MRC-NIHR better methods, better research programme chair vacancy

Closing date
30 September 2022 16:00 UK time
Number of positions
Length of term
Two years, plus additional two years after review
Time commitment
Two panel meetings per year, each typically last two full days
Annual honoraria
Interview date
Brief interview possible
Outcomes communicated
Shortly after December 2022

The Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) are seeking to appoint a new chair for the better methods, better research programme (BMBR) to commence their appointment on 1 April 2023.

BMBR remit combines:

  • improving methodological capability (novel research methods being used by others)
  • improving methodological capacity (research to improve research decisions being taken by others).

The chair will need to value and include diverse research expertise, backgrounds, experience-levels and contributions to work together in assessment of each application and development of wider strategy.

Who we’re looking for

Person specification

Candidates should have experience of leading a major research activity, or equivalent, and be proven strategic thinkers. They should have a track record of undertaking and championing methodology research.

Applicants should:

  • demonstrate that they have the time and skills to contribute across a range of MRC strategic and governance issues
  • participate in active professional networks beyond existing methodology research communities.

Suitable candidates should demonstrate:

  • a broad understanding of biomedical, health and, or, clinical research and an extensive track record of research contributions
  • a keen interest in methodology research and a thorough understanding of the relevant research landscape, funding mechanisms and pathways to clinical impact and commercialisation
  • proven ability to exercise judgment across a broad spectrum of policy and research issues
  • experience of conducting peer review with a major funder, for example:
    • UK Research and Innovation
    • NIHR
    • Wellcome Trust
    • Cancer Research UK
    • or equivalent
  • excellent communication skills and experience of chairing in a complex area
  • ability to work effectively within the public sector’s requirements for accountability and openness, and within financial constraints
  • commitment to the mission and broad objectives of MRC and NIHR.

MRC and NIHR value the diverse skills, experience and leadership of the members of its boards and panels and is committed to achieving equality of treatment for all. Please contact to discuss any questions or suggestions you may have.

Applicants must have both permission and support from their host institution before applying.

What you’ll be doing

Key aspects of the role

You will:

  • chair all BMBR panel meetings (currently two per year), ensuring all funding decisions are objective, fair and robust, and that all members’ views are taken into account
  • ensure both effective delivery of MRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategy across the panel remit, and that funding decisions reflect strategic priorities
  • contribute to the ongoing development of MRC’s methodology strategy and providing advice relevant to methodology research into broader MRC, NIHR and UKRI strategy as required
  • oversee key aspects of post award monitoring (noting BMBR awards do not include formal post-award milestones or gateways as standard).


The BMBR panel meets twice each year, with two-day meetings taking place in May and November. Typically, around 30 to 35 full proposals are considered at the triage stage with 20 to 25 going forward to full discussion at each meeting.

Please note: the broad remit of the programme and technical components within the applications can result in these applications taking longer to review than other types of research grant.

Chairs will also be involved in strategic decision making for both BMBR and the wider MRC and NIHR remit. It is essential that individuals commit the necessary time and attention to the role and have the full support of their employer and organisation in doing so.

Conflicts of interest

The panel chair should avoid situations in which their other duties and interests conflict with panel business or where a conflict is perceived. This is due to the high standards of integrity expected by the public and parliament, and the panel chair role.

Panel chairs must not:

  • misuse information gained in the course of their work for MRC and NIHR for personal gain or for political purpose
  • use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests, or those of connected organisations, persons, or firms.

Although previous experience with MRC or another major funder is required, a panel chair cannot be a member of another review panel for a major funder simultaneously. For example, Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK.


Panel chairs will receive an annual honoraria. Travel and subsistence expenses (including family care costs) will be reimbursed.

How to apply

Interested candidates should:

  • complete and submit the online web form by 30 September 2022 16:00 UK time
  • attach a CV and provide a brief justification outlining how they meet the criteria listed in the person specification, along with their motivation for applying.

Candidates may be invited to attend a brief interview.

Please see a PDF version of the application form to view the questions you will need to complete to submit your application.

Reasonable adjustments

We want to make our recruitment processes as well as participation in our boards and panels accessible to all. This includes making adjustments for individuals who identify as neurodiverse or as having a disability and, or, long-term condition.

If you have any queries regarding the application process or if you would like this application in a different format (for example, accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording etc.), please contact

Should your application be successful, we will work to fulfil your requirements to enable you to fully participate in panel meetings. Please let us know in advance if you would like to discuss in confidence how we can support you. You can provide information in the diversity monitoring section of your application form or by contacting

How we’ll assess your application

Candidates will be shortlisted using the following general criteria:

  • scientific ‘fit’ for the vacancy
  • scientific track record
  • experience of peer review
  • place: we aim for representation from research organisations across the UK and may limit the number of members from one organisation. We also consider applicants from other countries, if their full participation is practical (able to travel to attend meetings in the UK or participate virtually during UK business hours)
  • gender and ethnicity balance.

In addition to the information provided in the application form and submitted CV, we may also use publicly available information, in line with the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), to assist with membership decisions.

Decisions on membership will be made by the end of December 2022. Applicants will be notified of the recruitment decisions shortly thereafter.

Further information

Induction for successful candidate

As part of the preparation for their tenure, all new board and panel members are expected to attend an induction meeting on 9 February 2023.

The induction meeting will be an opportunity for you to meet:

  • the MRC Executive Chair
  • other senior MRC staff
  • your board or panel chair and support teams.

The induction meeting enables us to provide guidance on:

  • your role
  • an overview of MRC, its strategic ambitions, functions and methods of operation where these relate to the work of the research boards and panels.

In addition to the induction meeting, the successful candidate will be expected to attend the upcoming panel meetings as the new chair on the following dates:

  • BMBR panel: 10 to 11 May 2023
  • BMBR panel: 22 to 23 November 2023.

Funding opportunities and recent awards

See full details about the scheme:

See recent BMBR awards.

Please note, further information can be found by entering award reference numbers on Gateway to Research.

Last updated: 2 September 2022

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