Research Design Service: East Midlands
National Institute for Health Research

About Us

rds west midlands geographic area

Welcome to the Research Design Service West Midlands (RDS WM), part of the infrastructure of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

RDS WM is one of ten regional services across England.  It provides help to anyone working in the West Midlands region who has a 'good idea' and wants to turn it into a research proposal for submission to peer-reviewed funding programmes in applied health and social care.

Our advice is free of charge and although priority is given to those applying to NIHR and nationally competitive funding streams, where capacity allows we can provide advice to those planning to submit proposals to other recognised funding bodies such as research councils or charities. We can advise on all aspects of designing a research study or identifying suitable sources of funding for projects and you can contact us at any stage in the development of your proposal.  However, we are able to offer the greatest assistance when we are involved at an early stage.

The RDS WM has three 'hubs' based in the Universities of Birmingham, Keele and Warwick. Each Hub has a team of staff with expertise in statistics, quantitative and qualitative research techniques, clinical trials, evidence synthesis, health economics, epidemiology, public and patient involvement, and ethics and governance. There is also an Expert Panel which comprises of senior academics with substantial experience in specific methodological areas including surveys, Regulatory issues and Qualitative techniques (e.g. focus groups, interviews)

Each of our three hubs serves different zones in the West Midlands region; this enables you to get advice from experts based in your local area.

Professor Neil Thomas is the Director of RDS WM and is based at the University of Birmingham.  He is Professor in Epidemiology and Research Methods in the Institute of Applied Health Research. He is also the Co-Director, Master of Health Research Methods Programme.  Professor Thomas has an international portfolio of research in Europe and Asia investigating in the fields of cardiometabolic disease epidemiology, prevention and control.  Major ongoing studies include the 30,000 plus Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study, China, and one of the largest CVD endpoint studies assessing the effectiveness of a PolyPill in Iran.  He has published over 270 articles, including over 200 in indexed, peer-reviewed journals, with a Google H-index of 50.  These are predominantly in the area of cardiovascular disease epidemiology.  He is on the editorial advisory board of 7 international journals and a reviewer for a number of national and international funding agencies.

Lindsey Cooke is RDS Regional Manager and Engagement Lead and is based at the University of Birmingham. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the management of RDS WM, engaging with local NHS trusts and other relevant stakeholders and co-ordinating regional activities and programme of events.

Find out more about your Research Design Service Journey in our brochure 



The Regional Hub Administrator is Karen Biddle.