PHE conference spotlights innovations in public health protection

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Over 400 delegates have gathered in Manchester for the third annual Public Health Research and Conference. The conference brings together scientific expertise from across the public health community, with the goal of driving innovation in public health research and practice.

From novel methods in outbreak investigations, developments in the fight against antibiotic resistance and global health efforts, to solutions to reduce health inequalities and support healthy behaviours, the conference promotes high quality and novel science through sharing good practice and strengthening collaborations between universities, Public Health England and other partners.

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs)– a unique set of partnerships between PHE and academic institutions across the country to develop and interrogate the robust evidence base required to inform public health policy and actions.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Sharon Peacock, the new interim Director of the National Infection Service at PHE, will be making her first public address in the role, highlighting the scientific achievements of the service in the past year
  • Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, World Health Organisation, discussing public health emergency preparedness
  • Lisa Cotterill, NIHR Academy, discussing capacity building for public health research
  • Mark Kroese, Director of the Public Health Genomics Foundation, discussing the power of predictive prevention for common diseases

Isabel Oliver, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:

Innovation is key to tackle the significant challenges that we face today in our work to protect and improve the nation’s health and the PHE annual Research and Science Conference provides the perfect forum to share knowledge and expertise and develop new collaborations.

Whether it’s developing new systems to rapidly detect emerging health threats, implementing new techniques to diagnose disease more rapidly in this country and beyond or using digital approaches to help people adopt healthy behaviours, there’s a diverse range of world-class science and exciting developments on show.

PHE offers a very rich training environment with fantastic opportunities for public health researchers towards a rewarding career and this year’s conference will see a focus on capacity building. PHE’s contribution in this area is outstanding with, for example, over 70 PhD students from institutions across the globe spending a significant portion of their training time in PHE. We look forward to welcoming them and all other scientists and researchers to the conference.

Dr Lisa Cotterill, Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR Academy, said:

The NIHR is committed to developing researchers and building research capacity in the field of public health, to provide researchers with the skills needed to tackle the complex health protection and prevention challenges of the future. Through the NIHR Academy, we provide a comprehensive portfolio of training programmes that support public health researchers through different stages of career development.

We also plan to further boost public health training through the NIHR HPRUs and NIHR Incubator in Public Health. I’m delighted to be sharing these opportunities at this year’s PHE conference and hope to inspire researchers to further their professional development in public health.


  • The PHE Research and Science Conference takes place at the University of Manchester, 9 to 10 April 2019
  • The full conference programme is available online.
  • PHE is in the process of creating a world-leading campus of excellence for public health research, improvement and protection, and a new headquarters, at the vacant GlaxoSmithKline site in Harlow. This will involve relocating facilities from Porton in Wiltshire and Colindale in north London, as well as the current central London headquarters. PHE Harlow is expected to be fully operational by 2024.

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