To communicate our research to a wider audience we regularly participate in events and activities to engage with the public, and with healthcare practitioners and policy makers.

Public Engagement

Engaging with the public is of increasing strategic importance for higher education, to strengthen relevance, responsiveness and accountability and to build trust. HERU has always placed people at the heart of our research and public engagement offers an opportunity to share our research with the public and allow the public to help shape research agendas.

Our full list of public engagements activities are listed in the Other Presentations section of the website. Some recent highlights are featured below.

Please contact Patrícia Norwood for further details of our engagement activities and to discuss HERU participation in events.

Café Scientifique

Marjon van der Pol, Mandy Ryan and Dwayne Boyers, led a Café Scientifique event in October 2019 at the Belmont Filmhouse titled ‘What should we value in healthcare?’. This looked at how the NHS makes choices about what treatments to fund by weighing costs against benefits.

The discussion focused on what benefits should be included – clinical, wellbeing, or something else – and whether the NHS should pay for treatments that don’t improve health but are still valued by the public.

HERU staff at Cafe Scientifique 2019

Cell Block Science

In May 2019, Rodolfo Hernández, Alastair Irvine and Patrícia Norwood took part in Cell Block Science at HMP Grampian, Peterhead. This Wellcome Trust financed initiative is an innovative project bringing informal science learning into Scottish prisons through researcher visits.

The HERU researchers, along with the HMP Grampian education team, held a series of workshops where prisoners took part in lively discussions on how health economics informs decision making on healthcare financing.

HERU staff on prison visit

Café MED

Informing health policy

In November 2018, Mandy Ryan from HERU and Professor Craig Ramsay (Director of the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen) took part in a Café MED to celebrate the award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize and led a discussion on how the research conducted at HERU and HSRU has changed healthcare over the last 40 years, and outlined the challenges for the next 40.

'See Cancer'

In September 2018, a Café MED event took place in the Town House, Aberdeen on the subject of ‘See Cancer’.

The event looked at how the University of Aberdeen plans for a world-class centre for cancer research are taking shape. It was led by Professor Steve Heys (Head of School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition), Professor Valerie Spiers (Chair in Molecular Oncology) and HERU's Mandy Ryan.

Many members of the public, researchers and clinicians attended and heard about the developments in cancer research, the fundraising campaign and the potential for future trials and cutting-edge treatments.

‘See Cancer’ Café Med

Explorathon 17

HERU took part in the Explorathon’17 activities in Aberdeen city centre in September 2017. We had an exhibit at the European Researchers event in the Bon Accord shopping centre.

As part of the exhibit members of the public were asked to decide which of four personalised health scenarios they would choose to fund.

The event aimed to get the public thinking about health economics and funding decisions, and six HERU staff and PhD students were on hand to discuss the choices and the work of the Unit.

HERU staff and students at Explorathon 17


Luis Loría, of HERU, took part in a TEDx Talk at Aberdeen University in March 2017.

TEDx Talks are events for speakers to showcase their ideas in under 19 minutes and Luis spoke about his PhD research on using discrete choice experiments to study consumer preferences for bus travel in Aberdeen.

The talk is available on the TEDx Talks YouTube channel.

Loria, L.E. (2017) 'Familiarity breeds liking: experiences from Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet', TEDx Talk, Aberdeen, 30 March 2017.

Policy Engagement

We regularly attend and contribute to policy engagement events to communicate our research to healthcare practitioners and policy makers. Some recent highlights are featured below.

Public Health England Annual Conference

In September 2019, Anne Ludbrook attended the Public Health England Annual Conference and participated in a session on prevention, presenting ‘The upstream problem – impatient for results?’, and taking part in a panel discussion.

NHS Scotland Event

Paul McNameeShelley Farrar and Mary Kilonzo attended the annual NHS Scotland Event in May 2019, at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.

The event is the leading health event in Scotland and aims to highlight how NHS Scotland and its partners are transforming care, improving quality and securing value and financial sustainability.

The HERU exhibition stand proved popular with delegates and gave an opportunity to discuss the research and teaching activities of the Unit, and the contribution that health economics can make to healthcare.

7th Annual Research Symposium

The Annual Research Symposium is jointly organised by Healthcare Improvement Scotland and three CSO funded Units - HERU, Health Services Research Unit and the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit. In 2019, the event took place in Edinburgh on 25th April 2019.

The day presents an opportunity to showcase policy relevant work conducted across Scotland, as well as hear from researchers and policy makers from further afield. The 2019 symposium focused on the delivery of realistic medicine in Scotland.

HERU were represented at the event with Dwayne Boyers and Elisabet Jacobsen presenting work on cost-effective interventions for the ‘management of severe obesity’ and Verity Watson discussing her work concerned with ‘evaluating the trade-offs men with localised prostate cancer make between the risks and benefits of treatments’. Mandy RyanPatrícia Norwood and Attakrit Leckcivilize delivered a workshop on ‘Ensuring value for money in a person-centred health care system: how can economics contribute?’.

HERU staff at 2019 Research Symposium

The University of Aberdeen in a Post-Brexit World

Hosted by Kirsty Blackman, Aberdeen North MP, a delegation from the University of Aberdeen attended the House of Commons in February 2018 to highlight the importance of our world leading research in a post-Brexit world.

Hot off the heels of celebrating the Queen’s Anniversary Prize at Buckingham Palace, Mandy Ryan from HERU and Professor Craig Ramsay (Director, HSRU) attended this Westminster event, highlighting the ways that the work of the units has changed millions of lives all over the world.

Mandy and Craig at Westminster event