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The NIHR funds high quality and cost-effective research to deliver relevant, timely and accessible evidence to inform national policy decisions across the health, care and public health systems.
We commission policy research to support the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Ministers, and Senior Officials in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and its Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs), through the Policy Research Programme (PRP).
We fund policy research in four main ways:
We have funded rapid COVID-19 policy research during the pandemic, through our Recovery, Renewal, Reset funding call and the PRUs. Read more about our COVID-19 policy research projects.
The Policy Research Programme (PRP) funds high quality research to deliver robust, relevant, timely, accessible and intelligible evidence to government and arms-length bodies.
PRP commissions research across the full policy remit of DHSC. PRP funded research will normally:
The amount of funding available and the funding duration depends on the requirements of the research specification.
PRP funds research through open competitions that are directly competitive commissioning exercises:
PRP has a two stage application process. At each stage, applications are peer reviewed and the scientific quality and relevance of applications are assessed by an independent funding committee. Please see the guidance for stage 1 and stage 2 applications to find out more.
Research proposals are submitted online through the Research Management System. We supply template application forms for stage 1 and stage 2 to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission.
PRP-funded policy research should:
The Policy Research Programme will support:
The programme will not support:
NIHR Policy Research Units (PRUs) undertake research to inform government and arms-length bodies making policy decisions about health and social care. The units create a critical mass of experts for research in priority areas for health and social care policy.
The 15 units provide both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs. The units also offer advice to policy makers and analysts on the evidence base and options for policy development.
Each university-based PRU hosts a multidisciplinary team of researchers from collaborating institutions.
The 15 units represent a £75 million investment over 5 years.
Here is a table detailing the 15 PRUs and the host organisations:
|Name of PRU||Host institution|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Adult Social Care||London School of Economics|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science||Newcastle University|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Cancer Awareness, Screening and Early Diagnosis||Queen Mary University of London|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit - Children and Families||UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economic Methods of Evaluation in Health and Social Care Interventions||University of York|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Economics of Health Systems and Interface with Social Care||University of York|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Systems and Commissioning||University of Kent|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce||King’s College London|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care||University of Oxford|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Mental Health||University College London|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Obesity||University College London|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit - Older People and Frailty||University of Manchester|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Policy Innovation and Evaluation||London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Public Health||London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine|
|NIHR Policy Research Unit in Quality, Safety and Outcomes of Health and Social Care||University of Kent|
The Policy Research Programme assesses research proposals for funding through its core committee. The committee is chaired by a leading academic and is composed of a core membership of academics, professionals, and patients and members of the public drawn from a variety of areas. The committee is often supported by academic subject experts relevant to each separate application.
The committee recommends projects for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care, which approves which projects should be funded.
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 programmes. 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.
Professor Karen Bloor is chair of the Policy Research Programme funding committee.
We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.
Tel: 020 8843 8073
Our operating hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm
Senior Programme Managers
NIHR Central Commissioning Facility
15 Church Street
Twickenham TW1 3NL
The NIHR Policy Research Programme (PRP) invites applications for the Children's Holistic Exposure to Advertising of Food and Drink High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS)
Meeting outcomes from the Policy Research Programme Stage 2 Round 29 Committee Meeting
The Policy Research Programme invites applications on Children's Holistic Exposure to Advertising of Food and Drink High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS)
Research specification for the NIHR Policy Research Programme call for research to shape policy on healthy weight in relation to weight management services.
Research specification for the NIHR Policy Research Programme call for a single research project to evaluate the programme to deliver 50,000 more nurses in England (N50k).
Research specification for the NIHR Policy Research Programme call for a research project to monitor and evaluate the impact of Government policy to deliver a significant increase in the availability of alcohol-free and low alcohol products by 2025.