UCL Public Policy


Researchers in Residence UCL-OHID

A policy fellowship scheme between UCL and OHID to strengthen networks and develop researchers’ skills and experience in contributing to policy work.  

About the programme

The Researchers in Residence scheme is an exciting opportunity for researchers to apply their knowledge and skills in a different context than academia. It allowed them to make new contacts and build networks, help build research capacity and capability inside policy organisations to help unlock current policy challenges. It also provided experiences for better understanding and strengthened networks between UCL and OHID.   


  • UCL’s Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund – £48,000 
  • Research England QR-Policy Support Fund - £9,900  

“[The UCL RIR programme] is one of the jewels in the crown of OHID London” Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional Director, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (London)  

The Pilot (2023)

UCL Health for the Public and UCL Public Policy supported six UCL researchers to undertake policy fellowships in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), as part of a pilot Research in Residence scheme.   

OHID, part of the Department of Health and Social Care, focuses on improving the nation’s health so that everyone can expect to live more of life in good health, and on levelling up health disparities to break the link between background and prospects for a healthy life. As part of DHSC, OHID brings together expert advice, analysis and evidence with policy development and implementation to shape and drive health improvement and equalities priorities for government. UCL Researchers spent four months working closely with OHID on projects addressing a range of OHID’s policy priorities.   

What started as a “small seed to test a model” turned into an opportunity for those involved to learn together and share knowledge.

Jennifer Yip, Executive at OHID, and supervisor to two projects, commented that the “[research has] exposed us to new ideas and freshness”. Not only that, but the researchers’ ability to translate and present complicated information in many different formats for policymakers was seen by OHID as “incredibly powerful and helpful”.

What has been most striking about the RIR is the opportunity for increased understanding and collaboration between research and policy with one fellow reflecting how it “provided a different understanding of what research is and how collaboration can happen. Whatever you need to do need to be implemented in policy and practice”.   

Pilot Impacts

  • Expanded understanding of how researchers work  
  • Provided insight into how research can contribute to public challenges  
  • Generated useful research questions from nebulous policy challenges  
  • Challenged common myths on the barriers to working with researchers  
  • Developed multi-agency networks  
  • Provided access to contribute to high-priority policy areas  
  • Generated co-produced outputs e.g., research papers  
  • Provided opportunities for personal development  


Cohort projects 


Project: Ethnic disparities in access to preventative services (e.g. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) health checks, screening) in London using integrated routine datasets

Researcher: Dr Louise Choo   
Supervisor:  Dr Jennifer Yip  

Louise's project focused on maternity weight services and resulted in a wish list of priorities with OHID. She also contributed to CVD data summary discussions & worked with OHID analysts to look at summarising some of this data.  As a follow up, further links have been created between OHID and UCL partners around GP records and cardiovascular disease, supporting OHID to do the analysis but in a different way.  

Output: Adult Weight Management Report by Dr Florence Sheen with contributions by Dr Louise Choo (not publicly available).   

Project: ‘Rapid evaluation of London’s weight management programmes using mixed methods’ 

Researcher: Dr Florence Sheen  
Supervisor: Dr Jackie Chin  

Florence’s project involved investigating (Tier 2) Weight Management Services (WMS) – which provide community-based diet, nutrition, lifestyle and behaviour change advice usually in a group setting – in London. By using qualitative focus groups and surveys, she examined barriers to delivering effective, equitable, and inclusive services. Insights were shared with members of the London Obesity Leads Network (LOLN) across two of their monthly meetings, and a report of their findings was distributed to the LOLN and London Local Authorities.

Output: Florence Sheen – Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID), London region, 2023, 4 months

Project: ‘Development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for London’s structural racism strategy and actions’

Researcher:  Dr Asta Medisauskaite and Dr Shoba Poduval (job share)  
Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Yip and Professor Kevin Fenton  

Asta employed a mixed-method approach to explore inequality in the workforce. She produced a list of recommendations and interventions to address inequalities in the healthcare system.   

Asta commented,‘“it was motivational to see [policy] interest but [also] have the opportunity to test and learn ideas and build connections and new relationships.”   

Shoba conducted the first review of reviews of anti-racist interventions in the UK Healthcare system. Due to her work, Shoba has been awarded a NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement award, where she will be learning about data science and developing a proposal for longer-term research to address ethnic health inequalities.



Project: ‘Understanding the implementation of Family Hubs in London’

Researchers: Dr Matthew Jay and Dr Claire Powell (job share)  
Supervisors: Robert Pears   

As part of their residency, they spoke with Local Authorities (LA) on different family hub journeys about the barriers they faced. From this, Jay and Powell identified that hyper-local and granular data was needed to help LAs distribute funding effectively and better understand the outcomes of family hubs.

Robert Pears, Consultant in Public Health, OHID, commented that their work on family hubs has imbued confidence on the topic and “will shape the strategic direction in public health for years to come.”  

Output: Soon to be published. 


Project: Families and weight management  
Researcher: Dr Emily Emmott 
Supervisor: Dr Jackie Chin and Leah de Souza Thomas 

Project: Review and prioritisation of interventions to tackle climate impacts on health inequalities in London. 
Researcher: Dr Valentina Amuso 
Supervisor: Julie Billett 

Project: Prevention of bacterial STIs in London 
Researcher:  Dr Rebecca Irons 
Supervisor: Professor Kevin Fenton 

Project: Tackling Ethnic health inequalities through anti-racism approach: Lessons learnt and review of approaches in the UK 
Researcher: Dr Aradhna Kausal
Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Yip and Professor Kevin Fenton 

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