UCL News


Multi-disciplinary research ‘absolutely critical to good public health’

28 April 2021

UCL’s Health of the Public, the new multi-disciplinary research school led by Professors Dame Anne Johnson and Graham Hart, has set out its vision for improving the public’s future health.

health of public

UCL is one of the world’s leading institutions for public health research delivering ground-breaking research locally, nationally and globally which has led to major scientific advancements in the prevention and treatment of disease.

Launched today, UCL’s Health of the Public will pioneer new approaches to the world’s most pressing public healthcare challenges such as COVID-19, climate change and increasing health and social inequalities using a multidisciplinary approach – working in close partnership with industry, the NHS and public authorities.

Speaking at the school’s external launch, Dame Anne, Co-Director of UCL Health of the Public, said: “The health of the public has never been more pressing: the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good health and equity across all our communities.

“To ensure our society has more resilient public health in the future, we will need to bring together many different disciplines including engineering, environmental science, law, social science and others along with traditional population and medical sciences, to find solutions that will provide the best health outcomes for all.

“As researchers we will also need to work more closely with local communities, governments, the NHS and local authorities, and generate the best evidence to underpin the right changes and innovations to both public policies and health services, to improve the health of the public for all.”

Also speaking at the event, Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “Over the last 18 months, because of COVID-19 the importance of public health has become even more clear.

“The pandemic has demonstrated how different elements of the health of the public interact: for example, the fact that COVID-19 has been particularly problematic in areas of deprivation in the UK, in some ethnic minority groups and in people with pre-existing non-infectious problems.

“This feature has highlighted the fact that all public health problems tend to compound one another. It is for this reason the multi-disciplinary approach, which UCL is taking through the Health of the Public, is absolutely critical to good public health outcomes.”

UCL Health of the Public is a virtual school which brings together multiple disciplines from law to engineering to improve health for all and take forward ideas presented in the Academy of Medical Sciences report Improving the Health of the Public by 2040.

Co-Director, Professor Hart (also Dean of UCL Population Health Sciences) said: “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, the health care we receive, and the people around us.

“Through UCL Health of the Public we will develop new research communities and collaborations to integrate engineering, climate science, the built environment, law and social sciences (disciplines that would not usually be considered to be within the public health field), alongside population health sciences.”

UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence said: “UCL is one of the world’s leading institutions for public health research delivering ground-breaking research. One of our other major strengths is our multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

This is why I am so excited to see so many of our leading academics come together, to work alongside our health, local authority, government and charity partners, to form UCL Health of the Public. The school has an ambitious vision and I look forward to seeing its research and ideas put into practice to then help create and form a better society for all."



  • Credit: UCL Health of Public

Media contact

Rowan Walker

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 8515

Email: rowan.walker [at] ucl.ac.uk