The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme funds ambitious studies evaluating interventions with potential to make a step-change in the promotion of health, treatment of disease and improvement of rehabilitation or long-term care. Within these studies, EME supports research in the mechanisms of diseases and treatments. EME is a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NIHR.
The EME Programme is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.
The EME Programme looks to attract studies with novel methodological designs that deliver results more efficiently, reduce the study timeline, and maximise the knowledge gained. The translational research it supports covers a wide range of new and repurposed interventions, such as diagnostic or prognostic tests and decision-making tools, therapeutics or psychological treatments, medical devices, and public health initiatives delivered in the NHS.
All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.
The EME Programme primarily supports clinical trials, and other robustly designed studies that test the efficacy of interventions. The interventions should have the potential to improve patient care or benefit the public. The programme will only support studies where there is sufficient evidence that the intervention might work in man, i.e. that there is ‘proof of concept’.
Innovative study designs involving stratification, the use of routinely collected digital data or novel methodologies are strongly encouraged.
Where appropriate, the programme encourages hypothesis-testing mechanistic studies integrated within the main efficacy study. These studies could explore the mechanisms of action of the intervention, the causes of differing responses, or promote an understanding of any potential adverse effects and how these could be reduced; they could also contribute to understanding of the disease.
The programme will also support mechanistic studies that follow on from on-going or completed clinical studies funded by the NIHR which can use data or samples from these studies. These can include qualitative research and opportunities for mechanistic work where the efficacy trial has not been successful.
The programme will accept applications for studies that use clinical or well-validated surrogate outcomes. It will also consider studies that validate potential surrogate outcomes against a primary clinical outcome, within the main clinical trial.
The following guides compare the remits of the EME Programme with the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) (funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, and the Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme.
EME or MRC? Would my primary research idea be of interest to the DPFS scheme or the EME Programme?
EME or HTA? Would my primary research idea be of interest to the HTA Programme or the EME Programme?
EME or i4i? Would my primary research idea be of interest to the i4i or the EME Programme?
The EME Programme will support:
Proposals may include two stages with progression to the main clinical evaluation dependent on the outcome of the previous stage, measured against predefined criteria. The main clinical evaluation must start within 18 months of the project start date and should account for more than 75% of the total project cost.
The work supported by the first 25% tranche of funding could include:
Staged studies will require predefined stop/go decision points, with measurable criteria to enable assessment of the successful completion of the stage. Studies may on occasion, be reviewed by the EME Committee at the end of each stage before progression to the next stage.
The EME Programme will not support:
Most research supported by the EME Programme will follow the routine two-stage process of assessment before being funded. However, it may sometimes be necessary to accelerate the handling of a research question and in such circumstances researchers may be eligible to apply through the fast-track scheme.
The fast-track scheme provides an opportunity to submit a full proposal directly, shortening the length of time it takes for a funding decision to be made. However, please bear in mind that proposals accepted onto the fast-track scheme will compete on equal terms with other full proposals which have had the benefit of feedback by the Funding Committee at outline stage.
It is intended that this route is only used where reducing the timescale will provide significant benefit, or exploitation of a narrow window of opportunity, for example:
If you would like your proposal to be considered for the fast-track scheme, please contact email@example.com . You will be asked to:
The information you provide will then be considered and you will be informed whether your proposal is eligible for fast-tracking. You will then be provided with more information about submitting your full application and the timescales for doing this.
The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme calls on the expertise, knowledge and opinion of a large number of people to ensure that the identification of research areas and funding decisions are chosen in a clear and fair way.
The EME Strategy Advisory Committee provides advice to the EME Programme Director on the scientific strategy for the programme.
The EME Funding Committee assesses stage 1 and stage 2 proposals and makes funding funding recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Medical Research Council.
Members of NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.
Our community of reviewers play a vital part in maintaining and improving the quality of the EME Programme projects and outputs. They are sought from a variety of fields, including from those who work in and use NHS services. To demonstrate our gratitude to our reviewers and acknowledge the important work they do for the programme the names of the past year’s reviewers are listed below.
We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.
For help with applying for EME funding:
Tel: 023 8059 4303
We are accepting Stage 1 applications for this funding opportunity.
The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their researcher-led workstream.
The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme is accepting stage 1 applications to their commissioned workstream for this funding opportunity.
A guide to which sorts of primary research studies are best suited to either the DPFS scheme, or the EME Programme.
A guide to which sorts of primary research studies are best suited to either the HTA Programme, or the EME Programme.
This guide outlines which sorts of primary research studies will be of interest to the Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme, or the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme (an NIHR and MRC partnership).
Prehabilitation: Living with and beyond cancer Guidance notes and supporting information NIHR Funding Programmes Summary
EME Mechanisms commissioning brief