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 UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence in 2008.

Since 2008, partners in the UKCRC have invested £37 million in a network of six Public Health Centres of Excellence to increase infrastructure, build academic capacity in public health research in the UK and provide a platform to engage with policy and practice.

The final report shows how 10-years of collaborative work by these centres – based in Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cambridge and Cardiff – has exceeded expectations of what was though possible back in 2008.

The UKCRC Centres have expanded the pool of early-career researchers and nutured their talent while creating new opportunities to work across academia, policy and practice. Researchers have gone on to expand their networks and advance their careers, securing fellowships and lectureships, winnning awards and promotion. The UKCRC centres have been a strong magnet for leveraging significant additional funding to increase the volume and quality of public health health research.

The centres have helped change the way we think about how to align research with the needs of policymakers and practitioners to improve health at a local level.

At the national level, the impact has been wide-reaching, with evidence from centre research programmes influencing the government sugar tax, encouraging healthy transport policies, providing guidance on physical activity, promoting health in schols and playing a leading role in government policy on tobacco smoking and vaping.

Centre collaborations and acdemic-policy partnerships have changed the public health landscape, paving the way for ambitious new prevention intitiatives, like the UK Preventation Research Partnership.

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 six UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence are: