UK Prevention Research Partnership to invest £19 million across three projects

The UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) will invest over £19 million across five years in projects that focus on finding new ways to prevent common diseases.

The new funding will go to three major research projects that investigate the social, economic and environmental factors that can affect health.

UKPRP is a group of 12 funders including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as well as councils, charities, and other organisations. It supports multidisciplinary teams seeking to uncover ways to prevent ‘non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, poor mental health, obesity, cancer and diabetes’.

The three projects that have been awarded the funding are:

GroundsWell: health impacts of urban spaces – a consortium led by academics from Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Liverpool. The project will look at natural environments in urban spaces such as parks, woodlands, lakes and beaches in the cities of Belfast, Edinburgh and Liverpool. It will consider how these spaces could be ‘better designed, managed and used’ to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

Kailo: improving adolescent mental health – a collaboration between scientists, designers, practitioners and community activists that will be led by Professor Peter Fonagy from University College London. The group will use a ‘Kailo’ framework – a systemic, connected approach – to improve adolescent mental health, with activities taking place in London and Devon.

VISION: violence and its impact on health – the third consortium, ‘Violence, Health and Society: VISION’, is led by Professor Sylvia Walby from City University of London. Along with partners from academia and practice, the professor will aim to improve the measurement and analysis of data on violence, consider how it can cause harm to health, and identify the most impactful actions to reduce violence.

According to UKRI, non-communicable diseases ‘make up the majority of illnesses in the UK’ and ‘account for an estimated 89 per cent of all deaths’. So, UKPRP funders such as the British Heart Foundation, the Medical Research Council and the Health Foundation, as well as many others, have linked up to fund projects that address some of the factors behind these diseases. It’s hoped that tackling these challenges will help to reduce health inequalities and the burden of care for the NHS, as well support people to live healthily for longer.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England and Chair of the UKPRP Scientific Advisory Board, said: “UKPRP is an important and timely programme that we need to address health inequalities and prevent the onset of non-communicable disease.

“The projects funded under this programme are pushing the boundaries of prevention research by taking multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the complexities of population health, with the aim of improving people’s lives and health.

“As we look to build back fairer from the pandemic, the creation of healthy communities and places is a key priority.”

Find out more about the funding awards here.

In other UKRI news, the body has also opened the next round of applications for experimental medicines grants, specifically for projects that will look at the ’causes, progression and treatment of human disease’.

The ongoing scheme has an annual budget of £10 million and application rounds open every six months. Find out more about the grants, or apply, here.