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Global Health Research Groups

The Global Health Research Groups programme awards funding to specialist departments within UK universities or research institutions not currently active in global health that want to use their existing skills to build capacity to extend into this field.

NIHR statement on ODA funding for its Global Health Research Portfolio

The Global Health Research Groups programme funds research to address locally-identified challenges in LMICs, by supporting equitable research partnerships between researchers and institutions in the UK and those in low and middle income countries (LMICs) eligible to receive Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The Global Health Research Groups programme aims to generate the scientific evidence that can improve health outcomes for people in low resource setting through improving practice and informing policy. The programme also strengthens research and research management capacity and capability to support future sustainability of research in partner countries.

Global Health Research Group funding is available to research groups either new to delivering applied health research globally or that wish to expand an existing partnership.


Global Health Research Groups are defined as a partnership of specialist researchers within universities and research institutes in LMICs and the UK:

  • either new to delivering applied health research globally, or expanding to new global partnerships to deliver applied global health research addressing unmet needs in new health areas or geographies in ODA-eligible countries
  • who, through a planned start-up phase, will develop or expand equitable research partnerships and networks, to undertake LMIC-led needs analysis designed to refine relevant research questions and priorities through engagement with policy makers, evidence users and local communities, as appropriate
  • who will establish a new programme of applied health research delivered through ambitious, structured plans for e.g. scoping studies, needs analysis, economic analysis, pilot studies and potentially trials
  • who are able to develop the strength of the partnership to improve practice and inform policy based on scientific evidence
  • who will set up and deliver a focused programme of capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level appropriate to the respective goals.

Funding amount and duration

Awards up to £3 million over a period of up to 3-4 years are available.

How to apply

The Global Health Research Groups programme holds one-stage funding calls, with a mandatory Intent to Submit form ahead of stage 1. 

Applications are reviewed by independent experts and an international funding committee

Research proposals should be online through the Management Information System (MIS). We supply a word document template application form to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of online submission.


What we fund

The Global Health Research Groups programme funds research proposals from researchers in UK-based (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) higher education institutions and research institutes. 

Applications must include a co-applicant or joint lead applicant from a country eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and relevant to the research proposal. 

Applications must demonstrate how the research proposal meets ODA compliance criteria.

Find out more about ODA eligibility

Applications in any field of applied global health research for the direct and primary benefit of people living in one or more ODA-eligible country/ies will be considered. 

Global Health Research Group awards will support applications that:

  • Propose applied health research programmes that primarily and directly address the challenges faced by people and patients in ODA-eligible country/ies.
  • Include multidisciplinary applied research teams with relevant expertise and a track-record of ensuring research is transferred into benefits for patients.
  • include relevant engagement with policy makers, patients and the public, civil society organisations and charities throughout the life of the proposed programme.
  • Demonstrate equity and collaboration in programme leadership, decision-making, capacity strengthening, governance, appropriate distribution of funds, ethics processes, data ownership, and dissemination of findings.
  • Propose a coherent and sustainable plan for capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level.
  • Demonstrate the strength of institutional commitment to the research partnership

Global Health Research Group awards will not support applications that:

  • Do not meet the published call criteria for Global Health Research Groups.
  • Consist solely of one of the following:
    • randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of intervention
    • epidemiological studies
    • evidence synthesis
    • 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 ODA-eligible country/ies in which the research is being undertaken
    • implementation science
    • Dissemination
  • Primarily focus on establishing new patient cohorts, biobanks or bio-sample collections or data collection studies (samples or data from existing cohorts may be used).
  • Primarily focus on observational research, secondary research or health policy implementation.
  • Focus on basic laboratory/discovery research or experimental medicine.

 The selection criteria used by the Global Health Research Groups Funding Committee are:

  • two joint-lead applicants (LMIC and UK) with funding and contracting via the UK administering institution
  • plans for engagement with key stakeholders such as policy makers, communities, patients and researchers, to facilitate locally relevant research priority setting, needs assessment and a strategy for appropriate research uptake and dissemination
  • Quality of the research design and work plan (i.e. clear research questions/objectives, sound design and detailed methodology to address the questions/meet the objectives; clear milestones, identification of possible risks and factoring in of ethical considerations).
  • Strength of the Global Health Research Group’s research team (i.e. depth of relevant interdisciplinary expertise, including social science, and the respective track record of applicants in the specified area).
  • Quality of the proposed management and governance arrangements (i.e. clear definition of roles, risk management arrangements and how the efforts of individuals will be coordinated)
  • Impact of the proposed work (i.e. likelihood of significant contribution to the evidence base in the relevant area, pathways to improvement in health, wellbeing, lives saved and economic, social and cultural benefits in ODA-eligible countries) and plans for engagement with policy makers, communities and the public at an early stage.
  • Strength of plans for Community Engagement and Involvement.
  • Value for money provided by the application.

Our people

Applications to the Global Health Research Groups programme are peer reviewed by professional reviewers, then considered by a funding committee.

The committees recommend projects for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care, which approves which projects should be funded. 

Committee chair

The Global Health Research Groups Funding Committee is chaired by Professor Jane Norman.

Committee members

View the full membership of the Global Health Research Units - Call 2 Funding Committee and Global Health Research Units - Call 3 Funding Committee.

View the full membership of the Global Health Research Units and Groups - Call 1 Funding Committee and Global Health Research Units and Groups - Call 2 Funding Committee.

Meeting minutes


To date, the Global Health Research Groups programme has held three funding calls.

Call 3

The third call for Global Health Research Groups opened in June 2020 and had two closing dates in Autumn 2020 and Summer 2021. 

Funding decisions for this call have now been made and are detailed in the Funding Commitee minutes.

Call 2

The second funding call for Global Health Research Groups launched in 2017. A total of 20 new groups were awarded £40 million of funding.

Call 1  

The first funding call for Global Health Research Groups took place between November 2016 and March 2017. Funding was awarded to 20 groups.

Contact us

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.


Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.

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