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Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation - Call 5 Stage 1 Guidance for Applicants

Published

02 March 2022

Version

1.0 - March 2022

Contents

The closing date for electronic submission of applications is 1pm UK time on 29 June 2022. 

Section 1: Introduction

The 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 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 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA).

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

  1. Meet eligibility criteria as Official Development Assistance (ODA), i.e. funded research directly and primarily benefits people in ODA-eligible countries on the 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 and 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 commissioned 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.

Further information on the NIHR Global Health Research portfolio is available on the NIHR website.

Section 2: Background

Through the NIHR Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme NIHR provides research funding to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary applied health research in key areas in ODA-eligible countries where a strategic and targeted investment can result in a transformative impact.

Find out more about the research funded by the RIGHT programme.

The NIHR is pleased to launch a fifth RIGHT call that will meet the aims and ambitions set out in the following call specification. This call will support targeted research to strengthen health service delivery and resilience in LMICs in the context of extreme weather events.

At the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow, UK, Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of the NIHR set out the need for evidence to meet the challenges of the changing climate and highlighted this as a priority area for NIHR. This call for global research will form part of a wider sustainability-themed package of calls and initiatives from NIHR, including a themed call for evaluation of interventions or services to support the delivery of a more sustainable UK health and care system, including mitigating the effects of climate change on health and care delivery.

Section 3: Rationale

Extreme weather events due to climate change such as tropical storms, droughts and floods are increasingly prevalent. Between 2000 and 2019, there were 6,681 climate-related disasters, in comparison to 3,656 in the period 1980-1999. Despite these events disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable populations in LMICs, a recent FCDO report mapping climate-health evidence identified that there is an overall dominance of research focussed on high income nations, with the volume of literature decreasing with national income status [1].

The World Health Organization’s operational framework for building climate resilient health systems published in 2015 identified the need for health systems to increasingly take steps to understand how climate change will affect service delivery in the context of disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and management in relation to the health consequences of extreme weather events [2]. The report highlighted the need to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and systems under diverse climatic conditions and enhance institutional capacity. Such interventions could include adaptation of existing technologies and processes, or promotion of new technologies to improve health system performance.

In 2021, the UK made tackling climate change its top international priority [3] and hosted the COP26 summit, bringing parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At COP26, health was selected as a science priority area for the first time.

COP26 hosted the launch of the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), a new initiative to scale up action-orientated research funding for climate change adaptation. The ARA report presented findings from their expert consultation on climate resilient health systems which had started to identify knowledge gaps relating to service delivery in terms of emergency preparedness and management, and climate-informed health programmes. The post-COP26 country commitments to build climate resilient and sustainable health systems recognise the importance of continued delivery of essential health functions during extreme events and under climate stress, and to play a critical role in multisectoral response to emergencies [4].

In line with the aims of the RIGHT programme, this call will fund intervention-focused applied health research projects, adopting interdisciplinary approaches, that will deliver the evidence needed to strengthen health services in LMICs impacted by extreme weather events caused by the changing climate.

Section 4: Aims of the RIGHT Programme

Building on the NIHR Global Health Research portfolio principles above, the strategic aims across the RIGHT programme are to:

  • Deliver applied health research for the direct and primary benefit to LMICs, typically through research in key thematic areas for the prevention of ill health and optimal disease management.
  • Strengthen capacity for research and knowledge exchange through equitable partnerships between researchers and institutions involved in the research.
  • Promote interdisciplinary approaches to working (including, but not limited to: clinical medicine, health economics, statistics, qualitative and social sciences), to ensure that research objectives can be delivered.
  • Generate new research knowledge and evidence on interventions to improve health outcomes of people in LMICs.

Section 5: Priorities and focus of RIGHT Call 5 (Scope)

In order to achieve the aims outlined above, the NIHR is seeking applications to RIGHT Call 5 for programmes of applied health research that can strengthen health service delivery and resilience in LMICs in the context of extreme weather events caused by the changing climate.

These should focus on developing and evaluating interventions to address one or more of the following priority areas:

  • Strengthen emergency preparedness and resilience of health services in areas prone to climate-related extreme weather events.
  • Adapt existing health services following disruption caused by an extreme weather event.
  • Deliver climate-informed health services able to effectively and sustainably respond to extreme weather events.

Applicants will need to justify how plans will focus on extreme weather events and how they will improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations in LMICs.

Section 6: Budget / Length of Funding

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

Through this call, awards up to £3 million, typical range £1-3 million (maximum of £3 million) over 3-5 years are available for eligible research. Applications in the lower part of this range are welcomed where smaller programmes will address the proposed area of research.

Eligible costs for NIHR RIGHT calls include:

  • 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).

Please see the NIHR RIGHT Call 5 Finance Guidance for detailed information.

Proposal and Partnership Development Award

Proposal and Partnership Development Awards (PPDA) were established to support partnership development and the preparation of a RIGHT Stage 2 application. Applicants that are successful at RIGHT Stage 1 and invited to submit a RIGHT Stage 2 application are eligible to apply for a PPDA. PPDA provides funding of up to £10,000 to: 

  • Support applicants to work collaboratively with all study partners to develop stage 2 applications;
  • Enhance/initiate partnerships and Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) activities to strengthen the research proposal;
  • Initiate preparation of study governance documentation (i.e. due diligence and finance assurance policies).

To be considered for a PPDA, applicants MUST complete a separate PPDA application. Both the RIGHT Call5 Stage 1 application and the PPDA application must be submitted via the Research Management System (RMS) by the 29 June 2022 at 1pm UK time

PPDA applications will be reviewed for those applicants that are successful at Stage 1. Applicants who are successful at Stage 1 will be notified of the outcome of their PPDA application at the same time as the RIGHT Call 4 Stage 1 application. Applicants who are unsuccessful; at Stage 1 will not be eligible for PPDA.

Eligible costs for PPDA and the reimbursement process is described in full in the RIGHT Call 5 Finance guidance.

Please see separate Proposal and Partnership Development Award Guidance for completing the PPDA application and further examples of what a PPDA can support.

Section 7: Scope

Key Criteria for Funding

NIHR RIGHT Call 5 will provide funding to support targeted research to strengthen health service delivery and resilience in LMICs in the context of extreme weather events for the direct and primary benefit of people in one or more LMICs, as listed on the DAC list of ODA-eligible countries.

The following key criteria for this call encompass the overarching NIHR principles and contribute towards the aims for the NIHR Global Health Research portfolio as a whole. 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 all RIGHT calls are 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 fulfils a significant gap, addresses unmet needs and priorities in ODA-eligible countries and aligns fully with the scope of this call. The proposed research plans should be based on a review of the local context/health system(s) and existing evidence.
  2. Research excellence: Applications should demonstrate that the planned research is context-specific, needs-driven and addresses strengthening health service delivery and resilience in LMICs in the context of extreme weather events. The research plan should be clear and robust, detailing clear research questions/objectives, sound design and detailed methodology to address the questions and meet the objectives; clear milestones, identification of possible risks, and factoring in ethical considerations.
  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 climate and health such as clinical medicine, health economics, epidemiology, climate science, health systems, statistics, and social sciences (noting this list is not exclusive). The proposed research plans should establish equitable partnerships within and across research teams.
  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 implementation and scalability.
  5. Capacity Strengthening: There are clear plans for research and research management capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level.
  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.
  7. Equity of partnerships: Equity and collaboration should be demonstrated 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.
  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 recognition that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a significant impact across 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.

In Scope

NIHR RIGHT Call 5 will support applications which:

  • Propose applied health research programmes that directly address the challenges faced by health services in LMICs in the context of extreme weather events.
  • Support communities and individuals most vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events on health service provision and access.
  • Evaluate adaptation of existing technologies and processes or promote use of new technologies to improve health service performance during and/or after an extreme climate event.
  • Can help inform the health service-related priorities of the COP26 country commitments following extreme weather events.
  • Evaluate interventions that can reduce differences in healthcare service and access between communities brought about by socioeconomic inequalities following a climate event.
  • Clearly meet a locally or regionally identified need.
  • Can inform local and national plans for change.
  • Support South-South learning.
  • Seek to address issues of equity by incorporating research questions around gender, age, social barriers to health and economic impact.
  • Include interdisciplinary applied research teams with demonstrated experience and track-record of ensuring research is transferred into benefits for people in LMICs.
  • This can include teams who may want to build new research partnerships.
  • Encourage the involvement of disciplines related to climate science where applicable to the research plan outlined in the application.
  • Demonstrate equity and collaboration in programme leadership, decision-making, capacity strengthening, governance, appropriate distribution of funds, ethics processes, data ownership, and dissemination of findings.
  • Include relevant engagement with policy makers, communities, patients and the public, civil society organisations and charities over the lifetime of the programme.

Out of Scope

  • Interventions relating to the impact of longer-term climate variability on health services.
  • Climate mitigation research.
  • Research on migration due to extreme weather events.
  • Environmental determinants of health i.e., pollutants, nutrition, WASH.
  • Links between health and the urban and built environments following an extreme weather event such as infrastructure.
  • Consist solely of one of the following:
    • randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of interventions
    • 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 LMIC in which the research is being undertaken
    • implementation science
    • dissemination

This is a call for broad multi-faceted programmes of applied health research.

  • Primarily focus on establishing new biobanks or bio-sample collections or data collection studies (samples or data from existing biobanks, patient registries may be used).
  • Primarily focus on observational research, secondary research or health policy implementation.
  • Focus on basic laboratory/discovery research or experimental medicine.

Section 8: Eligibility

ODA Eligibility

The NIHR Global Health Research portfolio supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) 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 DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit?
  • How is the application directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries?
  • How will the outcomes promote the health and welfare of people in a country or countries on the DAC list?

Where some elements of the research is not undertaken in an ODA-eligible country during the course of 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 can be found at:

  1. NIHR ODA Guidance for Researchers
  2. OECD Factsheet: What is ODA
  3. OECD DAC Statistical Reporting Directives
  4. OECD DAC list of ODA eligible countries
  5. OECD: Development Co-operation Directorate
  6. Official Development Assistance - definition and coverage 

Who Can Apply

Applications MUST be led by either:

  • A Principal Investigator (Lead Applicant) employed by an LMIC Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Institute.

Or

  • A Principal Investigator employed by a UK HEI or Research Institute (UK Joint Lead Applicant) to jointly lead with a Principal Investigator employed by an LMIC HEI or Research Institute (LMIC Joint Lead Applicant).

The contracting institution must be a HEI or Research Institute. For RIGHT Call 5, an LMIC or UK Research Institute is considered to be a not-for-profit research organisation with a proven track record in, and sufficient research and financial capacity to manage and deliver research and training, in the field or discipline in which it is applying for funding.

For organisations that have not previously been funded by the RIGHT programme, additional eligibility and due diligence checks may be undertaken in addition to standard NIHR eligibility and due diligence checks prior to contracting.

Please note: Where the contracting organisation is a UK institution with a UK Joint Lead Applicant, it is mandatory for an LMIC Joint Lead Applicant to be included on the application, with the expectation that the joint leadership/partnership is equitable. Where the contracting organisation is an LMIC institution, a UK Joint Lead Applicant is not a mandatory requirement. LMIC Lead Applicants may propose joint leadership partnerships with a Principal Investigator from another eligible LMIC or UK institution, or lead the application without a Joint Lead Applicant.

Depending on the nature of the partnership, there may be other affiliated Co-applicants (maximum of 15) and collaborators/project partners including service level providers.

Contracting and funding must take place via the lead administering institution (i.e. the LMIC or UK Joint Lead Applicant’s official organisation, i.e. the organisation where the LMIC/UK Joint Lead Applicant is employed).

Commercial organisations or governmental agencies cannot be a Lead or Joint Lead on an application as they do not fall under any of the eligible categories above. However, these organisations may be included in applications as Collaborator or via service level agreement, providing it is clear what benefit a commercial company would bring to the research programme. In addition, a company’s commercial model must be compatible with the conditions laid out in the NIHR research contract and NIHR’s policies/limitations around funding indirect costs, and the costs are clear in the budget. It is important that any Applicant organisation is aligned with NIHR’s principles including open access to research.

Non-health research institutions, e.g. an institute of engineering, can act as Co-Applicants or Collaborators, provided their expertise is relevant to the plans proposed.

Under this call, an individual cannot be named as Lead/Joint Lead Applicant on more than one application.

There are no restrictions on the number of applications an institution can submit under this call provided they are distinct in their objectives.

Existing NIHR Global Health Research 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.

Please refer to the Global Health Research Programmes Applications – Core Guidance for more information that may be useful to your application.

If you are unsure of eligibility, please contact ccf-globalhealth@nihr.ac.uk.

Section 9: Selection Criteria

RIGHT Call 5 Stage 1 applications will be assessed against the following four key criteria:

  1. Relevance of the proposed research
  2. Research excellence
  3. Strength of the research team
  4. Impact and sustainability

Please refer to the key criteria in 'Scope - Key Criteria for Funding' for details of what is expected to be demonstrated in the application for each of these criteria.


At Stage 1, applicants are expected to consider, but not provide extensive detail for key criteria (5-8) in 'Scope - Key Criteria for Funding'. Applicants should however ensure these are embedded throughout proposal development.


At Stage 2, the Funding Committee will assess research proposals based on all key criteria listed in 'Scope - Key Criteria for Funding'. Therefore, applicants who are successful at Stage 1 will be expected to further develop their proposal and provide a higher level of detail on the remaining criteria at Stage 2.

Section 10: Selection Process for Stage 1

NIHR RIGHT Call 5 is a two-stage competition. Stage 1 is a short-listing outline stage. Stage 2 is for successful applicants at Stage 1 to produce a 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 access applications against published eligibility and selection criteria ahead of the Funding Committee meeting. Those proposals which are below the agreed threshold will be rejected at that point and will not receive feedback. High-scoring applications will proceed to the Funding Committee meeting.

Section 11: Timetable

  • Call launch – 2 March 2022
  • Deadline for remit enquiries* – 22 June 2022
  • Deadline for receipt of RIGHT Call 5 Stage 1 applications and PPDA Call 5 via the online RMS – 29 June 2022 at 1pm UK time
  • Funding Committee review the applications and make recommendations – September 2022
  • Applicants notified of outcome of Stage 1 and PPDA – October 2022
  • Stage 2 opens for successful Stage 1 applicants – October 2022

*NIHR will not guarantee they will be able to answer queries about the remit or content of applications after this date. If you have other queries about RMS or the application process, please do contact us after this time.

Section 12: Completing your application online

You must complete an online application via the Research Management System (RMS). The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 29 June 2022 at 1pm UK time.

  • 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 RIGHT Global Health team by emailing ccf-globalhealth@nihr.ac.uk or calling +44 (0)20 8843 8286 immediately if they think there is a system problem, whilst attempting to continue with their submission.

Please see guidance on completing your application form.

References

  1. Berrang-Ford L, Sietsma AJ, Callaghan M et al. Systematic mapping of global research on climate and health: a machine learning review. Lancet Planet Health. 2021 Aug;5(8):e514-e525. doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00179-0. 
  2. World Health Organisation. Operational framework for building climate resilient health systems. 10 June 2015.
  3. Cabinet Office. Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. 16 March 2021.