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Programme Director, MRC-NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme and NHS England-NIHR National Research Collaboration Programme - Role profile


Published: 19 July 2023

Version: 1.0 July 2023

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MRC-NIHR funding collaboration

Background Information

The EME Programme reached its 15th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the programme has funded more than 250 projects with a total R&D commitment of around £280 million. The Programme is funded through a collaboration between the NIHR and MRC with contributions from the Chief Scientist Office in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. The portfolio includes a number of studies co-funded with other partners. Further information about the remit and strategy can be accessed via the
EME programme webpage.

We fund ambitious translational clinical research, evaluating novel and repurposed interventions and promoting our understanding of disease or therapeutic mechanisms. We aim to drive novel or innovative approaches to evaluation and to use mechanistic and genetic insights to identify populations most likely to benefit. Our studies are funded via a number of routes including commissioned and researcher-led work streams. We have a mixed portfolio of studies including diagnostic evaluations, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, adaptive trials, studies using stratification and other novel approaches. We also have a portfolio of mechanistic studies, which are funded as ‘bolt-ons’ to existing late phase clinical trials.

Upon completion, EME projects are published in the journal Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation, which is part of the NIHR Journals Library. For further information about the EME portfolio, please visit the EME programme webpage.

As part of this role, you will also be the Programme Director of the National Research Collaboration Programme (NRCP), working in partnership with NHS England. The NRCP is delivered alongside the EME Programme utilising common secretariat and Committee support. The NRCP was established in 2021 as a partnership between NIHR and NHS England, building on a pilot delivered in 2020. It aims to co-produce research and identify the best possible methodology for studies that may otherwise present significant challenges, such as the small study size for rarer conditions or treatments. The NRCP programme considers 2-3 topics per year, which may be referred by NHS England when other standard NIHR routes for commissioning are not suitable.

NIHR works in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders, patients and the public. We fund, enable and deliver world-leading health and social care research that improves peoples health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth. We are also a major funder of applied health research in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). DHSC’s Chief Scientific Adviser and the Director and Senior Management Team of DHSC's Science Research and Evidence Directorate direct our work.

The NIHR is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture, as outlined in our Research Inclusion Strategy 2022-2027. We want everyone to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution. We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and communities. We are committed to having leadership and teams that are made up of diverse skills and experiences. To find out more, visit our equality, diversity and inclusion page.

Expected Time Commitments

The overall time commitment is expected to be 2 days per week including attendance at meetings, providing specific advice and undertaking background and planning work.

Your Key Responsibilities will be to:

  • Play a key role in developing the strategy and profile of the programme and NIHR through significant external liaison and ambassadorial activities
  • Maintain complex relationships with contract holders, and related stakeholders
  • Advise the NIHR on all matters related to the programme and area of interest
  • Promote the EME Programme (and the NIHR more generally) within the wider research and practitioner communities
  • Support the development of the strategy and profile of the EME Programme whilst providing development of wider NIHR programmes and strategy. This will include working collaboratively with other parts of the NIHR and through meetings with other NIHR Programme Directors, considering the overall policy framework and budgetary limit
  • Strategic oversight, through the NIHR Coordinating Centre and in conjunction with DHSC, for the procedures adopted for commissioning and managing projects, and ensuring delivery of results
  • Develop and oversee robust prioritisation processes for commissioned research, where appropriate
  • Provide strategic oversight of the direction of the Programme in conjunction with the DHSC Director of Science, Research and Evidence; the DHSC Deputy Director; Research Programmes and the NIHR Coordinating Centre
  • Maintain the scientific direction of the programme, the balance of its content, relevance, and responsiveness to the needs of the wider health and care system and DHSC, including the need to ensure that research funded by the Programme crosses primary, secondary, and social care borders, where appropriate
  • In conjunction with the NIHR Coordinating Centre, ensure the quality and transparency of the procedures and processes used to manage the EME and NRCP Programmes

Our expectations of you are to:

  • Play a role in developing the profile of the research programme through DHSC/NIHR strategy groups and significant external liaison
  • Represent the EME Programme on the NIHR Strategy and Engagement Board and other key, NIHR fora
  • Ensure the quality of the EME commissioning and monitoring processes
  • Maintain a watching brief on the EME portfolio; making recommendations to the DHSC on variations to contract requests, making decisions on project closures, and meeting research teams to review progress, where applicable
  • Attend activity update meetings with programme secretariat on a regular basis, to provide advice and receive information to support your role
  • Ensure compliance, in the delivery of your responsibilities as a Programme Director, with NIHR Policies as published from time to time
  • Respond to and implement new NIHR and DHSC policies
  • Have a strong commitment and drive to promote equitable and inclusive practices

Person Specification

Knowledge, qualities and experience


  • Knowledge and experience of translational clinical research  
  • Experience of working with life sciences industry
  • Strong commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of programme activity
  • Knowledge of the National Institute for Health and Care Research and a good understanding of the health and care landscape and social care delivery
  • Ability to communicate efficiently and effectively
  • Confident negotiation skills
  • Discretion in the handling of confidential information
  • Proven track record of research leadership and familiarity with processes for securing and delivering high quality research
  • Strong commitment to supporting Patient and Public Involvement as a core value throughout the programme
  • Experience and/or an understanding of research commissioning
  • Experience of maintaining, and creating new, complex relationships 
  • Proven chair experience of large committees
  • Ideally, experience of managing significant budgets


  • Higher Degree
  • Translational research background, with a demonstrated understanding of research into disease treatment  

General Requirement

  • Capacity to dedicate time to the EME Programme, including attending meetings and preparation work, and monitoring of activities
  • Capacity to work at NIHR level, including, if required, representing NIHR at national and international level

Application Process

For an informal discussion about the role please contact:

Please submit a CV and supporting letter by 1pm on 8 September 2023. Applications should be submitted to:

Applications will be assessed by a shortlisting panel against the essential criteria set out in the specification for this role.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview on Thursday 9 November 2023; interviews will be held in London Victoria Street if possible, otherwise by a virtual platform on a date to be confirmed.

The successful applicant will be supported with a comprehensive induction programme.

We will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to remove barriers to this post in the application/interview process. If you have any additional support or have any access or communication needs throughout the application process, please contact us at If appointed, we will also work with you to identify adjustments to carry out the role.