IAHS Research Strategy:

The Institute of Applied Health Sciences is its people and their commitment, the partnerships that they form and the place. It is comprised of world leading researchers, contributing to a vibrant and exciting research culture and environment framed by a strong partnership between the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian. The IAHS is a multidisciplinary grouping staff who conduct population-based and clinically-orientated health research co-located on the Foresterhill health campus with clinical services of NHS Grampian.

As members of IAHS, our aim is to transform peoples’ lives through the better understanding and the improvement of healthcare systems and healthcare outcomes.

Three key areas of strength:

Research - methodological and clinical innovation

Research - methodological and clinical innovation

We hold methodological strengths in data science, clinical trials, epidemiology, health economics, health services research, health psychology, psycho-oncology and medical statistics.

We hold strengths in the application of these methods to a number of clinical areas: Child Health, Chronic Disease (Neurology, Renal and Public Health), Primary Care, Rural Health, Urology, and Women’s Health and in key research themes that run through these clinical areas such as Cancer and Global Health.

The challenge for the Institute is to continue to strengthen a research environment that encourages and supports individuals to flourish and to address important research questions through innovative methodologies and collaborations both across units. Part of this challenge lies in the organisation of research but part also lies in building a collective sense of belonging and ownership which includes clinical academics, PhD students and those in its smaller units.

At an Institute-level, our research strategy needs to be outward facing and to recognise multi-disciplinarity. Whilst continuing to recognise the many strengths of the individual research groups, at an Institute-level, we need to focus on how these strengths can be applied to address the big societal challenges.

  • Use our research strengths to address the big societal challenges as defined by the University’s 2040 strategy document – Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing; Social and Cultural Inclusion; Energy Transition; Data and AI and Environment and Biodiversity.
  • Build towards cross-cutting programmes of excellence starting with the more established and externally recognised areas of strength such as health data science, health services research, health economics and health psychology. The aim will be to seek external programme recognition in the form of UKRI funded programmes in areas such as AI and Data Science for Health, Food Systems Approach for Healthy People and Healthy Planet; Tackling Multi-morbidity.
  • Put structures and processes in place to continue to develop other key areas towards securing external programme funding such as multi-disciplinary cancer research from bench to bedside.
  • Developing staff to become PhD supervisors, foster positive supervisory experiences and attract high calibre students. This will include better support for supervision, facilitating the involvement of clinical staff and establishing systems of shadowing (or 3rd supervisor) / mentoring for early career researchers.
Partnerships and building communities of expertise

Partnerships and building communities of expertise across the different stakeholder groups within healthcare.

Through our programmes of research, we work in close partnership with the rest of the School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition, with the wider University, with the NHS, with the local community, with the voluntary sector and patient organisations, with funding bodies, policy makers and guideline development groups and with Industry. These groups are variously our partners, our colleagues, our participants and our funders; they are also stakeholders in a community of expertise.

It is through investment in the development of these partnerships that we can ensure that our research is forward-thinking and innovative and that it addresses the healthcare needs of the future. This investment in partnerships and multi-stakeholder communities of expertise will also helps us in continuing to improve and strengthen our research community (both clinical and non-clinical) and widen our influence and increase our impact. Through continuing to successfully deliver the benefits of methodological innovation and, at the same time, building partnerships, we can work more easily towards the translation of our research into policy and practice and in a variety of different healthcare settings across the world.

  • Increase the internal and external visibility of our strengths in addressing big societal challenges. This will include encouraging the development of external strategic partnerships and the development of a system for curating links with strategic partners towards building multi-stakeholder communities of expertise within these societal challenge areas
  • Acknowledge the need to invest in and develop people within the Institute, facilitate internal cross-group partnerships and support the inclusion of doctoral students and early career researchers in these research partnerships
  • Showcase the knowledge and expertise of the individual research groups through the development of a rapid showcase seminar series. The aim of this series is from the individual research groups to present group strategy, ideas for collaboration and needs. These will be led by senior staff with engagement from all group. Each seminar will involve discussion time for the consideration of how the group strengths inform IAHS-level multi-disciplinary collaborations to address the big societal challenges.
  • Create a new IAHS research seminar co-ordinator post to work with group leads to develop a novel programme of rapid showcase seminars, internal and external research seminars and ‘Conversations on ……’ meetings.
Integration between Research and Teaching

Integration between Research and Teaching

The Institute leads in Research and Postgraduate Teaching within the University of Aberdeen. Part of the appeal of our programmes lies in the integration of research and teaching and in the visibility of key figures within our different disciplines. The insight gained from our research programmes, for example around individuals’ health journeys, interactions between key stakeholders and recommendations for better ways of delivering healthcare, allows for teachable moments that can shape future practice. The clear visibility of our staff within IAHS, their enthusiasm and our particular areas of expertise also contribute to the development of our growing PGR community. Through continued investment in our successful teaching environment (both in the Institute and the School) and engagement from Institute staff, we have the opportunity to develop and shape future cohorts of applied health researchers and clinical academics.

  • Innovation comes through reflection on internal work and locating this within new developments in pedagogy. This needs to be supported by the development of better links between our research and our teaching and by an investment in time and space (built environment).
  • Introduce ‘Conversations on…’ about new cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary teaching opportunities. This will also involve showcasing the mapping of knowledge and expertise of the individual research groups on to current programmes through the rapid showcase seminars series. Continue to position Aberdeen as a key centre for Applied Health Research and Teaching in Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing; Social and Cultural Inclusion; Energy Transition; Data and AI and Environment and Biodiversity.