The Public Health Research (PHR) Programme funds research that generates evidence to improve the health of the public and reduce health inequalities.
We want to help researchers address critical population health issues, like climate change.
Scope of funding
We focus on funding health-related research into services that:
- are not provided or funded by the NHS
- can be rolled out on a large scale
- have potential to create sustainable, population-level changes
We are particularly interested in studies that focus on the wider determinants of health and will generally ask for health-related outcome measures.
What do we fund?
We fund studies that evaluate the impact on health and health inequalities of real-world interventions in the UK. This includes:
- Natural experiments
- Secondary research
- Studies using a wide range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including modelling studies
- Interventions that may not conventionally be seen as public health interventions but have an impact on health and health inequalities
- Studies that employ longitudinal datasets and attempt to link data across sectors when relevant to studying the broader determinants of health
A limited amount of intervention development before evaluation, including feasibility studies
This list is not exhaustive. If you have a research idea that addresses crucial population health issues and has the potential for significant impact at scale, please contact us to discuss your ideas.
Please email email@example.com
Multidisciplinary research proposals
We encourage multi-disciplinary research proposals led-by, or involving, researchers from outside the disciplines usually associated with public health.
This is particularly important given our intention to focus on population health priorities such as climate change.
What we don't fund
We do not fund:
- studies of specific disease or condition
- treatments research where primary outcomes are social care outcomes. See our Research programme for Social Care
- the development of new websites, apps, or software. See the MRC Public Health Intervention Development (PHIND) Programme
If you are unsure if your proposal is within our remit, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Projects we have funded
Examples PHR-funded research include:
- evaluations of air pollution interventions
- evaluations of transport and traffic initiatives
- evaluations of interventions to tackle obesity such as helping football fans to lose weight, the placement of food in supermarkets, planning regulations for takeaway food outlets, and early years nutrition and physical activity
- evaluations of the health impacts of Universal Credit
- community-based initiatives such as age-friendly environments and community health assets
- changes to alcohol outlet density and opening hours on alcohol harm
- tobacco policies and initiatives such as the impacts of e-cigarette legislation on young people’s use of e-cigarettes, and the health benefits of smokefree prisons.
View details of the public health research we have funded on our Funding and Awards website
How to apply for funding
We fund research through two routes: commissioned and researcher-led work streams.
Criteria for funding
We will consider applications for funding that:
- demonstrate value to public health
- maintain high scientific quality
- make an impact to people’s lives
- provide value for money
There is no upper limit to the amount of funding that researchers can apply for.
View all PHR Programme funding opportunities
Researcher-led work streams
If you have an idea for a research study and it meets the criteria outlined above, you can apply for funding from us.
You can submit an application at any point. Our funding calls have cut-off dates throughout the year.
Help with your application
You will need to create an account and log into the Research Awards Lifecycle Management System (REALMS) to submit and manage your funding application or proposal.
Our committees consider applications, usually as part of a two-stage assessment process. See the Committees section below for more information.
While most research supported by the PHR Programme follows a two-stage assessment process, we recognise that there may be instances where research needs to be accelerated.
The fast-track scheme provides an opportunity to submit a stage 2 proposal directly, shortening the length of time it takes for a funding decision to be made.
The fast-track scheme is particularly suitable for situations where research needs to start within a limited timeframe, such as natural experiments.
If you believe your proposal should be considered for the fast-track scheme, please email email@example.com and we will consider it.
You will need to:
- convince the secretariat that there is significant benefit to fast-tracking your application, and
- submit a written summary of your proposal (usually about one side of A4) in a PICO format.
Help with your application
Who identifies and prioritises research topics? Prioritisation Committee
The PHR Prioritisation Committee helps identify and prioritise:
- research topics
- stage 1 proposals
based on public health importance.
Professor Brian Ferguson is Prioritisation Committee Chair and PHR Programme Director.
Who assesses funding applications? Funding Committee
The PHR Funding Committee assesses applications that have passed stage 1. They are assessed on:
- scientific quality
- value for money
Professor Peymane Adab is Funding Committee Chair.
Committee minutes and outcomes
Conflicts of interest
Committee members need to declare any conflicts of interest annually.
Findings from our research
The findings from the research we fund help: decision-makers in local and national government voluntary sector organisations national agencies concerned with improving public health and reducing health inequalities researchers public health practitioners
Find NIHR published evidence and ongoing research to help with data analysis and improving health in your area:
Who funds the PHR Programme?
The PHR Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the:
- the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland
- Health and Care Research Wales
- the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland
Contact and more information
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about how we support Public health research at NIHR:
See how researchers are working with local authorities to boost research in communities and tackle health inequalities, through our Health Determinants Research Collaborations (HDRCs)
See how Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) are evaluating health initiatives
Latest funding opportunities for Public Health Research
Latest news from Public Health Research
Latest blogs from Public Health Research