The UK's first Centre of Excellence for Public Health Research will be launched at Queen's University Belfast today, with a focus on nutrition and lifestyle.
With a research portfolio that spans molecules to populations, the 5m centre is part of a 20 million investment programme under the umbrella of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC).
Its work is aimed to lead to significant improvements in the wellbeing and health of the UK population.
It will focus on an integrated approach to health and social services and will research the economic, social and biological factors which cause chronic diseases as well as looking at the main causes of inequalities in health experiences.
The Queen's-based Centre was awarded funding following a competitive process and is the first of five in the UK to be launched. Others will open in Cambridge, Cardiff, Newcastle and Nottingham.
Queen's University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "Queen's is happy to work with partners including the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the R&D Office and the Belfast Hospitals Trust.
"The launch of the Centre is an important new dimension in strengthening the extensive research base in medicine, health and life sciences at Queen's."
Professor Frank Kee of Queen's, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), said a theme of partnership would underpin everything that the Centre would do.
"The Centre will help Queen's and our partners to make a tangible difference to the wellbeing of the community. This will be central to our mission.
"It boosts our capacity to research the cause of health inequalities and increases our ability to ensure this research meets the needs of policy-makers, practitioners and the public we serve.
"I look forward to opportunities for improving public health, working with our Assembly, within and across our own institutions and with voluntary and community groups, so that together we can make a real impact."
The success of the Queen's-led bid was a result of partnerships with the Institute of Public Health in Ireland.
The organisation's Chief Executive, Dr Jane Wilde CBE, said: "The opening of the Centre of Excellence confirms Northern Ireland's place on the international public health map.
"From molecules to people the Centre's research programme offers the opportunity to further understand and improve the public health of Northern Ireland. By linking public health research to public policy this creative collaboration will enable others to learn from us."
Essential to the success of the bid was the support of an important group of key stakeholders, including the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, the Community Development and Health Network, the DHSSPSNI Research and Development Office, the Health Promotion Agency NI, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and the Discovery Centre W5, who will help disseminate the research to the public.
Barbary Cook, Chair of the Community Development and Health Network, said: "We are delighted to be involved with the Centre of Excellence and look forward to seeing communities fully connected to the research and practice development of the Centre."
A partnership of funders, under the umbrella of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) provided the 20 million investment needed to establish the five Centres of Excellence. The funding group is lead by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Funding partners are the Health and Social Care Research and Development Office for Northern Ireland, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Wales Office of Research and Development - Welsh Assembly Government and the Wellcome Trust.
|Contact: Andrea Clements|
Queen's University Belfast