Become a public committee member

NIHR committees recommend health and social care research projects to fund or prioritise.

Our committees assess research proposals and briefs that describe a potential area of research. These cover a wide range of health and social care issues and challenges with the aim to benefit patients and improve services.

People who join our committees as public members have the key task of bringing a patient and public perspective to the discussions.

Apply to join a committee today

Why you should join an NIHR committee

We are keen to involve patients, carers and members of the public who have a broad interest in and knowledge of health, social care and/or actions to improve public health and address health inequalities.

You do not need to have a scientific background to help shape research! We are looking for people who are able to use their own experiences to improve the research we wish to fund.

Being part of research is exciting. It is thought provoking and it allows you to use skills that you might not have realised you had. It can lead you into new experiences or opportunities that you didn’t expect.

NIHR committees give you the opportunity to:

  • have a say in research funding decisions
  • learn more about research
  • engage in thought-leading discussions
  • represent people and patients 


Public committee member responsibilities

Committees generally have 20 members including public members, subject matter experts and academics. All members have an equal footing.

Responsibilities for a member of the public sitting on an NIHR committee include:

  • attending meetings up to four times a year for one or two days
  • contributing to the discussions and decision-making that take place during meetings
  • preparing for committee meetings by reviewing research proposals and noting down your comments
  • recommending which research should receive funding or priority

Read more about the responsibilities of being a public committee member.

We have a very unique perspective on the issues that are being discussed and I think involving members of the public, patients, carers enables the research to more grounded in the reality of people's lives.

- Rosemary, NIHR Committee Member


How research committees work

Are public committee members paid?

We offer public members an attendance fee for their involvement in the committee.

The amount will depend on the nature and volume of work involved.
The fee will always be clarified ahead of the meeting and will include the preparation work.

Public members can also claim reasonable expenses in connection with their attendance at committee meetings, for example:

  • travel, food and drink
  • accommodation
  • childcare
  • carer costs
  • personal assistant costs
  • postage and printing costs

Upon request, staff will book travel directly so that public committee members do not need to meet these costs in advance.

Face to face committee meetings always include refreshments throughout the day and lunch.

Meetings are currently being held virtually although it is anticipated that face-to-face meetings will resume this year. It is likely that a ‘hybrid’ model will be adopted in the future with some meetings being virtual and others face-to-face during the year. 


How often are committees recruited?

NIHR runs an annual recruitment campaign, typically in the spring.

You can find out more about the application process in our information pack.

What training is available for committee members?

We work with our members to support them in the best way we can throughout their time with us.

We provide a free online course for new and experienced public committee members.

The course includes:

  • an overview of the NIHR with an introduction to patient and public involvement
  • skills training such as providing constructive feedback and approaching complex documents

You can browse for more guidance and training on Learning for Involvement.