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We fund research projects in ageing through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for researchers working in the field of ageing.

We deliver ageing research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities. We support the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports ageing research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.

We also provide opportunities for people affected by conditions related to ageing and their families and carers to influence and take part in research.


The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.

We support the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings through our Study Support Service, with tailored offers of support for:

Supporting ageing research

Through our network of experts, patient partners, and funding bodies, we support and promote research in ageing. This includes research into the mechanisms of ageing, clinical trials of specific interventions, and the assessment of the effectiveness of ageing research across a breadth of health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes.

Our research areas of focus include:

  • Healthy ageing and frailty
  • Organising and delivering interventions for health promotion
  • Ageing process and early markers of ill health
  • Modelling links between disease and functioning
  • Education and lifelong learning
  • Environmental conditions for ageing well
  • Effectiveness of clinical and social care.

We support studies led by other closely related specialties, for example in the areas of dementia, stroke, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis to deliver high quality ageing research.

We have supported the recruitment of more than 84,000 participants into an average of 65 studies/year, across more than 1,800 sites, since 2015.

Who we are

As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together highly engaged NHS consultants and clinical academics from top UK universities, bringing both clinical and academic expertise to your research. Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your ageing study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.

Professor Miles Witham is the CRN National Specialty Lead for ageing. Read Professor Witham’s full biography.

Professor Witham is supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.

Our collaborators and stakeholders

We work closely with Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people to promote older people’s participation in ageing research.

We also work closely with the British Geriatrics Society (BGS), the multi-disciplinary professional membership association consisting of over 3,400 members that specialise in the health and care of older people.

A current NIHR study of the acute care of older people in hospital developed by this group is supported by the BGS.

We are keen to collaborate with a range of commercial partners, both to help design studies to maximise the inclusion of older people and those with multi-morbidity, and also to advise on how best to deliver commercial studies to time and target.

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies. Find out more in the support tab.

Related specialties

Dementias and Neurodegeneration


Musculoskeletal Disorders

Cardiovascular Disease

Genomics and Rare Diseases


Our funding programmes fund high quality research in ageing that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for researchers who specialise in ageing - see the careers tab for more information.

Our funding programmes

Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on topics related to ageing. Most of our funding programmes run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in ageing.

We have also previously held themed calls on improving the outcomes of health and social care for frail people and their carers (2018), complex health and care needs in older people (2017) and multi-morbidity in older people (2015). NIHR themed calls are funding opportunities focusing on a particular research topic, in which all our funding programmes participate.

Got an idea for research in ageing? The NIHR Research Design Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.

Our portfolio of ageing research

You can search and view all the ageing research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.

In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our ageing research in the NIHR Journals Library.

Our research units

The NIHR Policy Research Unit in Older People and Frailty carries out research into promoting healthy ageing, the future needs of older people and the provision of high-quality, cost effective care.

Our research schools

The NIHR School for Social Care Research commissions and conducts internationally leading research to inform and improve adult social care practice in England. The school undertakes research on a number of areas in social care, including care of older people.

The NIHR School for Public Health Research undertakes research into public health, with an emphasis on what works practically, can be applied across the country and better meets the needs of policy makers, practitioners and the public. The school has a research theme on ageing well.


The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in ageing to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.

Funding research careers

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.

Ageing CRN Early Career Researcher Network

The NIHR Ageing CRN is building a network of Early Career Researchers in the hope it will lead to fruitful collaborations and relationships by connecting senior and early career researchers interested in ageing research and related fields.

The purpose of the database is to facilitate collaboration, mentoring and ultimately to work together to improve the lives of older people. It is our aim that this will lead to higher impact studies across the UK and abroad which will positively impact our ageing population, as well as reducing replication of work across study groups.


The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.

This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as to NIHR researchers.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

The following BRC undertakes research in ageing:

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems.

The following ARCs undertake research in ageing:

The ARCs also work together nationally on a number of research areas, led by specific ARCs. The NIHR ARC Wessex leads the national ARC effort on ageing and dementia research.

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests.

The following MICs undertake research in ageing:

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.


The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in ageing.

In addition, our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can advise on delivering your ageing study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings.

National Specialty Lead

Professor Miles Witham is the CRN National Specialty Lead for Ageing. Professor Witham is an academic geriatrician with a particular focus on clinical trials for older people including; designing and conducting randomised controlled trials for older people, building capacity across the UK and beyond to recruit older people to clinical trials and researching how to do trials for older people better, more quickly and more cost-effectively.

Public involvement

We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in ageing.

Have your say in research

We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in ageing research.

The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their ageing research.

Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in ageing research taking place in your local area.

Involvement opportunities across the NIHR

VOICE is a large network of citizens across the UK and internationally who contribute immense insights, experience, ideas and vision to identify unmet needs and opportunities, to drive innovation for the ageing specialty and improve health research.

Members of the public are able to join in with meaningful research involvement and engagement opportunities and researchers are able to access a large and diverse community to quickly and easily gain valuable insight on their research projects.

Take part in research

Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in ageing research across the UK.

Research with older people in a world with COVID-19: identification of current and future priorities, challenges and opportunities

Older people are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound impact on research as well as clinical service delivery.  A new survey led by NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre and supported by the Clinical Research Network National Specialty Leads looked at this in more detail.

Read the results of the survey