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York awarded major funding to tackle global challenges

Posted on 21 July 2017

Researchers from across the University of York have been awarded major grants from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to tackle some of the most pressing issues around the world – including health care provision in Sub-Saharan Africa, reducing tobacco-related harm in Asia and combating neglected tropical diseases.

Children playing in a village in Malawi. Credit Kevin Walsh

The Research Councils UK Collective Fund is supporting multi-disciplinary research programmes across the University.

Mark Sculpher, Professor of Health Economics at York’s Centre for Health Economics, is leading a £6.6m project looking at ways of improving the health of the population in Malawi as well as reducing health inequality in the country.

The ‘Thanzi la Onse’  (Health of All) project will work closely with policy-makers in Malawi and Uganda to support them in using data produced by the study to inform national health care budgets and resource allocation.

It is hoped the model can be further developed and used as a template to address the resource allocation challenges facing other countries in Africa.

Professor Sculpher said: “Thanzi la Onse will apply evidence and high-quality analysis to support challenging resource allocation decisions in health systems in southern and eastern Africa.

“The UK has been at the forefront of developing such methods for use in the NHS, and now we have the opportunity to work with international partners to further develop and employ them to meet the varied challenges faced in low income settings."

Professor Jeremy Mottram, from the University’s Centre for Immunology and Infection, is a co-investigator on a GCRF-funded project looking at combating Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.

The £6.5m project will develop new scientific ideas, expertise and insight in drug discovery from scientists in the UK and from South America and Asia where these diseases are endemic.

York is a leading UK centre for internationally-leading research on Leishmaniasis, a globally occurring neglected tropical disease spread by sand flies.

Kamran Siddiqi, Professor in Public Health in the Department of Health Sciences, is involved in a £3.4m project to reduce tobacco-related harm in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa.

The four-year project aims to conduct research to inform tobacco taxation, tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and target tobacco companies’ efforts to undermine governments’ attempts to reduce smoking.

With nearly 80 per cent of the world's one billion smokers living in low and middle income countries, the experts hope to bring down smoking rates in developing countries.

Professor Rob Marchant, from York’s Environment Department, is co-investigator on a £6m project looking at sustainable growth in east African ‘development corridors’ and the connection between China and Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, a host of grand ‘development corridors,’ including roads, railroads, pipelines, and port facilities, are planned that will boost agricultural production, commodity exports, and economic integration.

A consortium led by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, plans to take a detailed look at some of the proposed corridors – including one running east to west through central Tanzania and others through Kenya Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.

In a separate funding announcement, experts from the University of York have been awarded a grant to help improve the health outcomes of low and middle-income countries.

The £2m three year project will be funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) via the Global Health Research Group on Global Health Econometrics and Economics (GHE2) at the University of York.  GHE2 researchers will evaluate several large-scale health policies in Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia.

Principal Investigator Marc Suhrcke, Professor of Global Health Economics at CHE and Director of GHE2, said: “The award is a great recognition and stimulus for CHE’s emerging role in Global Health research.”

“Working with leading institutions in three partner countries, GHE2 focuses on producing high quality, policy-relevant evidence about population and health system level interventions which are hard to evaluate using randomised controlled trials but have the potential for large impacts on health and wellbeing.”

“This helps fill a critical evidence gap by applying and developing methods to estimate the impact of such interventions, and assess their value-for-money.” 

Further information:

  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at
  • The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)
    GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund that supports cutting-edge research which addresses the global issues faced by developing countries. It harnesses the expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers, focusing on: funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; and providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need. It forms part of UK Government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 17 delivery partners including the Research Councils, the UK Academies, the UK Space Agency and funding bodies.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:
    • funds high quality research to improve health
    • trains and supports health researchers
    • provides world-class research facilities
    • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
    • involves patients and the public at every step

      For further information, visit the NIHR website ( 

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