Identify research needs

The NIHR works with researchers, health, public health and social care professionals, patients, service users, carers and the public to prioritise topics for health, public health and social care research.

You and your clinical and social care professionals, and patient and service user experts, can influence the work of the NIHR by putting forward research questions and helping us set our research topics. We can also offer tried and tested support to help you develop your own research priorities, to make sure research is relevant to the people who need it the most.

By inputting into our prioritisation activities, you can shape the nature of our commissioned funding calls to benefit patients and service users in your area of interest.

Suggest research questions

We ask patients, service users, carers, clinicians, health and social care workers, service managers and researchers which research questions most urgently need answering. Your clinical, professional, patient and service user experts can suggest research questions for the NIHR to consider.

Identify research priorities

We can help you identify evidence uncertainties and research questions to inform research funding by your charity and other funders.

The James Lind Alliance provides a long-established method to help your charity work in collaboration with clinicians, patients and carers on an equal footing, to identify and prioritise future research needs.

The alliance, the coordination of which is funded by the NIHR, facilitates Priority Setting Partnerships, which formulate the Top 10 evidence uncertainties in particular areas of health and care. These Top 10 lists are disseminated to research funders such as the NIHR to ensure that the research questions that get funded are those that matter most to the people affected.

We can support you to initiate and fund your own Priority Setting Partnership, to work in collaboration with clinicians, patients and carers to identify and agree the research priorities in your area of interest.

Your clinical and patient experts can get involved in Priority Setting Partnerships run by other organisations by completing surveys to identify and prioritise questions for research.

Diabetes UK

In 2016 and 2017, Diabetes UK ran a Priority Setting Partnership to identify the Top 10 research priorities for people with type 2 diabetes, carers and healthcare professionals.

“These priorities are a really important step in helping us achieve our goal of maximising the benefit of research for people with diabetes," said Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.

"The priorities will allow us, and researchers across the UK, to think strategically to deliver the knowledge that could significantly improve the lives of people with type 2 diabetes in the future.”

Input into NIHR priority setting

Some NIHR research programmes run commissioned funding calls, which call for research on specific questions that have been identified and prioritised for funding on the basis of their importance to the NHS and patients.

We can collaborate on refining research priorities and topics for NIHR commissioned funding calls in areas of mutual benefit.

We’re keen to invite your clinical and patient experts into discussions, by joining a committee or providing comments on potential commissioning briefs.

Collaborate with us

The NIHR Translational Research Collaborations (TRCs) have specific workstreams or research strategy groups which identify and address key topics of unmet need in a specific disease area. These groups work with charity partners to establish the research questions which are of most importance to patients and the public. For example, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation work closely with the Asthma National Research Strategy Group of our Respiratory TRC, to ensure research questions which matter most to patients are being addressed.

NIHR also works with charity partners, experts and other funders across the UK to define strategic priorities at a national level where this has yet to take place in disease areas of national priority. We are currently working with Diabetes UK to lead a UK-wide Diabetes Research Strategy including Wellcome Trust, MRC and others.