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Introducing new public health research principles and goals to guide funding decisions

Published: 14 October 2019

Public health advances because of good research - a point highlighted in the government’s recent Green Paper on prevention.

In Autumn 2018, to help increase the impact of the UK’s offer on health of the public research, the UK Chief Medical Officers asked the Strategic Coordination of Heath of the Public Research committee (SCHOPR) to develop a set of public health research principles and goals to guide funding decisions. Many groups in the community fed into these. This included government departments from all the nations of the UK, local government, research councils, research charities, academic experts and other interested groups to reflect a wide range of views. We want to share them with the research and public health community. In particular we are keen they get to researchers who would not normally think of themselves as public health specialists.

The public health research principles and goals have now been published on the Academy of Medical Sciences website on behalf of all UK funders.

SCHOPR is a group of the leaders from the major UK health research funders - including NIHR and UKRI via MRC, ESRC and EPSRC, Welcome Trust. It was formed in response to one of the recommendations in the Academy of Medical Sciences report, ‘Health of the Public 2040’, to identify research needs and coordinate research activities. Under the independent chairmanship of Professor Dame Anne Johnson, the group is able to coordinate research priorities, drawing on the expertise of the wide public health and academic community.

The purpose of the principles and goals is to increase the impact of the UK’s offer on health of the public research, so we are better able to tackle the public health challenges we face, now and in the future.

There is a great deal of excellent public health research in the UK. We need research to be even more ambitious, draw on a wider range of disciplines and better connect with public health practice - particularly in local authorities as they hold many of the levers in public health. The principles and goals SCHOPR have produced will signal how the research community needs to respond. The NIHR needs to play its part in that transformation. We hope you all find the document useful.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer (CMO); and Chair of NIHR Strategy Board

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