Science policy and research


The science policy and research programme (SP&R) actively work with researchers, funders, charities and policy organisations to conduct high quality, impactful research.

The aim of the programme is to continually improve the way NICE works and to help our work adapt to changes in policy developments or in health and social care delivery.

We do this by:

The nine priority areas for the team are:

Highlights of 2016/17:

Improving healthcare in Europe

Last year, we secured funding of approximately one million euros to partner with the Innovative medicines initiative in Europe. The funding was awarded to create a suite of research projects within the ‘Big data for Better Outcomes’ programme.

The projects aim to improve healthcare throughout Europe, and the focus is on using real world evidence. Real world evidence involves looking at real life situations and using that information to inform analyses in health care.

Our projects include the following:

  • ROADMAP, a two year project focussing on creating real world evidence platforms for collection and analysis of evidence to better understand Alzheimer’s disease.
  • HARMONY, a five year project focussing on using big data to better characterise blood diseases so that patients with blood disorders can be provided with better diagnosis, treatment and care.
  • DO-IT, a two year overarching project to co-ordinate work across the full suite of big data for better outcomes projects including the disease specific projects listed above.

Patients know best

We are working in partnership with the patient organisation Myeloma UK on quantitative research methods finding the best way of capturing patients’ preferences about treatment.

We will explore how to use this information in technology appraisals and when creating NICE guidance – this is a first for a project of its kind.

Dr. Rosie Lovett from NICE SP&R who is working on this project, said:

“This is an innovative way of working for NICE, not only due to the nature of the research, but also down to the important partnership between NICE and a patient charity. We are exploring different ways to capture patient’s views and use that information to inform NICE decisions.”

One broad measure for calculating quality of life or well being

NICE and the Medical Research Council have been working together to develop an overarching measure of quality of life or well-being.

When developing our guidance at NICE, we look at a quality of life scale to assess if a treatment or drug is cost-effective for use within the NHS. There are several quality of life measures that are considered.

NICE is now a formal partner working with Sheffield University on a project which aims to create a single quality of life measure applicable across health, social care and public health.

Nick Crabb, Programme Director of Scientific Affairs at NICE said:

“NICE relies on an accurate assessment of quality of life when making decisions about interventions across health and social care. Research is needed  to develop new tools to assess quality of life that are equally relevant across these sectors and capture the key things – not just health – that are important to people.

“We look forward to working with our partners on this important project. Depending on the research results, NICE will consider whether and how to include any new quality of life measure in its work.” 

Finding answers in the real world

In March 2017, NICE completed a 3 year project by the Innovative medicines Initiative, called Get Real.

This project aimed to explore how real world evidence could be used earlier in pharmaceutical development. And how it could play a part in researching the effectiveness of new treatments compared to existing ones.

To build an understanding of how real world evidence can be used in both the pharmaceutical industry and by healthcare decision makers, NICE created a free, online platform called the RWE Navigator.

The tool aims to enhance public understanding of the role that real world evidence could play in the development and assessment of new drugs by providing:

  • An understanding of the potential pros and cons.
  • A practical guide on how real world evidence can be collected or analysed.
  • A list of credible resources with information on real world evidence.

Feedback on the RWE Navigator has shown it is considered to be a useful tool in gathering information and resources on using real world evidence in medicine development.

Now you've finished this page we think you might be interested in reading about 'Evidence services' or 'Scientific advice'.