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Global Health

The NIHR Global Health Research programme supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.

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The NIHR Global Health Research Programme supports areas of applied health research and training that are underfunded or where there is an unmet need.  All funded NIHR Global Health Research must be:

  • Primarily and directly relevant to people living in low and middle income countries as identified on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee list
  • Of the highest quality, delivered by outstanding research teams, and generate evidence that has  strong potential for global impact.
  • Has the potential to reduce health inequalities.

The 2015 UK Aid Strategy sets out the government’s commitment to spend 0.7% Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA). The strategy aligns the government’s global efforts to defeat poverty, tackle instability, and create prosperity in developing countries, whilst also strongly supporting the UK national interest. Leveraging wider UK expertise through the UK’s world-leading science, research and development base to tackle global problems is a key strand of this.

The research funded through this programme aims to ;

  • develop and commission new global health research though partnership working
  • delivers primary benefit to the health and economies of the poorest people living in countries listed on the DAC list,
  • supports their progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and
  • strengthens UK and LMIC research capabilities and expertise

In line with ODA principles, between 2016-18, the NIHR has established a substantial portfolio of global health research programmes, through open researcher-led and commissioned calls. These have positioned the NIHR as a key player in global health research, though providing support to 13 Global Health Research Units, 40 Global Health Groups,  funding through the Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) scheme, and through the newly launched Global Health Policy and Systems Research programme.  

All research activities commissioned and funded through the Global Health Research Programme contribute towards the UK aid commitment and must have direct and primary relevance to countries identified on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee list. This supports the UK government’s commitment to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being in the world’s poorest countries, as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In line with the 2015 UK Aid Strategy and the UK Aid Transparency Guarantee, NIHR publishes information on all its ODA-funded activities in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard. Information about NIHR’s Global Health Research activities can be found on the UK Development Tracker (DevTracker) under the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), alongside the Department’s other ODA activities. Transparency in international development delivers greater accountability, drives economic growth and improves the lives of poor people in developing countries.

Download Global Health ODA Transparency Data (xml file)

Equitable Partnerships

North-South research partnerships can create a variety of opportunities and benefits for all parties but also bring with them their own unique set of considerations and challenges.  Building and maintaining equitable partnerships can help ensure that research outcomes are mutually beneficial and more likely to achieve the desired development impact. 

This Equitable Partnership Guide provides advice and guidance for equitable research partnerships at all stages of the relationship.

The NIHR does not promote any particular organisations or values relating to the information provided, and individuals and teams are encouraged to review these resources and apply what is useful or relevant to them.


NIHR Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) funds cutting-edge interdisciplinary applied health research in key areas in ODA-eligible countries where a strategic and targeted investment can result in a transformative impact.

Through RIGHT, we want to:

  • Deliver research of primary and direct benefit to ODA-eligible countries, typically through research for the prevention of ill health and optimal disease management
  • Strengthen capacity for research and knowledge exchange through equitable partnerships between researchers in the UK and ODA-eligible countries
  • Promote interdisciplinary approaches to working (including, but not limited to: clinical, health economics, statistics, qualitative and social sciences), to ensure that research objectives can be delivered

RIGHT calls are two stage competitions, with independent peer review and international panel assessment.  Applicants successful at Stage 1 will be eligible for Proposal and Partnership Development Award (PPDA) funding of up to £10,000,  to support proposal and partnership development during the Stage 2 application drafting process. 


Applications should be from UK-based (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) Higher Education Institutions, and research institutes. Non-UK institutions in High-Income Countries can be included in the application if there is a strong justification as to why the expertise they are bringing cannot be found in the UK or in an ODA-eligible country; evidence for this, needs to be provided in the application. 

Applications from joint groupings of UK institutions will be considered, although a lead UK institution must be specified.

Please note that for RIGHT Call 2, it is mandatory to include a co-applicant or Joint Lead Applicant from an ODA-eligible country relevant to the research proposal.

The research must be focused on improving the health and welfare of people in ODA-eligible countries. In order to be eligible to receive ODA funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:

  • Which country or countries on the DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit?
  • How the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries?
  • How the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of a country or countries on the DAC list?

Selection criteria

The selection criteria used by the RIGHT Funding Committee at Stage 1 are :

  • Relevance of the proposed research to the research requirement outlined in the Remit
  • Quality of the research design and work plan
  • Strength of the research team
  • Impact of the proposed work

The selection criteria used by the Funding Committee at Stage 2 are:

  • Relevance of the proposed research to the research requirement outlined in the Remit
  • Quality of the research design and work plan
  • Quality of the proposed management arrangements
  • Strength of the research team
  • Impact of the proposed work
  • Value for money provided by the application
  • Community and public involvement, where relevant to the research question(s)
  • Equity of partnerships and approach to capacity building

The RIGHT Funding Committee is chaired by Professor Tom Solomon. View the full membership of RIGHT Call 1 and RIGHT Call 2 Funding Committees.

Funding calls


Call 2


RIGHT Call 2 is funding mental health research in ODA-eligible countries through supporting applied research on the development and evaluation of interventions to improve outcomes for those affected by mental health issues.

The amount of NIHR funding available for this competition is up to £15 million. Awards of typical range £3-5 million (maximum of £5 million) over 3-4 years are available for ODA-eligible research, starting January 2020. Applications should be submitted through the Research Management System (RMS).

More information is available in the Guidance for Applicants for Stage 1 and Stage 2, Financial Guidance for Applicants, and our frequently asked questions.  

Call 2 competition dates

Call 2 Stage 1 PPDA Stage 2
Competition launch 03 January 2019 03 January 2019 17 June 2019
Submission deadline 27 March 2019 (1pm) 27 March 2019 (1pm) 05 September 2019 (1pm)
Submission outcome June 2019 June 2019 December 2019

A webinar was held in February 2019 for RIGHT Call 2 applicants to provide information on the aims, scope and eligibility of the call. View the webinar or the slides.

Impact Strengthening Workshop

An impact strengthening workshop was held in June 2019 for RIGHT Call 2 applicants successful at Stage 1 and invited to submit a Stage 2 application. The workshop comprised of a series of activities to help applicants explore their pathways to impact, while also reflecting openly on impact opportunities and challenges relevant to their own research contexts with other short listed applicants. View the slides.

Call 1


The amount of NIHR funding available for this competition is up to £30 million. Awards will range between £3m-5m (maximum of £5m) over 3-4 years for ODA-eligible research.

Key research areas:

  • Reducing the public health burden of epilepsy in ODA eligible countries
  • Infection-related cancers - improving prevention, diagnosis, treatment, access to services
  • Reducing the public health burden of severe stigmatising skin diseases

Proposal and Partnership Development Awards

All RIGHT applicants that are successful at Stage 1 and invited to submit a Stage 2 application are eligible for a PPDA. PPDAs provide funding of up to £10,000 to support partnership development and the preparation of the full proposal to be submitted for Stage 2. 

Please Note: NIHR may challenge PPDA proposed costs that it does not consider appropriate or does not offer Value for Money, for example Business Class travel. Applicants will be required to provide an invoice for actual spend and evidence of spend at the time of submitting the Stage 2 application. Lead Applicant organisations will need to pre-finance these activities once approved by NIHR.

Download the PPDA template application form and finance form.


Please email the global health team at the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility with any questions about RIGHT.

The NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) programme aims to support research in global health policy and systems research which is directly and primarily of benefit to people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). This will be driven by effective equitable partnerships between LMIC and UK researchers, who together will:

  • engage stakeholders
  • identify and address priorities for research in health policy and health systems, and
  • develop plans for capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing


To be eligible to receive ODA funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:

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

Selection criteria

All applications will require:

  • 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
  • assessment of training and capability needs and how to best address them, particularly in low resourced settings.

Applications for the Commissioned and Researcher-led funding opportunities will be expected to consist of up to a maximum of 5 institutions in consortia that are able to support knowledge exchange, relevant capacity and capability development. These partnerships can be established as part of the Development Awards.  Applications will be assessed through open competition, with an international independent funding committee.

Funding calls

A series of three complementary research funding opportunities are planned. These have been informed by stakeholder engagement, including the development of a global HPSR community of interest.

Development Awards

Opened June 2019, up to 9 months, up to £100,000 per award

To allow development of equitable partnerships between ODA-eligible LMIC researchers and UK institutions to: identify and engage relevant stakeholders (policy makers and LMIC communities); undertake a needs-assessment and identify local priorities for research, with the aim that Development Awards will support an application for future research funding. See our common application queries.


  • Opening September 2019 (tbc), with funding for up to 4 years and up to £4M per award
  • A commissioned funding opportunity, which will be aligned with the WHO campaign to promote universal health coverage towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


  • Opening Sept 2020 (tbc), with funding for up to 4 years, between £2-4M per award
  • This will be an open funding opportunity and will align with the end of the Development Awards (not restricted to Development Award holders)


Please email the global health team at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) with any questions about Global HPSR.

The flagship NIHR Global Health Research Units and Groups call launched in 2016. UK universities and research institutes were invited to submit applications to either expand or develop their ambitions to deliver world-class applied global health research, working in equitable partnerships with researchers in LMICs to address under-funded or under-researched global health areas specific to those countries.

Applications were invited for two schemes:

NIHR Global Health Research Units: Universities and research institutes with an existing track-record of delivering internationally recognised research who wish to consolidate and expand this work. Funding available: up to £7m over four years per Unit.

NIHR Global Health Research Groups: Existing specialist academic groups who wish to expand into the field of global health, especially in shortage areas of research. Funding available: up to £2m over three years per Group.

For both Units and Groups, research in any field of applied global health for the primary benefit of LMICs was considered, which could deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in ODA-eligible low and middle income countries on the DAC list.

Call 2

A second call for Groups was launched in 2017, with a further 20 Groups awarded £40m of funding.

Call 1  

The first  NIHR Global Health Research Units and Groups call  received a very high level of interest, with £122.4m in funding awarded to 13 Units and 20 Groups.


The new NIHR GHR Units and Groups are working with partners from 50 countries. They are building on the UK's research strengths in applied health research in areas such as injury, surgery and non-communicable diseases to address issues affecting people in LMICs, including in areas of unmet need.

Heat map showing the DAC-list countries funded though the NIHR Global Health Research Units and Groups programme. By clicking on each country you can see which funded projects are working there.


NIHR Global Health Research Training Forum

We will commence the recruitment of an interim Steering Group to provide leadership to the GHR Training Forum which will be made up of the training leads from the NIHR Global Health Research Groups and Units and convene an initial meeting of the GHR Training Forum in September 2019.  

Financial Assurance Fund

In order to provide assurance that all contractors comply with management requirements on the use and distribution of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), NIHR established a Financial Assurance Fund (FAF) for NIHR Units and Groups.  Two rounds of applications have been considered to date and details of supported projects are below. Further calls will be open to existing Units and Groups in 2019 and 2020.

The purpose of the FAF is to act as a financial resource for existing NIHR Unit and Group contractors to apply to if they require further financial support in providing this assurance, so that specific areas of concern that may arise in relation to ODA funding to LMIC partners can be managed appropriately.  The fund can be used to support financial management capacity building, to enable any necessary audit that is beyond the ability of the Unit or Group to provide itself, or to support any other requests relating to financial due diligence if it satisfies the FAF application criteria and is ODA eligible. inancial resources to cover the costs of routine due diligence checks and  audit are not eligible for this fund, as these costs will have been covered in the main application for funding. 


Please email the global health team at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) with any questions about Global Health Research Units and Groups.

We are establishing partnerships and high quality research programmes focusing on areas of unmet need for the direct and primary benefit of people in LMICs.

We are working with established UK and global funders of health research to support existing, high-quality partnership schemes and co-create new ones in research areas where there is an established and/or unmet need. Working together with funding bodies that have a strong track-record in global health research, we are assuring added value on our funding investment. These high-quality programmes align with DHSC strategic research areas, and are for the direct and primary benefit of people in LMICs.  

Individual calls developed with partner funders


Call title and link

NIHR contribution



Global Maternal and Neonatal Health

Up to £5m



Diagnostic tools for poverty-related diseases challenge

Up to £5m

Stage 2 closes March 2019


GACD: scaling-up of evidence-based interventions at the population level for the prevention and / or management of hypertension and / or diabetes

Up to £3m

Closed September 2018


Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC)


Closed July 2018


Strategic Actions Supporting Large-Scale Clinical Trials


Closed March 2018


Clinical Trials to reduce health inequities in pregnant women, new-borns and children


Closed March 2018


AMR cross-council Initiative: Antimicrobial Resistance in a Global Context


Closed July 2017 


Research to Improve Adolescent Health in LMIC Settings -call 2


Closed June 2017


Diagnostics, Prosthetics and Orthotics to Tackle Health Challenges in Developing Countries


Closed May 2017


GACD: prevention and management of mental disorders

Up to £1m

Closed April 2017


Research and clinical management of patients in poverty-related disease epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa


Closed March 2017


Clinical Trials and operational research studies to optimise the use of products for poverty-related diseases in mothers, new-borns, children and adolescents


Closed March 2017



AMR cross-council initiative: Behaviour within and beyond the healthcare setting


Closed 2016

*lead partner

Joint Global Health Trials

Launched in 2010, the Joint Global Health Trials (JGHT) initiative funds rigorous research to produce implementable evidence addressing questions of major importance to mortality and morbidity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and is jointly funded by the NIHR, the Department for International Development (DFID), the MRC and the Wellcome Trust. Annual calls are open to proposals addressing any major health related problem of particular relevance to LMICs, in particular research addressing chronic non-communicable diseases.

Partners: MRC*, DFIDWellcome

Partnership title: Joint Global Health Trials Initiative

NIHR Contribution: £35m over 5 years

Duration: Annual Call
*lead partner

Global Road Safety Facility

Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of death for young adults, and 90% of these are in low and middle-income countries. The NIHR, together with DFID, is supporting the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, enabling it to scale up its research and capacity building programmes to help these countries tackle the multiple aspects of the road safety challenge, including: data collection; behaviour change, and post-crash care

Partners: World Bank*, DFID

Partnership title: Global Road Safety Facility

NIHR Contribution: £5.3m

Duration: 3 years
*lead partner

TDR – AMR SORT IT Initiative

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a global public health challenge which has the potential to kill as many as 10 million people each year and cost the world economy as much as US$ 100 trillion. The NIHR will partner with the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) to deliver the Antimicrobial Resistance Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative (AMR SORT IT), in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP, WHO and the World Bank. AMR SORT IT will empower LMICs to make better use of the information they collect to make evidence-based decisions and contribute to preventing and controlling the global spread of AMR.

Partners: TDR

Partnership title: Antimicrobial Resistance Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative (AMR SORT IT)

NIHR Contribution: £8.3m

Duration: 3 years

Product Development Partnerships (PDPs)

PDPs address the gap between the unmet need for new treatments and other interventions for diseases of poverty in the developing world, and the resources available to develop them. The PDPs bring together partners from academia, industry, the public sector and multilateral agencies to develop effective, affordable, appropriate and accessible products. PDPs have also stimulated increased collaboration of the pharmaceutical industry to work on the diseases of poverty (DoP).

With due consideration of the global need, and in consultation with DfID, the NIHR has made contributions to the following PDPs:

Medicines for Malaria (MMV) 

Contribution: £6.1m

TB Alliance

Contribution: £4.5m

Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND)

Contribution: £1.2m


The NIHR also plays a role in administering ODA funding for the Department of Health and Social Care’s strategic area of Global Health Security. The NIHR ran one competition and administer a second one aimed at developing vaccine candidates, and related technologies and processes, to combat 12 pathogens capable of causing epidemics in LMICs, as identified by the UK Vaccine Network. These competitions were:

  • Research Call for Vaccine development from research groups at MRC/BBSRC Intramural centres. Using £12m ODA funding, proposals were invited for the development of vaccine candidates against the 12 priority pathogens. Successful projects are administered by NIHR.
  • Research Call on Epidemiology for Vaccinology. Using £5m ODA funding, we invited proposals on the use and development of epidemiological models, tools and technologies to assist with the deployment and clinical trialling of vaccines in outbreak situations in LMICs (Closed 2017).

These two competitions are part of a wider programme of work being funded by DHSC. You can find more information about this programme and the UK Vaccine Network here.

We are strengthening and building capacity in global health research in the UK and in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). We are providing opportunities and funding initiatives to develop and advance global health research career pathways in the UK and in LMICs. Activities include:

NIHR Global Health Research Professorships

The NIHR Research Professorship award aims to fund leaders in the early part of their careers to lead research, to promote effective translation of research, and to strengthen research leadership at the highest academic levels. The Global Health Research Professorship expands this NIHR award to fund up to two NIHR Global Health Research Professorships undertaking research which aims to specifically and primarily benefit individuals in countries on the OECD DAC list. The funding will be for a total of five years.

NIHR Global Health Research Professorship Global Health Round 1 awardees

Dr Joseph Jarvis - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: Translational Research to Reduce Mortality from CNS Infections in Africa

Infections of the central nervous system (CNS) are major causes of mortality in low- and middle-income countries. Professor Jarvis’ research aims to generate a detailed understanding of the aetiology of adult meningitis in this setting to inform diagnostic pathways and treatment strategies. His research group will evaluate affordable point-of-care diagnostic tests for meningitis, which are urgently needed to facilitate diagnosis, screening and prevention strategies, and trial novel effective treatments required to improve patient outcomes.

Professor Nuala McGrath - University of Southampton: Improving adult health in sub-Saharan Africa through couples-focused interventions for HIV, STIs and diabetes

The majority of adults are in a partnership and to varying degrees live shared lives. Couples-focused interventions can be more effective than individual interventions in facilitating long-term behavioural change by one or both members of a couple. The aim of this Global Health Professorship is to evaluate couple-focused interventions to reduce the burden of diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular HIV and diabetes.  The programme of work is a partnership between the University of Southampton and two South African institutions: Human Sciences Research Council and University of Cape Town.

Round 2 awardees will be announced in due course.

NIHR GHR Unit and Group Trainees

The NIHR GHR Units and Groups will support over 150 trainees, comprising of Masters, PhD, and post-doctoral students based in the UK or LMICs. The Global Health Research Programme intends to draw on the training expertise within NIHR to support these trainees, whether based in the UK or LMICs, to develop their skills as global health researchers.

Further investment is likely to focus on supporting capacity building for researchers directly in (and from) ODA-eligible LMICs in areas of thematic need.


NIHR Global Health Research Academy Members

We will develop a NIHR programme of activity and support for NIHR Academy Global Health Research Members to be delivered from October 2019.

Career Progression

We will further develop the reporting and analysis of the Global Health Research training cohort and investigate career tracking options for Global Health Research Academy Members to help support future GHR research capacity development and investment decisions. 

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