NEWS3 March 2022

NatCen appoints head of new Centre for Health Research

News People UK

UK – The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) has appointed Dr Laura Johnson to lead its new Centre for Health Research.

Head shot of Laura Johnson

The new centre will bring together the organisation’s biomedical survey and health and social care policy teams, using diverse methods to drive research exploration and functioning as an interface for health and social science research that works for society. 

Led by Johnson, (pictured) the centre will build on NatCen’s long track record conducting research that informs government policy and advances understanding of the nation’s health. This includes work collecting and analysing data for major studies such as the Health Survey for England, Scottish Health Survey, National Diet and Nutrition Survey, English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey, National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles and, more recently, the Coronavirus Infection Survey.

Johnson joins NatCen from the University of Bristol where she was associate professor in Public Health Nutrition. A leading nutritional epidemiologist, Laura’s previous research focuses on the role of dietary and eating patterns in the prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

She brings expertise leading the innovation of passive dietary assessment methods, including wearable devices and biomarkers, alongside extensive experience investigating the range of biological, social and psychological factors that influence food intake and appetite control.

NatCen chief executive Guy Goodwin, said: “NatCen has a long tradition of leading innovation in health-related research. Our experienced researchers, nurses and biomedical interviewers deliver some of the most complex and high-profile biomedical surveys in the country.

“We will now be enhancing our portfolio of health and social care policy and biomedical work by providing greater focus on the health legacy of Covid-19, health inequalities and behaviour change, global health, social care research and through the innovative use of data and analysis. Laura brings considerable leadership strength as well as expertise in the field and I’m delighted she will be heading our new Centre for Health Research.”