Public Health Research

In 2006, the major funders of public health research in the UK came together under the auspices of the UKCRC to develop a coordinated approach to improving the UK public health research environment. The findings of the UKCRC Public Health Research Strategic Planning Group (SPG) are documented in a report, Strengthening Public Health Research in the UK.

The outcome of the SPG was a commitment of over £20m by a consortium of eight funding partners to create five UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence in 2008.

In January 2013 an international scientific panel chaired by Professor Mike Kelly, Director of Public health at NICE, assessed the progress and impact made by the individual UKCRC Centres and recommended all for further funding. The funders endorsed the recommendations of the panel and all five Centres will be supported for a second five year term at a cost of £16m.

In addition the panel carried out a Review of the UKCRC Public Health Research Centres initiative as a whole. The panel reported that the initiative had been very successful in achieving its initial goals and was at the international forefront of integrating public health research, policy and practice in particular providing:

  • a succesful model of combining both knowledge exchange and capacity building
  • innovative ways of gaining buy-in and engagement with policy makers with clear evidence of impact at local and national levels
  • effective collaboration in building a UK-wide infrastructure for public health research
  • excellent capacity building attracting academics from different disciplines.

With its dual aims of capacity building and engaging with policy and practice across the UK, the initiative continues to occupy a unique niche in the UK public health research landscape. Over the initial five years the Centres have built a platform for public health research across the UK, with links to the allied Medical Research Council and Scottish Government fundeed Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy.

The funding Partners contributing to this joint initiative are:

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • National Institute of Health Research
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Medical Research Council
  • Health and Social Care Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland
  • National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (Welsh Assembly Government)
  • Wellcome Trust

The Medical Research Council is managing the second five year phase of the initiative on behalf of the funding consortium. The five UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence are: