Notes from an Event held by the NE Research Design Service in June 2016 – NIHR Programme Grants
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funds the Research Design Service (RDS) to provide design and methodological support to health and social care researchers across England to develop grant applications to the NIHR and other national peer-reviewed funding programmes.
Research Design Service work closely with the Clinical Research Network.
Paul Little – Director of Programme Grants
There used to be a £2 million cap on Programme Grants but not anymore. The guide is £500k per year for 4 years.
If you end with a feasibility trail you will only get £1 million, you should go for a full development programme is you possibly can.
Programme Grants are for development and interventions but can also be used for epidemiology.
It is good to have the Workpackages of your programme informing and linking into each other, this really adds value to your proposal.
At Stage 1 you need a logical model to be able to sell your idea to generalists and methodologists (statisticians, behavioural, clinical). At Stage 1 you can now get comments on the weaknesses which you can review and respond to and then amend your proposal to go to stage 2. There are 3 Stage 1 rounds per year.
At Stage 2 the Panel members are generalists but they can draw on specialists if they need to.
Tips on a successful application:
- PIs need to have experience of making large grants work, however it is possible to have a more junior PI (who has maybe run a RfPB study or a trial) with a more experienced Co-I, as long as there is a genuine commitment to the project from the Co-I.
- Key methodologists need to have a reasonable amount of time on the grant.
- There would normally need to be input from the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU).
- Need to think about what the strategic issues are for the NHS and what the gaps in evidence are.
- Clearly state what it is you are going to do – have a logical model.
- Explain your acronyms.
- Get the PPI people to help you with a plain English summary.
- Clearly address and deal with Board comments.
- Need to have enough detail in the methods section.
- For a feasibility study you need to clearly state what you are going to assess.
- Clearly explain how your PPI are costed and what will be involved
- Complex interventions often don’t work so you need to have a number of iterations before you go to trial.
- Clearly state how this will lead to patient benefit.
- Bear I mind that Free Standing Trails should be through the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) route and not the Programme Grants.
- If you have an idea for a Programme Grant Paul encourages you to get in touch with a ‘pre-stage 1’ query which he will look at before you complete your Stage 1 application. Please send as much information as you can in a 2 page summary.
Jenny Hewison – Panel Chair
If there is a bit that is essential to make a Programme Grant work then you can use a Programme Development Grant to try this out, prove it will work then apply for a Programme Grant. However the Programme Development Grant is not about coming up with Workpackages for the Programme Grant application. It is about looking at areas where you need to prove that an element will work before you launch into the full grant.
Non-health outcomes need to be well recognised/convincing for example smoking ceasation.
If someone is costed onto a project then they must have a genuine contribution to the project.
The Panel are looking for the argument of why and what you are doing and how you are going to deliver it.
Elaine McColl – Sub-Panel Member
There are usually 2 PPI representatives on the Panel so the PPI is important.
PPI is not just qualitative data collection from participants.
There should be a PPI lead for the project and your Plain English Summary needs PPI input as if this is not clear it rings bells as to your commitment to PPI in your study
PPI should be properly costed.
If it is important include it in the application, don’t just add details in the Appendices that are not included in the proposal.
Build on what you have already done; say how you are well positioned to take this forward.
NIHR are increasingly offering phased/staged funding so write your proposal with this in mind.
The Project Management structure is important. You need a Programme Steering Committee with external members. You need a budget for this and it needs to be well thought through with specific arrangement for Clinical Trials.
Your proposal needs to demonstrate not just that the result will be better than what we do now but also that it is a more cost effective way of doing this.
Proposals should be problem driven, explaining why we need a better research base for what we do now.
Benefit to patients is interpreted by the Board as benefit to the public so they are interested in Public Health applications.
Details of Programme Grants are available on the NIHR website.