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Cochrane Chair in Public Health

01 July 2010

Cochrane Chair, Professor Stephen PalmerCochrane Chair, Professor Stephen Palmer

A leading University public health expert is set to honour the memory of one of the University’s most influential health thinkers and enhance Cardiff’s reputation for cutting-edge public health research.

Professor Stephen Palmer, School of Medicine, has been appointed the University’s first Cochrane Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health.

The new Chair is named after the University’s medical pioneer, Archie Cochrane. Widely recognised as one of the most influential health researchers, whilst a Professor at the University in the 1960s and 1970s he led, among other work, a series of studies on the health of the population of Rhondda Fach.

Through the promotion of randomised controlled trials and synthesis of knowledge, he pioneered the revolution in evidence-based medicine.

As well as the new Cochrane Chair the new home for the School of Medicine, under construction on the Heath Park campus, will be named after Archie Cochrane.

"Archie Cochrane is, without doubt, one of the world’s most important medical pioneers" said Professor Palmer. "His studies on the health of the population of Rhondda Fach, in particular, helped create evidence-based medicine and ensured knowledge shapes the way we treat ill health.

"We’ve yet to fully capitalise on the international reputation of Archie Cochrane – I hope this new Chair will help address this. I am delighted to accept a position that bears such a distinguished name" added Professor Palmer.

As Chair, Professor Palmer will lead the University’s public health research and provide academic leadership in epidemiology and screening research.

The new Chair will also build new infrastructures, networks and partnerships to help attract major research grants to Cardiff and create an environment which attracts the best researchers.

Professor Palmer is one of the UK’s leading public health figures. He is the former Regional Epidemiologist for Wales and was appointed to the Mansel Talbot Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health at the former University of Wales College of Medicine in 1998.

In addition to being the School of Medicine’s Head of Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health he joined the new UK Health Protection Agency initially as the founding director of the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division and from 2006 to 2009 he was Director of the HPA’s, Local and Regional Services in England.

Since 2009 he has held the post of Head of Profession for Epidemiology.

Professor Palmer’s appointment has been widely welcomed across the medical community in Wales.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "I welcome Professor Palmer’s appointment to this important role. Wales has long recognised the importance of public health and investment in education and prevention as well as treating people when they become ill. Professor Palmer’s work will complement the range of initiatives that are already under way to help improve people’s health."

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, said: "The recently-formed Public Health Wales will be developing an Institute of Public Health that will focus on public teaching, research and provide more information on the health of people in Wales. The Institute will work closely with Professor Palmer to cement Wales’ place in improving public health."

Professor Paul Morgan, Dean of the School of Medicine added: "The creation of the Cochrane Chair and Professor Palmer’s appointment will help Wales consolidate its leadership role in public health research. We recruited widely to fill this post but finally realised that the perfect candidate was close by. I am delighted that Professor Palmer has accepted the role.

"Wales has already embarked on an ambitious public health programme. The creation of an All-Wales unified public health service and the need for integrated policies for health and well-being from national and local level is an important challenge.

"The Cochrane Chair will help us meet this challenge, help maintain Wales’ international reputation for cutting edge research and ensure that the memory of Archie Cochrane and his pioneering work lives on."

Cardiff University is already widely recognised for evidence-based medical research.

Biobank Cymru, based at Cardiff University, seeks to track peoples’ health over the next 30 years and more. As it matures, Biobank will become an unparalleled source of vital information on a range of diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, depression, arthritis, osteoporosis and many other life-threatening and debilitating conditions

The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) also brings experts from a range of disciplines to tackle public health issues such as diet and nutrition, physical activity; and alcohol, tobacco and drugs, with a particular focus on developing and evaluating multi-level interventions that will have an impact on the health and well-being of children and young people.

The University is also home to the South East Wales Clinical Trials Unit which undertakes high quality trials in health and social care.

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