£25m to research ‘bigger picture’ behind disease

Three Scotland-based research initiatives among recipients of first funding round of the UK prevention research partnership

Tuesday 14th May 2019

Leading researchers, local and national policy makers, charities, non-government organisations and the public are to be brought together in new projects trying to tackle diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

The UK prevention research partnership (UKPRP) is investing £25m into understanding and influencing the social, economic and environmental factors affecting our health

Funding is being awarded to eight projects tackling the ‘bigger picture factors’ behind the prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, poor mental health and obesity.

Three projects led or based in Scotland, at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, are set to benefit.

Non-communicable diseases are those that cannot be passed from person to person and make up the majority of illnesses suffered in the UK.

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.”

Four of the first tranche of awards are going to large interdisciplinary research programmes lasting for five years that are looking to tackle a specific challenge to preventing people becoming ill, delivering population-level change.

Four network awards are also being distributed. These are granted for up to four years of funding to develop new communities of researchers from diverse disciplines to tackle non-communicable disease prevention.

£5.9m has been awarded to the SPECTRUM project, led by the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Linda Bauld and focusing on investigating the approaches used by commercial producers of tobacco, alcohol and food to promote their products, influence policy and people's choices.

Ruth Dundas heads up a project at the University of Glasgow – known as MatCH-Net – focusing on maternal and child health. £408,000 has been awarded for the next four years to harness cross-country administrative data to evaluate national policy impacts on maternal, infant and child health and health inequalities across all four UK nations.

A further £402,000 is being invested over four years in the population health agent-based simulation network (PHASE), based at the University of Glasgow and led by Professor Laurence Moore.

Twelve funders established the multimillion-pound UKPRP in 2017, including charities, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) councils and UK health and social care departments.