You are here:

Health watchdogs and authorities

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

'Improving the health and wealth of the nation through research'

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is a large, multi-faceted and nationally distributed organisation. Together, NIHR people, facilities and systems represent the most integrated clinical research system in the world, driving research from bench to bedside for the benefit of patients.

The NIHR was established in April 2006 to provide the framework through which the Department of Health can position, maintain and manage the research, research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England as a national research facility.

The mission of the NIHR is to maintain a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals, allowing them to work in world class facilities, while conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public.


  • establish the NHS as an internationally recognised centre of research excellence
  • attract, develop and retain the best research professionals to conduct people-based research
  • commission research focused on improving health and social care
  • strengthen and streamline systems for research management and governance
  • act as sound custodians of public money for the public good


The NIHR manages its activities through four main work strands:

  • NIHR Faculty: supporting the individuals carrying out and participating in research
  • NIHR Research: commissioning and funding research
  • NIHR Infrastructure: providing the facilities for a thriving research environment
  • NIHR Systems: creating unified, streamlined and simple systems for managing research and its outputs

Patient and public awareness

Involving patients and members of the public in research can lead to better research, clearer outcomes, and faster uptake of new evidence.

The NIHR encourages patients and the public to be actively involved in all NIHR-funded health and social care research, to:

  • set research priorities
  • identify the important questions that health and social care research needs to answer
  • give their views on research proposals alongside clinicians, methodologists, scientists, and public health and other professionals
  • help assess proposals for funding
  • take part in clinical trials and other health and social care research studies, not just as subjects, but as active partners in the research process
  • publicise the results

For more information about the NIHR, or how to get involved, view the briefing documents on the NIHR website.

Alternatively, you can send an email to

Page last reviewed: 16/10/2014

Next review due: 16/10/2016

Clinical trials and medical research

Clinical trials explained, including how to take part in one and why medical research is important

How do clinical trials work?

In this video, Dr Ben Goldacre explains why clinical trials are important, what they involve and who can take part in one. He also describes common concerns patients might have and gives tips on what questions to ask before taking part in any research.

Media last reviewed: 20/01/2016

Next review due: 20/01/2018