University of Glasgow public health academic awarded £1.3m prestigious ERC Starting Grant

Issued: Thu, 03 Sep 2020 11:00:00 BST

Public health doctor Professor Vittal Katikireddi was awarded his grant as part of a €677m round of funding announced today by the European Research Council. The grant was awarded as part of the EU’s Research and Innovation Programme, Horizon 2020.

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Based at the University of Glasgow’s MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Prof Katikireddi £1.3m award will be used to establish Health Equity of Economic Determinants (HEED): Developing a Pan-European microsimulation model – a five year study starting in January 2021, which will look at the impacts of taxation and social security policies on population health and mortality across Europe. The study will use a range of real-world data as well as computer modelling, to understand the real and map the potential impacts of policy decisions on population health and wellbeing.

Four times as many people die early in the most deprived areas of Scotland than the least deprived. Income and welfare policies are likely to play a major role. This grant will allow Prof Katikireddi and his team to develop a computer model, drawing on the most robust available data, to predict what the impact of different government policies across Europe on health inequalities is likely to be. The work will span several disciplines, integrating perspectives from epidemiology, public health, economics, statistics, computer modelling and social policy.

Prof Katikireddi said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in our ERC Starting Grant. Ultimately, there is a need to move from ‘understanding the problem’ to ‘what should we do’ to reducing health inequalities through effective government policies. Addressing this gap is at the heart of this research.

"For too long, the health implications of specific economic policies have been poorly understood. Yet, we know that clearly articulating the health implications of decisions can help policymakers pursue evidence-informed policies.  We hope that by creating the HEED model we will have created a tool that can answer many of these questions, and thereby help governments to tackle the unfair burden of disease and death amongst socially disadvantaged people in societies.”

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “With European Research Council grants, the EU is leveraging the talent and curiosity of some of the best young researchers in Europe. Their ideas are set to break fresh ground and open new ways to deal with pressing challenges in the areas of health, energy and digital technologies, as well as many other fields. Our ambition to effectively tackle current and future crises depends on our strong will to continuously and increasingly support top research at the frontiers of our knowledge.”