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Prioritising funding and support for COVID-19 research across the UK

Published: 27 April 2020

Working with partners across the health and care system, the NIHR is funding, enabling and delivering world-class COVID-19 research, a key element of the Government’s overall response to the pandemic. Given the extraordinary pressures currently being faced by the health and care system, we are also ensuring that best use is made of the limited resources and capacity available to support research and that there is no duplication of effort.

In March 2020, we established a UK-wide portal for applying for funding and/or prioritised support for urgent COVID-19 research.  As of 1 July 2020, the portal is only for studies that already have funding and require prioritised support from the NIHR's Clinical Research Network (CRN).

Central to the prioritisation process is a UK-wide expert panel, reporting into DHSC and acting on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer / Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, which designates the COVID-19 studies that hold the most potential for tackling today’s challenges as Urgent Public Health Research. This expert panel reviews funded studies, irrespective of whether they are funded by the public sector, industry or charities.

With regard to HRA approvals, researchers who make an application through the portal are signposted for expedited regulatory review so that this can progress in parallel to the system of assessment potentially leading to Urgent Public Health Research designation.

All NHS Trusts, health and care providers and universities are expected to prioritise support for Urgent Public Health studies

Where studies do not require NIHR Clinical Research Network support, they do not need to go through the portal and can proceed in accordance with business as usual processes. However, they must not have a negative impact on the system’s ability to recruit participants and/or provide the resources (including staff, samples and data) needed to support Urgent Public Health national priority studies. Organisations will be expected to pause any local studies that impede their ability to contribute to national research efforts. Applications for COVID-19 research are welcomed by NIHR programmes through their researcher led funding opportunities.

Read more about the prioritisation process for Urgent Public Health Research.


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