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Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation - Call 7 Stage 1 Guidance for Applicants


Published: 05 July 2023

Version: 2.0 - October 2023

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This call closed on 11 October 2023.

Section 1: Introduction

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 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) 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 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 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. 

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

Section 2: About the RIGHT programme 

NIHR Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme funds 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. 

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 of 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.

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

Determining the theme for RIGHT Call 7

To determine the theme of RIGHT Call 7, the NIHR Global Health Research (GHR) Team undertook quantitative and qualitative analysis to identify high-burden, under-financed disease research areas and build an evidence base to identify an area where a RIGHT call could have the greatest impact. This analysis involved:

  •     A quantitative review of data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study
  •     A quantitative review of Dimensions data (a linked research knowledge system that brings together grants, publications, citations, alternative metrics, clinical trials, patents and policy documents)
  •     A qualitative review of research funder announcements, reports, and strategies

The analysis revealed cardiovascular diseases (CVD) as a high burden, under-financed disease research area.

The team then undertook further consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, policymakers, and people with lived experience. This involved requesting stakeholders to submit, via a survey, research topics within the area of cardiovascular disease, in accordance with a range of pre-agreed criteria, to assess how far the topic fulfilled the aims of a RIGHT call. The stakeholder consultation helped to narrow and determine the final scope of the call as detailed in Section 4 below.   

Section 3: Rationale

CVD is a general term for a group of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels. These include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and rheumatic heart disease[1] . An estimated 17.9M people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke, and over three quarters of CVD deaths take place in LMICs[2].  CVDs are a major contributor to disability [3] and can contribute to broader ill-health and poverty due to catastrophic health spending and high out-of-pocket expenditure. 2019 Global Burden of Disease data estimates that the average rate of years of healthy life lost to disability or death from cardiovascular disease across all ODA-eligible countries was 4929.6 years per 100,000 population, the highest of all causes.  

According to the 2021 WHO fact sheet, people living in LMICs often do not have the benefit of primary health care programmes for early detection and treatment of people with risk factors for CVDs. People who suffer from CVDs in LMICs have less access to effective and equitable health care services which respond appropriately to their needs. As a result for many people detection is late in the course of disease progression and thus people die at a younger age or have poorer health outcomes. This contributes to increased morbidity as a result of CVD as compared with High Income Countries. The poorest people in LMICs are most affected. At the health system level, CVD prevention, detection and treatment place a heavy burden on the economies of LMICs. 

The results of the NIHR’s consultation survey conducted to identify research gaps revealed a strong need for research across the whole cardiovascular disease care pathway, but particularly in community and primary health care settings, which is reflected in the focus for NIHR RIGHT Call 7.

Section 4: Priorities and focus of RIGHT Call 7 

NIHR is seeking applications for RIGHT Call 7 that focus on the development and evaluation of interventions for the early detection and management of metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke in primary and community care settings, including:

  • Interventions that focus on early detection, effective treatment, and management of metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Interventions focusing on the prevention of metabolic risk factors are out of scope.
  • Interventions that have metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke (both ischaemic and haemorrhagic) as their primary focus. 
  • The following may be included as part of a broader programme of research, but must not be the primary focus:
    • Cardiovascular-related diseases such as diabetes and glaucoma
    • Complications of cardiovascular diseases
  • Metabolic risk factors in scope include:
    • Hypertension (raised blood pressure)
    • Overweight/obesity
    • Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels)
    • Hyperlipidaemia (high levels of fat in the blood) [4]
  • Interventions should be targeted at local-level, community-based service delivery or within primary health-care settings (primary care is understood here as a key process in the health system that supports first-contact, accessible, continued, comprehensive and coordinated patient-focused care [5])
  • Elements that can be included as part of wider intervention development and evaluation programmes:
    • Research that leads to a better understanding of risk factors, cultural and socio-economic attitudes and practices influencing the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke
    • Related health policy and systems analysis

NIHR particularly welcomes applications focusing on the development and evaluation of interventions targeting underrepresented groups, including pregnant women.

Section 5: 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 £5 million, range £1-5 million (maximum of £5 million) over 3-5 years are available for eligible research. Applications in the lower part of this range are welcomed where smaller programmes will still address the aims of the call.   

Eligible costs for NIHR RIGHT calls include:

  • Research staff engaged in proposed research
  • Research support staff supporting proposed research
  • Travel, subsistence, meetings and conference registration 
  • Equipment 
  • Consumables 
  • Community engagement and involvement
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion considerations
  • Dissemination, excluding open access publication costs
  • Risk management and assurance
  • Training and development including LMIC student fees/stipend
  • Other direct costs specific to the research
  • Other legitimate and reasonable indirect costs such as HR, finance (guidance varies according to type of organisation)

Please see the NIHR RIGHT Call 7 Finance Guidance for detailed information.

Section 6: Scope

Section 6.1 Key Criteria for Funding

NIHR RIGHT Call 7 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. 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 and existing evidence. 
  2. Research quality and excellence: Applications should demonstrate that the planned research is context-specific and driven by need. The research plan should be clear and robust, detailing clear research questions, objectives and sound design. Detailed methodology should show how the proposed research will address the questions and meet the objectives, with clear milestones, identification of possible risks, and factoring in ethical considerations. 
  3. Strength and balance of the research team: Applications should demonstrate the research team has a range and depth of relevant expertise and promotes interdisciplinary approaches to working. The proposed research plans should establish equitable partnerships within and across research teams.
  4. Impact and sustainability: Applications should demonstrate a clear and implementable strategy for pathways to impact, including research uptake and dissemination. Research outputs should have the potential to improve practice, inform policy, and support implementation and future sustainability of research in partner LMIC countries. You can read more about pathways to impact in our Theory of Change.

In Stage 2 we also assess:

  1. Capacity strengthening: Applications should demonstrate clear plans for capacity strengthening for both research and research management at individual and institutional level. 
  2. Community Engagement and Involvement: Applications should demonstrate relevant and appropriate stakeholder and community engagement and involvement,  throughout all stages of the research. 
  3. Equity of partnerships: Applications should demonstrate equity and collaboration  across all aspects of the research proposal. Promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion - including but not limited to gender balance - are expected to be strongly reflected in all aspects of the planned research.
  4. Value for money: Applications should include a clear, well-justified budget that represents good value for money. 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).

Section 6.2 In scope and out of scope

NIHR RIGHT Call 7 will support applications which:

  • Demonstrate they address the remit (section 4), eligibility (section 7) and key criteria for funding criteria (section 6.1)
  • Propose broad, multi-faceted programmes of applied health research that meet the aims of the call and are of primary and direct benefit to people and patients in ODA-eligible countries. This can include randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions with the potential to have a transformative effect for patients experiencing cardiovascular disease and stroke, provided that it is part of a wider programme of work.
  • Clearly meets a need identified from within LMICs
  • Address the challenges of early detection, effective treatment, and management of metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • Target research areas that will lead to improved outcomes for the most vulnerable.
  • Evaluate adaptation of existing technologies and processes or promote use of new technologies to improve outcomes for patients experiencing metabolic risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • Evaluate interventions that can reduce differences in health outcomes brought about by socioeconomic inequalities.
  • Seek to address issues of equity by incorporating research questions around gender, age, social barriers to health and economic impact.
  • Identify problems and outcomes that matter most to patients and carers and take  into account how they would like to see services configured to meet their needs.
  • Delivers research that takes a patient-centred, whole person approach to the treatment and care for people experiencing metabolic risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke, including quality of life and well-being.
  • Can inform local and national plans for change.
  • Supports and embeds South-South learning and bi-directional South-North learning.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Additionally, we welcome applications that include elements of methodology research as part of a wider programme of work. 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.

NIHR RIGHT Call 7 will not fund applications which:

  • Do not propose development and evaluation of interventions that can address metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke (both ischaemic and haemorrhagic) as their primary focus.
  • Focus on the development and evaluation of interventions in hospital or emergency care settings.
  • Focus on the development and evaluation of interventions for the prevention of metabolic risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • Are not based on research priorities identified in LMIC partner countries.
  • 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
  • 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 6.3 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 for a PPDA, subject to review and approval. PPDA provides funding of up to £10,000 to:

  1. Support applicants to work collaboratively with all study partners to develop stage 2 applications.
  2. Enhance/initiate partnerships and Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) activities to strengthen the research proposal.
  3. 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 Call 7 Stage 1 application and the PPDA application must be submitted via the Research Management System (RMS) by 11 October 2023 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 7 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 7 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: Eligibility

Section 7.1 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 list of ODA eligible countries
  4. OECD Official development assistance - definition and coverage 

Section 7.2 Who Can Apply

Leadership models can be either:

  1. LMIC-led: A Principal Investigator (Lead Applicant) employed by an LMIC Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Institute.
  2. LMIC-UK Joint Leads: 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). 

Applicants to state which will be the contracting institution.

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.

The contracting institution must be a HEI or Research Institute. An eligible LMIC or UK Research Institute is defined as a not-for-profit research organisation with a: 

  • demonstrable track record in obtaining funding for research through competitive processes, and delivering successful outcomes from this funding
  • track record in building and strengthening research capacity including Masters, PhD, and other formal training
  • ability to manage internationally competitive awards through research support functions to include finance, intellectual property (IP), and procurement. 

For organisations that have not previously been funded by NIHR Global Health Research funding, additional eligibility and due diligence checks may be undertaken in addition to standard NIHR eligibility and due diligence checks prior to contracting.

Depending on the nature of the partnership, there may be other affiliated Co-applicants and collaborators/project partners including service level providers. No limits will be placed on the number of Co-applicants/Collaborators necessary to effectively deliver the aims of RIGHT awards.

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.

If you are unsure of eligibility, please contact

This document should be read in conjunction with the Global Health Research Programmes - Core Guidance for Applicants for further guidance. 

Section 8: Selection Criteria

RIGHT Call 7 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 ‘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 (e-h) in ‘Key Criteria for Funding’ Applicants should however ensure these are embedded throughout proposal development.

Section 9: Selection Process for Stage 1

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 are below the agreed threshold will be rejected at that point. High-scoring applications will proceed to the Funding Committee meeting.

DHSC will retain the right to make strategic decisions at the final outcome stage (following Stage 2 Funding Committee). 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.

Submissions to more than one NIHR Programme

NIHR will not accept the same or substantially similar applications to more than one NIHR programme. If two similar applications are submitted, once the overlap is identified, the application that is most advanced through the funding process will continue and the second will not be taken further.

Similar applications will only be considered by two programmes concurrently if:

  • the aims and research proposals are substantially different;
  • the successful delivery of one project is not dependent on the other.
  • where similar teams are proposed, that individuals can deliver at the full-time equivalent (FTE) proposed for both awards

Section 10: Timetable

05 July 2023 - Call Launch

02 August 2023 - RIGHT Call 7 Briefing Webinar for Applicants

27 September 2023 - Deadline for the Research Management System (RMS) registration and remit enquiries*

11 October 2023 at 1pm UK time - Deadline for receipt of RIGHT Call 7 Stage 1 applications and PPDA Call 7 via the online RMS

January 2024 - Funding Committee review the applications and make recommendations

February 2024 - Applicants notified of outcome of Stage 1 and PPDA

February 2024 - Stage 2 opens for successful Stage 1 applicants

01 March 2025 - Expected contract start date

*NIHR will not guarantee new RMS accounts (for lead applicants or co-applicants) will be verified and approved before the call close date or queries about the remit or content of applications will be answered after this date. If you have other queries about the application process, please do contact us after this time.  

Section 11: Completing your application online

You must complete an online application via the Research Management System (RMS). The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 11 October 2023 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 or calling +44 (0)20 8843 8843 immediately if they think there is a system problem, whilst attempting to continue with their submission.

Please see guidance on completing your application form.


  1. Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD): Cardiovascular diseases
  2. World Health Organization (WHO): Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs)
  3. Global Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases and Risk Factors, 1990–2019: Update From the GBD 2019 Study
  4. World Health Organization (WHO): Noncommunicable Diseases Metabolic risk factors
  5. World Health Organization (WHO): Operational Framework for Primary Health Care