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University of Warwick researcher will improve medical screening and shape national policy thanks to prestigious £1.8m NIHR Professorship

A University of Warwick researcher, Professor Sian Taylor-Phillips, has received a £1.8 million award to drive national policy for medical screening tests in the UK.

Health screening detects potential disorders or diseases in people who do not have any symptoms. The tests offered to millions of people worldwide, ranging from adult cancer screening to rare disease screening in newborn babies.

Thanks to the funding by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), scientists at the University of Warwick will comprehensively research screening tests in order to understand which would be beneficial to roll-out nationally on the NHS. The team are already leading research into breast cancer screening, examining different ways to improve the test used, including using artificial intelligence.

Governments rely on research like the University of Warwick’s to understand the benefits and harms of screening tests, such as how many lives it could save and how many people are harmed through incorrect test results or unnecessary treatments. High quality research is essential for enabling governments to decide which screening programmes to offer.

Professor Sian Taylor-Phillips, expert in population health at Warwick Medical School, said: “I am honoured to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the achievements of the Warwick Screening team and provides funds to expand our work.

“This research is collaborative with the UK National Screening Committee and their international equivalents, who advise national governments on which health screening programmes to offer. We will focus on improving methods of evidence synthesis, so policy makers will have the best information available to make decisions.

"We will bring together difference sources of available evidence and make use of existing data such as patient medical records in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of health screening on people’s health. Ultimately, we hope this research will lead to screening programmes which save more lives, and have fewer harms, both within the UK and internationally."

The work will widen the availability of good quality research and reduce the time and costs of obtaining it. It will improve government access to evidence for understanding the benefits and harms of screening for different groups of people, for example different ethnic or socioeconomic groups. It will help them to make decisions about which screening programmes to run.

Professor Sian Taylor-Phillips is one of six research leaders to receive this prestigious NIHR Research Professorship in 2023 and the first University of Warwick academic to receive such an award. Her research will consider the benefits and harms of population screening, which will help support government policy making.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, and Chief Executive of NIHR, said: “The NIHR Research Professorship is the flagship award for the organisation. It funds researchers to drive discoveries into improved diagnostics and treatments, enhancing health and care. This year, our Research Professors are working across a breadth of areas that are relevant and topical, including digital health, clinical trials, population health and social care research. I’m excited to see the difference the research will make to the lives of people and communities across the UK.”

The NIHR Research Professorships scheme funds researchers to promote the effective translation of research. It also aims to strengthen research leadership at the highest academic levels. This year, six leading researchers will receive five-year awards of up to £2 million.



University of Warwick press office contact:

Annie Slinn

Communications Officer | Press & Media Relations | University of WarwickLink opens in a new window 

17 February 2023