Regional NIHR Research Design Service awarded new contract, extending support to researchers as the NIHR RDS North East and North Cumbria.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding to further develop and extend support to researchers across the North East and North Cumbria has been awarded; from October the NIHR RDS North East will become the NIHR Research Design Service North East and North Cumbria (RDS NENC).

Led by Professor Helen Hancock, the RDS NENC is one of 10 regional RDSs across England, who support researchers to develop and design high quality research proposals for submission to NIHR funding programmes and other national open peer reviewed funding competitions for health and social care research.

The RDS NENC brings partnerships between Newcastle, Northumbria, Teesside, Durham and Cumbria Universities, South Tees Hospitals and Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trusts, Newcastle City Council, the NIHR Clinical Research Network NENC and other key NIHR Infrastructure across the region and nationally.

Prof. Helen Hancock

Renewed funding, for five years from 1 October 2018, will allow enhancement of RDS provision; advice is free and draws upon a unique breadth of experience and a proven track record in improving funding applications.

Prof Hancock said: I am delighted; our working together will bring new opportunities for researchers across the region as we capitalise on strengths within each of the partner organisations. Together we bring extensive expertise including acute care, mental health, public health and social care research.

To contact us please email, or phone (0191) 208 7000

For further information please click here

Find out more about the NIHR RDS and national RDS network.

2018 RDS Blogs: From the RDS desk


Each month, the Research Design Service, brings you handy tips, insights and experiences of the funding application process. The blogs will touch on various themes in the design process and highlight what you need to know before you make a research application.  This month’s August blog ‘Sometimes you just have to jump in and make a splash! Co-producing research with patients, carers and public partners’ focuses on celebrating the benefits, sharing good practice and demonstrating that co-production might be the quickest way to get your research recommendations implemented into practice!  Read the full log here

Check out our previous blogs below:

July ‘Putting the Quality into Qualitative Research’

June ‘The Importance of the Research Question’

May ‘Time to Write?’

RDS NE Monthly Newsletter

View our monthly newsletter for up to date news, events, funding calls – you can also subscribe here to receive news direct to your inbox.

August 2018 edition

July 2018 edition

June 2018 edition

May 2018 edition

New recommendations launched to improve researchers’ feedback to patients and the public shaping studies

A new guide has been launched to help researchers improve patient and public involvement (PPI) in their studies.

Guidance for Researchers: Feedback is a new tool providing researchers advice on the best ways to ensure patients, carers, service users and members of public contributing to their work are kept informed of research progress and their input is formally acknowledged.

For further information, please see here.  The guidance, which was also developed with the Research Design Service (RDS) and INVOLVE, is available online.

NIHR’s new social care call to launch in May

NIHR’s Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme will be launching an additional call this year, focusing on social care. This initiative particularly seeks to fund high quality research ideas which come from the front line of social care, and to support partnerships between social care researchers and practitioners. This call is aimed at researchers across a wide range of experience levels and will help to grow capacity in social care research. The new call will launch on 9 May and researchers will have until 4 July 2018 to apply.  Read more here

CRN NENC Newsroom

The NIHR Newsroom NENC is the Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria’s research news platform. CRN NENC stories include what’s happening around our region, opportunities, funding, awards, events and much more. The Newsroom also features news and information from our partner organisations across the region.

They have recently launched a Newsroom redesign with an improved look, making the design more modern, clear and fresh. Navigation has been improved to allow an easier user experience and an ‘Events’ page has been added to detail the events happening around the region.

Launch of new NIHR Fellowships programme

The NIHR has announced today some exciting new changes to its Fellowships Programme, which will take effect when it launches in October. The new programme will provide greater flexibility and expanded eligibility whilst retaining and maintaining its integrity as one of NIHR’s flagship programmes.  Details of the new programme can be found on the NIHR website, alongside accompanying Frequently Asked Questions.

RDS Blog: From the RDS Desk


Monthly update from the Research Design Service, bringing your tips, insights and experiences of the funding application process. The blog will touch on various themes in the design process and highlight what you need to know before you make a research application.

In the first blog, Claire Rosten writes about how the RDS can be your critical friend and worth getting to know before you make a research application.

Please follow the link to read future blogs.

Guidance on co-producing a research project

INVOLVE have published a guidance document with an aim to moving toward clarity about what is meant by co-producing  a research project. It explains the key principles and features of co-producing a research project and suggests ways to realise the principles and key features. Finally, the guidance outlines some of the key challenges that will need addressing, in further work, to aid those intending to take the co-producing research route.

Please visit the INVOLVE website to access the guidance document.

The story of RfPB

The Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme launched its first call in July 2006 with the aim of funding research projects in health and social care to improve, expand and strengthen the way that healthcare is delivered for patients, the public and the NHS. To date the RfPB Programme has provided a platform for research success nationwide, enabling teams to answer the questions that matter at the frontline of health and social care. Indeed, RfPB is the programme that will fund the inquisitive clinician, with or without extensive research experience, and at whatever career stage.

To learn more about the story of RfPB funding, please visit the NIHR website.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR): Impact on research

The rules for handling information relating to research participants will change on 25 May 2018, when the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. The Health Research Authority has published detailed guidance about operational arrangements that researchers and organisations may need to put in place. The guidance is published as a living document that will be updated over the coming weeks. The HRA will update their website as updated versions are published.

For more information, please click here

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) – Health Research Authority: Researchers are ‘missing a trick’ with public involvement

Health researchers are ‘missing a trick’ by not demonstrating how patients and the public have contributed to the design and conduct of research, the HRA has said. Good public involvement can help smooth the process through ethical review, lead to better designed research and improve participant recruitment. But a new study has shown that researchers applying for approvals to start their projects rarely describe their public involvement in enough detail for those reviewing their application to know what involvement has happened and what difference this has made.

For more information, please click here

Would you be interested in testing out the new public involvement standards?

The Public Involvement Standards Development Partnership are seeking people, groups, teams, and organisations to be pilot sites  – please see the see the website for further information:

If you are based in the North East and are interested in being a pilot site, we would ask that you also contact Jo Lally ( to let her know so that RDS NE can work with you to evaluate the implementation of the standards.

December 12th:  NIHR aims to get research started quicker through new Intent to Fund letter

The NIHR is pleased to announce that a new Intent to Fund letter will replace the existing versions of award letters currently used to inform applicants to NIHR funding streams of a successful funding decision.

This new letter  helps to support organisations and successful applicants reduce the delays and will be introduced with immediate effect.

For more information on this article and current funding opportunities please visit the NIHR website

September 12th: New RDS NE Telephone number

Please note that our telephone number has now changed to 0191 208 7000.

September 6th: Appointment of Anosua Mitra, Administrator

We are pleased to welcome Anosua Mitra to the team. Anosua joins us a full time administrator from September.

August 14th: NIHR i4i new funding stream

The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme is launching a new funding stream – i4i Connect – aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in need of a funding boost to reach their next stage in the development pathway.

Offering up to £150,000 over a 6-12 month period, i4i Connect will help SMEs get to the point of eligibility for a full i4i award or, down the line, follow-on funding. This will enable accelerated development of promising medical technologies, in line with recommendations from the Government’s Accelerated Access Review.

NIHR’s i4i Programme is a translational funding scheme that supports healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.

Read the full press release here.

August 1st: Transfer of RDS NE hub from Durham University to the James Cook University Hospital

As of 1st August 2017 our hub at Durham University has transferred to the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. Our hub at Newcastle University remains the same.

This will allow us to continue to support researchers from across the North East region. This does not affect the way that you contact us

July 13th: The NIHR 2017 Theme is complex health and care needs in older people. 

Proposals are welcomed for clinical and applied health research into the evaluation of healthcare interventions, health services, social care or public health measures for older people with complex health and care needs.

For more information on Themed Calls and current funding opportunities please visit the NIHR website.

If you are thinking about applying to this themed call and would like support with your application please contact us

July 13th: The NIHR application form is changing!

The NIHR is launching a streamlined application process for researchers applying for funding. This is in response to wide user feedback and as part of the continuous improvement culture. NIHR are making applying for funding as simple as possible whilst retaining commitment to research excellence. The streamlined, two-stage form is being rolled out across NIHR research and training programmes from Summer 2017.

NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre has announced they will use an adapted version of the new streamlined NIHR Standard Application Form (SAF) for training awards. The main differences are the inclusion of an extended CV and an updated training and development section. For more information please visit the NIHR website

If you would like support with an NIHR application please contact us.

July 13th:  Appointment of Jo Lally, Research Methodologist

We are delighted to welcome to the team Jo Lally who is joining us as a Health Research Methodologist with particular focus on Public Involvement.  Jo has over 20 years experience as a qualitative researcher, mainly focusing on patient experience of healthcare as well as patient involvement in research. Jo will be providing Public Involvement advice to RDS clients and helping to deliver the RDS/INVOLVE partnership in the NE Region

July 11th: Appointment of New members to the team

The team are delighted to welcome Niesha Doyle who will be joining us as RDS NE Business Manager from August 2017. We are also very pleased to announce that Allison Malham has accepted the role of RDS Administrator, helping us to support clients from across the region