International projects in preventative and mental health funded by NIHR

Two new research groups will receive almost £4m funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

Smokeless Tobacco (snuff)

One of the new reseach groups, ASTRA, aims to reduce the harm caused by smokeless tobacco.

Grants totalling almost £4m have been awarded to two international research projects in South Asia led by academics at Hull York Medical School and the University of York. The two research projects, ASTRA and IMPACT, are to receive around £2m each from the National Institute for Health Research.

ASTRA is a new, international research programme aimed at reducing the harm caused by smokeless tobacco (ST) use in South Asia. It will be led by Kamran Siddiqi, Professor in Public Health who holds a joint appointment with Hull York Medical School and the University of York.

Addictive

Smokeless tobacco products - such as chewing tobacco - are particularly popular in South Asia and many assume that they are less harmful than cigarettes. In fact, ST is highly addictive and causes cancers of the mouth, pharynx and oesophagus, as well as cardiovascular disease and serious problems if used during pregnancy.

Professor Siddiqi said: “We aim to gather evidence about how the policies recommended by the World Health Organisation-Framework Convention Tobacco Control are being developed and implemented for smokeless tobacco in South Asia. This part of the programme will focus on young people, because 90 per cent of ST users start their habit during adolescence.”

He added that the group will also develop and evaluate interventions, such as behavioural support or medicines, to help adult ST users to quit and take part in training research teams in South Asia.

“We also aim to build capacity, by training research teams at our partner institutions to conduct high quality applied health research in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India,” he said. “We will use this capacity to support wider tobacco control efforts in the South Asia region.”

Impact

The second programme , IMPACT (Improving Outcomes in Mental and Physical Comorbidity and Developing Research Capacity in South Asia), will be led by Professor Simon Gilbody, who holds a joint appointment with Hull York medical School and the University of York, where he is also Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group.

Dr Najma Siddiqi IMPACT Group co-director and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Hull York Medical School and the University of York explained: “Our group will focus on people in South Asia with mental illness and target a growing cause of global disease burden - mental and physical multimorbidity - which affects some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in LMICs,” she said.

“Our aim is to improve the physical health of people with severe mental illness and the mental health of people with chronic physical conditions.”

Interventions

Professor Una Macleod, Dean of Hull York Medical School, said: “These grants reflect the high quality work being undertaken by researchers at the medical school and university of York but more than that they will enable us to continue to undertake research, and develop interventions which will make a difference to the lives of patients around the world.”

The news comes as analysis of projects funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund showed research funding totalling more than £16m from these organisations to the University of York since 2014 (source: UKRI data, Research Professional analysis). This figure makes the University the 11th highest UK beneficiary for this type of funding between 2014 and 2018.

Professor Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York said: “The development of new and existing global multidisciplinary research partnerships that can benefit from GCRF and Newton funding has been a major strategic drive at York and we are delighted to see this success, expanding our international networks with key partners around the world.”

 

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We are delighted to see this success, expanding our international networks with key partners around the world.

Professor Deborah Smith
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the National Institute for Health Research (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 (www.nihr.ac.uk).
Featured researcher
Simon Gilbody

Simon Gilbody

Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group (MHARG)

Professor Gilbody holds a joint appointment with the Hull York Medical School (HYMS), where he is a member of the Centre for Health and Population Sciences.

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Featured researcher
Kamran Siddiqi

Kamran Siddiqi

Professor in Public Health

Kamran has a medical background with further training in chest diseases and public health and has carried out research in the UK, Latin America and South Asia in the area of lung health.

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Featured researcher
Dr Najma Siddiqi

Dr Najma Siddiqi

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry

Najma's research is focused on physical and mental illness comorbidity. She is leading programmes of research on diabetes and mental illness (Diabetes and Mental Illness Improving Services and Outcomes - DIAMONDS) and delirium in care homes. 

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