Queens tower at sunset

Today the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) is led by Professor Edwin Chilvers and is based at sites on the Royal Brompton, Harefield, Hammersmith, St Mary’s and South Kensington campuses. The NHLI maintains close links to the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, which was awarded two Biomedical Research Units (Cardiovascular and Respiratory) by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, home to the largest NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in the UK. Together these comprise the Academic Health Sciences System (AHSS).

According to the Rand analysis (2004 to 2013) Imperial is the top university in the UK in three specialities: respiratory, cardiovascular and gastroenterological, in that order. If we look specifically at the highly cited papers, Imperial College is ranked first in three areas, which importantly for NHLI include respiratory disease (13.6% of the total) and cardiovascular disease (8.8%) and these figures significantly increase when the Royal Brompton and Imperial College Health Trusts,  where a significant number of NHLI associates are based, are included.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is used to measure the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and is carried out every five years, with the last taking place in 2014. NHLI scored highly in REF 2014 to maintain its reputation as one of the top research institutions.

Accordion widget - REF

Results of REF 2014

In the latest Research Excellence Framework, conducted in 2014, NHLI staff mainly fell under the grouping Clinical Medicine (or 'Unit of Assessment (UoA) 1') for study.  According to the Times Higher Educational Supplement (see ‘REF 2014: Results by subject’ analysis on the THES website), Clinical Medicine at Imperial College was ranked:

  • 2nd of all UK institutions by ‘research power’ (a combined measure of volume and quality within a UoA submission)
  • 3rd when looking at the percentage of 4* quality research activity
  • 4th by Grade Point Average (GPA).

Within NHLI there was an extremely high return rate (98%) for academic staff and a significant number of early career researchers were also included. As part of the REF process, the Institute also demonstrated its strong capabilities in delivering impact from its research:  as part of the College’s REF 2014 submission 11 impact case studies were generated from work undertaken by NHLI. Clinical Medicine at Imperial was ranked 3rd in the UK for impact of its research when ranked both by percentage of 4* quality activity in Impact or by Impact GPA (source: THES).

Star levelDefinition
Cat A Category A staff: Academic staff in post on 31 October 2013 who were selected for submission into the REF
FTE Full Time Equivalent
4* Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour
3* Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence 
2* Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour
1* Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour
Unclassified Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of assessment
Summary of the table's contents

For more information on Imperial College London’s performance in the Research Excellence Framework please see the College’s information pages on REF 2014


NHLI is structured into a two Divisions, one Cardiovascular and one Respiratory, which encompass our breadth of research and education. Each Division is further divided into four Sections with cross-group and cross-campus working.

Diagram of NHLI's research structure - coming soon

Diagram of NHLI's divisional structure

nhli structure diagram