Our research has prioritised research which is relevant to the lives of our students and our local communities. We have developed strong relationships with our local communities and organisations, with a specific focus on at-risk and vulnerable communities, such as children living in difficult environments, individuals experiencing mental ill-health, refugees, and people vulnerable to addictive behaviour.
We have invested in state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for our Research Suite and provide associated training to students and staff. We provide opportunities for students to gain valuable research experience through internships and research placements. This is part of our strong commitment to developing future research leaders. We have a vibrant and growing PhD student community – with many going on to secure prestigious post-doctoral positions and academic lectureships.
Our research with local communities delivers impact that is applied globally, leading to wide media coverage and securing major international and national grants (e.g. European Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Economic and Social Research Council). In REF2014 our research impact was rated 100% 4*, one of only four departments in the UK to receive the highest rating.
Example Research Project 1 - Family Recovery after Domestic Abuse
Dr Emma Howarth’s work targets children exposed to domestic violence and abuse. She moved to UEL from Cambridge University because of our school’s strength in establishing and maintaining connections with local community groups. She runs a £640k NIHR Public Health Research Grant which investigates the effectiveness of community support programmes for mothers and children exposed to domestic violence and abuse, working with the charity Against Violence and Abuse. From UEL she also collaborates on a £1m ESRC grant examining violence, abuse and mental health and a separate £525k NIHR grant examining indicators, outcomes and costs to inform family interventions for child maltreatment.
Example Research Project 2 - How Chaotic and Noisy Home Environments Influence Early Development
Dr Sam Wass joined UEL in 2016 from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge - also because of our ability to attract research participants from diverse backgrounds. Since joining UEL he was awarded a £152k ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship (2017-2019) to investigate how noisy and cramped living environments affect early development - a project which led to extensive policy impact and dissemination (see section 4.2). Recently, he has been awarded funding to continue this work from the Leverhulme Trust (£327k, 2019-2021), Horizon2020 (£212km, 2020-2021) and, most recently, a five-year European Research Council Starter grant (£1.37 million, 2020-2025).
Example Research Project 3 - Minimising gambling-related harm in vulnerable populations
Our Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Research Group, led by Dr Steve Sharman and Professor John Turner, has partnered with the Gordon Moody Association, which is the sole UK residential treatment provider for individuals with gambling problems. This stakeholder partnership has led to research which radically alters our understanding of why some people (e.g. the homeless) are especially vulnerable to behavioural addictions such as gambling. Their findings have informed reports from All Party Parliamentary groups and Public Health England, and have led to changes in how gambling is regulated to protect vulnerable populations in the UK.
Example Research Project 4 – Changing national clinical guidelines and practice regarding depression treatment
Professor John Read’s report for Public Health England on current treatment practices for depression has received blanket media coverage across all major news networks around the UK and across the world (see section 4.2). It has been implemented into practitioner care guidelines around the world and has led to changes in the National Institute for Health Care Excellence guidelines for antidepressant use.
Example Research Project 5 – Developing and informing mental health services for refugees
Our local community in East London features one of the highest populations in the UK of voluntary migrants and forced migrants (refugees). Interdisciplinary research by Professor Tribe working with colleagues from other Schools (e.g. Social Sciences), has radically changed our approach to how practitioners provide mental health services for refugees. Her findings now underpin the official practitioner guidance on refugees from NHS England, from charities including Mind, and from international organisations such as The Refugee Council and the Red Cross.