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Research Support Service Hub delivered by University of York and Partners

A partnership between the Universities of York, Sheffield and Leeds

This hub is a partnership between the Universities of York, Sheffield and Leeds. It is hosted by the University of York, and led by Co-Directors, Professors Catriona McDaid and Catherine Hewitt. 

Its mission is to provide expert research design, methodological support, advice and collaboration throughout the pre- and post-funding application process.

The hub brings together expertise in statistics, data science, randomised controlled trials, qualitative methods, health economics, evidence synthesis, research delivery and patient and public involvement in research across health, public health and social care.

With substantial expertise and infrastructure to support the design and delivery of randomised controlled trials, this hub includes three UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) registered clinical trials units. It can also link you up with other clinical trials units across the country through our partnership with UKCRC. The three trials units have expertise in evaluating a wide variety of different interventions ranging from complex behavioural to pharmacological. Two clinical trials units are Royal College of Surgeons Surgical Trials Centres with specialist expertise in the design and delivery of trials of surgical interventions and devices.

Does our experience and expertise match your research needs?

Look through this hub's research specialties and additional support below.

How we work

This hub provides a first point of contact for both new and experienced researchers regardless of geographical location, supporting research funding and fellowship applications.

When your request for support is received, a triage process is followed to assess the type and level of support needed. The hub may allocate an adviser, simply provide information to answer your question, or link you with the collaborators you need, such as in a clinical trials unit.

If allocated an adviser, they will contact you for an initial discussion about the research proposal and further assess specific needs. If appropriate, the adviser will arrange for other advisers to work as a team with you, provide specialist advice, or link you with potential collaborators.

Research strengths and areas of interest

This hub has experience in bringing together interdisciplinary teams to undertake research in areas of strategic importance to NIHR, for the benefit of the public and patients including in underserved regions and communities with unmet health needs. It has expertise across a range of study designs and research settings.

Hub partners undertake research across NHS primary, secondary, and tertiary care; community and social care; settings outside health including criminal justice and education; with voluntary sector organisations; and industry. 

Trials, statistics and data science

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of drugs, devices and surgery, diagnostics, and complex interventions; early phase trials; prognostic models; cohorts; diagnostic accuracy; utilising routine data; high-performance computing; machine learning and artificial intelligence


  • A range of qualitative methods including ethnography, participatory methods, longitudinal studies and process evaluation
  • Experience undertaking research on inequalities, with underserved populations and cross-sector research involving health, social care, charities and local authorities 

Health economics

  • Expertise in real-world data, early economic modelling and economic evaluation alongside clinical trials
  • Experience in methodological developments including outcome measurement and incorporating inequality in the evaluation framework 

Study delivery and underserved populations

  • Delivery of multi-centre RCTs including regulatory requirements
  • Expertise on evidence-informed participant recruitment and retention including vulnerable populations such as children, people who lack capacity, and people with severe mental illness
  • Methods development including Studies within a Trial (SWAT)

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE)

  • Expertise developing innovative PPIE approaches with researchers, patients, community organisations and the public
  • Experience leading PPIE capacity development: developing guidance, leading training and providing mentorship to researchers as well as working collaboratively with underserved communities and promoting inclusivity 

Mixed methods

Use of mixed methods in the design, optimisation and evaluation of complex interventions; development, validation and adaptation of outcome measures; research priority setting, stakeholder involvement and participatory research methods

Evidence synthesis

Including systematic scoping reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analysis and qualitative evidence synthesis

Dissemination and impact

Designing strategies for research reporting tailored for the target audience and planning pathways to impact

Contact us

If you would like to request support from this RSS Hub, please complete the form to tell us a little about you, your research idea, and the support you need.

For other queries please contact

Hub partners

This hub draws expertise from several groups at the Universities of York, Sheffield and Leeds. There are strong networks both between and within the three institutions. These networks link to a wealth of expertise across Departments, Institutes, Policy and other Research Units, NIHR Applied Research Collaborations, and NIHR Biomedical Research Centres.

University of York

The Department of Health Sciences is a large, multidisciplinary and multi-professional department. Research staff work alongside patients and the public using a range of research approaches to deliver methodologically rigorous and meaningful programmes of research.

 York Trials Unit (YTU) is a UKCRC-registered trials unit with a 30-year track record in trials across a range of settings and trial designs (e.g. pre-randomised consent designs; cluster trials; split plot; patient preference method; randomised cohort design; stepped wedge; multi-arm, multi-stage adaptive designs).

The Centre for Health Economics (CHE) is a world-renowned institute that produces policy relevant research and innovative methods that advance the use of health economics to improve population health.

The Social Policy Research Unit, is a leading UK centre for applied health and social care research. Established in 1973, SPRU conducts high impact policy and practice research across the lifecourse. 

University of Sheffield

Sheffield Centre for Health and Related Research (SCHARR) is tackling some of the world’s biggest health challenges to improve the lives of people in the UK and around the world.

Sheffield Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) is a UKCRC-registered clinical trials unit providing high-quality support in running clinical trials in line with international regulatory standards, from the planning stages right through to analysis and reporting.

University of Leeds

Leeds Institute Health Sciences is a multidisciplinary institute that delivers applied health research, alongside undergraduate and postgraduate programmes aimed at enhancing health and health care, both nationally and internationally. It has expertise in mixed methods, data science, health economics, health data science and complex interventions with a track record in primary and palliative care, ageing and stroke and psychological and social medicine.

The Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) undertakes ground-breaking research that will shape clinical interventions worldwide for generations to come. From early proofs of concept through to final-phase safety and effectiveness trials, the unit facilitates the creation of new medicines and treatments that otherwise would not exist.