health protection research in England; funding high quality research that enhances the ability of PHE to use innovative techniques to protect the public’s health and minimise the health impact of emergencies.

HPRU Behavioural Science and Evaluation

HPRU Behavioural Science and Evaluation website

HPRU Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections

HPRU Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus

Our research programme is focused in the areas of:

  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Blood borne viruses including HIV, Hepatitis B and C
  • Underserved populations including men who have sex with men, LGBTQ+ groups and prison populations
  • Sexual health services and delivery of care

Our work is grouped into three themes: Understanding risk and risk reduction for STIs and BBVs; reducing the burden of undiagnosed STIs and BBV and improving the care and management of people with STIs and BBVs.

Cross cutting themes:

  • Behaviour change
  • Knowledge mobilisation
  • Health economics
  • Patient, community and public involvement and engagement

Areas of Expertise and Strength’s for SPARC placements:

  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Cohort studies and data analysis
  • Data science
  • Surveillance data
  • Sexual health/behaviour
  • Qualitative/mixed methods research
  • Policy review
  • Systematic/scoping reviews
  • Data linkage
  • Prognostic marker studies

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

We oversee PhDs in MLTC research in our key areas of work.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

Experience of collaborating with Local Authorities, Health Protection Teams and third sector organisations across England in designing and delivering several studies relating to syphilis, HIV, hepatitis and service delivery.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact Greta Rait (NIHR Academic Career Development Lead).

HPRU Chemical Radiation Threats and Hazards

HPRU Chemical Radiation Threats and Hazards website

HPRU Emergency Preparedness and Response

HPRU Emergency Preparedness and Response website

HPRU Emerging and Zoonotic Infections

HPRU Emerging and Zoonotic Infections website

HPRU Environmental Change and Health

HPRU Environmental Change and Health website

HPRU Environmental Exposure and Health (Imperial)

HPRU Environmental Exposure and Health (Imperial) website

HPRU Environmental Exposure and Health (Leicester University)

HPRU Environmental Exposure and Health (Leicester University) website

HPRU Gastrointestinal Infections

HPRU Gastrointestinal Infections website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Our research programme in Gastrointestinal Infections comprises of four themes:

  • People and Places (investigating the drivers of high burden of GI disease among disadvantaged communities)
  • Data and Informatics (exploring data and digital innovations to strengthen GI surveillance and outbreak investigation)
  • Pathogens and Microbiomes (evaluating and deploying state of the art molecular approaches to diagnose and control GI infections)
  • Predict and Prevent (integrating complex data sources for translation into predictive tools for GI disease control)

Cross-cutting research themes include:

  • Health inequalities
  • Patient and public involvement and engagement
  • Knowledge mobilisation
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Digital health
  • Health economics
  • Training

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Pathogen genomics
  • Microbiome analysis
  • Epidemiology and data sciences
  • Quantitative sciences applied to infectious diseases
  • Applied public health research
  • Patient and public involvement and engagement
  • Health inequalities and policy
  • Vaccine trials and implementation
  • Outbreak investigation and conducting research in outbreaks
  • Public health microbiology
  • Health economic aspects of infectious disease control

Industry Collaborations:

  • Life Sciences Collaborations - experience in conducting surveillance, clinical studies and trials of rotavirus vaccine with industry partners including GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and Merck (e.g. Eurorotanet website)
  • Food Industry Collaborations – with supermarket retailers and poultry producers (e.g. campylobacter infections). Food Standards Agency and Animal and Plant Health Agency collaborations (e.g. One Health approaches to antibiotic resistance in the food chain).         

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact Louise Cooper (HPRU-GI Project Manager) by

HPRU Genomics and Enabling Data

HPRU Genomics and Enabling Data website

HPRU Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (Imperial College London)

HPRU Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (Imperial College London) website

HPRU Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (University of Oxford)

HPRU Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (University of Oxford) website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Our HPRU aims to find better ways to manage and prevent threats from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and healthcare-associated infections (HAI), by detecting them faster, working out who needs protecting most and how we can do this.

We have four broad themes, to:

  • Better understand who is affected by AMR and HAI, and why, including the impact of inequalities and ageing, and how we can monitor these conditions. [‘Populations’ Theme]
  • Use this information to work out how we can reduce AMR and HAI, in ways the NHS can afford and that target those at highest risk. [‘Interventions’ Theme]
  • Understand how healthcare-associated and antimicrobial-resistant infections can be affected by what happens on farms or in both the general and hospital environment. [‘Contexts’ Theme]
  • Work out how to analyse and compare the genetic code of millions of microorganisms causing infections from across the world [‘Sequencing’ Theme]

Areas of expertise and strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Big data and data linkage
  • Behavioural science and qualitative studies of antimicrobial stewardship
  • Health economic evaluation
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Large scale genetic sequencing of pathogens
  • Analysis of sequencing data allowing diagnosis, resistance determination and inference of transmission networks
  • Developing and evaluating new rapid tests for pathogens

Industry collaborations:

Experience with working with Thermofisher and Oxford Nanopore in developing diagnostic methods for pathogens.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact Aysha Roohi (HPRU Project Manager) by email on

HPRU Modelling and Health Economics

HPRU Modelling and Health Economics website

HPRU Respiratory Infections

HPRU Respiratory Infections website

HPRU Vaccines and Immunisation

HPRU Vaccines and Immunisation website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

Our research programme aims to reverse the decline in immunisation coverage in children, increase vaccine uptake in adults and reduce inequalities in the vaccine service.

Our research looks at the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, how many people are being vaccinated, disease trends, and the impact of introducing new vaccines. We also look at what people think about vaccines and how we can make it easier for people to access vaccinations.

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

  • Expertise in evaluating vaccine delivery models
  • Qualitative research skills to investigate vaccine confidence
  • Mathematical modelling to support vaccination policy
  • Analysis of electronic health records
  • Opportunities to be involved in an active programme of patient and public involvement, engagement and participation

Local Authority Collaborations:

We have a collaborative working environment, and are keen to strengthen existing and establish new research and training collaborations with HPRUs, ARCs and BRCs across the NIHR infrastructure. 

Our research includes active collaborations across a range of third sector organisations such as NHS England, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please contact NIHR Academic Career Development Co-Leads: Tracey Chantler: and Helen McDonald:

Patient Safety Research Collaborations (PSRCs)

The NIHR funds 6 Patient Safety Research Collaborations (PSRCs) aiming to turn patient safety discoveries into practice.

Central London PSRC

Greater Manchester PSRC

Greater Manchester PSRC website

Research Themes:

  • Developing Safer Health and Care Systems: based at the University of Manchester, we focus on underserved patient groups with complex health and care needs and with elevated safety risks. Co-design and co-production, informed by the experiences of staff, carers and patients, are central to our approach;
  • Enhancing Cultures of Safety: based at the University of Leicester, our research aims to explore and understand cultures of safety. This will help researchers to identify how to develop positive cultures across health and care settings that will subsequently enhance patient safety;
  • Improving Medication Safety: based at the University of Nottingham and the University of Manchester, our research focuses on determining the most cost-effective medication safety interventions to enable the NHS to maximise impact with the limited resources available. We will also improve computerised decision support to reduce unsafe prescribing and further develop and evaluate methods of identifying hazardous prescribing to prevent patients from being exposed to unnecessary harm from medicines, and
  • Preventing Suicide and Self-harm: based at the University of Manchester, we are comprehensively identifying recent service delivery innovations in specialist mental health services, in general hospital emergency departments, and in general practice that may reduce risks of non-fatal self-harm and suicide. We will subsequently evaluate their effectiveness at scale.

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC Placements:

  • we bring together a large team experienced researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester with a wide variety of skills and knowledge. Our research teams, or those affiliated to GM PSRC, have interdisciplinary conceptual, methodological, analytical, empirical and technical expertise, including qualitative and mixed methods research, and utilisation of large routinely collected datasets;
  • health economics is a focus of work in the Manchester-based Developing Safer Health and Care Systems, Improving Medication Safety and Preventing Suicide and Self-harm Themes. We have strong links to the Manchester Centre for Health Economics at the University of Manchester;
  • the following other domains of specialist expertise are well-represented in the GM PSRC: primary care, pharmacy, mental health (psychiatry and psychology), sociology, health services research, epidemiology, and biostatistics;
  • our strong links and partnerships across the Greater Manchester conurbation and East Midlands region provide access to diverse populations with greater health and social needs and inequities. This means that we have the expertise and experience to identify important patient safety risks and challenges, and the skills to conduct the research to address them, and
  • we develop and test innovative service delivery models through co-design with patients/carers and health and social care staff, and as such patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) is integral to all that we do.


To explore potential placement opportunities, please contact Roger Webb ( or Richard Keers (

Midlands PSRC

Newcastle PSRC

North West London PSRC

North West London PSRC website

Yorkshire and Humber PSRC

Yorkshire and Humber PSRC website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Safer systems, cultures and practices
  • De-cluttering (safely) for safety
  • Supporting Safe Care in the Home
  • Rethinking safety intelligence for improvement.

To explore potential placement opportunities, please contact Beth Fylan (

NIHR Schools

The NIHR has established three national research schools

School for Primary Care Research

School for Primary care Research website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

The School brings together academics and practitioners from across the country to collaborate on cutting edge, topical primary care studies that have an impact both at policy level and in general practices around the country. Our partners research the entire life cycle of complex interventions.

School research teams involve a range of different disciplines, including clinicians (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dentists), psychologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, sociologists, methodologists (statistics, health economics etc), and patient and public representatives.

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

We have significant expertise in the design and conduct of pragmatic clinical trials, patient and public involvement and engagement, using big data (e.g. Clinical Practice Research Datalink), qualitative research methods, e-interventions and systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

We work with populations with the full spectrum of disease. We have specific clinical areas of expertise e.g musculoskeletal, mental health, antibiotic prescribing, dementia, anxiety and depression, behaviour change, patient safety and multi-morbidity.

To explore potential placement opportunities please email Dr Georgina Fletcher (NIHR SPCR Assistant Director).

School for Public Health Research

School for Public Health website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

The NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) is a partnership between leading academic centres with excellence in applied public health research in England.

The School aims to build the evidence base for effective public health practice. Our research looks at what works practically to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, can be applied across the country and better meets the needs of policymakers, practitioners and the public.

The NIHR SPHR has four research programmes:

  • Children, young people and families
  • Public mental health
  • Health inequalities
  • Healthy Places, healthy planet.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

The NIHR School for Public Health Research members have links to a number of local authorities and third sector organisations. Please visit the SPHR website for further information.

To explore potential placement opportunities please get in touch over email.

School for Social Care Research

School for Social Care Research website

Research Themes and Areas of Interest/Focus:

  • Workforce
  • Social care
  • Dementia
  • Homelessness

Areas of Expertise and Strengths for SPARC placements:

Our research is outlined on our website and includes:

  • Children and adult social care
  • Workforce
  • Dementia
  • Innovations.

Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) areas of Focus and Expertise:

Many people with care and support needs have multiple long term conditions. We address this complexity in our studies.

Industry Collaborations:

We have good links with home care and care home providers.

Local Authority/Third Sector Links and Partnerships:

We work closely with several local authorities and currently support three pre-doctoral local authority award holders.

To explore potential placement opportunities

Please email Jill Manthorpe.

Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs)

Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) website

NIHR’s 22 Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies.

The facilities have cutting-edge clinical facilities, technologies and expertise and are designed to support high intensity studies and overnight stays. Whilst CRFs vary due to local need, all will include the following:

  • Outpatient and usually inpatient facilities;
  • Support for high intensity studies;
  • Highly trained dedicated research support and management personnel;
  • Specialist equipment and laboratories to conduct a variety of research studies;
  • Standard Operating Procedures to ensure studies are conducted to GCP/Research;
  • Governance Framework (and its successor) requirements.

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs)

Experimental Cancer Medicine Network website

The NIHR funds 14 Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) across England, in close partnership with Cancer Research UK.

The ECMCs act as an efficient and effective UK-wide network for delivering pioneering, early-phase cancer trials, bringing together world-leading laboratory and clinical researchers to test new treatments for adults and children with cancer.

The network of centres speeds up the process of cancer drug development and the search for biomarkers to diagnose cancer, predict the aggressiveness of the disease, or show whether a drug will be effective.

Medtech and In-vitro diagnostics Cooperatives (MICs)

Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) website

The NIHR funds 11 Medtech and In-vitro diagnostic Cooperatives (MICs) in England. NIHR MICs build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests. Leading NHS organisations act as centres of expertise, bringing together patients, clinicians, researchers, commissioners and industry.

National Patient Recruitment Centres

National Patient Recruitment Centres website

The NIHR National Patient Recruitment Centres (PRUs) are the first family of NIHR-funded research facilities that are 100% dedicated to delivering commercial research.

The five purpose-designed centres have been established to increase the UKs capacity to deliver large scale, late-phase commercial trials and to make it easier and quicker to deliver commercial research in the NHS.

Policy Research Units

Policy Research Units website

The NIHR funds 20 Policy Research Units (PRUs) to undertake research to inform government and arms-length bodies making policy decisions about health and social care. The units create a critical mass of experts for research in priority areas for health and social care policy.

The units provide both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs. The units also offer advice to policy makers and analysts on the evidence base and options for policy development.