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£2.5M investment will boost Public Health research

21 April 2008

Public health and healthcare evaluation are set to benefit from a major new research appointment resulting from a partnership between Cardiff University and investor, Mr Gerard Walsh.

A worldwide search has begun in order to find a leading academic for the Cochrane Chair in Public Health, a Professorial post which will have national and international healthcare and public health policy impact.

This initiative, to establish the first Cochrane Professorial position within a UK university, reflects the University’s strong links with Archie Cochrane, who worked in the forerunner to Cardiff’s School of Medicine and who carried out much of his groundbreaking research in the South Wales Valleys.

Securing funding for the Chair is a major highlight in the University’s 125th Anniversary year. The University library already holds the Cochrane Archive - a comprehensive record of the life, work and achievements of a man considered to be one of the pioneers of modern medicine, given the worldwide influence of his work. (See notes below)

This important leadership role will make a significant contribution to Cardiff University and the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans to build a world-leading multidisciplinary capacity for research in public health and healthcare evaluation.

The Chair results from a £2.5M research contract which funds the key post within a cross-disciplinary strategy for public health at Cardiff. The primary focus of the role will be to carry out and promote research that facilitates, informs and promotes the health and wellbeing of society in order to reduce disability and illness. It is anticipated that the person appointed will be internationally recognised in a field related to public health, and will work with staff in the University’s Schools of Medicine, Social Sciences and Dentistry to provide a rigorous, evidence-based approach to public health.

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "The Cochrane Chair in Public Health reflects Cardiff’s commitment and vision to be a world-leading, research-led university where cross-disciplinary themes facilitate agenda-setting research."

Mr Walsh said, "Continuing in the spirit of Archie Cochrane, Cardiff University has excelled at pushing the boundaries of research and learning. We are proud to partner with Cardiff University in driving forward the work that Archie Cochrane originally pioneered.

There is a need for social change and to address health inequalities in society. The Cochrane Chair at Cardiff University will make a very substantial impact on these important challenges which confront us today."


Notes to Editors:

About Professor Archie Cochrane and public health research.

The quality of Cochrane’s research was reflected in the decision by the Medical Research Council to invite him to establish and direct a new epidemiology unit based in Cardiff in 1960. In the same year, he was appointed to the David Davies Chair of Tuberculosis and Diseases of the Chest at the Welsh National School of Medicine (the forerunner of Cardiff University School of Medicine) a Chair he held until 1969, at which time he was appointed CBE.

Cochrane is probably most widely acclaimed for his advocacy of randomized controlled trials and was a leading figure in emphasising evidence-based medicine. Randomized trials were of great relevance for guiding decisions about the use of resources in health services. His book Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services, became an influential bestseller which was translated into several languages. It covered important issues, including:

  • the importance of using randomized trials to identify which health service interventions are likely to do more good than harm;
  • the relevance of assessing the costs of the options available when deciding what to make available within the British National Health Service;
  • the importance of equitable access to effective treatments and to sensitive care when cure was not possible.

In 1972, Cochrane became the first president of the new Faculty of Community Medicine (subsequently Faculty of Public Health). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of York the following year; was Dunham Lecturer in Harvard University, USA, in 1974; became an Honorary Fellow of the American Epidemiological Association in 1975; and, in 1977, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Rochester University, USA, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the International Epidemiological Association.

A few years after his death, the Cochrane Collaboration was set up. This comprises over 10,000 people in many countries and specialities, who prepare and maintain systematic reviews of randomized trials and reviews of other evidence, when appropriate, within this international, non-profit organization. Cochrane Reviews are published electronically in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the principal element of The Cochrane Library.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. The University has recently been awarded its third Queen’s Anniversary Prize for excellence in higher education, in recognition of its Institute of Medical Genetics. The University’s reputation for high quality teaching and research attracts students and staff from more than 100 countries who combine to create a stimulating, innovative and successful academic community. Today, the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research and 2008 marks the 125th anniversary of its foundation by Royal Charter in 1883.

For further details, visit the University website at:

Mr Gerard Walsh is the Founder of ARKAGA Trust, London. The ARKAGA Fund has made significant philanthropic contributions to charities and Higher Education Institutions including the present one to Cardiff University. This organisation owns Arkaga Health & Technology Ltd which is a holding company for Elision Ltd, a consultancy that provides systems integration and managed services and solutions to help customers in government, healthcare and the private sector in improving their existing processes. Formed in 2001, it developed an injury and compensation service designed to provide and deliver a streamlined IT based platform and system for early intervention and rehabilitation of people injured at work or affected by work-related illnesses. More recently Elision Health Ltd (a subsidiary of the holding company) has been successful in delivering leadership and clinical governance modules and educational interventions to a wide range of NHS Trusts in England and Scotland.

Mr Walsh spent the early years of his career working as a Management Executive with Drexel Burnham Lambert Corporate Finance, New York. From 1978-1990 he worked as a Business Development Manager for Norman Sedgewick and Partners, London. In 1991 he founded MPC Ltd (UK) which acquired a number of businesses focusing on electronic management information systems and their application to the healthcare arena. In 1996 MPC was successful in gaining a contract with the Department of Trade and Industry to deliver what is acknowledged as the world’s largest injury compensation scheme.

Further Information:

Emma Darling

Public Relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 20874499