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SPHR 25 Million

School for Public Health Research awarded £25 Million from NIHR

Published on: 16 September 2021

Research into children, families, public mental health and places and communities has been boosted with £25 milllion for the NIHR School for Public Health Research.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded a third round of funding to the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) from April 2022. The £25 million will allow the school to extend and advance current research into children, young people and families; public mental health; and places and communities.

The school aims to build the evidence base for effective public health practice by bringing together England’s leading public health research expertise in one virtual organisation. The applied public health research carried out increases the volume and quality evidence on cost-effective interventions and supports local public health practitioners and policy makers to engage with research and seek out research evidence to inform their decisions.

It will continue to be led by Professor Ashley Adamson based at Newcastle University and Director of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health and NIHR Senior Investigator.

Spotting eating disorder symptoms in children as young as nine years old will allow medics to intervene early and save lives.

Working in partnership

The renewed NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) which was established April 2012 is now an extended partnership between nine leading centres of academic public health research excellence across England. Its growth continues as it is bringing in two new members in the University of Exeter and a consortium of the Universities of Birmingham, Keele and Warwick.

Professor Adamson said: “I am thrilled that SPHR has received further funding to continue its world-class public health research, influencing policy and practice in the UK. Working in partnership with those developing and delivering public health means we have the most relevant and important questions. I’m honoured to continue as Director of NIHR SPHR, working with excellent academic and practice colleagues and members of the public to drive forward our research agenda to meet the evidence needs to reduce inequalities in health and improve the health of the public.

“I am delighted that our capacity building funding creates further opportunity for SPHR to work with the NIHR Academy and others to build a future public health workforce equipped for the challenges ahead”.

With the Government’s increasing attention on prevention and public health research and how we recover from the pandemic, the contribution of the school is of strategic importance to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Professor Lucy Chappell, NIHR Chief Executive, said: “The NIHR’S investment in the School for Public Health Research has generated valuable local evidence that has informed Local Authority spending and planning to improve child health and create healthier neighbourhoods. With the new £25m, the NIHR SPHR will continue to address key challenges in public health while expanding geographic reach and ensuring research takes place where it is needed most.”

Previous work of the school has included 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 create healthier neighbourhoods through regulation by giving them the objective, evidence-based food environment data they need to identify priority areas for regulation.

Further successes include 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.

Members of the NIHR School for Public Health Research 2022-2027

  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Birmingham collaboration with the Universities of Warwick and Keele (PHRESH) – new member
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • University of Bristol
  • Liverpool and Lancaster Universities Collaboration for Public Health (LiLaC)
  • Imperial College
  • Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health (Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities)
  • University of Exeter – new member


To find out more about the NIHR School for Public Health Research see the website.


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