40 Years of Health Economics: a Tribute to Professor Gavin Mooney

HERU conference celebrating 40 Years of Health Economics at Aberdeen University: a tribute to Professor Gavin Mooney

21st October 2014, Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) Building, Foresterhill, University of Aberdeen.

In October 2014 HERU hosted an event to celebrate '40 years of Health Economics at the University of Aberdeen'. This event also celebrated Professor Gavin Mooney’s contribution to health economics in Aberdeen. Gavin, along with his partner Del (Delys) Weston, tragically lost their lives in December 2012.

[Conference Programme, Presentations, Accompanying material]

Conference Introduction

The development of health economics at the University of Aberdeen was inspired by the late Professor Roy Weir with his vision to bring together medicine and economics. Roy’s vision led to the first funded Health Economics project in Scotland. This three year project (1974-1977) was a joint venture between Roy and Elizabeth Russell, and led to Gavin Mooney moving from the Department of Health and Social Security to the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Aberdeen to work with Roy and Elizabeth.

This collaboration between Roy, Elizabeth and Gavin laid the foundations for the establishment of the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) in 1977. HERU was the first Unit in the UK and in Europe to focus research on health economics. The core funding for the Unit was from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Home and Health Department (now the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates). This funding continues to be a main source of funding for HERU almost 40 years later, together with core funding from the University of Aberdeen.

The celebratation of 40 years of health economics at the University of Aberdeen also gave an opportunity to pay tribute to Professor Gavin Mooney. Gavin, along with his partner Del (Delys) Weston, tragically lost their lives in December 2012. Gavin directed HERU between 1977 and 1986 and again between 1991 and 1993. In 1984 he became the first Professor of Health Economics in Scotland.

Gavin’s legacy lives on in HERU 40 years after the Unit was established. A key component of HERU’s remit is capacity building. Gavin was a fantastic teacher and recognised the importance of teaching basic economic concepts within the health service. With much vision Gavin set up the Health Economics Correspondence Course in 1979, a distance learning course aimed at health professionals. This course is still a key vehicle for teaching at HERU. Gavin inspired researchers to challenge health economics, to push the discipline forward, and always to strive for health care systems based on the principles of social justice. Such principles underlie much of the work currently conducted in HERU.

In September 2014 Professor Roy Weir sadly passed away. It had been hoped that Roy would be at the conference to celebrate the success and achievements of HERU. It was Roy’s vision that inspired health economics at the University of Aberdeen. For that we will always be grateful.

Roy WeirGavin Mooney

Roy Weir and Gavin Mooney

The success of HERU would not have been possible without the many researchers who have worked at Aberdeen University over the past 40 years. All current and ex-members of HERU are thanked for their contributions to health economics at the University, and many were able to attend the conference.

Finally, as we look forward to another 40 years, we acknowledge the continued funding and support of the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and the University of Aberdeen. Without this funding HERU’s achievements would not have been possible.

Conference Programme


Health Economics Reflections

Reflections on health economics, HERU and Gavin Mooney by three health economists who worked in HERU early in their careers and in the early years of the Unit.

Professor Alastair Gray - Director, Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Public Health, University of Oxford - Economic Evaluation

Professor Alistair McGuire, Chair in Health Economics, London School of Economics - Hospitals in health care

Professor David Cohen, (Professor of Health Economics, retired) - Programme Budgeting and Marginal Analysis: a Gavin Mooney legacy

Alastair McGuire, Alan Maynard, Alistair Gray, David Cohen and Bob Elliott.

Assessing the Valuation Space in Health Economics

Presentations from 3 researchers who worked at HERU alongside Gavin Mooney discussing work that developed health economics as a discipline.

The presentation Assessing the valuation space in health economics contains an introduction and three separate sections:

Karen Gerrard (University of Southampton) - Breast cancer sreening: what matters?

Professor Cam Donaldson (Glasgow Caledonian University) - Contingent valuation: a method for going beyond health outcomes

Professor Mandy Ryan (HERU) - Discrete Choice Experiments: a method for going beyond health outcomes

Challenges in Health Economics

4 presentations by senior HERU staff on how research in HERU is addressing current challenges in health economics.

Professor Paul McNamee - Balance of care of the elderly and healthy ageing

Professor Marjon van der Pol - Understanding inequalities: the role of time preference

Dr Graham Scotland - Future directions and challenges for assessment of technologies

Dr Verity Watson - Using laboratory experiments to test valuation methods

Accompanying material

A copy of a slideshow featuring images of Gavin Mooney throughout his life which was shown as a backdrop to the conference meal.

Gavin Mooney Memorial booklet to accompany the conference.

HERU Newsletter - special edition to celebrate 40 years of health economics at Aberdeen University.

Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth Russell received a bouquet of flowers for her service in the early years of HERU.