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National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI)

The National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI) is a national initiative made up of government departments, research councils and major medical charities that are working together to encourage and support research into chronic disease prevention. Its core aim is to develop and implement successful, cost-effective interventions that reduce people’s risk of developing major diseases by influencing their health behaviours.

The NPRI funding partners have just completed their fourth phase of funding. NPRI Phase 4 provided a commitment of ~ £10 million over five years. Founded in 2004 by the National Cancer Research Institute, the NPRI has had three previous funding calls (2004, 2007 and 2008) which have supported 55 research projects of variable size and duration with a combined commitment of £23 million.

The MRC manages the initiative on behalf of its 16 funding partners.

NPRI Funding partners

  • Alzheimer’s Research Trust
  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorate
  • Department of Health
  • Diabetes UK
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Health and Social Care Research Division, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland
  • Medical Research Council
  • Stroke Association
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Welsh Government
  • World Cancer Research Fund

The NPRI welcomes approaches from organisations with similar interests in preventing chronic disease and promoting good health behaviour, who would like to join us. Both public and charity sector organisations, large or small, are welcome.

For more information, please contact Dr Gavin Malloch:

Contact: Gavin Malloch


NPRI case studies

Alcohol use

Tobacco use

Diet and physical activity

NPRI Phase 1: Research and awards

In December 2005, the NRPI funded 26 new research projects aimed at preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These diseases were targeted because of their considerable impact on public health: in the UK more than 153,000 people died of cancer in 2004; three million people have diabetes, including up to a million in whom the condition hasn’t yet been diagnosed, and coronary heart disease is the UK’s most common cause of death, killing around 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women.

Smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol intake are at the root of these and many other diseases. The NPRI-funded studies explore a range of approaches to promoting positive health behaviour, to encourage people to avoid these habits and to follow a healthy diet and physical activity programme. Many are taking place in local settings - schools, neighbourhoods, homes, the workplace and GP surgeries - with members of the community helping to develop and testing new interventions.

Some projects use the internet to influence health behaviour, develop partnerships with local food shops, train members of the community to be health advisors, or use marketing communication skills to promote healthier living.

Here are some examples of the research project topics:

  • Developing strategies to tackle the early origins of obesity
  • Helping Bangladeshi and Pakistani men to stop smoking
  • Mapping physical activity and health in the urban environment
  • Using the internet to encourage weight loss in overweight African-Caribbean women
  • Exploring physical activity in older adults
  • Assessing the effect of alcohol marketing on drinking by young people
  • Exploring the timing of meals and physical activity to promote good health in shift workers
  • Influencing the choices low-income consumers make when buying food

NPRI Phase 1: Awards

NPRI Phase 1 was launched in October 2004 with a call for outline proposals. A total of 250 outlines were submitted, and these were assessed in April 2005 by the NPRI Scientific Committee which invited 44 full proposals. These were internationally peer reviewed and assessed by the scientific committee.

The NPRI funding partners announced 26 research awards in 2005.

NPRI Phase 2: Research and awards

Following the success of the first funding round, NPRI announced a second call for outline applications in March 2007. Consistent with Phase 1, research funded under Phase 2 relates to risk reduction and/or health behaviour – specially tobacco use, alcohol misuse, diet and/or physical activity, with the aim of preventing cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and/or diabetes.

Applications were invited in two specific areas.

Area 1: The analysis of existing datasets in order to further realise the benefits of past investment and put existing data to new uses relating to health behaviours, their determinants and barriers to change. Appropriate datasets included international, national and localised resources derived from surveys, cohorts, case studies, trials or other sources.

Area 2: Role of incentives, including economic incentives, in behaviour or behaviour change of the consumer, retailer, manufacturer or producer in respect of products or services relating to tobacco, alcohol, diet and/or physical activity.

NPRI Phase 2: Awards

A total of 38 outline applications were received and assessed by the NPRI Scientific Committee which invited 22 full applications. These were internationally peer reviewed and assessed by the scientific committee. The NPRI funding partners considered the recommendations of the committee and announced the following 14 new research awards.

Press announcement ‘£3 million for research to prevent ill health’.

The NPRI Phase 2 awardees (2008) can be downloaded on the right of this page.

NPRI Phase 3: Research and awards

In recognition of the continuing need for research targeted at the primary prevention of chronic diseases, and the success of Phases 1 and 2, the Funding Partners committed up to £12 million over five years to support NPRI Phase 3.

The focus remained on the same four health behaviours associated with significant risks to health and on the environmental factors that influence those behaviours. Research aims to improve health and prevent diseases or conditions such as cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes, obesity, stroke and dementia.

This call funded cross-disciplinary translational research which develops and tests interventions that can potentially have a major impact on population health.

NPRI Phase 3: Awards

The scientific committee considered 67 outline proposals and invited 32 full applications. These were internationally peer reviewed and assessed by the scientific committee. The NPRI funding partners considered the recommendations of the committee and announced the following 15 new research awards.


The NPRI Phase 3 awardees (2009) can be downloaded on the right of this page.


PRI Phase 4: Research and awards

In 2010, the funding partners announced a further funding call under NPRI Phase 4. This phase aimed at supporting cross-disciplinary research which developed or tested interventions that can potentially have a major impact on population health, using the full range of evaluation methods, including experimental and quasi-experimental (or observational) designs and natural experiments.

Research funded through the call will:

  • develop interventions (including work to understand the underpinning basis)
  • test efficacy of interventions
  • evaluate effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions; and/or
  • evaluate methods for encouraging the uptake or implementation of interventions known to be effective

NPRI Phase 4: Awards

The NPRI scientific committee considered 49 outline proposals and invited 31 full applications. Full applications were internationally peer reviewed and assessed by the scientific committee. In November 2011 the NPRI funding partners considered the recommendations of the scientific committee in a funders meeting and agreed to fund 19 research awards.


The NPRI Phase 4 awardees (2012) can be downloaded on the right of this page.


Information for NPRI funded researchers

Rationale for reporting

The NPRI funding partners take very seriously their responsibility, to the public and to charitable donors, for ensuring that resources are used cost effectively to support high quality work and that, where appropriate, the findings are translatable, applicable and/or exploitable.

The terms and conditions of all NPRI awards include the requirement to submit annual reports as well as a final report at the end of the grant. A final financial statement of expenditure is required at the end of the award.

Reports form an important element in assuring accountability, and also in assessing the impact of the initiative.

Making your annual reports

Up until mid-November 2009, NPRI researchers were required to submit NPRI-specific annual and final reports, and also maintain an impact file.

However, the launch of MRC e-Val on 16 November 2009 has meant that the NPRI reporting process can be streamlined from the perspective of both the researcher and the NPRI Office. Indeed, the MRC’s new online system for gathering data related to the outputs and outcomes related to MRC awards will replace the need for NPRI-specific annual and final reports, and impact files.

MRC e-Val will survey all researchers who currently hold MRC awards, along with researchers whose MRC awards terminated in 2006, 2007 or 2008. It is mandatory that all researchers complete or update the survey annually. Many of the questions and fields which were previously covered in the NPRI Report now appear as standard questions in MRC e-Val but additional NPRI-specific information must be entered as free text at Question 12. Prompts for the free text entry will be sent to NPRI PIs by email immediately prior to each e-Val annual survey and it is essential that these prompts are used to fully inform input at Question 12.

Making your final reports

Following on from the above, there is no longer any need for the NPRI-specific final report. From 16th November 2009, NPRI researchers should complete the standard MRC Final Report. However, it is essential that NPRI-funded researchers ensure they complete the extra NPRI questions in Question 12 of the annual MRC e-Val survey (as well as completing the rest of the questions) in the year/s following the submission of the final report.

Impact files

Following on from the above, and given that the MRC will survey researchers annually for at least five years after the completion of an award, there is no longer any need for NPRI-funded researchers to maintain specific NPRI impact files.

Contact for NPRI-specific queries

NPRI Programme Manager
Telephone: 0207 395 2243