Our place in the UK research landscape

We have a central role in England's health and care research landscape. We work alongside other organisations that have an overarching aim to strengthen health research in the UK

Research funding in the UK nations

Each UK nation has its own government department that oversees health and care research:

  • The Department of Health and Social Care funds health and care research in England through the NIHR. It also supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.
  • Health and Care Research Wales is a national, multi-faceted, virtual organisation funded and overseen by the Welsh Government’s Research and Development Division. It provides an infrastructure to support and increase capacity in research and development (R&D), runs a range of responsive funding schemes and manages the NHS R&D funding allocation for Wales.
  • The Chief Scientist Office (CSO), part of the Scottish Government's Health and Social Care Directorate, supports and promotes high quality research aimed at improving the quality and cost effectiveness of services offered by NHS Scotland and securing lasting improvements to the health of the people of Scotland.
  • The Health and Social Care Public Health Agency (HSC PHA) is the major regional organisation for health protection in Northern Ireland. The agency has a mandate to protect public health, improve public health and social wellbeing, and reduce inequalities in health and social wellbeing.

Research in England

The NHS is committed, through the NHS Constitution, to the promotion, conduct and use of research to improve the current and future health and care of the population.  

The Department of Health and Social Care's Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs) include a range of organisations, such as NHS England, Public Health England, Higher Education England and regulatory bodies. ALBs each have specific responsibilities that relate to health, public health and social care research.

The Government's Office for Life Sciences champions research, innovation and the use of technology to transform health and care service. It published the government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences in 2011, with the ambition that the UK will become the global hub for life sciences research in the future and a key contributor to sustained economic growth. The strategy references the broad underpinning role the NIHR has in delivering this ambition.  

Each year the Research Councils, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), invest around £3 billion in research covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines, from the medical and biological sciences. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) now brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.  

The NIHR works closely with the Medical Research Council (MRC) in a number of areas, including jointly funding the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation and Methodology Research programmes.

We also jointly fund programmes of research with the Economic and Social Research Council, including investment for research on living well with dementia.  

Find out more about how we work with other funders.

Coordinating UK health research

The independent Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR) works across the full range of national governments and relevant government departments, and health and care research funders, to address the barriers to research collaboration and to support the application and translation of basic research into patient care and economic benefit. 

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