• The University of Cambridge has been chosen to establish and run a new improvement research institute, the first of its kind in Europe
  • Led by Mary Dixon-Woods, RAND Professor of Health Services Research and Wellcome Trust Investigator at the University of Cambridge, the institute will work closely with a wide range of partners across the UK
  • The Health Foundation will support the institute by providing in the region of £40m over a period of 10 years

Research on improvement has huge potential to shed light on how sustainable and replicable improvements to the quality of patient care can be made in the NHS more quickly.

The Health Foundation is building on its investment in the field since 2010 to establish an improvement research institute that will develop evidence on a massive scale across the NHS about what works to improve patient care.

The University of Cambridge has been chosen as the institute’s home following a 9-month UK-wide selection process. The Health Foundation will fund the institute in the region of £40m over 10 years to support its set-up and development, with the aim that it will ultimately become self-sustaining.

What is improvement research?

Improvement research builds and utilises knowledge to improve the quality of health service delivery for the benefit of patients and populations. This academic field draws on a range of disciplines in combination with the insights of those delivering and receiving health services. It aims to understand, help develop, and evaluate improvements to health care practices and policies.

It has a strong translational component – with those who research, deliver and receive health care working together to create impact for patients, professionals and health economies.

What will the improvement research institute do?

The University of Cambridge and their partners have set out a compelling vision for this ground-breaking improvement research institute.

Led by Mary Dixon-Woods, RAND Professor of Health Services Research and Wellcome Trust Investigator at the University of Cambridge, the institute will work closely with RAND Europe and Homerton College, Cambridge, and a wide range of other partners in the health service, university and charity sectors across the UK.

Seeking to strengthen the evidence-base for how to improve patient care, the institute will produce practical, high quality learning and will build research skills in the NHS, academia and beyond. 

Together with their partners, the institute will work with the wider research and improvement communities, NHS staff, patients and carers, to identify, design and test improvements. Critically, their work will include understanding not only which interventions work, but in which contexts and why. 

The institute will also fund a world-class fellowship programme to build skills in improvement research across the UK, creating a new, highly skilled generation of researchers.

How can I stay informed?

The improvement research institute will formally launch within the next year.

At this early stage in the institute’s development the University of Cambridge is not yet able to respond to enquiries about the fellowship programme, and, as the institute will not be a grant-giving body, they will not be in a position to accept enquiries about funding for individual research projects.

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For more information about the process undertaken by the Health Foundation to select a host for the improvement research institute, please download the Frequently Asked Questions document