The centre was founded in February 2016 by experts in medical humanities and environmental and social sciences.

Pioneering health research at the University of Exeter to continue thanks to renewed Wellcome funding

Pioneering University of Exeter work on worldwide health challenges will continue thanks to renewed funding for a unique research centre.

The Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter has been awarded an additional £1.43m by Wellcome.

The support will allow the centre’s experts to scale up their innovative research programme, which includes new analysis of the health impacts of social and environmental inequalities.

During the next three years, staff at the Centre will conduct research on health across the life course, on ageing and dying, on co-creating healthy cities, and on living with the social and cultural impacts of COVID-19, working closely with communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Academics will also develop an innovative Masters course in transformative health research and practice.

The centre was founded in February 2016 by experts in medical humanities and environmental and social sciences. Since then, they have developed new partnerships with policy-makers and creative organisations and brought in doctoral students, early career researchers, and senior staff.

Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health director, Professor Judith Green, said: “This award recognises the outstanding work of centre members and our partners in creating the conditions for engaged and transdisciplinary work. Addressing contemporary threats to health – whether from global warming, emerging diseases, or enduring social inequalities - demands that we draw deeply on diverse disciplinary, practitioner and experiential expertise. 

“The centre’s work on some of the most urgent issues for wellbeing – decolonization, living with COVID, loneliness, shame, urban mental health - has showcased the value of collaborations across and beyond the humanities and social sciences. We are delighted to have been awarded an extension to scale up this work for transformative research on healthy cultures and environments.”

Researchers at the centre aim to break down the barriers between the academy, patient and activist groups, public sector partners, and health organisations in order to address key health and wellbeing challenges collectively. Their current research includes: the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation, the use of different forms of evidence in health policy, the impact of family relationships on children's health; and how community involvement in research is assessed and managed. The centre also played a key role in co-ordinating Exeter’s recent successful UNESCO City of Literature application.

The centre’s founding Director and Principal Investigator, Professor Mark Jackson, said: “It has been rewarding to witness the development of the richness and range of research carried out by my colleagues during the last four years. The effort of enabling research on this scale should not be underestimated; nor should the quality of the centre’s outputs and outcomes. The extension of Wellcome funding – matched by support from the university - not only highlights the centre’s many achievements, but also provides a platform for making more expansive contributions to addressing the health and environmental challenges that we all face.”

Date: 19 November 2020

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