Welsh Government
Senior researchers in Wales contribute to landmark initiative

Senior researchers in Wales contribute to landmark initiative

9 May 2019

Researchers in Wales will collaborate on a range of innovative projects as part of the first ever UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) research investment into understanding and influencing the social economic and environmental factors that affect our health.

The UKPRP, made up of a range of research councils, charities and government funders including Health and Care Research Wales, has earmarked £25 million for eight projects which will tackle the bigger picture factors behind the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Non-communicable diseases are illnesses that can’t be passed from person to person, such as heart disease, obesity, poor mental health, cancer and diabetes. They make up the vast majority of illnesses in the UK, accounting for an estimated 89 per cent of all deaths.

Through collaboration across the UK, the UKPRP awards aim to develop, test and refine new, practical and cost-effective approaches to preventing non-communicable diseases, which will in turn help to reduce health inequalities.

Two different grant types were awarded: the Consortia awards, which fund big interdisciplinary research programmes for five years; and the Networks awards, which aim to develop new communities of researchers through four years of funding.

The awards cover a wide variety of issues, including; investigating the commercial determinants of health (i.e. the approaches used by commercial producers of tobacco, alcohol and food to promote products); school food systems; improving the life chances of children in deprived areas in the UK; embedding health considerations in urban planning and decision-making processes; and developing new economic methods for judging the effectiveness and costs and benefits in policy areas such as economic growth and housing.

Five of the eight projects will involve researchers from across Welsh universities and health organisations.

Consortia funded Welsh researchers

  • Dr Graham Moore, Cardiff University and Dr Julie Bishop, Public Health Wales NHS Trust will be working in collaboration with Professor Linda Bauld, University of Edinburgh as part of the SPECTRUM (Shaping public health policies to reduce inequalities and harm) Consortium.
  • Professor Annie Pye, Cardiff University will contribute to TRU3D: Tackling Root Causes Upstream of Unhealthy Urban Development, led by Professor Matthew Hickman, University of Bristol.
  • Professor Mark Bellis, Public Health Wales will contribute to the SIPHER consortium - Systems science In Public Health Economic Research, led by Professor Pera Meier from the University of Sheffield.

Networks funded Welsh researchers

  • Professor Sinead Brophy, Swansea University is a collaborator within MatCH-Net, the Maternal and Child Health Network, led by Ruth Dundas, University of Glasgow.
  • Professor Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, and Professor Sinead Brophy are part of the GENIUS network: Generating Excellent Nutrition In UK Schools, led by Professor Jayne Woodside, Queen’s University of Belfast.

Professor Dame Sally Macintyre, Chair of the UKPRP Scientific Advisory Board and Expert Review Group Panel said:

 “These newly funded, well designed projects will help to lift the lid on the social, economic and environmental factors affecting our health.

“By investing in these interdisciplinary teams and drawing on a wide range of knowledge and expertise, UKPRP is supporting work that will have real life benefits for both policy makers and the wider public alike.

“Non-communicable diseases place a huge burden on us all and we hope that this investment will help to provide practical and tangible solutions that will positively impact people’s lives and health.”

Michael Bowdery, Joint Interim Director of Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“We are delighted to be part of such an innovative initiative, and one that has such clear potential to prevent disease and contribute to health and well being.

“The scale and breadth of the grant awards show what can be achieved when research funders work together for the greater good.

“It is gratifying too to see researchers from Wales playing their part, and we look forward to seeing how the research programmes and network activities unfold.”

A second UKPRP funding call for proposals for consortia and networks will be launched in autumn 2019. For more information about the UKPRP, and for full information on the funded Consortia and Networks, visit the UKPRP website.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) administers the initiative on behalf of the UKPRP funding partners. The UKPRP partners are:

  • UKRI Research Councils:  Medical Research Council (MRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Charities: British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, The Health Foundation
  • Government: Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office, Health and Care Research Wales, National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), Public Health Agency (NI)