In 2018 Fuse celebrated its tenth anniversary. In the article below Professor Ashley Adamson, Fuse Director, and two of our colleagues from policy and practice look back at what the Centre has achieved in that time.
Fuse has had considerable impact on public health research and policy over the last ten years in the North East, nationally and internationally. Central to progress and impact has been capacity building for public health research within the partner universities.
There have been eight academic appointments at Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader level plus eight research posts and 19 PhD studentships funded directly through the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) initiative. Fuse has also leveraged funding for additional posts, including Readers and Chairs in public health research and 30 additional PhD studentships.
Additional capacity has enabled us to develop critical mass in new and key research areas across Fuse, such as knowledge exchange and behaviour change. Fuse currently has over 1400 network members, 266 of these are Associate members from across the region and further afield with an interest in public health research, both from academia and policy and practice who share Fuse’s mission.
Translation and innovation
As part of our core mission of translation of research evidence into policy and practice we launched Fuse’s responsive research and evaluation facility ‘AskFuse’ in June 2013. AskFuse has supported over 300 enquiries, resulting in over 35 funded projects, working with more than 150 partners in Local Authorities, NHS, general practice, and voluntary and community organisations across the North East and beyond. With the support of Fuse researchers, we have helped our partners to access existing knowledge or to work in collaboration to develop new research evidence that is relevant, timely and tailored to their needs and enabled them to find answers to issues that matter. This innovative model has attracted considerable national interest.
New ways of working include an innovative partnership with Gateshead Local Authority which involves a researcher-in-residence being co-located with the Council’s Public Health team to inform the planning and design and implementation of interventions.
Engagement events and activities have been a core plank of our strategy with over 400 events organised to date. In particular, Fuse Quarterly Research Meetings have been a key opportunity for research dissemination, dialogue about the implications for policy and practice, making new and strengthening existing contacts, and building a dialogue around research results and potential future projects. All Fuse meetings are free to attend making them available to all of our members.
Fuse also hosts the Physical Activity Research Workshops which provide a forum for sharing knowledge about physical activity research and for network opportunities for academics and those working in policy and practice.
We have developed innovative ways to disseminate and mobilise our research findings into policy and practice, including research briefs, animations, infographic and theatre. In April 2016 the Fuse Open Science Blog beat tough national competition to win the award for best blog in the education category at the UK Blog Awards.
We have built international partnerships to share our research with leading scientists and organisations across the globe. In April 2011 Fuse were the founders of the first International Knowledge Exchange in Public Health Conference held in Durham and attracting 150 delegates from all over the world. A second conference followed in Holland in 2013 hosted by Tranzo at Tilburg University, a third hosted by Fuse in Newcastle-Gateshead in April 2016 and a fourth in Vancouver, Canada in May 2018 in partnership with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.
Fuse is a founding member of the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR). Established in April 2012, the Fuse research income generated through the SPHR during the first phase was in excess of £2.9m. Fuse has been successful in the renewal of its membership of the NIHR School for Public Health Research from April 2017 to 2022 for which I am honoured to have been appointed as national Director. In addition to this Fuse has been successful in bringing in excess of £200M in grant funding to north east England, has had over 1,000 peer reviewed publications and has over 30,000 citations.
Testimony from our colleagues in policy and practice
"Ten years on it is easy to forget how ground breaking the concept of five Universities collaborating together on public health was at the beginning.
"A key reason for the success of Fuse is the way in which they have collaborated with the wider public health system which has fundamentally changed during this time period.
"From the outset Fuse worked closely with the NHS through the Strategic Health Authority and since 2013 has worked equally closely with Public Health England and local government across the North East.
"This close co-operation has enabled the Fuse research programme to reflect the public health priorities in the North East.
"Working closely with front line public health has not compromised quality and Fuse has set and maintained the highest academic standards as its excellent publication record and success in grant applications amply demonstrates.
"Indeed, it is through working with Fuse that the quality of many North East public health services and programmes are so good and have become national benchmarks.
"Finally, Fuse has a long established excellent quarterly research meeting programme that continues to attract people working in all areas of public health.
"We are delighted that Fuse has secured core funding for the future and look forward to the next 10 years!"
Peter Kelly, Centre Director, Public Health England North East and Chair of the Fuse Centre Strategy Board
Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health, Newcastle City Council