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Government funding

The Government currently funds health related research through two main routes, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).


Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR)


The 2006 Review of funding in UK health research led by Sir David Cooksey resulted in the creation of the independent Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR). Cooksey had identified considerable strength in the UK science base, but revealed cultural, institutional and financial barriers to the effective translation of health research into clinical practice. The review envisioned a cultural change among the public funders of health research to address the barriers to research collaboration and to support the application and translation of basic research into patient care and economic benefit.


Since 2007, the OSCHR Board has demonstrated a powerful capacity to work across government through collaboration, addressing many of the issues required to ensure a comprehensive health research environment and leading to improved health outcomes and economic growth. The OSCHR process has helped to focus on the development of better NHS electronic data capabilities for research; create a research programme for public health and greatly enhance translation science. OSCHR is one of a number of fora where the public funders of health research work together with other stakeholders.


In 2011, Ministers in the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) considered that OSCHR had delivered the majority of the changes to the UK health research landscape advocated in the Cooksey report. They agreed that OSCHR should continue to monitor the translational research activity funded by government and additionally explore the role the Board could play in enhancing the funders’ existing contributions to economic growth through the life science sector.


The OSCHR Board membership


  • Professor Sir John Bell Independent Chair; Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Professor Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer, DH
  • Professor Sir John O’Reilly Director-General Knowledge and Innovation, BIS
  • Dr Russell Hamilton Director Research & Development Directorate, DH in lieu of CEO for NIHR
  • Professor Sir John Savill CEO Medical Research Council
  • Mr Iain Gray CEO Technology Strategy Board
  • Professor Madeleine Atkins CEO Higher Education Funding Council for England
  • Professor Andrew Morris Chief Scientist for Health, Scotland
  • Professor Jonathan Bisson Head of National Institute for Social Care and Health Research, Wales
  • Professor Bernie Hannigan Director, Health and Social Care R&D, Northern Ireland
  • Dame Julie Moore Independent Member; CEO, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Patrick Vallance Independent Member; President, Pharmaceuticals R&D, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Professor Jeremy Farrar Independent Member; Director, The Wellcome Trust


Nathan Moore, Head of OSCHR Office


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