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Durham University News

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Durham to play key part in new national School for Public Health Research

(19 April 2012)

With responsibility for public health set to switch from the NHS to local authorities, a ground-breaking research collaboration of the five North East universities has been selected as part of a new School for Public Health Research, tackling the big health challenges that lie ahead.

With responsibility for public health set to switch from the NHS to local authorities, a ground-breaking research collaboration of the five North East universities has been selected as part of a new School for Public Health Research, tackling the big health challenges that lie ahead.

Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health which includes Durham University, has been accepted by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as one of only eight member organisations to form a new body in England - the School for Public Health Research (SfPHR).

The Government-backed School aims to build closer bonds between researchers and public health policy makers and practitioners at a local level, increase the evidence of what does and doesn’t work in practice, and share this knowledge so that it can influence policy.

Fuse will also look at health needs and innovative practices in the North East which could have national benefit.  The Centre has already submitted a proposal to work with local authorities in prioritising their spending to improve health and tackle inequalities.

Each member organisation will receive funding in the region of £450,000 per year (£2.25m over five years) to undertake priority research for public health in England.

Professor David Hunter, Director of the Centre for Public Policy and Health, School of Medicine and Health at Durham University and Deputy Director of Fuse, said: “There could be no better time with the return of public health to local authorities to tackle the deep-seated public health challenges we face in new and innovative ways and for doing better in future.
 
“Being part of the new SfPHR will allow us to bring the best research evidence to bear on addressing the complex public health problems that confront us in the North East.  Fuse’s commitment to working with policy and practice partners means that we will be drawing them into this agenda from the outset to ensure that we work together for better health in the area.”

Heralded by the Public Health White Paper, the NIHR opened a call to form the NIHR School in February 2011.  After facing tough competition from other top academic institutions, Fuse was selected on the basis of the strength of its application which demonstrated a proven track record and quality in applied research, the wealth of expertise within the Centre, and the relevance of its work especially in the areas of smoking, alcohol and obesity.

The other distinguished centres chosen by the NIHR are from Bristol, Cambridge, Liverpool and Lancaster, and Sheffield universities, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, and University College London.

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