I am delighted to present our fourth Annual Report and I thank all those who have submitted material and seen the report through to publication.
The report illustrates some of the achievements of individual staff and students – for example, success on degree programmes, recognition of staff for distinguished contributions, and awards bestowed on those associated with the faculty. I congratulate all those who are featured here, and thank them for the distinction they have brought, and continue to bring, to Lancaster University.
We continue to cement our research reputation in selected areas of translational research. Some of the many stories we have to tell are featured in this report. I am particularly pleased to announce that we have for the first time established a presence in health economics. We have recruited our first Professor and (from next January) both a Lecturer in Health Economics and a Senior Research Associate. These appointments form the nucleus of what I hope will become a significant cluster of activity.
Preparations are now at an advanced stage for the 2013-14 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and these are being led by Professor Paul Bates, our Associate Dean for Research. Submissions are due towards the end of next year, and while the outcome will not be known until 2014 this will shape a good deal of the future, both in terms of reputation and income. These research-based exercises have been in operation since 1986 but the 2013-14 REF is the first to include measures of research ‘impact’ – the difference that excellent, funded research has made to society and the economy.
In terms of postgraduate programmes we have been buoyed by the success of our distance learning doctoral programmes in the Division of Health Research. These now number four, covering palliative care, public health, mental health, and organisational health and wellbeing. The taught elements comprise a mix of online learning and residential academies on campus, followed by completion of a substantial research project. In addition, we were delighted to have continued recognition of our excellent Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which was given approval by the Health and Care Professions Council and accreditation by the British Psychological Society earlier this year.
This year we welcomed a number of distinguished speakers who presented seminars on work relating to the agenda of our Clinical Research Hub. This major strategic initiative, launched in 2010, is designed to support collaboration between members of the University and those in both the public and private sectors engaged in research, knowledge exchange and professional development. It operates across all fields of health, medicine and social care and reflects our very strong commitment to supporting the future growth and development of these activities.
At a regional level, we have played an active part in planning for an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) that covers South Cumbria, most of Lancashire, Merseyside and most of Cheshire – the so-called ‘North West Coast’ AHSN. ASHNs will be created across the whole of England, bringing together universities, NHS Trusts, primary care providers, local authorities, charities and industry in an endeavour to improve health and health care and generate wealth in local health economies.
In addition, this year has seen many discussions among the set of eight northern research-intensive universities, and eight acute-sector NHS Trusts, concerning the formation of a Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA). While this new body is still in its early days, the aspiration is to build further prospective collaborations that offer the combined weight of (bio)medical and life sciences research in creating wealth and better health in the north of England. I shall have more to say about both the AHSN and the NHSA in next year’s Annual Report.
From October 2012 all colleagues in the faculty will be co-located for the first time, in refurbished accommodation in the Furness building. We occupy two floors of the building and welcome visitors to a ground-floor foyer which we hope will be the focus of interaction among members of the faculty and those with whom we collaborate externally. Furness is directly opposite the research laboratories in biomedical and life sciences, and we think the close proximity of colleagues to their research bases will prove advantageous. We look forward to welcoming you to our new home!
Do please get in touch if you think there are opportunities for joint working. I hope you find this latest Annual Report of interest.
Professor Tony Gatrell, Dean
Faculty of Health and Medicine Annual Report for 2012