NIHR launches £56 million new funding competition for public health research

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The NIHR has launched a new funding competition to allocate up to £56 million of funding over 5 years to public health research.

The competition will award funding from the Department of Health and Social Care to 14 NIHR Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) – partnerships between academic institutions and Public Health England (PHE). These new units will act as centres of excellence in multidisciplinary health protection research in England.

The aim of the HPRU scheme is to provide high quality research evidence for public health policy and practise, to support PHE in delivering its objectives and functions for public health protection. The new units will focus on topic areas where research will have the greatest impact on public health.

The new HPRU scheme, which will run for five-year period from April 2020, will create an environment where world-class health protection research, focused on the needs of the public, can thrive. The units will enable translation of advances in health protection research into benefits for patients and the public.

The units will also provide a flexible staff capacity in the event of a major health protection incident, and retain a level of responsive research capacity to address emerging health protection research requirements.

Another goal of the scheme is to increase capacity and capability to conduct high quality multidisciplinary health protection research in England, a new focus for the scheme. The scheme will also have increased funding to facilitate collaboration between units.

In April 2014, the NIHR awarded £47.5 million 13 Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) at eight UK universities: 11 that focus on specific topics and two that undertake research on cross-cutting areas. Funding for this first round of units will end in 2020.

The new scheme will fund one additional unit and award an additional £8.5 million compared with the previous round.

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