£19 million funding boost for social research into major public health threats
posted on: Sep 23, 2009
The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Government Health Directorates have awarded £19 million to the MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU), based at the University of Glasgow. The Unit has been supported by funding from the two organisations for a decade and will now continue as an internationally recognised centre of excellence for studies into social and environmental influences on health. The MRC will contribute £15.5 million and the CSO a further £3.5 million over five years.
Research undertaken at the Unit plays an important role in providing information to policy makers in Scotland, the UK, and internationally. Studies have enabled policy makers to understand how social inequalities in health arise and can be combated and how the public perceive and respond to public health issues such as vaccination, human genetics and obesity. Researchers based in the Unit collaborate extensively with other researchers working in the UK and internationally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Current research projects at the Unit focus on major health problems that exist in developed (and also developing) countries, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, obesity and diabetes, sexual health and mental illness.
Professor Sally Macintyre, Unit Director, said: ‘‘It is really important that social and public health policies, which often affect many people and cost a lot of money, are based on the best possible evidence. Renewed funding will help us provide that evidence.''
Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: ‘‘Over the past 10 years, the Unit has very successfully integrated the formerly separate MRC and CSO activities into a single, integrated programme that continues to be an outstanding and unique centre of excellence in social and public health sciences. Through multidisciplinary working, the Unit has made significant impact on our understanding on the social influences on health and the translation of these findings into UK policy
Sir John Savill, Chief Scientist at the Scottish Government Health Directorates, said: ‘‘We are delighted to be working in partnership with the MRC to support a Scottish research Unit with such a distinguished scientific record, and so much to contribute to public health policy.''
Scotland's Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: "It's well-known that there are links between our health and wellbeing and our social circumstances and this is something we're already working very hard to tackle through Equally Well, our programme to tackle health inequalities in Scotland. The more we know about how one affects the other, the more we can do to change it."
"Some Scottish communities have relatively low life expectancy but in others people can expect to live much longer. Work from the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit is helping to explain these differences, how they are related to education, income, employment, and early childhood, and what we can do to reduce them."
Sir Muir Russell, Principal of the University of Glasgow, said: "The City and University of Glasgow have a long history of research into social and environmental determinants of health, such as housing and neighbourhood conditions. We are proud of the work that the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit is doing to build on this history, and delighted it has won such substantial renewed funding. This provides a tremendous opportunity to further enhance our work in partnership across the City to improve health and reduce health inequalities".
For further information please contact Kerry Teakle, Interim Regional Communications Manager (Scotland) at the Medical Research Council on 0131 332 2471, xtn 2102 or email email@example.com.