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News and updates from NIHR

Date: 24 March 2021

Over 1 million participants take part in COVID-19 research – Thank You!

Since COVID-19 came to the UK over a year ago, people across the country have  worked tirelessly together to deliver life-saving research at a pace never seen before – discovering life-saving treatments and developing the vaccines that have turned the tide against the virus.

That’s why the NIHR has launched a campaign to thank every single person who has made urgent COVID-19 research possible – from doctors, nurses and research staff, to the 1 million public participants in studies.

Please join us in saying thank you to everyone who has been part of this incredible national effort using the hashtag #ResearchVsCovid on social media.

Find out more about how research has fought COVID-19


The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery

NIHR and partner organisations across the health research ecosystem have welcomed the publication of a bold and ambitious vision for the future of clinical research delivery in the UK.

This UK-wide vision sets out the ambition to create a patient-centred, pro-innovation and data-enabled clinical research environment, which empowers everyone across the health service to participate in delivering research and enables people across the country to take part in research that is of relevance to them. The vision has been developed through the cross-sector Recovery, Resilience and Growth programme, with NIHR working alongside the NHS, regulators, medical research charities, life sciences industry, the UK government and devolved administrations. Read more.

Saving and improving lives : The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery


Applications no longer being accepted for studies to be designated as Urgent Public Health

Due to the drop in COVID-19 case numbers and significant progress with the vaccine roll-out, we are no longer accepting applications for studies to be designated as Urgent Public Health (UPH). The submission portal has therefore been closed.
If you wish for your study to be included onto the NIHR CRN Portfolio and to access NIHR CRN Study Support Services, please visit our NIHR CRN Portfolio webpage.

If you have any queries regarding the ongoing research delivery activities for your study, please contact


Supporting the Life Sciences Sector

The NIHR continues to work with commercial companies for delivery of ongoing research and UK wide new study placement support, co-ordinated by the Clinical Research Network as summarised here.  

  • Complete and up to date study site status and recruitment data within Local Portfolio Management Systems will inform this co-ordinated support for commercial contract study delivery.
  • Companies have reinforced the importance of providing realistic start date or review date information for robust planning of both ongoing and new commercial contract studies across the UK.

If NHS organisations receive new study requests directly, please reinforce this collective support is available to help companies identify research locations from across the UK if they are not already aware of this free service.  This can be utilised for both ongoing and new studies as required.


NIHR Urgent Public Health Studies Research Workforce Participation Certificate

Through the COVID Consenting Initiative we would like to thank and acknowledge the efforts of the multidisciplinary workforce who have contributed to the recruitment of Urgent Public Health (UPH) studies.

Despite the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, one of the positive outcomes from the research response to it has been the engagement of a wider proportion of the clinical workforce in research. This level of engagement has provided us with a unique opportunity to connect with the wider workforce and those who may become the next generation of researchers, experiencing research now for the first time.

Through this initiative we will present anyone who has consented participants to UPH studies with a certificate which can be included in their continuing professional development (CPD) portfolios. The certificate will be downloaded directly by those eligible who will then gain access to CRN resources on NIHR Learn, which may further their interest in research. We are also requesting consent to stay in touch with this wider workforce to share future opportunities for training & learning, and information on how to get involved in more CRN portfolio research.

The initiative has been disseminated via the UPH study Chief Investigators, Local Clinical Research Network Workforce Leads and Devolved Nation colleagues who will share it with Principal Investigators across all UK sites asking them to encourage their workforce to log into NIHR Learn and download the certificate (search COVID Consenting Initiative or access via the Leadership Development tile).

For any questions or queries please contact


Spotlight on ENRICH (ENabling Research In Care Homes)and how care home research has become more important during the pandemic. 

Nationally we currently have around 600 care homes signed up to the NIHR ENRICH network.  The ENRICH network aims to increase access to research for care home residents and support Care homes to take part in research for the benefit of its residents. As one of the most affected areas, it’s been really important to gather information from care homes about the risk and impact of COVID-19 on older adults,  and as devastating as the pandemic has been, it has helped highlight the importance of involving care homes in research.

Raising awareness and improving equity of access to research and potential treatments is an NIHR priority with the spotlight shining on care home settings more recently. The CRN has been supporting a number of 1A COVID-19 and UPH studies that are delivered in care home settings. These include PRINCIPLE, Vivaldi and more recently the PROTECT study.  We have been encouraging and supporting our ENRICH care homes to take part in relevant portfolio research, and identifying and engaging new care homes about COVID-19 research opportunities.

The COVID-19 response has acted as a springboard for more care homes than ever to take part in research. This accelerated interest in care home research has helped NIHR ENRICH further establish a research culture in this setting and has supported the development of policies and procedures to support Care Home research in the future.


Introducing the NIHR CRN INCLUDE Guidance: Improving inclusion of under-served groups in clinical research   

Following discussions with key stakeholders, ongoing research and a series of events, the NIHR CRN INCLUDE steering group have developed two sets of INCLUDE guidance. Both are aimed at improving the inclusion of under-served groups in health research, with one specifically tailored to COVID-19 research:

NIHR CRN INCLUDE Guidance (General)

NIHR CRN INCLUDE Guidance (COVID-19 specific)

Interested to find out more about INCLUDE? The INCLUDE website is a great place to start.


Lessons From COVID-19 Research in the UK

The UK is mentioned as a successful example in the conduct of COVID-19 treatment trials in this recent editorial of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read the article


Increasing Participation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups in Health and Social Care Research

CRN East Midlands and the Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health have been working together to create a training module to ensure that research is inclusive and diverse. The purpose of this training is to provide staff working to deliver these important research studies with the necessary skills and learning to support people from all backgrounds to take part. The training module is now available on NIHR Learn. If you have any questions or need any further information, please contact:


CRP Accredited Register 

Following a successful pilot phase, professional registration for Clinical Research Practitioners (CRPs) as a foundational step for growth and development is now in place. The accredited register has been established, in partnership with the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), to recognise the vital role CRPs play in research delivery, improve professional identity and provide a clear path for the career development of CRPs.

The process of application and quality assurance has been piloted by the AHCS involving around 30 applicants and a national panel of verifiers. The pilot found that CRPs benefited from their manager and colleagues’ support when demonstrating that they meet the Standards of Proficiency for CRPs in their portfolio of evidence, this has therefore been built into current practice and will complement local processes.

Guidance on CRP registration has been tailored for applicants and their managers. You can find all guidance and resources to help support your application here:

In October 2018, the CRP Directory was launched as a space for CRPs to be consulted and to contribute to ongoing development of their profession.  Before applying to join the CRP Register, if you have not already done so please join the CRP Directory which remains free to join.

A promotional campaign will run throughout the Spring/Summer of 2021 to raise the profile of CRPs, encourage professional registration, and advance professional development for CRPs. This will begin in May with the announcement of the winner of the Advancing Healthcare Award for outstanding contributions made by CRPs listed on the CRP Directory.


NIHR MOOCS (free online courses)

The National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network Coordinating Centre runs two MOOCs (free online courses) on Futurelearn. The first course is ‘What is health research?’. It is a basic introduction to what health research is and covers different topics that anyone new to research may find interesting and informative. The second course is ‘Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research’. This course goes into more details about Clinical Research and the process of discovery.

Each course has a Lead Educator and the Lead Educator is supported by a number of different Mentors. You can join either of the MOOCs at any time or you can sign up and wait a couple of months to participate in the mentor supported discussions.

Click the link to find out more 

Please direct any questions/queries to 


New Cluster C Specialty Cluster Lead

We are delighted to announce that Professor Paul Dark has been appointed to the role of NIHR CRN Cluster C Specialty Lead to succeed Professor Steve Smye when Steve steps down from NIHR at the end of March. Paul will work closely with Cluster C Co-lead Professor Phil Evans. Many of you will know Paul as CRN National Specialty Lead for Critical Care and his role in the Urgent Public Health Group.

Paul holds the chair of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Manchester and has extensive experience in clinical trials, with a particular interest in sepsis, novel diagnostics, the development of integrated pathways of care and improving global humanitarian responses. He has held numerous leadership roles in critical care research and is particularly keen to develop stronger multidisciplinary approaches to research, as well as developing the next generation of clinical researchers. Paul will also continue as National Specialty Lead for Critical Care.

We are delighted that the CRN and wider NIHR will benefit from Paul’s exceptional leadership and insight at this important time for clinical research.


New appointments at the NIHR Clinical Research Network

Following an open competitive selection process, the Network has made the following new appointments which will commence in April:

Chief Information and Technology Officer

Director of Organisational Development and Learning


Join Dementia Research turns 6!

As Join Dementia Research turned six on 24 February, we celebrated not only six years of bringing researchers and volunteers together, but also our collective achievement of helping dementia research to keep going during the pandemic.

Since Join Dementia Research began, an incredible 50,000 people have signed up to the service and there have been 48,000 enrolments onto dementia studies during this time. And although you would be forgiven for thinking that COVID-19 would slow things down, the reverse is actually true. There have been over 16,000 enrolments onto studies this year, which is the highest annual figure we have ever had. Join in the celebration.


NIHR Digital Office update

In late 2020, the NIHR Digital Office held 21 Digital Strategy Roadmap Project workshops. We’d like to take this opportunity to keep you updated on the progress we are making towards the digital transformation of NIHR. Please take a few minutes to read the February 2021 Update from the NIHR Digital Office that highlights the six key digital objectives, identified during the workshops, which are currently being developed into business cases for prioritisation against funding for the FY 2021-2022. Read more




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