School for Public Health Research (2012 to 2017)

The first National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research was launched in April 2012 as a collaboration between eight leading academic centres with excellence in applied public health research in England.

The aim of the NIHR School for Public Health Research was to build closer relations between researchers and public health practitioners, with an emphasis on what works practically, can be applied across the country and better meets the needs of policy makers, practitioners and the public.

The School would help the public health system to develop in the future by:

  • narrowing the gap between those who supply public health and those who benefit from it
  • increasing the evidence base for effective public health practice
  • carrying out ‘applied translational research’ (where there is a direct link between research and its use in practice – so called ‘bench to bedside’)
  • taking into account public health needs and assessing activities that happen regionally which could have benefit nationally

The NIHR School for Public Health Research was a commitment within the White Paper “Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England”.

Selected members

The eight members selected by NIHR to initiate the School were:

  • The University of Sheffield
  • University College London
  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Cambridge
  • The LiLaC collaboration between the University of Liverpool and the University of Lancaster
  • Fuse, The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health: a collaboration between Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside universities
  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • University of Exeter Medical School

The University of Exeter Medical School’s lead for the NIHR School for Public Health Research was Professor David Melzer, supported by Professor Charles Abraham as deputy UEMS lead.

The UEMS contributed via its core areas of research, which included the design and evaluation of behaviour change interventions, innovative approaches to promoting healthy lifestyles, understanding the relationship between environment and health, and reducing morbidity and disability in later life.

The NIHR provided total funding of £20m over a five-year period with up to £450,000 being awarded to each member of the School per annum.