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On the Right Track – News from Research Professionals


NIHR global health program returns at critical time

As a prestigious and well-funded global health program, the National Institute of Health Research’s call for research and innovation for global health transformation (right) is always well subscribed. This will likely be the case again for its fifth iteration, which comes at a time of reduced research in this area and uncertainty about the future.

This year, the NIHR program theme is health service delivery and resilience in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the context of extreme weather events. Projects can last between three and five years, with rewards ranging from £1 million to £3 million. The application deadline is June 29.

Mike Rogers, deputy director of global health research at the NIHR, explains how applicants can give their bids the best chance of success.

How many rewards do you expect to win in this round?

The rewards for this round are between £1m and £3m, with a total of £20m available for appeal. We have no expectation of numbers, however many we can fund in the envelope.

Will you receive offers from projects that have been abandoned following recent aid cuts?

We encourage the use of results from previous research to help develop Right applications, but applicants should not use this program to fund previously funded work that has been discontinued. And they must be clear about how any previous funding has supported the request and why this particular request is distinct from previous work they have undertaken. Further, we do not want the awarding of a Right award to be dependent on receiving funding from other sources. The award should act as a stand-alone research program.

Can PRITI institutions carry out projects?

Yes. The fourth call on the right was the first to allow lead applicants based in PRITI institutions. Previously, there were joint lead applicants, but the contracting organizations had to be a UK body. This is no longer the case, so you can apply to an LMIC institution as a lead applicant without a UK partner. UK institutions can still apply as principal applicants, but these applications must have a joint principal applicant based in an LMIC.

How does the process work?

It’s a two-part competition. The first step is a screening step. Successful applicants will then be asked to produce a full application. All applications in stages one and two will be reviewed by an independent international funding committee, which will make recommendations to the Department of Health and Social Care on which applications to support. Applications are evaluated against four criteria in the first stage and four additional criteria in the second stage.

What’s the most common mistake you’ve noticed in auctions?

The symbolic commitment and involvement of the community is evident. It’s a clear red flag when candidates do. Community engagement and involvement is absolutely essential to these apps. If you don’t do it well, you are unlikely to get funded. It is not an add-on or a supplement; it is at the heart of the program and must be woven throughout the project. And the committee will want to see how community engagement representatives will help you monitor your progress.

What else should candidates pay attention to?

You need to ensure that research teams have the right mix of disciplines to complete the project. We sometimes see apps that aspire to do a thing or two that the people on this list don’t seem to be qualified to do. Good applicants can have up to 15 co-applicants, so there are plenty of opportunities to include the right people. Areas of expertise that are often lacking include social science methods, statistics, health economics, and community engagement.

What should applicants consider in the application process?

It will be important to consider the sustainability and ultimate impact of interventions. Is what you are doing likely to be picked up by the relevant health system? Who will you engage with to make sure this happens? What are these pathways of impact and implementation?

The call mentions a prize for developing proposals and partnerships. What is this?

We created this award to help researchers in the UK and LMICs develop their partnerships so that they can put together the highest quality application possible. You apply for the award in the first stage of the application. If your application progresses to stage two, you will then be funded up to £10,000. This funding is intended to help applicants develop their second-stage applications, enhance and initiate partnerships and community engagement activities, and initiate the preparation of study governance documentation.

Do you foresee a future program cycle?

Currently, this is the only call we plan to launch in this space.

This is an excerpt from an article in Research Professional’s Funding Insight service. To subscribe contact [email protected]