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School for Public Health Research

The School for Public Health Environments Research, Exeter (SPHERE) is home to public health researchers, epidemiologists, statisticians, social scientists, medical humanities researchers, and sports psychologists and physiologists from across the University of Exeter.

Our shared goal is to produce practical new ideas to promote sustainable individual and community health and wellbeing. We work hand-in-hand with our local authority and third sector partners to translate findings into effective policy.

Individuals and communities are at the heart of what we do. By working closely with public partners we ensure our research projects and programmes of work address issues that are relevant and important to the communities we serve.

Our Research

Our public health research spans a broad range of topics including; the impact of the natural environment on health, social prescribing, making sure children have a fair start in life, making communities healthier places to live and helping to ensure schools and families are safe environments. 

We have particular expertise in:

Who We Are

SPHERE is one of nine academic centres in England funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR), a recognition of our expertise and excellence in public health research.

Exeter is one of only two centres in England to host two prestigious NIHR Schools; Public Health (SPHERE) and Primary Care (APeX).

SPHERE is led by a small, cross disciplinary team; 

  • Prof. G.J. Melendez-Torres - Director, SPHERE. Professor of Clinical and Social Epidemiology. Exeter lead for the Children, Young People and Families programme. SPHR lead for Public Involvement and Engagement and Capacity Development.
  • Prof. Rich Smith, Professor of Health Economics and DVC (Strategy Integration and Resources).
  • Prof. Judy Green, Professor of Sociology. Exeter lead for the SPHR Health Inequalities programme.
  • Prof. Lora Fleming, Chair of Oceans, Epidemiology and Health. Exeter lead for the Health Places, Healthy Planet programme.
  • Prof. Obi Ukoumunne, Professor in Medical Statistics. Exeter lead for the Public Mental Health programme.
  • Dr Kath Maguire, Assistant Director, Inclusion and Engagement. Exeter lead for public engagement.
  • Emma McFadyen, Research Manager.

Getting Involved

Public involvement

Are you a member of the public who would like to get involved in helping us design our research? Perhaps you are involved with a charity or community organisation with an interest in one or more of our research areas?

Contact: Kath Maguire, Assistant Director for Involvement and Engagement.

Early and mid career researchers

Are you an early or mid career researcher already working in public health research or with an interest in moving into public health research? Our membership of NIHR’s School of Public Health Research (SPHR) provides a number of development and training opportunities.

Contact Dr. Rachel Proctor, Lecturer in Public Health, Dr. Rachel Proctor;

General queries

Want to find out more about SPHERE or any aspect of Exeter’s work with NIHR SPHR?

Contact: Emma McFadyen, Research Manager: