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Children and Young People

The NIHR is the nation's largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enable research to thrive. We work in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders (including industry and charities), patients and the public to improve the health and wealth of the nation.    

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supported 755 studies on children and young people, 251 of which were new studies, and recruited 100,128 patients to studies last year (2019/20).  

SNIFFLE - flu immunisation for egg-allergic children

The first-choice flu vaccine (known as LAIV) is the most effective available and is administered through a nasal spray, which most parents and children prefer to an injection. However it can contain small amounts of egg protein, meaning that it was previously considered unsuitable for children with an egg allergy. Egg allergy is one of the most common allergies in early childhood, affecting at least one in 50 preschool children. 

In the SNIFFLE study, doctors investigated whether the LAIV vaccine was suitable for use in egg-allergic children by giving them the vaccine and closely monitoring them for ill effects afterwards. In total 1,061 children were vaccinated and researchers noted that none suffered from systemic allergic reactions afterwards. 

This now means that egg-allergic children can receive the flu vaccine in primary care or in school as part of the national immunisation programme which has led to considerable cost-saving for the NHS. 

Putting ADHD to the (Qb)Test

Assessing a child for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has typically relied on the clinician’s judgement alongside teacher and parent reports with contradictions in these often leading to delays in diagnosis. The QbTest is a commercially available computer test that measures ADHD symptoms through the combination of a cognitive test designed to measure attention and impulse control, and a motion tracking system to measure hyperactivity.

The AQUA trial set out to put QbTest through its paces asking whether its use could accelerate time to diagnosis. Qualitative interviews and survey data stemming from this research found the test was particularly valued for providing an objective assessment of symptoms. The clinicians were unanimous about the usefulness of the test, finding it helpful to understand symptoms.

The AQUA trial was funded by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands, with support from the NIHR MindTech MedTech Co-operative

Find a Children and Young People study in your area

You can find out more about Children and Young People studies in your area through the Be Part of Research website.

The Children and Young People's specialty is made up of research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. Our job is to ensure that children's studies receive the right support to ensure they are delivered successfully in the NHS.

We put children and young people at the heart of our work and ensure their involvement at every stage of the design and delivery of our research. We support and deliver clinical research involving children and young people that includes:

  • Clinical trials
  • Randomised controlled trials and other high quality research of new and established medicines for children
  • Screening, diagnosis and the development of prognostic tools including imaging
  • Interventions such as behavioural interventions and medical devices
  • Studies on normal development and the pathogenesis, monitoring and prevention of disease
  • Cohort studies and the effect of lifestyle factors such as diet, nutrition and exercise

In 2006,  the Young Persons’ Advisory Group launched and over the years it has become increasingly influential in helping to improve the design and delivery of children and young people's clinical research studies. We have also developed Clinical Studies Groups to provide expert advice to help researchers develop high quality research proposals. There is more information about the Young Persons' Advisory Group and the Clinical Studies Groups on the 'our stakeholders' tab.

Each of our 15 Local Clinical Research Networks has at least one nominated local Clinical Specialty Research Lead for Children. These clinicians lead research groups to promote and support Children research within the NHS Trusts in their area. At a national level the local leads come together to manage the national Children clinical research portfolio. This involves regularly reviewing the progress of studies, identifying barriers to recruitment, and coming up with solutions and strategies to help overcome those barriers. Our National Specialty Group of clinical experts offer advice and support to commercial and non-commercial customers looking to conduct research in the NHS.

Specialty Profile

To find out more, read our Children and Young People Specialty Profile.

How to access support

We support the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS through our Study Support Service and our Research Design Service helps researchers develop proposals to secure funding from our research programmes. 

RCPCH/NIHR Academic Trainees Day

Are you interested in child health research and want advice about how to get involved? Or do you already work in academic paediatrics and you want to hear from and meet like-minded individuals?

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Heath (RCPCH) and the NIHR are hosting a free, online, Academic Trainees Day on Wednesday 21 October 2020.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network Children specialty group works closely with these organisations in integrating clinical research into NHS clinical service provision, and in driving priority setting that encourages research that will have the greatest impact on patients.  

Young Person's Advisory Group

Since its launch in 2006, the Young Persons’ Advisory Group (YPAG) has become increasingly influential in helping to improve the design and delivery of children’s clinical research studies.  50-75 young people sit on advisory groups across Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Bristol and Nottingham and meet every six weeks, coming together once a year for a national meeting. The views and opinions expressed by the group feeds into the specialty's Consumer Involvement Steering Group and Board. YPAG supports the clinical research community in a range of ways:

  •  helps researchers with their projects
  • works with external organisations such as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF), National Research Ethics Service (NRES) and INVOLVE
  • raises research awareness amongst young people (through summaries)
  • design and deliver national conferences to highlight the importance of children's research and the key role they can play in its development
  • Carry out their own research projects

There is more information about the YPAG on their website.

Clinical Studies Groups

We’ve developed Clinical Studies Groups (CSGs) to cover the different specialty areas within child health. The CSGs provide expert advice to help researchers develop high quality research proposals. Our CSGs include active researchers, parents, nurses, charity representatives and formulation experts. CSGs can help with: 

  • Focusing ideas and refining the research question
  • Facilitating patient and parent input
  • Overall study design
  • Feasibility of researching for a study
  • Linking up with Clinical Trials Units who can contribute expertise in statistics and trial management
  • Signposting to funding opportunities and NIHR CRN support
  • Disseminating research

For CSG support for your study, please contact for a submission form to provide more information.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients with cancer. The following BRCs undertake research in children:

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 children: 

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are dedicated and purpose built facilities where specialist clinical research and support staff from universities and NHS Trusts work together on patient-orientated commercial and non-commercial experimental medicine studies. The following CRFs undertake research in children:

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 children:

Work with our infrastructure

All of the NIHR facilities and centres are opening to working with the public, charities, industry and other partners. If you are interested in collaborating with the NIHR please contact the NIHR Office for Clinical Research infrastructure: 

Our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network (National Specialty Leads) can give advice on delivering your children study in the NHS.

The National Specialty Leads provide leadership on clinical studies in conditions, and act as a key clinical ambassador for these conditions within the specialty.

Professor Paul Dimitri

Professor Paul Dimitri is the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Children’s Specialty Lead. He works at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust as a Professor of Child Health, Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology and Director of Research & Innovation. Paul is the Clinical Lead for the TITCH (Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health) Network established to support the development and adoption of technology for children’s healthcare and the NIHR Children & Young People MedTech Co-operative. Other research positions include Divisional Lead for the Yorkshire & Humber Clinical Research Network and past Deputy Director for the Medicines for Children’s Research Network (East). 

Related Specialties

Genomics and Rare Diseases

Mental Health

Primary Care

Reproductive Health


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