UK universities can now apply for a share of a five-year, £60-million government fund to underpin research that might ultimately drive benefits to people's health in low- and middle-income nations.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which has control over the fund, is "particularly keen" for proposals focusing on areas that are currently under-researched, such as non-communicable disease, road safety and mental health.

Up to £7 million funding will be awarded for a four-year period starting from April next year to universities and research institutes with an existing track-record of research in the area seeking to consolidate and expand this work.

Specialist academic groups who wish to expand into the field of global health, especially in those areas considered to have a shortage of funds or research, can also apply for awards of up to £2 million over three years under the initiative.

"We want to support other nations across the world with our gold standard science and research," said Minister for Public Health and Innovation Nicola Blackwood, adding that the funds "will allow our universities to continue to make great strides in research excellence".

This call for applications complements UK-funded work already supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) in developing countries, by the Medical Research Council (MRC), and schemes NIHR co-funds such as the Joint Global Health Trials Scheme.

Meanwhile, the NIHR separately revealed that the Department of Health will invest a further £112 million into its facilities across the country.

The funding has been awarded to 23 NHS organisations and will, over the next five years, pay for specialist research nurses and technical staff, as well as providing cutting-edge facilities to support clinical research and trials.