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Health of the public research given a boost as new coordinating body is launched

A new coordinating body has been established to identify priority areas of research to improve the health of the public and help make sure research is translated into public benefit.

The new UK Strategic Co-ordinating Body for Health of the Public Research (SCHOPR) will be a sub-board of the Office of Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research and chaired by Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci.

Establishing a new body to coordinate research to improve the health of the public was a key recommendation of the Academy of Medical Sciences report ‘Improving the Health of the Public by 2040’. The report looked into the challenges and opportunities for improving the future health of the public, and asked how we can better organise our research environment to provide the evidence needed to ensure a healthier and fairer future.

Members of SCHOPR include senior representatives from the National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci, both Chair of the working group that produced the Health of the Public 2040 report and the new body, said:

The Academy of Medical Sciences Health of the Public 2040 report gave us a roadmap of the changes needed to ensure that research tackles the most pressing health problems that we face now and in the future. I am delighted that a key recommendation has been realised today and I look forward to our first meeting in February 2018.

Persistent health inequality, increasing levels of obesity, an ageing population living with more years of ill health are just a few of the challenges we face. Our health is influenced by a wide range of factors beyond the traditional biomedical sphere. Research can help us improve our health, but must also address wider determinants of health to really make a difference.

The new strategic coordinating body gives us an opportunity to identify priority areas of research and deploy funding in a more co-ordinated way, to tackle the hurdles we face in improving the health of the public in coming years. We also hope to provide vision and leadership to help ensure research carried out now will give us answers to the challenges we will face in 20 years.”

Professor Christopher Whitty CB FMedSci, interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health added:

There is a widespread desire by practitioners, academics and funders to increase the quantity and ambition of public health research and to link it better to practical public health priorities. This group will allow funders to coordinate their response.”

The purpose of the sub board is to develop a transdisciplinary strategy for UK health of the public research, identify priority areas of research to meet the strategy, and forge agreement between partners on the strategy and their integrated plan to deliver the strategy. One of the sub-board’s activities will be to develop better mechanisms to help translate research into public health impact.

The recommendations in the ‘Improving the health of the public by 2040’ report have resulted in a wide range of activities. Further information about the implementation of the report’s recommendations can be found here.

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