Key Research Themes

Our research programme focuses on non-communicable disease epidemiology, disease prevention and food policy. We use a range of rigorous methodologies including policy analyses, systematic and scoping reviews, analysis of empirical evidence and “natural experiments”, quantitative modelling and economic analyses.

Our recent research work (supported by £25 million in total funding from NIH/ NIHR/ EU/ MRC/ BHF/ WHO) includes:
developing effective and cost-saving non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention strategies regionally, nationally and internationally (majoring on healthy food policies for obesity, sugar, salt, transfats, fruit, etc) and using quantitative modelling, policy analyses and empirical evidence.

Our recent research has demonstrated that population-wide prevention policies can be powerful, rapid, equitable and cost saving (Lancet, JAMA, BMJ, PLoS etc)

We have systematically reviewed the evidence for food policy interventions across the USA, Europe, and beyond, (effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and equity) and mapping exemplar policies and using quantitative modelling to estimate the current and potential population impacts. (EU, WHO and NIH funding).

Our findings have informed discussions at PHE, DH and NICE (guidance on CVD prevention) and public debates on obesity and sugar (FPH and AoMRC reports, extensive media coverage by TV, radio and newspapers).

Our research and its impact is summarised in two sections: 

Impact

Our policy research has demonstrated that population-wide prevention policies prioritising healthy food and tobacco control can be powerful, rapid, equitable and cost- saving. Our recent research has also examined the perspectives of decision makers, planners and policy makers, and the complex role of evidence in policy development.

Our innovative policy modelling work has helped explain trends in coronary heart disease mortality in the USA, Europe and Asia, informing policies and strategies nationally and internationally.

We have systematically reviewed the evidence for food policy interventions across the USA, Europe, and beyond, (effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and equity); mapping exemplar policies and using quantitative modelling to estimate the current and potential population impacts.

With the first comprehensive modelling of socio-economic gradients and trends in treatments and risk factors, ours were the first publications to warn about the recent plateauing of previously falling CHD mortality rates in young people in the USA, the UK, and beyond. Our systematic review was the first Cochrane meta-analysis to quantify the benefits of smoking cessation for CHD patients in the USA and UK

Advising NICE, BHF, the UK Health Forum, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the UK Government, Heart of Mersey and the WHO has raised a number of key questions and stimulated a number of topical and innovative research projects.

Knowledge Exchange

Our MRC/EU/NIHR funded IMPACT programme has been developed at the University of Liverpool (UoL) since 1999. It examines why cardiovascular disease (CVD) death rates have recently halved in the UK, USA and Europe (mainly risk factor improvements plus modern treatments), why CVD rates are increasing in China and most developing countries, and why adverse risk factor trends principally reflect a Westernised diet.

Results have informed CVD prevention strategies in the UK and beyond, notably NICE Guidance on CVD prevention in whole populations. The strong NICE recommendations on diet and tobacco were recently endorsed in NICE Commissioning Guidance and European and American guidance.

Our results have also been disseminated widely in the UK and internationally, informing a range of prevention policies. UoL UoA2 Impact on Practice and Policy was ranked THIRD in the UK in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Current work with the LCC Public Health Team and RLBUH CVD prevention lead on modelling local options to cardiovascular prevention, as part of our strategy to engage with key stakeholders. This work is crucial to develop a large local footprint with potential to expand to city regions and other Local Authorities across the UK.

Research Led Teaching

We are keen to engage with students interested in supervising PhD and MPH dissertations , and University of Liverpool research placements focusing on the interface of policy, epidemiology, health economics and simulation modelling.

Policy: Our focus is on developing effective and cost-saving non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention strategies regionally, nationally and internationally (majoring on healthy food and tobacco policies, and using policy analyses empirical evidence and quantitative modelling) and an active research programme provides rich opportunities for novel quantitative and qualitative approaches with a focus on policy impact and engaging with key stakeholders.

Modelling: Our research work is focused on the development of innovative simulations to explore preventative options to reduce the unequal social and economic burden of non-communicable diseases in more than 20 countries. The ongoing IMPACT Model programme includes a range of modelling methodologies, including microsimulation, Markov models, economics and comparative risk assessment methods. Current research topics include evaluation of salt reduction policies, effectiveness and equity impact of cardiovascular disease prevention and modelling the joint burden of cardiovascular disease and dementia. This modelling research programme will offer many opportunities to innovate in quantitative approaches and simulation methods.

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