Friday 6 July 2018

NIHR investment in Newcastle researchers

Researchers from Newcastle University will play a vital role in three of the newly formed National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Units (NIHR PRU), designed to undertake research to inform decision-making by government and arms-length bodies.

The NIHR have invested approximately £65 million over five years for 15 units, created to provide both a long-term resource for policy research, and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs.

Newcastle University will:

  • Lead the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science
  • Co-lead the NIHR PRU in Older People and Frailty
  • Play a significant role in the NIHR PRU in Public Health

Leading on research in behavioural change

The NIHR PRU in in Behavioural Science will be led from Newcastle University, under the directorship of Falko Sniehotta, Professor of Behaviour Medicine and Behaviour Psychology.

Professor Sniehotta’s experience is in the area of behavioural change, specifically the development and evaluation of complex interventions. As Director of the Behavioural Change Programme at Fuse: the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health he has significant experience in working with policy makers, practitioners and members of the public developing behavioural science solutions to improve health and wellbeing.

The PRU in Behavioural Science will use its expertise to explore influencing factors on demand for services, and how to successfully implement health and social care initiatives to improve the level of quality care in England.

Professor Falko Sniehotta will bring in expertise from joint partners at Newcastle University, UCL, University of Cambridge, University of Warwick and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Sniehotta, commented: “The Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science will work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to identify evidence needs and to provide high quality and timely behavioural science evidence to inform the formulation of effective health and social care policy in England.

“Population behaviour is influenced by a range of economic, environmental, commercial, cultural, social, psychological and biological determinants. Our PRU brings experts from behavioural, social and evaluation science disciplines together to research how behavioural science can inform health and social care policies.”

Policy related ageing research

The NIHR PRU in Older People and Frailty will develop high-quality evidence to inform policy on the promotion of healthy ageing and provision of efficient, appropriate care for old age and frailty.

Professor Barbara Hanratty will take on the role of Deputy Director, alongside the Unit Director, Professor Chris Todd from the University of Manchester and co-investigators from Newcastle University and London School of Economics (LSE).

The Newcastle team’s broad ranging expertise in ageing research, particularly in epidemiology and primary will be key to the success of the unit.

Professor Hanratty commented: “With the significant investment in ageing research in Newcastle, we’re delighted to be involved in something that seeks to bridge the gap between the academic expertise and the decision-making in government. We look forward to working alongside colleagues at the University of Manchester and LSE”.

This PRU comes in addition to several other NIHR-related investments in ageing research for Newcastle. The NIHR currently support the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, led by Professor Avan Sayer, which carries out translation research in ageing and long-term conditions, as well as the Global Health Research Research Group on Dementia Prevention and Enhanced Care, led by Professor Louise Robinson, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing.

Public Health expertise in Newcastle

Professor Ashley Adamson, Professor of Public Health Nutrition at Newcastle University and an NIHR Senior Investigator will play a vital role in the NIHR PRU in Public Health.

Led by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the NIHR PRU in Public Health will identify and evaluate effective public health interventions, and generate evidence to inform government strategies to reduce health inequalities.

Professor Adamson’s research focuses on public health nutrition including food behaviour, diet, obesity and physical activity across the life course. Professor Adamson will take on this role alongside her positions as Director of the NIHR School for Public Health Research and Fuse: The Centre for Translational Research.

Professor Adamson said: “I am delighted to be a member of the NIHR PRU in Public Health. It provides a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with excellent colleagues from across the field of public health and inform policy at the highest level.”

Investment in national health research in Newcastle University

These latest awards add to an already outstanding investment by the National Institute for Health Research, in activity led by both Newcastle University and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Over 10 centres, units and programmes are funded across the university and Trust; bringing together academia with NHS patient care and public health in order to improve the health and wealth of nation through research.