NIHR research themes at Sheffield

These research themes are multi-disciplinary in nature and cover a wide spread of potential clinical specialities. For these posts, the research conducted specifically supports a research theme.


NIHR allocates posts via a competitive bidding process. 50% are awarded for local priority areas of research and 50% are within NIHR-designated themes.


This work benefits from major recent internal and external investment in digital health in the region, including

Trainees from all specialities will have the opportunity to develop projects that

  • develop new sensor-based or other technologies to collect clinically-relevant data not currently available to clinicians
  • obtain novel forms of clinically-relevant data from current digital technologies including wearables and smartphone apps
  • apply machine-learning and other approaches to routinely collected healthcare data and/or data from digital technologies such as smartphones and wearables to generate novel clinical tools for prediction, diagnosis and/or treatment personalisation

Trainees have the opportunity to become involved in the following specific areas:

  • Cardiology - remote monitoring devices, computational modelling of blood flow, and digital strategies for managing pulmonary hypertension;
  • Diabetes and endocrinology - digitisation of multimodal PET/MR imaging of the brain, spinal cord, and kidneys, as well as the development of predictive models using point-of-care testing devices;
  • Radiology - translational clinical imaging to improve assessment of heart, lung, and brain disease, incorporating AI and quantitative imaging biomarkers;
  • Urology team is renowned for the use of digital technology to improve outcomes and recovery, and in early detection and prevention studies.
  • Neurosurgery - developing novel compounds and treatment combinations for high- grade gliomas using advanced digital technologies.
  • Data-driven digital research employing the Born and Bred in Doncaster (BABI-D) mother-child cohorts and the Tommy’s Centre for Maternity Improvement.

For further details on training posts under this research theme, contact Clinical Academic Training Administration 

Clinical therapeutics, pharmacology and industry

Trainees under this theme will be embedded in the newly re-awarded NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and aligned to the three health themes within it:

Translational Neuroscience: Sheffield is a world-leading centre for neurodegeneration and neuroinflammatory disorders in developing advanced therapies for patients with motor neurone disease (MND) and multiple sclerosis (MS) and offers an extensive portfolio of experimental medicine clinical trials for patients with chronic neurological disorders. Also developing evidence-based improvements for symptom management, and remote- monitoring tools to extend out-of-hospital research and delivery of personalised care. 

Cardiovascular Disease: A broad translational platform has been established focussing on key areas of our world-leading expertise and large patient cohorts: Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke (high burden of regional morbidity/mortality); and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) (largest UK regional service, serving 25% of UK PAH patients).

Infection and Immunity: This theme capitalises on the rich interdisciplinary environment within the Florey Institute for Host-Pathogen interactions and brings together laboratory scientists in pathogen biology/immunology, public health experts, infectious disease modellers, and clinicians (Infectious Diseases/Microbiology/Dermatology/Respiratory Medicine) to bridge the translational gap. 

For further details on training posts under this theme, contact Professor Oliver Bandmann or Clinical Academic Training Administration 

Multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs)

The South Yorkshire region has lower-than-average life expectancy and stark health inequalities. Minority and/or socioeconomically-deprived populations, individuals with chronic mental conditions, cognitive impairment, and learning disabilities have a higher risk of early onset MLTCs and worse outcomes.

The University's flagship Healthy Lifespan Institute (HELSI) develops and evaluates MLTC healthcare including physical, psychological, social, public health and systems-level interventions to promote person-centred rather than specialty silo-based care. There is research training synergy with the NIHR Sheffield BRC which supports new treatments for improved outcomes for patients with MLTCs.

Trainees will undertake interdisciplinary research projects in MLTC aligned with the NIHR MLTC research priorities within HELSI. Projects are pioneering new medical treatments, health and social care policies and guidance across the life span to help people age better and have healthier, more independent, lives for longer. It integrates basic sciences, bioinformatics, engineering, psychology, sociology, health services research, health economics, epidemiology, clinical trials expertise and clinical medicine.

Novel approaches include:

  • The Age-Gap Programme to improve outcomes for older women with breast cancer
  • Inclusive research at scale with populations at highest risk of MLTCs but under-represented in clinical trials
  • Deep End Research Alliance (DERA) leads an NIHR funded community researcher (CR) training programme with our community partner SACHMA to employ CR as co-researchers with the University of Sheffield on studies involving ethnic minority populations.

For further details on training posts under this theme, contact Professor Lynda Wyld or Dr Caroline Mitchell.


Sheffield is an international centre of excellence for pre-clinical, translational and clinical research in neurodegenerative diseases (motor neurone disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson's disease).

With expertise in cellular and in vivo disease modelling, neurobiology and ‘omics analysis, bioinformatics and identification of dysregulated biological processes to identify new pathways for therapeutic intervention. The re-awarded NIHR BRC has dementia as a key theme plus the centre includes a PET-MRI facility which enables in-depth characterisation with amyloid PET and new ligands of patients’ natural history of disease and the response to new therapies.

Dementia research is highly interdisciplinary with collaborators between Primary Care, Neuroscience (SITraN, BRC), Engineering & Human Communication Sciences. The preclinical science work is supported by experts in drug development in neurodegenerative diseases and mouse models of dementia. Sheffield has a strong preclinical science focus on vascular dementia with neurovascular coupling and therapeutic approaches to modulating this in vascular dementia in the pre-clinical trial phase. The Neuroradiology research stream utilises several novel MRI methods to show subtle changes of brain tissue that appear ‘normal’ in more conventional MRI.

Primary care research in Sheffield is integrated within the BRC and EDI strategy. The Deep End Research Alliance (DERA) leads inclusive research, at scale, with populations at highest risk of long term conditions including dementia but under-represented in clinical research. There are strong links to community ethnic minority groups (Israac Somali, South Asian) to allow exploration of barriers to accessing memory clinics. The PriD3 tool allows geospatial mapping of population segments across the city to facilitate their engagement in research.

Trainees will have the opportunity to become involved in the following specific areas: Automated cognitive assessment using computer-generated conversational agents, health systems barriers to accessing memory clinics, inducible neural stem cell technology and therapeutic targets in the glycolysis pathway. 

For further details on training posts under this theme, contact Dr Dan Blackburn or Professor Chris Burton

Mental health

Sheffield has a track record of designing projects to improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities among people with both physical and mental health problems. These include interventions for people with medically unexplained symptoms and evaluation of strengths- based social prescribing interventions in serious mental illness. We are also involved in work to ensure that new technologies and data analytic methods can be harnessed to provide more accessible and equitable forms of help, including through participation in the recently funded South Yorkshire EPSRC Digital Health Hub.

Posts will be based at SCHARR, known for its world-leading centre of health services and public health research. SCHARR works closely with the current Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care and has strong cross-discipline collaborations with the School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery, Psychology and HELSI.

Sheffield is part of the ETUDE innovative training network in functional disorders. Nationally, theme leads are closely involved in numerous NIHR and Research Council awards and cross-institutional partnerships, including NIHR Yorkshire and Humber ARC, NIHR School for Public Health Research (including Public Mental Health research projects), the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (involving both ScHARR and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust) and the South Yorkshire EPSRC Digital Health hub.

Trainees have the opportunity to become involved in the following specific areas:

  • Increasing understanding of challenging problems such as self-harm/suicide, complex mental health difficulties.
  • Use of urgent and emergency care services by people with mental disorders and persistent (‘medically unexplained’) physical symptoms.
  • Evaluating processes such as Community Treatment Orders, the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework and interventions to improve physical health in severe mental illness.
  • Analysing and modelling diverse forms of data including patient feedback and large routine data.

For further details on training posts under this theme, contact Professor Scott Weich

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.