Northern Ireland Researchers Now Eligible for Selected NIHR Programmes

Jul 272012
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On 5th July Health Minister Poots announced that Northern Ireland is to contribute funds annually to the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) to enable researchers based in Northern Ireland to compete in selected research programmes alongside colleagues from across the UK.

According to the Minister:

Our researchers now have access to an annual funding pot of over £75million, and will be able to compete on an equal footing with researchers from other UK countries. They will also gain the opportunity to join research partnerships which could draw down larger amounts of money from other sources.

Professor Bernie Hannigan, Director, HSC R&D added:

This very welcome announcement from Minister Poots will go a long way towards enabling the significant investment that is essential for good quality health and social care research. At HSC R&D we are committed to supporting researchers to benefit from this new opportunity that is available with immediate effect.  We recognise that the challenge of competing directly with colleagues from throughout the UK should not be underestimated.  However, Northern Ireland has a significant number of researchers and research groups with the necessary expertise and track record for the development of competitive applications.  In coming months we will provide guidance through workshops and other information to help you get started.

The programmes that are now available to Northern Ireland (with summaries taken from the NIHR website) are:

Health Technology Assessment programme

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme funds research to ensure that healthcare professionals, NHS managers and the public and patients have the best and latest information on the costs, effectiveness and impact of developments in health technology. The programme:

  • Commissions response-mode Clinical Trials to investigate issues that are directly relevant to clinical practice in the NHS.
  • Commissions primary research and assesses the effectiveness of new technology through Technology Assessment Reviews for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
  • Works with the NIHR Clinical Research Network to identify and fund clinical trials of importance to a network’s topic area.

 There is more information on the HTA website at

Health Services and Delivery Research Programme

The Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme funds a broad range of research to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes, to improve health services.

The HS&DR programme has two work streams:

  • Health services research (HSR) – focuses on research into the quality, appropriateness, effectiveness, equity and patient experience of health services.
  • Healthcare delivery research (HDR) – focuses on evaluating models of service organisation, delivery, and interventions, which have the potential to improve service effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.

There is more information on the HS&DR website at

Public Health Research Programme

The Public Health Research (PHR) programme commissions research to provide new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider effect of non-NHS interventions e.g. prevention of obesity in children and speed humps for the prevention of road traffic accidents.

The PHR programme mainly works in responsive mode, taking applications for both primary and secondary research and assessing them at regular intervals. The programme funds primary research at all phases but especially pragmatic evaluation studies.

There is more information on the PHR website at

Update (30/7/2012) from HSC R&D – also includes:

Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme

The Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) programme is broadly aimed at supporting ‘science driven’ studies with an expectation of substantial health gain and aims to support excellent clinical science with an ultimate view to improving health or patient care. Its remit includes clinical trials and evaluative studies, in patients, which evaluate clinical efficacy of interventions and which may also add significantly to our understanding of biological or behavioural mechanisms and processes. The EME programme funds research through two work-streams:

  • Commissioned work-stream – commissions research about the effectiveness, costs and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests. There are three calls for proposals a year.
  • Researcher-led work-stream – is an on-going research funding opportunity funded by the MRC, which considers research questions proposed directly by researchers.


Further information on the NIHR programmes is available on the NIHR website at The programmes for which Northern Ireland researchers are now eligible are managed by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), to which applications should be submitted –