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New NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) Programme Director appointed

 

Professor Brian Ferguson has been appointed as the new NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) Programme Director.

Professor Ferguson, Chief Economist at Public Health England, officially begins the role on 1 July 2020. He succeeds Professor Martin White who will be stepping down after heading the programme since 2014.

The PHR Programme funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. Its research serves a variety of key stakeholders; including decision makers in local government, primary care organisations, other local public services and third sector organisations.

Professor Ferguson had initially planned to take early retirement from Public Health England at the end of May, but due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, he has delayed this for the foreseeable future. He will continue his role there full-time until the end of June 2020 and move to a part-time basis from 1 July 2020 when he takes up his new two-day a week NIHR role – employed as a Professor within the Department of Health Sciences, University of York.

Dr Louise Wood, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said: “I am really pleased that Brian has accepted this position and am looking forward to him starting his role. I’m confident that under his leadership the PHR Programme will continue its important work in generating evidence aimed at improving the health of the public and reducing health inequalities.”

Professor Ferguson joined Public Health England in April 2013 as Director of Knowledge and Intelligence, before becoming Chief Economist in 2015. He was a member of the PHR Programme’s Advisory Board between 2009 and 2014 and has held a number of high profile health and public health roles. These include: Director of the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health and Quality Observatories, Co-Director of the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service and Chair of the UK and Ireland Association of Public Health Observatories (PHOs).

Professor Ferguson, said: “I am very much looking forward to the challenge of this new role, working with the public health research community and policy makers to ensure that resources in this area are used to tackle the most pressing population health issues.

“Building capacity and future leaders in public health research is also a key priority if we are collectively to ensure that our research is world-leading.”

Public Health England Chief Executive, Duncan Selbie congratulated Professor Ferguson on his new role and said: “We know that a healthier population is essential for a fairer society and a stronger economy. Prevention is the wisest investment national and local government can make in our nation’s future and the professional work of Brian and his team has provided the evidence to show clearly and visibly the benefits that investment in the public’s health can generate.

“We will continue to work closely with Brian in his new role at NIHR to ensure that public health research informs the actions that impact the most on closing the health gap between the affluent and the poor.”

Professor Ferguson is a member of the International Editorial Board for the journal Public Health and was the Deputy Director of the Centre for Health Economics, University of York and founding Professor of Health Economics at the University of Leeds.

More information on the PHR Programme is available on the NIHR website.