Midlands universities join prestigious public health research school

Date posted: September 20, 2021
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The Universities of Birmingham, Keele and Warwick will join the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)’s School for Public Health Research (SPHR), it has been announced.

Established in April 2012, the renewed SPHR is an extended partnership between nine leading centres of academic public health research excellence across England.

The school provides the evidence base for effective public health practice by bringing together England’s leading public health research expertise in one virtual organisation.

The school conducts applied public health research to increase the volume and quality of evidence on cost-effective interventions and supports local public health practitioners and policymakers to engage with research and seek out evidence to inform their decisions.

Alongside another new member, the University of Exeter, the consortium of Midlands universities will advance and extend the school’s current research themes of children, young people and families; public mental health; and places and communities supported by an additional £25 million of funding from NIHR.

Other members of the school include the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Bristol, Liverpool and Lancaster alongside the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College and the Centre for Translation Research in Public Health (Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities).

Peymané Adab, Professor of Chronic Disease Epidemiology & Public Health at the University of Birmingham who leads the consortium of Midlands universities, said:

As we continue to navigate through a global pandemic, now more than ever is a time to focus on carrying out research that promotes better population health.

We are delighted to have formed this consortium with our fellow experts in Warwick and Keele as we begin on our journey in playing a key role in NIHR SPHR.

George Peat, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Keele University, said:

We’re excited to be joining the NIHR School for Public Health Research as part of this new consortium led by Birmingham and with our colleagues in Warwick.

It is a fantastic opportunity to work with a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, and members of the public to produce research that helps us respond to major challenges to population health.

Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick will be contributing expertise in evidence synthesis, systematic reviews, nutrition, testing for conditions across populations, as well as health in children and young people.

University of Warwick lead Professor Sian Taylor-Phillips said:

Our partnership will be working collaboratively with universities across the country to address the biggest challenges to public health, and train the next generation of public health researchers.

The school will build on the successes of the work conducted in the previous quinquennium including exploring the nature and acceptability of local authority actions to restrict the proliferation of hot-food takeaways in England.

The research has helped planners and public health professionals to create healthier neighbourhoods through regulation by giving them the objective, evidence-based food environment data they need to identify priority areas for regulation.

A further success includes a project harnessing data on child poverty, infant mortality, child physical activity and obesity to improve child health.

The research has informed local authority spending and planning, contributed to debates and reviews, generated evidence to inform pandemic recovery planning, and secured further funding.

For the latest from our region, subscribe to Midlands Matters, the official newsletter of the Midlands Engine.
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