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Public Health Agency, Research & Development Division


Background and Role

The Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D) Division is part of the Public Health Agency. Established in 2009, it is responsible for the administration and coordination of the HSC R&D budget on behalf of Department of Health, Northern Ireland (DoH NI). Its work is based on the principle that the best health and social care must be underpinned by knowledge, based on well conducted research, which can then be applied in the delivery of care.

(Between 1998 and 2009, prior to the Review of Public Administration, this function was carried out by the R&D Office, as part of the Central Services Agency).

The HSC R&D Division supports researchers based in Northern Ireland as well as those in Health and Social Care Trusts or other bodies who use the outputs from research findings.

While the effectiveness of research performance and application depends ultimately on the skill and ability of individual researchers and users of research, the HSC R&D Division ensures that researchers can work within an environment that supports, encourages and facilitates them.

For example HSC R&D Division:

  • funds essential infrastructure for research such as information databanks, tissue banks, clinical research facilities clinical trials units and research networks
  • builds research capacity in Northern Ireland through research training opportunities
  • enables research governance processes to be as efficient as possible
  • creates opportunities for researchers to compete for research funding on a wider UK or international basis
  • supports innovation as a means of transferring HSC R&D findings into practice
  • ensures personal and public involvement (PPI) in HSC R&D

HSC R&D Division has a local focus but acknowledges that health and social care research is a global endeavour, and so, forms effective partnerships and close working relationships with our counterparts in the other UK administrations and in Ireland, the European Union and the United States of America. 

To download the Research and Development (R&D) Strategy for the Health and Social Care (HSC) sector click here>

For a list of HSC R&D Division staff please see here>

To download a copy of our HSC R&D logo>              (please contact us if you need a high quality version (.eps file) of our logo)


HSC R&D Division Budget

Financial Year

Allocated funding DoH NI (£m)

Additional funding DoH NI 1 (£m)

Income from other scources 2 (£m)

Contribution to NETSCC 3 (£m)

Total R&D Spend












































1 Income achieved through bids put forward by HSC R&D Division for additional funding from DoH NI.

2 Income from other funders into R&D budget as part of co-funding arrangements
(N.B. This only includes funding that comes directly into HSC R&D Division budget before being awarded. Many other co-funding arrangements are in place whereby the funding from the co-funder(s) goes directly to the research host institution, and therefore is not shown here)

3 Contribution made to the National Institutes for Health (NIHR) Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC). This provides access for NI researcher to the NETS funding opportunities.



Strategic Advisory Group (SAG)

HSC R&D Division is supported in its role by a Strategic Advisory Group (SAG)

SAG supports HSC R&D Division by providing advice on:

  • Developing and implementing an R&D Strategy for the HSC with the aim of improving the health and social wellbeing of the population of Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and encouraging an evidence-based approach to health and social care across the HSC;
  • Ensuring that the Strategy maximises the use of HSC R&D resources to meet the needs of the wider HSC, and takes account of views from a wide range of persons and organisations with an interest in HSC R&D activity, including those expressed through the Northern Ireland Forum for Health and Social Care Research;
  • New developments affecting HSC R&D.

The Membership of SAG includes:

  • Director of HSC R&D & Chief Scientific Advisor
  • Assistant Director for HSC R&D
  • Chief professional advisors at DoH (NI) (inc. Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Dental Officer, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer and Chief Social Services Officer)
  • Director of Public Health, Public Health Agency (PHA)
  • Non-Executive Chair, PHA Board
  • Directors of R&D in each of the five HSC Trusts (Belfast HSCT, Western HSCT, Northern HSCT, Southern HSCT, South Eastern HSCT)
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Queen's University Belfast (QUB)
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation, Ulster University (UU)
  • Director of Innovation, Research & Technology, InvestNI
  • Assistant Director of Commissioning, Health and Social Care Board (HSCB)
  • Head of Research, Patient & Client Council (PCC)

There are also a number of Observers including:
Representatives from the Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health Research Board Ireland, Institute of Public Health Ireland, and Association of Medical Research Charities.