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Public health research impacting on policy


The Public Health: Research into Policy project, supported by the Cambridge Institute of Public Health and the PublicHealth@Cambridge Network is focused on developing ways to strengthen links between public health researchers at the University and policymakers. The project includes case studies to show how Cambridge researchers are engaging with policy through their research in different ways.

See short summaries of the case studies below and read more at the Research into Policy website. The project coordinator is Lauren Milden:


Case Study 1 Effect of WHO Guidelines on Meningitis Vaccinations

Dr Caroline Trotter and her team at Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine have used mathematical modelling to help ensure that World Health Organisation guidelines provide the most robust and effective approach to meningitis vaccinations in Sub-Saharan Africa. To learn more about this case study of public health policy engagement click here.


Case Study 2 Research on Portion Size

Professor Theresa Marteau and her team at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit conducted a Cochrane systematic review producing the most conclusive evidence to date that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions. This has informed Public Health England’s report on sugar reduction and continues to influence the debate on tackling obesity. To learn more about this case study of public health policy engagement click here.


Case Study 3 Future of Primary Care

Professor Martin Roland CBE, Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Cambridge, used a career’s worth of research and insight to help shape the future of primary care. This included chairing a government commission on the primary care workforce and working hard to ensure that the Commission’s recommendations were effectively communicated to the relevant policymakers. To learn more about this case study of public health policy engagement click here.


Case Study 4: Impacting NICE guidelines through the consultation process


Dr Robbie Duschinsky, of Cambridge’s Primary Care Unit at the School of Clinical Medicine, mobilised international colleagues to ensure draft NICE guidelines that had the potential to impact on the experiences and outcomes of children suspected of being the victims of maltreatment were revised to reflect the most robust and up-to-date evidence. To learn more about this case study of public health policy engagement click here.


Case Study 5  Understanding the cumulative risk of pollutants


Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown, recently retired Director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research, part of the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge, has spent a career using academic research to help governments, businesses and communities respond to the challenge of environmental change. Part of his research at Cambridge has been answering policymakers’ questions around the cumulative risk of pollutants in water so that they can better understand and tackle the problem.

To read the case study in full, Click Here


Case Study 6: Serving as Economic Advisor for the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance


Dr Flavio Toxvaerd is a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Economics. From 2014 to 2016 he served as the Economic Advisor for the Government and Wellcome Trust-commissioned independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. In May 2016 the Review published its 10 recommendations around how we can tackle this worsening global public health crisis. 

To read the case study in full, Click Here


Case Study 7: Sugar, fat and health – building evidence, awareness and policy impact


The Nutritional Epidemiology Programme at the MRC Epidemiology Unit is building evidence on the relationship between diet and the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. By engaging with national and international policy bodies, as well as with the media, the team is contributing to public health understanding and policy.

To read the case study in full, click here.


Case Study 8: Assessing the benefits of blue-green infrastructure


Dr Dick Fenner is a Reader in Engineering Sustainability at the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Department. As a member of a consortium led by the University of Nottingham, Dr Fenner is helping to analyse the benefits of blue-green infrastructure, which can help prevent flooding while providing environmental, socio-cultural, economic and ecological benefits to the population. By working with stakeholders throughout their programme of work, the team have already secured a commitment from Newcastle City Council to implement a blue-green infrastructure approach.


To read the case study in full, click here.


Case Study 9: Conducting rapid systematic reviews for policymakers


Dr Louise Lafortune and her Ageing Well research team at Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health were commissioned to conduct three rapid systematic reviews to inform NICE’s first ever guidelines on mid-life approaches to delaying or preventing the onset of dementia, disability and frailty in later life.


To read the case study in full, click here.


Case Study 10: Designing sustainable healthcare buildings


Professor Alan Short of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Architecture has applied twenty-five years of research on natural ventilation and passive cooling to influence national and international policy around hospital buildings. His research helps ensure existing and future hospitals are resilient to rising temperatures in order to enhance patient wellbeing, minimise carbon emissions, and protect hospital resources.


To read the case study in full, click here.


Case Study 11: Devising and applying statistical methods to underpin national HIV policy


Dr Daniela De Angelis and colleagues at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, based at the University of Cambridge, use statistical methods to understand how diseases spread and how interventions impact them. Their novel approach to estimating the HIV burden is used to obtain UK official annual HIV prevalence estimates, which help inform national policy.


To read the case study in full, click here.


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About Us

We aim to support public policy research across Cambridge University, working with colleagues in science, social science, the arts and humanities, to apply new thinking to public policy problems and promote research and analysis into the public policy process. We hope to connect and raise the profile of existing public policy related work across the University and support collaborative research that includes policy development in a range of subject areas. 

Contact us if you are interested in joining the initiative or would like to know more.