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Old Joe clock, library and green heart

The University of Birmingham are the lead academic partner for a new £5m Health Determinants Research Collaboration (HDRC) programme awarded to Sandwell Council, funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR). The NIHR fund 13 existing HDRCs across the country and have announced funding for a further 11 of these collaborations. A team of senior researchers, led by Professor Miranda Pallan, will guide and support Sandwell Council in developing the capacity and culture to conduct research into the wider factors that influence health and wellbeing, such as education, employment, housing, and the local environment.

This is a key opportunity to support a visionary Local Authority to serve their local community by developing and using research to understand and address the factors that lead to poorer health. Ultimately this will help Sandwell and other local authorities to make decisions that will improve health and reduce the inequalities that currently exist.

Professor Miranda Pallan, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham.

In addition, £2.5 million has been awarded over five years to undertake evaluation of public health programmes initiated by local authorities across the UK. The University of Birmingham is one of two centres to be awarded the NIHR Public Health Interventions Research Studies Teams (PHIRST) funding this autumn, in order to grow this existing programme of work.

Organisations previously funded by PHIRST grants have evaluated a range of public health initiatives, from addressing gambling harms, considering active travel schemes, exploring different weight management programmes and moving the delivery of drug and alcohol services online. Over the next five years Professor Peymane Adab, from the Institute of Applied Health Research will lead on robustly evaluating ten projects from local authorities across the UK.

These grants support the move towards funding research in local authorities rather than individual level behaviour change and focus on evaluation of policies and government initiatives. Thorough evaluation is vital to support local authorities and to pave the way for successful programmes to be scaled up around the country.

Professor Peymane Adab, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham.

These two programmes of work join our existing capacity, building on our Public Health RESearch for Health Consortium (PHRESH), led by Birmingham, and including public health researchers from the Universities of Birmingham, Warwick and Keele. PHRESH joined the NIHR School for Public Health Research in 2022 through national competition, and with an NIHR investment of >£30m, works with 8 other institutions across England to address important public health challenges to improve the health and wellbeing of all people in this diverse region and beyond.