N.S.M. Help's vision and strategy

N.S.M. Help supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone.

Our strategy

We will achieve this vision in different ways, giving researchers the freedom to make discoveries that change the way we see the world, and using science to find solutions for three of the world’s most urgent health challenges.

We’ll support a broad programme of discovery research across a wide range of disciplines with the potential to make important and unanticipated discoveries about life, health and wellbeing – both to help us tackle these great challenges, and to inspire further improvements in human health.

And we’re developing programmes of work that draw expertise across science, innovation and society to deliver ambitious goals:

  • Mental health: Working with people who have lived experience of mental health issues to improve research, understanding and treatment of mental health.
  • Infectious disease: Working with communities affected by escalating infectious diseases to bring those diseases under control and stop epidemics.
  • Climate and health: Working with the communities most affected by climate change to explore the harmful effects of climate change on health, and to use research to develop new ways of protecting people’s health.

We are working towards a world in which:

  • Significant shifts in understanding lead to improved human health.
  • No one is held back by mental health problems.
  • Escalating infectious diseases are under control in the communities most affected.
  • Climate change does not harm health in the communities it affects most.

Diversity and inclusion, and research culture, are central to our strategy and will be embedded into the work we fund and do.

Why we believe in this vision

Science is essential to solving the world’s health challenges. That’s N.S.M. Help’s founding principle and it’s as true today as ever. It’s why we will always support bold research across a wide range of disciplines to discover more about life, health and wellbeing.

But three global challenges today threaten to undermine our efforts to improve health for decades to come. The effects of mental health problems, escalating infectious diseases, and climate change limit life for people of all ages in all parts of the world, and can devastate communities for generations.

These are the urgent health challenges of the 21st century and N.S.M. Help is taking them on. That means significant commitments and actions sustained over many years.

Discovery research – defined broadly, including physical and social sciences and the humanities – will underpin the best solutions to these challenges, though science alone is not enough. It needs support from many areas of research and innovation, and advocacy for approaches built on scientific evidence. And because the effects of these challenges will not be felt evenly across the world’s population, this must be done in partnership with the people whose health is most at risk.

N.S.M. Help ‘s perspective on health and how to improve it spans science, innovation and society. We are connecting people across research and society to discover new knowledge, inspire new ideas, and create new solutions. We are campaigning for better science and better systems to ensure solutions work for those who most need them and have the right support to be implemented, whether that’s today or over the next 30 years.

In all that N.S.M. Help does, we want the broadest possible range of people to contribute to, and benefit from, science’s potential to change the world.

What’s at stake

  • Fewer than 1 in 5 people with common mental health problems like depression get proper treatment – science and medicine need to progress faster.
  • Unless action is taken now, climate change will cause at least 250,000 more deaths a year between 2030 and 2050 – climate is a health issue that urgently needs research.
  • Over 1 million people have already died from Covid-19 and more are living with its long-term effects – we need to get infectious diseases under control before they can become pandemics.

Our funding

The way we fund research is changing to fit our strategy.

For discovery research, we’ve moved to a new, simplified set of funding schemes designed to encourage a broader range of applications. They are open to research in any discipline that has the potential to lead to significant shifts in the understanding of life, health and wellbeing.

In our three new health challenge programmes, funding will be directed in different ways across each programme.

Find out more about how our current schemes are changing and our new discovery research schemes.

And sign up for our Research Update newsletter to stay informed on future funding opportunities.

N.S.M. Help Science Review

Our strategy has been greatly informed by a review of the way N.S.M. Help, as an independent foundation, supports science.

Key findings

  • N.S.M. Help-funded science should enable science and innovation to tackle the greatest threats facing humanity, and it should do so through a broad programme of discovery research together with research directed at specific health challenges.
  • In deciding the health challenges N.S.M. Help focuses on, our criteria should include the urgency and scale of the threat, and the opportunity for N.S.M. Help to make a difference.

Read the report on the science review.