A £35 million investment to improve the health of the whole population – UKRI
A £35 million investment to improve the health of the whole population – UKRI

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The initial themes operationalized through investment in four research clusters are as follows:

Population mental health

One in six adults in England has a mental disorder, and mental stress and ill health are associated with significant disability, sickness absence, unemployment and suicide attempts. This research topic will create new opportunities for population-based improvements in mental health across the country, focusing on children and young people, suicide and self-harm prevention and a range of long-term conditions.

The topic includes researchers from:

  • King’s College London
  • University College London
  • Middlesex University
  • Swansea University
  • University of Ulster
  • The University of Manchester
  • Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS and West Midlands Applied Research Collaboration

It will also work closely with public health stakeholders, local authorities and voluntary organisations, and people with lived experience of adversity that affects mental health.

It will include partnerships with Thrive LDN and other organizations. This will enable the identification and evaluation of population-level interventions that hold the greatest promise for improving mental health and benefit through the development of practice-based evidence and coherent knowledge exchange.


Dr. Jayati Das-Munshi, King’s College London


Dan Barrett, Thrive LDN

Deputy Director

Professor Matthew Hottopf, King’s College London

Healthy urban places

There are key aspects of where and how you live that affect people’s health. Even within a city, life expectancy can vary dramatically.

This research topic will explore how population health is affected by characteristics of the urban environment such as:

  • passability
  • air quality
  • housing
  • public transport
  • access to schools
  • parks
  • social and community assets
  • healthy food
  • health care

It aims to influence decisions that can make cities healthier and happier places to live.

The theme is a partnership between:

  • The Bradford Institute for Health Research, based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University College London
  • the university of liverpool
  • University of York
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Bradford
  • Imperial College London
  • Bradford Council’s Health Determinants Research Collaboration
  • Barcelona Institute for Global Health

It will involve local communities and decision-makers working with partners in Bradford and Liverpool, and will draw on existing major research initiatives, including the Born in Bradford and Children Growing up in Liverpool cohorts.


Professor Rosie MacEachan, Bradford Institute for Health Research

Deputy directors

Professor Laura Vaughan, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

Professor John Wright, Bradford Institute for Health Research

Trade Determinants of Health and Equity

One influence on health that remains poorly understood at the local level is the commercial sector, despite growing evidence of its large impact on health and equity. While local businesses create jobs and contribute to the economy and health in positive ways, some commercial actors have a disproportionate impact on population health. Approximately 40% of chronic disease deaths worldwide are directly linked to just four products produced by transnational manufacturing corporations:

  • tobacco
  • ultra-processed foods
  • alcohol
  • fossil fuels

In parallel, representatives of these sectors often oppose interventions that local authorities could implement.

This topic brings together researchers from:

  • University of Bath
  • Cambridge University
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • The University of Sheffield
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


  • local authorities
  • local populations
  • public health practitioners, including the Association of Directors of Public Health and civil society groups

Together, they aim to understand the building blocks, including trade-offs, that affect the health of communities.

Taking a systems approach, it will use this knowledge to identify, implement and evaluate the population-level interventions most likely to improve health, well-being and equity at scale. It will also work specifically to research and address barriers to the implementation of interventions.


Professor Anna Gilmore, University of Bath

Deputy directors

Dr Eleonora Fitchera, University of Bath

Dr Nason Maani, University of Edinburgh

Improving policy modeling

How politicians deal with, or fail to deal with, the UK’s pressing economic challenges will either worsen or improve health inequalities. Economic challenges include:

  • economic policies in response to the climate emergency
  • population aging
  • technological revolution

This topic will develop computer models to show how tax, welfare, pension and inheritance policies can affect health inequality outcomes to help policymakers understand their impact on people in their area. Through civic, political and advocacy engagement, she will incorporate wide-ranging insights into these models to ensure that they:

  • answers to the most pressing questions
  • inform real-world decisions
  • are appropriate and inclusive for different groups in society

The theme is a collaboration between:

  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Leeds
  • The University of Sheffield
  • University of Essex
  • University of Birmingham
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Glasgow City Region
  • Public Health Scotland
  • other local and national government departments and agencies, charities and civic groups


Professor Petra Meyer, University of Glasgow

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For further information about PHI-UK please contact: [email protected]

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