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Vacancy details

Closing date: 01 October 2020

Other vacancies

Programme Grants for Applied Research - Subcommittee Membership

We are pleased to announce an excellent opportunity has arisen to participate in Programme Grants for Applied Research assessment committees. These prestigious appointments offer senior applied health researchers the chance to take part in and gain experience of making recommendations to NIHR for large scale, high quality programmes of research for the benefit of patients and the NHS.

Chair of the NIHR PRP Committee

We are pleased to announce an exciting opportunity to participate in the NIHR Policy Research Programme (PRP) Committee as Chair. This prestigious appointment will lead the Committee that formally assesses applications and makes funding recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for high quality research projects and initiatives to inform policy-making.

Background to the NIHR PRP

The origin of the Policy Research Programme dates back to the 1970s. It was established as a function of the then Department of Health. In 2018, the programme transitioned into the NIHR, but retains its primary function of funding high quality, cost-effective research to deliver relevant, timely and accessible evidence to inform national policy decisions across the health, care and public health systems. The Programme funds research in four main ways:

  • large-scale initiatives comprising linked groups of studies, or single projects;
  • long term programmes of research in Policy Research Units (PRUs), based at leading academic institutions;
  • syntheses of evidence through a Reviews Facility, based at two centres in London-York and Exeter
  • fast, responsive analysis through the Call-off Analytical Facility.

PRP funded research will normally:

  • provide robust evidence to inform policy development and implementation in timely and accessible ways, including assessment of potential impact and cost-effectiveness
  • evaluate policies, including the evaluation of pilots before policies are fully implemented
  • address policy priorities and evidence needs over the longer term.

The PRP typically operates as a ‘needs-led’ programme, responding to the requirements of the DHSC Secretary of State and ministerial priorities, and to policy teams in the DHSC and its Arms-Length Bodies (ALBs)[1] . Research priorities are identified by policymakers via the R&D Committee. This Committee brings together representatives from across the DHSC policy groups, and DHSC ALBs to identify, prioritise and agree research to be commissioned through the PRP. It is chaired by the DHSC Head of NIHR Research Programmes and the Head of Analysis and overseen by Professor Chris Whitty as joint head of NIHR. The R&D Committee convenes three times a year to coincide with the open competition commissioning rounds for the PRP.

Further information about PRP can be found by clicking on the following link:

Examples of past calls can be found at the following link:

The NIHR PRP is managed by the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF) in close collaboration with and with oversight from the Department of Health and Social Care.

NIHR PRP Application and Assessment Process

There are typically three PRP commissioning rounds annually which respond to the priorities identified by the R&D Committee. Applications submitted to PRP research calls for proposals generally undergo a two-stage assessment process. Stage 1 (outline) applications are assessed by the PRP Committee at a first commissioning meeting and those judged to have a high chance of success are invited to submit a Stage 2 (full) application for assessment at a second meeting.

Applications are generally assessed against pre-defined criteria that reflect the purpose of the programme or the specific objectives of a call as set out in the research specification.

The PRP Committee is chaired by a senior academic and the Committee generally comprises:

  • a group of standing core members who attend commissioning meetings on an ongoing basis for the period of their tenure, including experts covering a range of academic disciplines as well as Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representatives .
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who are invited to support the core Committee and contribute to the discussion on a specific research call and who would normally act as temporary Committee members.
    Some exceptions to the standard two-stage assessment process are to be expected on an occasional basis, and these will be driven by the specific requirements of the DHSC. The Chair can advise on the most appropriate commissioning approach.


The Chair will:

  1. Chair up to six commissioning meetings per year (2 stages for each Round). Each meeting can last up to a whole day, and meetings are generally held in March, July and November.
  2. Work with the Secretariat and advise on Committee membership and, on an occasional basis, assist with PPI Committee member recruitment efforts.
  3. Advise CCF and DHSC on ways to improve or enhance requirements and procedures to maintain an excellent reputation for commissioning high standard research through a fair and independent assessment process; and on ways to maximise impact of the Programme looking at possible synergies across work within the wider NIHR.
  4. Rarely, act as independent adviser and arbiter in dealing with research performance reviews and issues based on a clearly defined escalation protocol (this might include, for example, leading site visits).
  5. Comment on strategic reviews and reports, produced by the Secretariat, and designed for key stakeholder groups and audiences.


Tenure is for two years initially, with an opportunity to extend every two years up to a maximum of six years at the discretion of the DHSC.

Over the duration of the appointment, the post holder is expected to attend:

  • All commissioning meetings (up to 6 per year)
  • Chair’s briefing meetings with DHSC and ALB colleagues ahead of commissioning meetings
  • Occasional research review meetings

An honorarium is payable and all out of pocket expenses, including travel and overnight accommodation, are reimbursed where appropriate.

Candidate Profile

Applicants are expected to be senior academics nationally and internationally recognised for their contribution to, and impact on, the health, public health and/or social care sectors. Previous experience of policy research and a good understanding of how policy making works in the DHSC or its ALBs are also considered essential. The successful candidate would need to have, or form, good working relationships with DHSC research programme managers/Liaison Officers.

The successful candidate is likely to have been a member of a funding committee responsible for making decisions about applied or public health, social care and policy research and to have had significant experience of chairing relevant decision-making groups. We do advise applicants have permission and support from their host institution prior to applying for this post.

In addition to excellent understanding of research and methodology and experience of policy research, candidates will need to demonstrate the following skills and qualities:

  • Leadership
  • Experience of chairing meetings and committee work
  • Facilitation skills
  • Tact and diplomacy
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and a propensity for partnership working
  • Inclusivity, impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidence
  • Strategic thinking, capable of thinking outside the box to address complex situations

How to Apply?

Applications should be submitted via the dedicated online form by the 1st of October 2020. Please include an up-to-date CV (no more than 2 pages) alongside a cover letter (no more than 2 pages) outlining why you are interested in the role and how you see your experience contributing to the PRP.

If you have any queries or would like more information, please e-mail in the first instance.


[1] ALBs include: NHS England/ Improvement, Public Health England, Health Education England, Care Quality Commission, National Institute for Health & Care Excellence and Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency