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New Centre to target health and well being of children and young people

11 May 2009

Children and young people in the UK are set to benefit from a new centre of excellence focused on tackling health issues of most concern to them.

Launched today (Wednesday 13 May 2009), the new Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) will bring together leading experts from a range of disciplines to strengthen public health research in Wales and the South West of England, and identify effective ways to improve the health of the public.

The major health problems that face us today are the poor health and life expectancy of deprived populations and preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The major causes of these problems include social, environmental and behavioural issues such as physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, poor housing and economic inactivity.

Exposure to these causes over the life course are largely determined at a young age, where youth culture, family breakdown, antisocial behaviour, disengagement from school and the adoption of behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking and sedentary lifestyles can hugely affect long term health. DECIPHer will focus on the determinants of health and health behaviour among children and young people and identify effective policies and interventions to improve health and well being and reduce uptake of risk behaviours.

The Centre will be lead by Professor Laurence Moore, Director of the Cardiff Institute for Society, Health and Ethics (CISHE) at Cardiff University, with colleagues at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Rona Campbell, and Centre for Health Information, Research and evALuation (CHIRAL) at Swansea University, led by Professor Ronan Lyons.

It is one of five new Public Health Research Centres of Excellence in the UK which have been established by eight funding partners under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), but the only one to focus on the health and well being of children and young people.

Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales said: "There is no doubt that health in Wales is improving, yet we are still behind the rest of the UK and Europe.

"This new Centre will be vital in building even more capacity in the quantity and quality of world-leading public health improvement research, and by focusing on children and young people we will quickly be able to support the establishment of policies and interventions to improve the health of future generations.

"It will be exciting to see academia, organisations and individuals from diverse backgrounds working together to improve and protect the health of the people of Wales."

The new cross-institutional Centre will receive up to £5M over five years towards new academic posts as well as research facilities and other infrastructure needed to support high quality research.

Professor Moore said: "Health inequalities and poor health generally are major problems in the UK which place increasing demands on the NHS. Yet much of this can be prevented if we can identify effective ways to improve health and well being and reduce health inequalities.

"The key to DECIPHer’s success will be to work in partnership with policy makers, practitioners and the public at all stages to ensure that the research carried out is relevant to their needs and has an impact on the health of the public . As well as making a mark on the UK Public Health Research landscape, the aim will be to make a lasting impact on the health of children and young people across Wales, the South West of England and internationally."

A total of £20M was invested to establish the five Centres of Excellence across the UK by a partnership of funders. The funders who supported the initiative came together under the umbrella of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) to develop this co-ordinated approach to strengthen public health research in the UK.

Professor Ronan Lyons, Centre for Health Information, Research and evALuation (CHIRAL) at Swansea University said "DECIPHer provides an unrivalled research platform to help understand how social and physical environments affect people's behaviour and subsequent health, and how best to design and test interventions to improve and protect the health of the population".

The official launch of Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), will take place on Wednesday 13th May at the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Notes to Editors

  1. The eight funding partners contributing to the UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence are: the Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Wales Office of Research and Development in Health and Social Care, National Institute for Health Research, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Health and Social Care Research & Development Office for Northern Ireland.
  2. Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Ethics (CISHE) is based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences in close collaboration with Cardiff Law School and the School of Medicine. The establishment of the Institute in 2003 was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. CISHE aims to lead and facilitate research of international excellence, placing emphasis on tackling health inequalities and ensuring that our research has an impact on policy and practice in Wales and beyond.
  3. 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. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Visit the University website at:
  4. The University of Bristol was founded in 1876 as University College, Bristol. It was the first higher education institution in England to admit women on an equal basis to men. The University is internationally distinguished and one of the very best universities in the UK dedicated to learning, discovery and enterprise. It is a world leader in research, a member of the Russell Group of universities and of the Worldwide Universities Network.
    In the recent 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) over 61 per cent of the University's research work assessed in 48 research fields was awarded either the top 4* rating, defined as 'world leading', or the 3* rating, classed as 'internationally excellent'.
    The University has around 12,500 undergraduate and 3,500 postgraduate students. The University organises its academic affairs in some 45 departments and 15 research centres which are arranged in six faculties.
  5. Centre for Health Information, Research and evaluation (CHIRAL), Swansea University, is home to the health services research at the School of Medicine's Institute of Life Science in Swansea University. An integrated multidisciplinary health services research centre of international standing, it conducts Public Health, Population Sciences and Health Services Research linked by methodological innovation in high powered computing and both quantitative and qualitative methodology. For further information about research at CHIRAL, visit:
  6. Swansea University is a research-led institution with a world-class reputation for excellence. In the Research Assessment Exercise 2008, Swansea demonstrated the largest increase in internationally excellent research in the whole of the UK, including an extraordinarily strong performance against other UK universities in the disciplines of Engineering, Medicine and Computer Science. In 2007/08, the University received £25.3 million in research funding and in February this year announced a £21.6 million Centre for Nanohealth after securing more than £10 million from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government. Swansea attracts world-leading staff and excels in multidisciplinary research across its ten academic Schools. The University’s cross-cutting research has recently yielded significant breakthroughs, and researchers are in the process of pioneering applications including an artificial lung, a breath test for diabetes, and the development of photovoltaic coatings with the potential to generate as much energy as 50 wind farms. The University’s Civil Engineering Department is consistently ranked either first or second in the UK in national league tables and is currently central to the BLOODHOUND Supersonic car project, which aims to take the World Land Speed Record to 1000 mph. For further information about research at Swansea University, visit:
  7. The UKCRC is a partnership of organisations working together to establish the UK as a world leader in clinical research. Established in 2004, the Collaboration brings together the major stakeholders that influence the clinical research environment in the UK including the main funding bodies, academia, the NHS, regulators, industry and patients. The partnership has five main areas of activity:
    • Building up the infrastructure for research in the NHS
    • Developing incentives for research in the NHS
    • Building up the research workforce
    • Streamlining the regulatory and governance processes
    • Coordinating research funding
  8. The British Heart Foundation is leading the battle against heart and circulatory disease - the UK's biggest killer. The Charity is a major funder and authority in cardiovascular research. It plays an important role in funding education, both of the public and of health professionals, and in providing life-saving cardiac equipment and support for rehabilitation and care. For more information on the BHF, visit
  9. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer. Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer. Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients. Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make. Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer. For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit
  10. The Department of Health's budget for health research for 2006-07 is £753 million. £50 million is allocated for capital funding and the rest is allocated to research through a portfolio of national research programmes. The funding supports clinical research in the NHS, research commissioned for policy development, and the NHS costs incurred in supporting research funded by other bodies such as the Research Councils and charities. Some funding is provided to increase capacity to undertake research and to underpin the UK Clinical Research Collaboration and priority disease research networks.
  11. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at
  12. The Medical Research Council is dedicated to improving human health through excellent science. It invests on behalf of the UK taxpayer. Its work ranges from molecular level science to public health research, carried out in universities, hospitals and a network of its own units and institutes. The MRC liaises with the Health Departments, the National Health Service and industry to take account of the public’s needs. The results have led to some of the most significant discoveries in medical science and benefited the health and wealth of millions of people in the UK and around the world.
  13. The R&D Office was created to support and encourage R&D in health and social care throughout the Health & Personal Social Services (HPSS) and throughout the wider HPSS R&D community as a means of securing lasting improvements in the health and wellbeing of the population of Northern Ireland. The Office’s remit is clinical in focus and extends to the complete spectrum of health and social care relevant to the needs of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the HPSS. As well as providing direct funding for HPSS R&D the Office has a key role in promoting, co-ordinating and facilitating the conduct of HPSS R&D by HPSS organisations and by non-HPSS organisations including the academic, voluntary and industrial sectors.
  14. The Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care (WORD) is a branch of the Strategy Unit in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department of Health and Social Services. The strategic aim of WORD is to support the generation of high quality evidence to underpin policy and practice in health and social care in Wales, for the benefit of patients and the public. To meet this aim, WORD develops, in consultation with partners, policy on research and development to reflect the health and social care priorities of the Welsh Assembly Government. WORD also commissions and directly funds research and development activity and contract manages projects and initiatives to ensure that the highest standards are met. WORD works closely with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer in Wales to ensure a co-ordinated and strategic approach to public health research.
  15. The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK and the second largest medical research charity in the world. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £500 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.
For more information about DECIPHer:

Professor Laurence Moore
Director of the Cardiff Institute for Society, Health and Ethics (CISHE)
Cardiff University

T: 029 208 75387

For more media information about Cardiff University contact:

Lowri Jones
Public Relations
Cardiff University

T: 02920 870 995

For more information about the ESRC contact:

Danielle Moore
ESRC Press and PR Manager

T: 01793 413122
E: .