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Pfizer UK and the National Institute for Health Research expand partnership to support innovative research

Pfizer UK and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) are expanding their partnership to support vital research into chronic pain, atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo and plaque psoriasis.


Following the success of the first fellowship programme, Pfizer UK is co-funding further grants for the Doctoral and Advanced Fellowships to ensure research can continue into these key areas of unmet need.

The NIHR’s Fellowship Programme supports individuals on a trajectory to become future leaders in research. Through this novel partnership, the UK’s largest funder of health and care research and one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies can together drive innovation in key areas of health research and lead to breakthroughs that ultimately change patients’ lives.

Our work with the NIHR demonstrates just how important partnerships and collaboration are in advancing science. The first fellowship which ran earlier this year proved a great success, and at Pfizer UK we’re incredibly proud to continue to support this wonderful initiative. Pfizer has a long history of being part of world class science and contributes to over a hundred research collaborations and strategic alliances across the UK.”

Berkeley Phillips, Medical Director, Pfizer UK

At doctoral level, opportunities will be available to propose research in the area of chronic pain. Chronic pain affects up to a third of the population, it is defined as any pain that lasts for more than 3 months. The scale of long-term chronic pain in the UK has a significant impact on both the health and wealth of the nation. It has been referred to as a ‘silent epidemic’ by The British Pain Society,1 affecting patients’ quality of life, causing fatigue, loss of mobility,2 and comorbidities including mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.3

We are delighted that Pfizer UK is continuing to support and co-fund NIHR Doctoral and Advanced Fellowships, providing our researchers with even greater opportunities to tackle some of the most common health issues in the country. It is with partnerships such as this that researchers are able to continue pushing the boundaries of health and care research and enable patients and the public to quickly see the benefits of new interventions.”

Professor Dave Jones, Dean, NIHR Academy 

Academic collaborations such as these fellowships, advance scientific developments and nurture scientific talent with the ultimate aim of improving patient care. We’re so proud to be co-funding this award, which further demonstrates our commitment to our purpose of delivering breakthroughs that change patients’ lives, and I’m particularly pleased to be able to support the future scientific and clinical leaders in medical dermatology.”

Monica Nijher, Inflammation & Immunology Medical Lead, Pfizer UK

For advanced fellowships, opportunities will be available to propose research in a number of skin diseases, including atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo and plaque psoriasis.

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is the most common chronic inflammatory skin disease,4 affecting 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults in the UK.5 Beyond the intense itch and discomfort caused by AD, sleep loss, diminished self-esteem and poor performance at school and work are associated with the condition.6

Alopecia areata is a common cause of non-scarring hair loss.7 The exact causes are still unclear but the evidence suggests that alopecia areata results from an abnormality in the immune system that damages hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. It is an area of high unmet medical need and can be psychologically devastating.8

Vitiligo is a depigmenting skin disorder that is characterised by the selective loss of melanocytes, resulting in irregular pale patches of skin.9 The precise cause of vitiligo is complex and not fully understood. It is often dismissed as a cosmetic problem, however it can be associated with substantial psychological burden that is experienced by many patients.10

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, immune-mediated skin disease. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form, accounting for 90% of cases.11 It manifests as red, raised lesions covered with silvery-white scales, and can have a significant negative impact on patients' quality of life.12

The application process for all NIHR doctoral and advanced fellowships, including those co-funded by Pfizer, is now open. For more information regarding the fellowships visit or email [email protected].

*Pfizer has provided 50% of the funding for this project as an Independent Research Fund Grant. Pfizer has provided a grant only and has no other involvement in the fellowship.


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National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Pfizer UK embark on exciting partnership to support health and care reserach leaders of the future in three key areas.


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PP-PFE-GBR-3303 / Jan 2021