NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

What is RESPIRE?

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, RESPIRE is a Global Health Research Unit focusing on respiratory health in Asia.

The NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) at The University of Edinburgh is an NIHR Global Health Research Unit funded as part of the NIHR Global Health Research Programme in 2016/17.  It is one of 13 Units funded across the UK, and one of two at the University of Edinburgh.


RESPIRE aims to reduce the impact and number of deaths caused by respiratory diseases in Asia in partnership with collaborators from 4 Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Pakistan.

We will establish a world-leading Unit to:
  1. Map and collate continuing and emerging respiratory challenges;
  2. Prioritise existing evidence-based interventions that have the potential to be adapted to reduce mortality/morbidity in the partner countries;
  3. Support local adaption/tailoring of interventions for deployment in low-resource environments and catalyse developmental work in areas of unmet need;
  4. Support local implementation efforts and evaluation of programmes of work;
  5. Identify the best delivery mechanisms for long-term delivery/scaling-up.

What will the RESPIRE team do to achieve these aims?

Our first job will be to support experts in our partner countries to agree and prioritise which respiratory questions to focus our collective efforts on. We will then look for up-to-date scientific evidence to find ways to reduce deaths and illness caused by these respiratory conditions.

We will then work with organisations in these countries so that they can make any necessary changes to these solutions so that they are tailored to work well in each country. For example, it may be possible to support doctors and other health professionals or community workers to deliver care through mobile phones (sometimes known as mHealth). We will work with our partners to introduce these tailored solutions and study the impact these have.

For problems where there is no relevant up-to-date scientific evidence to draw on, our Unit will search for new ways to reduce deaths and illness caused by respiratory conditions, and test these solutions using “trials”. These are experiments where people are split into two (or sometimes more) groups by chance. One group is given the new experimental treatment and the other group is not. This is often the best way to find out whether a new treatment works or not. In particular, we will see if deaths or illness are reduced and we will find out if the new solutions represent good value. For the solutions that work and represent good value for money, we will work with partner organisations to make sure that they can be provided in the longer term, and for them to be spread to other areas within the partner countries and other countries in Asia and beyond.

There will be two programmes of research. The first programme will look at infections, which start suddenly such as pneumonia and bronchitis. The second programme will look at long-term conditions which develop and worsen over time. This latter group includes diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), lung cancer, and the long-term complications of the HIV virus and tuberculosis (TB).

In addition to the two programmes of research studies outlined above, we will also develop infrastructure or ‘supporting platforms’ that will increase the ability of our partners to plan, undertake and implement the findings of research in their countries.

The three supporting platforms will focus on

  • how to work with partners (‘Stakeholder Engagement and Governance’)
  • increasing the number of health professionals and researchers who are trained to undertake high quality research (‘Training and Capacity Development’) and
  • maximising the uses that research data can be put to in safe and secure ways (‘Methodology and Data Science’).

These supporting platforms will make sure that RESPIRE can work to a very high standard and also ensure that our partner countries can continue to do this work once the Unit’s funding finishes.

RESPIRE launch in the news

News item on the launch of RESPIRE on the Usher Institute website

News item on the launch of RESPIRE on the icddr,b website

STV news on the launch of RESPIRE