The UK’s Department of Health is putting a total of £64 million into seven new research partnerships between universities and National Health Service organisations that will look at ways of improving care in areas such as heart disease, psychosis, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes.

The funding will go to NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Collaborations for Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) in Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, London, Exeter and Sheffield, which were selected by an international expert panel to start work on 1 October 2008.

The partnerships will undertake “high-quality applied health research focused on the needs of patients” and will “support the translation of research evidence into practice in the NHS for the benefit of patients, including the trialling and evaluation of initiatives to encourage adoption of evidence-based practice or clinical effectiveness”, the DH explained.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the new funding would help to improve health outcomes for patients across England, with particular emphasis on conditions that involved chronic distress to patients and were a “significant issue” for the NHS to manage.

The full list of target areas is heart failure, child health and wellbeing, early detection and interventions in psychosis, redesigning health services, maternity support for multi-ethnic disadvantaged groups, stroke care, kidney disease, diabetes and obesity, environment and human health, development and ageing, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To qualify for funding, the NHS-university partnerships had to demonstrate “an excellent record in undertaking applied health research (particularly research targeted at chronic disease and ways of improving public health) and to put forward very strong proposals for new research and for implementing research findings, which were very likely to generate a step change in the way that research is done and research evidence is implemented into practice”, the DH noted.

Professor Sally Davies, director general of research and development at the DoH, said the NIHR CLAHRCs would be “conducting this work at the front line of the NHS so that the benefits and findings from research can be swiftly incorporated into routine clinical practice”.