Category Archives: Grant news

CRESH involved in successful funding bid: ‘Mobility, Mood and Place’

Stadium Freeway in Portland, Is Shown in November, 1973, as It Looked without Street Lighting...11/1973
Jamie Pearce and Niamh Shortt, along with colleagues in the Edinburgh College of Art, the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre, School of Social and Political Science, Geriatric Medicine, Kings College London and Heriot Watt University have been successful in securing funding (£1.58 million) under the cross council Design for Wellbeing call led by the EPSRC along with the ESRC and the AHRC. The project, Mobility, Mood and Place, led by Professor Catherine Ward Thompson, will run for 3 years with Jamie and Niamh leading one of the four work packages. This work package will focus on a ‘lifecourse of place’, exploring how physical, built and social environments evolve over time and consider whether these processes are implicated in explaining inequalities in health-related mobility in older age. To get more of an idea of what we plan to do see Jamie’s recent blog post.

CRESH gets new grant to look at risk to kids from alcohol and tobacco outlets

The CRESH team, led by Niamh Shortt, has been awarded a grant from the MRC/CSO Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy. The research will examine whether the density of tobacco and alcohol outlets around schools and homes affects smoking and drinking behaviours among 13 and 15 year olds, in Scotland. The grant begins in early 2011 and we’ll be looking to recruit staff soon. Watch our website for more details.

CRESH MRC success (falls, ageing and resilience)

A team of researchers from a range of disciplines, including Professor Jamie Pearce from CRESH, has been successful in an application to the Medical Research Council (MRC) for a Strategic Grant to undertake pilot work on the outdoor environment and older people’s resilience to falls. The study, titled Go Far (Going Outdoors: Falls, Ageing & Resilience), will be a year-long project linking into Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW): a major cross-council initiative supporting research into healthy ageing and wellbeing in later life. The study is led by the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre at theUniversityofSalford. The CRESH contribution will be to consider socio-spatial patterns in falls among the elderly in the UK.

New ERC funding

A new CRESH project funded by the European Research Council commenced on 1st October 2011. Funded for 1.4 million euros over 5 years, this international study is considering how existing secondary datasets might be utilised to answer important questions about the pathways linking the environment to to health. The work commenced on 1st October 2011 and is led by Prof Jamie Pearce, Dr Niamh Shortt and Prof Richard Mitchell. We are delighted to be able to  appoint three members of staff Dr Elizabeth Richardson, Esther Rind, Dr Helena Tunstall. More details on our progress with this project will be posted on the CRESH webpage.

Funding Success: European Research Council

The CRESH team have been successful in securing a grant from the European Research Council entitled ‘Physical Built Environments and Health Inequalities’. The named investigators on the project are Dr Jamie Pearce, Dr Niamh Shortt and Prof Richard Mitchell. The project is funded for five years (2011-16) for €1,399,570.

New grant for environment and health inequalities study

CRESH members Drs Jamie Pearce and Elizabeth Richardson are part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers recently awarded interdisciplinary funding to examine the role of pollution and weather events in shaping health and inequalities in the UK. In collaboration with Edinburgh colleagues Ruth Doherty (Edinburgh PI), Mat Heal, David Stevenson and Massimo Vieno they have secured a grant entitled “Air pollution and weather-related health impacts: methodological study based on spatio-temporally disaggregated multi-pollutants models for present day and future”, awarded under the UK cross-council Environmental Exposure and Health Initiative. The project involves 5 institutions with atmospheric scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde, epidemiologists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and St. Georges Hospital, University of London, health geographers and social scientists at Edinburgh and LSHTM and experts in building physics at University College London. The total award is £1.8M over 4 years. The project will examine the spatial variations in health outcomes related to mixtures of air pollutants and weather in the UK, and the relationship to socio-economic inequalities. The WRF (meteorology) and EMEP (atmospheric chemistry) models will be used to simulate weather and composition at 5km by 5km resolution across the UK.

Team awarded ‘Big Society’ grant

CRESH has been awarded a grant from the AHRC Connected Communities programme to look at The Big Society, a key idea underpinning the UKs coalition government. The work will start in January 2011

In a ‘Big Society’, citizens and communities take a vastly increased role in managing, shaping and delivering social and physical infrastructure. The idea is closely allied to notions of community activism and civic participation, and thereby to concepts of social capital and social cohesion. The idea behind Big Society is that not only do social and community problems get ‘fixed’ without direct state intervention; those involved draw social and health benefits from their roles.  Measurement of community participation, social support, social capital and civic engagement is well developed at the individual level. However, Big Society places a focus on geographically defined communities such as ‘the neighbourhood’ or ‘your square mile’. Measuring and comparing community participation within neighbourhoods across the country is much harder and less well developed.

Existing literature provides compelling reasons for wanting to follow the progression of Big Society over time. The nature and size of social and environmental problems faced varies between communities. Some communities currently have greater levels of civic engagement than others, and some are probably better placed to begin or grow that kind of participation than others. If Big Society is to become a major route through which problems are solved and life in the UK is improved, it is essential that we understand who and where might benefit most, which communities might lead the way and which might need most help in adapting to the new policy. Monitoring where we start from, and where we go, is an essential component of this important change in the balance between citizens and the state.

If we want to learn whether a policy emphasis on Big Society changes participation in our neighbourhoods and communities, we need to know about how people currently participate. We also need to know this in a way which allows us to monitor how things may change. There is no contemporary picture of existing patterns of engagement, or indeed potential for engagement, across the UK.  There is however, a range of existing methods for measuring and estimating levels of social capital or civic engagement within small geographically defined communities.


The objectives of the project are to

A)     Identify sources of data on civic engagement, community participation, volunteering and community cohesion which either describe geographical variation in these characteristics across the UK, or which are suitable for producing estimates

B)     Consider the candidacy for each of the identified characteristics as a contributor to measuring ‘Big Society’, and determine the small-area units best suited to capturing ‘community’ in this context

C)     Identify the most suitable methods for deriving small area measures of community participation and action


Team awarded new grant

Duncan Lee and Rich Mitchell have been awarded a grant from ESRC to try and solve a problem with the methods used to investigate spatial variation in health.

There is great interest in how and why the risks of good or poor health seem to vary from place to place. There are lots of studies which have tried to work out how the characteristics of places and the people who live there may explain why health is worse in some areas than in others. When scientists do this kind of work, they need to take into account the fact that places which are physically closer together tend to be similar to each other; this similarity can have an influence on the statistical tests used and if this problem is ignored, it can lead to the wrong conclusions about how the characteristics of places and the people who live there are related to risks of poor health.

There is a problem however, in that the existing techniques are not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between places that are right next to each other and which actually are very similar, and those which are right next to each other but which are actually quite different. This is a particular problem in cities, where you can get two neighbouring areas that have very different characteristics.

In this project, we intend to develop a method which is able to spot when areas are close together but have different characteristics and when areas which are close together are indeed quite similar. The method will then apply the right kind of statistical approach in each situation. Our project has three parts. First, we will develop the new method. Then we will test it in a way that allows us to see how much better our new approach is than the existing technique. Finally, we will use the method to look at how and why the risks of three different health problems vary in the central belt of Scotland. The health problems will be alcohol problems, lung problems and breast cancer. For each of these health problems we will use our new technique to explore what characteristics of places and the people who live in them, might raise or lower risk. Rather than discovering new factors that might be involved in the risks of these disease, we expect to be able to gain a better understanding of the relative importance of factors which have already been identified. This might help the health service to know what level of ill health to expect in an area, given its characteristics, and hence plan services better, or it might help to identify what aspects of places and their residents need to be changed or helped to reduce risk of poor health.

So, overall the project will make a contribution to methods in this kind of science and will also provides a useful study of some big health problems.

The project starts in October 2010 and will run for 2 years.