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Global Health Research Units

The Global Health Research Units programme funds collaborations of researchers within universities and research institutes in low and middle income countries (LMICs) and the UK who wish to establish new programmes of applied health research.

NIHR statement on ODA funding for its Global Health Research Portfolio

The Global Health Research Units 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 Units programme provides funding to support not only delivery of research that will improve health outcomes for people living in LMICs, but also to strengthen crucial research capability and capacity in resource-poor settings, in particular training and capacity building in both academic research and programme support functions.

Global Health Research Unit funding is awarded to partnerships that have an existing track record of delivering internationally recognised applied global health research and wish to consolidate and expand this work.


Global Health Research Units are defined as a well-established research partnership or network of universities and research institutes in LMICs and the UK:

  • with an existing track record of delivering internationally recognised applied global health research addressing unmet health needs in ODA-eligible countries
  • who wish to consolidate and expand this work, supporting and developing thematic research and capacity strengthening networks, through regional and global hubs
  • who will deliver a large scale, ambitious programme of applied health research through a range of trials and studies
  • who are able to leverage the strength of the existing partnership consortium to improve practice and inform policy based on scientific evidence
  • who will set up and deliver a substantial and sustainable programme of capacity and capability strengthening at individual and institutional level.

Funding amount and duration

Awards of up to £7 million over a period of up to 5 years are available.

How to apply

The Global Health Research Units 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 Units 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 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 Units 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 countries.
  • Include interdisciplinary applied research teams with demonstrable expertise and a track record of ensuring research is transferred into benefits for patients in LMICs.
  • 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 Unit 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 controlled trials of interventions
    • 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 biosample 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.

Our people

.Applications to the Global Health Research Unit 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 Units Funding Committee is chaired by Professor Stephen Tollman.

Committee members

View the full membership of the Global Health Research Call 2 Units and Call 3 Groups Funding Committees.

View the full membership of the Global Health Research Units Funding Committees for call 1 and call 2.

Meeting minutes


To date the Global Health Research Units programme has held two funding calls.

Call 2

The second call for Global Health Research Units opened in June 2020 and had two closing dates in Autumn 2020 and Summer 2021. The units awarded funding will be announced in 2021.

Call 1  

The first funding call for Global Health Research Units took place between November 2016 and March 2017. Funding was awarded to 13 new Global Health Research Units.


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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