UCL Health of the Public


UCL Health of the Public Small Grants Scheme

The 2021/22 UCL Health of the Public Small Grants Scheme is now closed.


The UCL Health of the Public Small Grants Scheme is now closed.



Call outline

The aim of this internal call is to encourage proposals that develop new cross-disciplinary collaborations to conduct research to improve the health of the public.

  • Awards of up to £20,000 are available
  • Projects can be up to 6 months in duration
  • We will accept proposals for projects in any cross-disciplinary area that improves population health
  • We can fund activities between 1 January 2022 to 30 June 2022.
  • Applications must be led by UCL academic staff members (honorary researchers included) at postdoctoral level or above, from any UCL Faculty. Read the full eligibility criteria
  • Deadline for applications is 18 October 2021 (by 23.59 on 18 October)
  • How to apply

Call Guidance

Our physical and mental health is shaped by a multitude of factors, from the food we eat, to the air we breathe, the work we do, the places we live, the taxes we pay, and the people around us.[1] Biomedicine and traditional public health can only address part of the picture. UCL Health of the Public is bringing together diverse disciplines from across the university to provide a broader perspective, working together to reduce health inequalities and improve health at a population level.

UCL Health of the Public, with support from the Life and Medical Sciences Research Coordination Office and the UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences, are running a small grants scheme to encourage new cross-disciplinary research collaborations aiming to conduct research to improve the health of the public. This scheme will also help to support early-mid career progression.

Our small grants should be used to develop ‘big ideas’, to encourage ambitious and exciting research that has the potential to transform the public health research landscape and can help us to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole.

We will accept proposals for projects in any cross-disciplinary area that improves population health. We are particularly interested in addressing the evidence gaps in health of the public research, as identified by the Academy of Medical Sciences ‘Improving the health of the public by 2040’ report and the Strategic Coordination of the Health of the Public Research’s (SCHOPR) paper on ‘Health of the public research principles and goals’. These include:

The natural and built environment
  • understanding the environmental determinants of health, and development of cost-effective interventions to improve and protect the health of the public through the design and maintenance of built and natural environments, consistent with the principles of planetary health.
  • the physical designs and policies of cities, in different settings, that bring about health gains, and the complex relationships affecting urban health outcomes.
The demographic, social and cultural environment
  • the role of social interactions, customs, values, religion, social cohesion and public participation, and how they contribute to differences in health outcomes.
  • the impacts of changing social structures, cultural values and new means of communication on human development and psychological resilience
The political, economic and commercial environment
  • A systems based approach to understand the health impact and economic costs and benefits of legal and fiscal measures at national, local and individual level, to inform future policy and practice
  • Systems-based research to inform agricultural and food industry policy and practice and to identify and fill evidence gaps for cost-effective interventions across the food system to support healthier, more sustainable and environmentally-friendly diets, and diminish inequalities in nutrition related health outcomes.
  • how best to address health effects of corporate influence on public policy and of the introduction of new goods and technologies where the impacts on health have not been evaluated
The digital and technological environment
  • novel digital and non-digital technologies for health protection, health improvement and health communication, and deploy these where needed across populations and the health and social care system.
  • the potential of clinical innovations (e.g. genomics, gene editing, nanotechnology and infectious disease detection), and our improved understanding of biological processes, to collectively improve the health of the public
The educational and occupational environment
  • the association between early life, education, educational environments, and health, to inform policy and practice and to develop cost-effective interventions within early life programmes and educational settings
  • the relationship between work environments, patterns and practices (including worklessness) and health of the public, and how this is likely to evolve in the context of the digital revolution and changing demography.
The health and social care environment
  • how to design economically and environmentally sustainable and integrated models of health and social care that place a greater focus on prevention and have the capacity to manage multiple morbidities and end-of-life care in an increasingly aged population
  • how to maximise the cost-effectiveness of funding provided to the care system, including a better understanding of the appropriate balance of investment into primary prevention, early detection, and treatment and support of illness and disease
The behavioural environment
  • which aspects of our environments are most important in driving unhealthy behaviours
  • how to create environments – physical, economic, social and digital – to enable healthier behaviours from the early years and allow them to flourish across the lifecourse
  • research to inform effective policies targeting population-level behaviour change
Biology across the lifecourse
  • how to most effectively promote lifelong health through investment in early years (and before birth)
  • to understand the socioeconomic determinants and biological process of ageing across the lifecourse, to develop effective interventions.
Health Inequalities
  • A place based approach that provides cross-disciplinary evidence to create and deliver targeted national and local health of the public solutions to meet the needs and improve health outcomes of excluded and vulnerable populations (including the elderly) within their communities to reduce health inequalities.
The Global context
  • interventions to reduce the growing global burden of NCDs
  • how to increase the number of new antimicrobial agents, reduce levels of resistance, and minimise dependence on antimicrobials in animals and humans
  • disaster risk and resilience research to prepare for and respond rapidly to shocks and disruptive events at a local, regional, national and international level

Successful applicants will receive awards of up to £20,000 to support activities that enable researchers to develop  cross-disciplinary research networks and develop innovative research, in order to strengthen applications for longer-term funding. They will also be invited to present their research at a future UCL Health of the Public symposium.

We will award at least 4 grants of £20,000 for UCL applicants that can demonstrate that this grant will make a significant difference to their research. 

How to apply

Please complete the application form below and email it with a worktribe costing to healthofpublic@ucl.ac.uk by Monday 18 October 2021. You will receive email confirmation of your application.


Please review the eligibility criteria, assessment criteriafinancial requirements and restrictions, and FAQs before applying.

If you have any queries about the funding scheme or application process please contact healthofpublic@ucl.ac.uk.

Key dates

  • Deadline for proposals: Monday 18 October 2021 (23:59 on 18/10/21)
  • Panel meeting: mid November 2021
  • Earliest award start: Friday 1 January 2022
  • All award spending to be completed (on or before): 30 June 2022
  • Award reports required: 2 September 2022 and we will follow up in April 2023, and September 2023 to see whether any further outputs have been delivered