National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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Better research, faster: NIHR launch new funding call to address NICE research recommendations

In April 2021, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) launched a new rolling funding call for studies addressing NICE research recommendations.

Shane Collins, technical analyst, science policy and research programme, NICE

What is a NICE research recommendation?

As NICE develops any of its guidance products, we identify gaps and uncertainties in the evidence base which could benefit from further research. The most important unanswered questions are developed into research recommendations.

How do NICE & NIHR work together?

NIHR have been screening NICE guidance for nearly 20 years to identify topics suitable for commissioning research. They have awarded over £131 million since 2002 to research projects based on research recommendations from NICE guidance. In the 2020/2021 financial year, more than £14 million was spent across 12 new research projects. NICE meets regularly with NIHR to share information about our respective research priorities and seek NIHR’s input to ensure our research recommendations are clear and actionable. We also work closely to fast track, co-produce and advertise research briefs which are jointly agreed as key priorities. In addition to these fast-tracked key priorities, NIHR also review all NICE guidance and advertise research calls against NICE research recommendations through individual programme commissioned workstreams.

What’s changing?

To reduce the time to commission new research recommended by NICE guidance and increase throughput, we have worked closely with NIHR to review and agree changes to this process. NIHR has launched a new researcher-led rolling funding call, which will complement existing commissioning workstreams. The new call will seek applications to address research recommendations identified in NICE guidance published or updated from 2015 onwards. For the purposes of this call, NICE guidance includes the following: clinical, social care, public health, technology appraisals, interventional procedures and diagnostics. The primary outcome measure must be health related and proposals must be within the remit of one of the four participating NIHR research programmes:

What do we hope to achieve?

The rolling call will be open year-round, with applications reviewed every four months. Dates vary dependent on the NIHR research programme. It is hoped that this will give researchers more flexibility in applying to address NICE research recommendations at any time. NICE will provide input into the initial review of applications, highlighting the applications which we would like to prioritise. The new rolling research call aims to build on the success of the relationship between NIHR and NICE, and further develop the evidence base supporting guidance development.

For more information on how to apply for the new rolling funding call, visit the NIHR funding webpage. If you would like to know more about how NICE produces research recommendations, take a look at the process and methods guide. All of the research recommendations are publicly available on the guidance webpages and the research recommendation database.

More information on NIHR programmes, its funding streams and portfolio of funded research can be found on their website. If you are aware of evidence gaps you can make a suggestion for future NIHR research.


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