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Selection Committee Chair for NIHR (SPARC) Role Description




The NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. Its people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems together represent the most integrated health research system in the world. It has transformed research in and for the NHS and helped to shape the health and care research landscape more broadly. NIHR is also committed to supporting world-class global health research through its Global Health Research (GHR) Programmes that aim to deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

With substantial funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the NIHR’s scope is broad. It focuses on the elements of the ‘innovation pathway’ from early translational research, though clinical and onto applied health and care research.

The NIHR Academy is responsible for development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development. It plays a pivotal role in attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future and complements the additional NIHR investment in world-class research facilities and a skilled research workforce. The purpose of the NIHR Academy is to develop a highly-skilled academic research workforce capable of advancing the best research which improves health, and benefits society and the economy as well as to further build and strengthen capacity by creating training opportunities to develop appropriate research skills and grow a cadre of researchers able to work in the field of global health.
The NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC)  is one of the schemes coordinated by the NIHR Academy Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures team. The NIHR SPARC is open to those based in NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools; allowing early career researchers the opportunity to spend time in other parts of the NIHR; to network, train in a specific technique or collaborate with other researchers/ specialists in their research area or at the interface with industry. In doing this, the SPARC scheme aims to foster collaboration and cross-NIHR working and enhance awardees’ CVs and careers.
In 2020 we are expanding the NIHR SPARC scheme to strengthen public health, prevention and social care research; by providing opportunities to undertake placements in a Local Authority setting. These placements will provide opportunities for members to gain first-hand experience of being actively embedded and connected within practice/policy, helping NIHR Academy members to start to shape mutually beneficial collaborations/networks with the ability and skills to co-produce research that is better able to inform public health and social care practice and policy. In addition, one of the aims of the NIHR is to increase the number of researchers equipped with the skills to work at the interfaces between academia, the NHS, wider health, public health, social care and industry. In 2020 we intend to further expand the SPARC scheme with opportunities to undertake placements in other parts of the NIHR that have developed mutually beneficially partnerships and collaborations with industry/commercial sector. As such, we aim to develop research leaders with the skills and experiences to navigate and work across multiple sectors, seizing opportunities with industry/commercial sector in order to help tackle some of the most complex health and care challenges of the future.   

The NIHR is also committed to supporting world-class global health research through its Global Health Research Programmes (the GHR Units and Groups and RIGHT Calls) that aim to deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The NIHR are strengthening and building capacity in global health research, and providing opportunities and funding initiatives to develop and advance global health research career pathways both in LMICs and in the UK. The Global Health Research Training Pilot Programme managed by the NIHR Academy has recently been created to add value to, build on, and strengthen existing investment in academic research capacity in our GHR Programmes; offering a series of pilot schemes to support the training and career development of NIHR Academy members based in the GHR Programmes. In 2019, we piloted a GHR SPARC scheme and are currently looking at options to take this forward.

Role Summary

The Selection Committee Chair for NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) will support the delivery and development of the NIHR SPARC to ensure that the experience of NIHR Academy Members is of the highest quality. The Selection Committee Chair role may involve chairing two separate Selection Committees and supporting other similar initiatives going forward.

Key responsibilities:

  • Reading and familiarising yourself with all applications, guidance notes and relevant documentation and preparing for NIHR Selection Committee funding recommendation meetings. 
  • Oversight and chairing/running NIHR Selection Committee funding recommendation meetings via tele-conference.
  • Ensuring Selection Committee meetings keep to time.
  • Ensuring NIHR Academy procedures and protocols are followed and referring to NIHR Academy staff for guidance when necessary.
  • Leading a panel of professionals and facilitating the active participation of all Selection Committee members to provide sound and unbiased decision making on applications.
  • Seeking clarification of the Selection Committee views and ensuring there is appropriate discussion, before the Selection Committee agrees a scoring/ranking for each proposal.
  • Providing final approval for feedback and conditions on awards, where necessary.
  • Ensuring NIHR Academy is provided with a final and agreed list of applications recommended for funding and feedback for those not funded.
  • Advising or recommending on action for issues that arise post-decision meeting (e.g.
    on conditional awards).
  • Working closely with NIHR Academy to develop the scheme, and taking part in the evaluation of the schemes as required.
  • Participation in Chairs’ meetings as required.

Further information

NIHR Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures

1. NIHR Infrastructure and NIHR Schools

The NIHR has created a research infrastructure which includes the Biomedical Research Centres, Applied Research Collaborations, Patient Safety Translational Research Centres and Health Protection Research Units. These organisations undertake high quality research and have a responsibility for research capacity development. The NIHR Infrastructure organisations provide excellent training environments, currently supporting over 1000 fully or partly funded members from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.
Training in the NIHR Infrastructure is supported by a range of activities and is developed in collaboration with the NIHR Infrastructure Training Leads. The Training Leads work to develop local training strategy and work collectively as the Infrastructure Training Forum. The Training Forum meets annually to develop and promote excellence in training and capacity development, develop bespoke training events, resources and materials and provide a platform for sharing best practice and progress in training methods.
NIHR has established three national research schools, the School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), the School for Public Health Research (SPHR) and the School for Social Care Research (SSCR). The schools contribute to ongoing efforts to build research capacity in their respective sectors and to create a ‘critical mass’ of research expertise and funding through co-ordinated and collaborative working across England.
For more information, visit the NIHR website: Infrastructure, SPCR, SPHRSSCR

2. Global Health Programmes

The NIHR is committed to supporting world-class global health research and has recently established NIHR led Global Health Research (GHR) Programmes that will deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The NIHR Academy will deliver an appropriate programme of training support and engagement to NIHR Academy members in the GHR Programmes based in the UK or in LMICs. The aim of the NIHR Academy’s offer to the GHR Programmes is to add value and build upon existing investment by engaging both those who are supporting training and those undertaking it, and to enable them to benefit from being part of something larger than their own local environment.
For further information, visit the NIHR website: Global Health

Application process

Informal enquiries regarding the role can be discussed with Karen Fernando, Assistant Director for the Infrastructure and Capacity Building Structures team at the NIHR Academy ( General application questions should be directed to or 0113 532 8444.
Applications should be submitted in the form of a CV together with a supporting statement of suitability and e-mailed to, titled NIHR SPARC Selection Committee Chair application. Agreement in principle from your host institution should be in place at the time of application. Supporting statements should be no longer than one side of A4.
NIHR Academy will issue a letter of appointment to a successful candidate and pay £7,500 per annum honorarium to be paid every six months in arrears to the successful applicant’s employing institution
The closing date for application submissions is Tuesday 28 July 2020 at 5pm. Interviews will be held via telephone/video-conferencing on Friday 11 September 2020.

Equal Opportunities and Diversity

NIHR and DHSC have a duty as a public body to promote equality of opportunity. All applicants will be contacted shortly after the closure date by NIHR Equality Monitoring.
Monitoring ensures that all applications to NIHR roles are treated equally in terms of gender, ethnicity and/or disability.

The information you share with the monitoring system:

  • will be stored separately from your application
  • only be used for the purpose of monitoring equal opportunities
  • be kept securely and in confidence

Privacy Notice

Our purpose for collecting information is to have the necessary information to assess your suitability for the advertised post and to communicate with you about your application. The data we collect here is collected in the public interest. Information provided here may be subject to Freedom of Information requests.
The NIHR Academy Executive is part of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The contracting agent for NIHR Academy Executive is the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT). The DHSC is the Data Controller and LTHT is the Data Processor under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EC 2016/679. DHSC NIHR respects the privacy of individuals who share their data and processes it in a manner that meets the requirements of GDPR. The DHSC Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: 
The NIHR privacy policy includes further information including ways we may use your data, our contact details and details on your individual rights regarding how your data is used. Your data will be shared with DHSC for assessment purposes and with LTHT for contract management purposes only and will at that point be subject to LTHT's Privacy Policy which is attached.
Information collected from you will not be shared outside the EEA without your consent. This notice is under constant review and will be updated and / or revised based on that review as appropriate.