Health research

University of Birmingham to spearhead NIHR research support service

The University of Birmingham has been chosen to help lead the research support service (RSS) at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The RSS was launched last autumn and gives researchers expert support throughout every stage of their journey.

Backed by nearly £100m, the service is designed to help professionals in England regardless of their location and research interest.

Since its launch, the RSS has received more than 840 requests for support throughout its eight hubs.

These include the University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, King’s College London, the University of Lancaster, the University of Leicester, Newcastle University, the University of Southampton, and the University of York

“The National Collaborative is critical…”

Now, the NIHR has awarded the University of Birmingham £7m to run the RSS’s new national collaborative after showing a “clear commitment” to working with all eight hubs.

Responsibilities for the University of Birmingham now include providing strategic and operational leadership for the hubs.

The NIHR also wants the university to develop relationships with its wider infrastructure, including the clinical research network and incoming research delivery network.

Professor Marian Knight, scientific director for research infrastructure at the NIHR, said: “The national collaborative is critical to the successful delivery of the new RSS, which since October has been providing expert advice and support to researchers across England.

“By leading the collaborative, the University of Birmingham will work with the other RSS hubs to ensure all researchers across England are provided with the tailored support they need and to develop an environment of continuous improvement across the service.”

The university should also identify, develop and share good practice as well as support implementation.

“…we have ambitious plans…”

Research inclusion, patient and public involvement, plus engagement and participation will also be focuses.

The ultimate goal is to achieve a level of consistency across the eight hubs, according to the NIHR.

Neil Thomas, a professor of epidemiology and research methods, will be operations director at the RSS national collaborative.

He said: “We look forward to working with all eight RSS hubs and specialist centres, the NIHR and the wider research community in developing and delivering health and care research.”

He continued: “Our vision of collaboration is wide ranging and we have ambitious plans to build capacity in our workforce and public contributors, contribute to the development of inclusive and innovative research methodologies, as well as harmonise systems across our service.”

Image credit: iStock

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