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£3 million for research to prevent ill health

6 May 2008

The National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI), a partnership of 12 research funders, has awarded almost £3 million in a second wave of funding for projects that aim to identify ways of preventing people becoming ill.

The NPRI was established in 2004 in response to the limited availability of funds for preventative research and the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and obesity in people living in the UK.

The initiative provides a dedicated funding stream for high-quality research aimed at preventing chronic diseases including certain cancers, coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The principal focus in each study is on four health behaviours: physical activity, diet, tobacco use and alcohol misuse.

Examples of the 14 projects funded in phase 2 include:

  • The new TV diet: evaluating the effect of the UK 2007 OfCom restrictions on television food advertising to children, Dr Jean Adams, Newcastle University.
  • A comprehensive evaluation of the impact of English tobacco control policy on smoking cessation activities, Professor Sarah Lewis, University of Nottingham.
  • The effectiveness of fat taxes and thin subsidies in improving diets, Professor Bruce Traill, University of Reading.
  • Availability of and access to physical activity opportunities and links with health behaviours and obesity among adults, Dr Anne Ellaway, MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow.
  • Free school breakfast initiative data augmentation and analysis, Professor Laurence Moore, Cardiff University.

Dr Marlie Ferenczi, who manages the NPRI, said:

‘‘These 14 awards build on the 26 made in phase 1 of the NPRI. Funding for prevention research is crucial to learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to determining health behaviours. By working together, the partners have created a source of funds that will allow researchers to try to achieve this.’’

NPRI will showcase project work at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in October and the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine conference in January 2009.

The initiative is supported by a national partnership made up of government departments, research councils and major medical charities (large and small) that are working together to encourage and support research into chronic disease prevention. The specific membership of the initiative is not fixed over time and new members are welcome.

The following organisations provided funds for NPRI phase 2: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorates; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Food Standards Agency; Medical Research Council; Health & Social Care Research & Development Office for Northern Ireland; The Stroke Association; Wales Office of Research and Development, Welsh Assembly Government; and World Cancer Research Fund.

NPRI phase 3 will be launched in summer 2008 with a budget of at least £10 million.

For more information about the background to the National Prevention and Research Initiative, funding awards made in phase 1 and details of the call for proposals for phase 2 please visit


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