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Global Health Research – Researcher-led

The Global Health Research (GHR) – Researcher-led programmes support research that aims to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable people in low and middle income countries (LMICs). GHR Researcher-led offers researcher-led funding opportunities. This means you can apply for funding for research topics of your choice, where these have been identified in collaboration with local stakeholders.

Research must address evidence needs that are locally identified and prioritised, and must promote health equity, aligning with the aims of Sustainable Development Goal 3.

About the Global Health Research – Researcher-led programmes

Though GHR  Researcher-led we fund a range of projects and programmes, from broad ambitious programmes of work to projects with a narrower focus.

GHR Researcher-led offers:

  • clear, regular (annual) and predictable funding opportunities to give you more time to prepare your application
  • researcher-led funding opportunities. This means you can apply for funding for research topics of your choice, where these have been identified in collaboration with local stakeholders
  • a tiered approach with 3 bands of funding available. This makes it easier for you to find a suitable option. This recognises the breadth or research proposals - ranging from broad, ambitious research to projects with a narrow scope. We will consider applications from experienced global health researchers and those who are new to global health research
  • a flexible leadership model to help you facilitate equitable partnerships

We support equitable research partnerships between researchers and institutions in the UK and/or those in LMICs eligible to receive Official Development Assistance (ODA). Through these programmes we directly fund one lead contracting institution which can be either LMIC or UK based, who then disburses funding to all.

GHR  Researcher-led has replaced and revised our previous opportunities delivered through GHR Units and GHR Groups.

See our latest funding opportunities

What we fund

Building on our Global Health Research operating principles, the strategic aim of GHR  Researcher-led is to support applied research. To achieve this, your research should:

  • deliver multidisciplinary, high-quality applied health research targeted at improving outcomes for the most vulnerable people in LMICs. Research must promote health equity
    research examples include:
    • scoping studies
    • needs analyses
    • pilot studies
    • trials, where these are part of a wider programme of research; applications which include trials must include appropriate plans for strengthening capacity in trial management in LMICs
    • implementation science
  • address applied health research questions which target health challenges or evidence gaps. There should be evidence that the questions are prioritised by local stakeholders and policymakers
  • support equitable partnerships and networks among researchers, demonstrating equity and collaboration in:
    • programme leadership
    • decision-making
    • capacity strengthening
    • governance
    • distribution of funds
    • ethics processes
    • data ownership
    • dissemination of findings
  • generate new research knowledge and evidence with clear pathways to impact
  • involve and engage with communities and the following stakeholders, as appropriate, throughout the researchlifecycle:
    • community leadership
    • policymakers
    • service providers
    • patients, affected communities and service users
    • carers
    • civil society organisations
  • be designed and implemented in ways which will inform policy and/or practice. For example, through engaging with policymakers and informing local, regional or national strategies
  • strengthening research capacity of individuals and institutions in a proportionate and relevant way, to deliver the proposed activities
  • include appropriate project management and financial/administrative support
  • create pathways for career development for future research leaders. Senior academics can ensure this by:
    • supporting less experienced researchers to lead or jointly lead on the research proposal or on significant project components, where appropriate
    • offering effective mentoring and appropriate support to enable this

Funding bands

There are 3 bands of funding based on the scale and ambition of the proposed research, the maturity of partnerships, the teams’ experience and expected capacity strengthening plans. Bands differ in their leadership requirements, but UK-based researchers must always apply in collaboration with LMIC researchers.

GHR  Researcher-led band 1

This is for more established research partnerships and experienced teams. This band is suitable for teams proposing a broad, ambitious programme of research and capacity strengthening. Where research is being undertaken by an existing partnership, it is expected that the proposed research will be a significant extension of their previous research. The research will be delivered through linked work packages typically across multiple country contexts. Funded programmes are expected to lead to significant impact on health outcomes, policy and practice, and strengthen research capacity.

GHR – Researcher-led band 2

This is for developing or less mature research partnerships with varying levels of experience proposing to undertake a significant new programme of research, extend existing research and capacity strengthening, and/or include more LMIC settings. The scope and complexity of these programmes can include multiple linked components. Alternatively, they can comprehensively address a single research theme. Funded programmes will lead to lasting impact on health outcomes, policy and practice, and strengthen research capacity.

GHR – Researcher-led band 3

This is for new research partnerships and/or less experienced teams. This band is suitable for teams proposing a research project which may be at an early or developmental stage. It may be delivered in a single country context. Funded projects will have a narrower scope than band 1 and 2 programmes. Proportionate to the amount of funds requested, the project can range from a single study to a combination of studies. Projects should offer opportunities for early to mid-career researchers to develop leadership skills and progress their own research ideas. Funded projects will have clear outcomes and defined pathways to impact on health outcomes, policy and practice.

Across all 3 bands, the scope, complexity and ambition of your proposal should be proportionate to the amount of funding you are requesting.

Regardless of your level of experience, you are eligible to apply for a band 3 award where this is appropriate to the research plans; however, where less experienced researchers apply for band 1, 2 and 3 funding we expect these applications should demonstrate how appropriate mentoring and support are in place. Mentoring for a less experienced lead researcher cannot be solely from a more-experienced co-lead.

What we do not fund

GHR – Researcher-led will not support applications which:

  • do not meet the published funding opportunity criteria
  • do not demonstrate demand from LMIC stakeholders and/or links to relevant local, regional or national policies and priorities
  • do not clearly define a pathway to impact
  • do not demonstrate potential for generalisability of the research findings, or potential for scale-up of interventions to the wider health system
  • consist of one of the following on its own, rather than as part of an integrated research and capacity strengthening programme which includes
    • randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions
    • descriptive epidemiological studies
    • evidence synthesis
    • plans for service evaluation in isolation. That is unless this will inform evidence-based development and improve these services
    • dissemination or public health messaging
  • replicates research already undertaken in high income countries without clear justification
  • primarily focus on:
    • establishing new patient cohorts, biobanks or bio-sample collections or data collection studies. Samples or data from existing biobanks, patient registries cohorts may be used
    • observational research, secondary research or health policy implementation
    • basic laboratory/discovery research or experimental medicine


We will consider applications in any field of applied global health research. All applications must benefit people living in one or more ODA-eligible country.

To be eligible to receive GHR Researcher-led funding, your application must demonstrate how it meets Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliance criteria.

You will need to outline:

  • which country or countries on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit
  • how your application is relevant to the development challenges of those countries
  • how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of people in a country/ countries on the OECD DAC list

Researchers from institutions in high-income countries are not eligible to apply as Sole Lead. Where elements of your research are undertaken outside an ODA-eligible country, you must clearly state the reasons for this in your application. For example, you may need specialist expertise. If you know a country will be removed from the ODA-DAC list during the lifetime of your project, you will need to show how your research benefits ODA-eligible countries.


The GHR  Researcher-led programmes have a two-stage assessment. Stage 1 is a shortlisting outline stage. If you are successful at Stage 1, you will be invited to submit a full application at Stage 2. Feedback is provided to applicants at each stage.

Our first GHR Researcher-led funding opened on 17 July 2024. Visit the GHR – Researcher-led funding opportunity page for full details.  From there, you will be taken to our application system where you will need to complete and submit your application by the closing date.

Contact us

If you have any questions about GHR – Researcher-led, please email our team at