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We fund surgery research projects through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for researchers in the specialty.

We deliver surgery 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 surgery research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.

We also provide opportunities for people who need to undergo surgery 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.

The CRN provides researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen. It supports 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 surgery research

We oversee surgical research across all the surgical disciplines including:

  • breast
  • cardiothoracic
  • colorectal
  • general
  • head and neck
  • hepatobiliary
  • neurosurgery
  • orthopaedics
  • plastics and hand
  • transplantation
  • trauma/emergency
  • upper gastrointestinal
  • urology
  • vascular

We deliver complex interventional trials including the evaluation of new devices and techniques as well as studies which have a surgical intervention as one of the arms. We support studies led by other closely related specialties, for example, cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and emergencies and musculoskeletal disorders.

Working closely with the Royal College of Surgeons provides further reach into the surgical community and access to the UK’s key opinion leaders.

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 surgery study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.

Professor Thomas Pinkney is the CRN National Specialty Lead for Surgery. Read Professor Pinkney’s full biography.

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

Our collaborators and stakeholders

Royal College of Surgeons

We have a strong relationship with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), which includes both the Surgery and Cancer specialties.

A Surgery Research Steering Committee was established to bring together the RCS, the NIHR and the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) to coordinate joint initiatives. This includes:

  • A programme of national meetings to bring together the RCS’s national subspecialty leads with the NIHR Surgery Subspecialty Leads which have been appointed in the Local Clinical Research Networks.
  • Promoting interactions between the RCS’s seven Surgical Trials Centres and the Local Clinical Research Networks (including adjoining ones) in which they are based in order to develop communities and the local infrastructure to improve patient access to high quality surgical research studies.
  • A series of workshops (including 'Tomorrow’s Leaders') which raise awareness of research and provide training and expert knowledge to grow and develop the surgical research community.


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

Our funding programmes

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

We have previously held a themed call on surgery (2012). 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 surgery?  The NIHR Research Support 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 surgery research

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

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

Our research units

NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs) are research partnerships between universities and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

The following BTRU undertakes surgery research:


The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in surgery 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 providing 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.

Supporting the delivery workforce

Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme

The Associate PI Scheme aims to develop junior doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to become the PIs of the future and provides formal recognition of a trainee's engagement in NIHR Portfolio research studies. It provides an opportunity to individuals not in the traditional research setting to gain the practical skills to lead and coordinate NIHR portfolio research.

GeneRAtiNg sUrgicaL rEcruiters for randomised trials (GRANULE)

The GRANULE course is designed to equip researchers with the practical skills to recruit patients into randomised surgical trials. Find out more and register for this course on NIHR Learn


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 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 BRCs undertake research in surgery:

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 surgery:

NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre

The NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) is a national centre for trauma research, taking discoveries from the military frontline to improve outcomes for all patients. Multiple studies are run from this centre all year round by scientists and academics from the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Health and Social Care, University of Birmingham and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

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 surgery.

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

National Specialty Leads

Professor Thomas Pinkney is the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Lead for Surgery. He is the George Drexler Foundation and Royal College of Surgeons Chair of Surgical Trials at the University of Birmingham and an Honorary Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Dale Vimalachandran is the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Lead for Surgical Oncology. He is a Consultant Colorectal surgeon at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

NIHR Research Professor

The NIHR Research Professorship is the flagship personal funding award for the NIHR. The scheme funds research leaders of the future to promote effective translation of research.

Professor Rachel Batterham research focuses on bariatric surgery and improving the health of obese patients.

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 surgery.

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 surgery research.

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

Involvement opportunities across the NIHR

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

The NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) is a national centre for trauma, surgery and infection research. The Centre has an active patient and public group, who contribute to many aspects of research.

NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre is developing better ways to evaluate new surgical techniques and devices. Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) is fundamental to the work of the Bristol BRC.

The NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre Surgery and Technology Theme aims to improve the quality and safety of the surgical care pathway through technological innovations. Patients and the public can get involved in their research in many ways.

Take part research

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