Bristol primary health care professor awarded NIHR award
Press release issued: 20 November 2023
A University of Bristol professor of primary care and GP is one of six researchers to have been awarded a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Research Professorship. Professor Matthew Ridd, from Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, will carry out research to treat eczema in children and identify and address children’s food allergies.
The NIHR Research Professorships scheme funds and supports research leaders of the future to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. It also aims to strengthen and benefit health, public health and care research leadership at the highest academic levels.
This year, six researchers will receive five-year awards of up to £2 million to carry out research that will positively impact the lives of people and communities across the UK. They will receive a package of extensive support. This includes three support posts and access to a leadership and development programme. They will be conducting research covering a wide range of issues, including:
- personalising treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children using an internet-based system
- implementing new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies to transform prostate cancer outcomes
- using new statistical methods to enable better, safer, fairer use of medicines
- enhancing prevention of multiple chronic diseases through risk prediction tools
- research to treat eczema in children and identify and address children’s food allergies
- understanding why older people are more vulnerable to respiratory infections.
Since 2011, 66 people have been successful in gaining the competitive award. Many have gone on to become senior research leaders. This includes Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care and CEO of the NIHR.
Professor Waljit Dhillo, Dean of the NIHR Academy and Scientific Director for Research Capacity and Capabilities, said: "I am delighted and honoured to welcome the latest group of outstanding researchers to the NIHR Research Professorship scheme. I look forward to seeing the difference their research will make to the lives of people and communities across the UK.
"The NIHR Research Professorship is one of the most prestigious awards we offer. Their expertise in health and care research will help improve people’s health and wellbeing."
Professor Matthew Ridd said: "I am delighted to have been given this award. It is ten years since a GP and five years since a paediatrician was awarded an NIHR Research Professorship, and this is the first one to fund work in allergy. It will enable me to build on my previous research and accelerate progress in answering common, practical questions in primary care. This includes how to best support parents to look after children with eczema, and what the research priorities for the prevention and care of children with food allergy are.
"I look forward to working with old and new partners, including patients, charities and specialist colleagues, to tackle some of the serious challenges these conditions pose."
The latest cohort of awardees are:
- Professor Samuele Cortese, University of Southampton. Their research topic is: Personalising the pharmacological treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children
- Professor Daniela Ferreira, Professor of Vaccinology, University of Oxford. Their research topic is: Understanding nasal immunity to improve vaccine protection against respiratory infections
- Professor Shonit Punwani, University College London. Their research topic is: Smarter identification and management of Early prostate cancer: improving Lives and outcomEs through Clinical Translation of novel magnetic resonance imaging (SELeCT)
- Professor Matthew Ridd, University of Bristol. Their research topic is: Transforming Outcomes for Paediatric allergy in primary care (TOPIC)
- Professor Reecha Sofat, University of Liverpool. Their research topic is: CAUsal Inference Methods to Inform MedicineS ReguLation and Guidance: CAUSAL
- Professor Angela Wood, University of Cambridge. Their research topic is: Primary prevention of multiple chronic diseases through data-driven approaches mobilising population-wide longitudinal health records
About the NIHR Research Professorship
The awards are open to researchers from any professional background. Previous awards in recent competitions have been made to:
- health services researchers
- basic scientists
- health economists, statisticians
Applications for the next round are currently open until 6 December.
The NIHR Research Professorship is seen as transformative in a researcher’s career. A survey of active and complete award holders from 2011-2022 found it:
- increases their academic reputation and influence
- helps progress careers by facilitating access to leadership roles
- leads to the development of important collaborations in the UK and internationally
- is seen as one of the most prestigious funding schemes for clinical academics
- helps develop leaders and build capacity.
Research Professors have a strong track record of research benefiting patients and public.
Former Research Professor, Alastair Hay, also from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, investigated the impact of children’s respiratory tract infections on NHS resources . This led to the development of a tool (STARWAVe) which:
- helped primary care practitioners identify serious respiratory infections in children
- reduced clinical uncertainty around prescribing antibiotics
- predicted which children would benefit from antibiotics.
The study was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Other Research Professor work has led to:
- influencing policy and practice
- improving the lives of the public
- developments which enable more accurate diagnosis and better methods of treatment.
About the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:
- Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
- Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
- Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
- Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
- Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
- Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.
NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.
The NIHR is a major funder of global health research and training.