PHIRST London

A multi-disciplinary, cross- School, collaborative Centre that works with Local Authorities to deliver local, yet scalable evaluations that will feed into the wider Public Health priorities agenda and academic research

PHIRST London (Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Team) is one of four Centres within the PHIRST scheme set up by NIHR (National Institute of Health Research).

The Centre is a collaboration between the five LSBU Research Centres; the Centre for Applied Research in Improvement and Innovation, the Centre for Addictive Behaviours, the Sports and Exercise Science Research Centre, the Centre for Civil and Building Services Engineering Research and the Centre for Global Justice and Social Responsibility.

We work alongside Local Authorities to evaluate interventions seeking to improve health and tackle health inequalities. The Centre provides timely and rigorous answers to important public health questions that Local Authorities are facing and works to build the evidence in partnership with those delivering an intervention or project as well as the communities they serve.

Projects are designed and delivered by experts from a variety of academic disciplines and approaches. We are supported by an advisory group made up of statutory and voluntary sector organisations from across the UK that reflect their communities and provide subject matter expertise. This team has been drawn together under PHIRST to make sure different perspectives are brought on to the table and ensure local evaluations benefit from:

  • Robust methodology and relevant theory
  • Multi-disciplinary expertise
  • Timely delivery of practical, tangible findings
  • Engaging dissemination
  • Strong public and user involvement at all project stages

Our work is primarily aimed at the public health professionals from statutory and voluntary sector organisations as well as policy makers who seek to implement similar interventions whilst drawing on robust, sustainable, and practical input for their service or advocacy plans.

If you have any questions or you would like to find out more about our work, please get in touch.

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Good public health practice needs to be based on good evidence. We know how complex public health interventions are and we understand the challenges this creates for evaluation – especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. By acknowledging this complexity and bridging the gap with academia, public health, local government, and local communities, PHIRST London delivers robust and compelling evaluations. We aim to provide, at pace evaluations and actionable future planning recommendations based on robust theory and evidence.

Our work is underpinned by key principles which guide us to:

  • Design our work in collaboration with the Local Authorities to ensure engagement and meaningful dissemination of findings
  • Build capacity within the Local Authorities to strengthen expertise and an evidence- based culture
  • Design evaluations that are insightful for decision makers and fill the evidence gap in a way that is useful for the wider Public Health professional community and policy makers
  • Embed Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in all our functions.

PHIRST will utilise the breadth of experience across our university, with members from various departments.

  • Anna Chourdaki
  • Dr Megan Watkins
  • Dr Thomas Mills
  • Sarah Egbe

Dr Susie Sykes

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Primary and Social Care
Job title: Associate Professor
Telephone: 020 7815 8388

Dr Susie Sykes is an Associate Professor of Public Health and the Director of PHIRST London. She is a member of the Centre for Applied Research in Improvement and Innovation within the Institute of Health and Social care and co-chairs the Population Health and Prevention Research Group. Her main research interests lie in health literacy, community health and public health workforce development.


Prof. Antony Moss

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Addictive Behaviour Science; University Director of Education and Student Experience
Telephone: 020 7815 5777

Professor Tony Moss is Professor of Addictive Behaviour Science and University Director of Education and Student Experience.


Prof. Ian Albery

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Psychology; Director of Research and Enterprise for the School of Applied Sciences
Telephone: 020 7815 5856

Professor Ian Albery is Professor of Psychology in the Division of Psychology and Director of Research and Enterprise for the School of Applied Sciences.


Prof. Patrick Callaghan

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Mental Science; Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research
Telephone: 020 7815 7902

Professor Patrick Callaghan is the Professor of Mental Health Science and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research.


Prof. Issa Chaer

School/Division: Built Environment and Architecture / Civil and Building Services Engineering
Job title: Director of Research and Enterprise
Telephone: 020 7815 7149

Dr Issa Chaer is a Chartered Engineer with a PhD in Heat Transfer. He is currently the Director of Research and Enterprise for the School of the Built Environment and Architecture.

He is an active research academic with interests in energy conversion and energy management including CHP and trigeneration systems, refrigeration, alternative and renewable technologies, life cycle assessment, heat transfer, and energy conversion, food processing and food manufacturing, and novel techniques to reduce energy demand and carbon emission within the engineering sector.


Prof. Daniel Frings

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Psychology
Job title: Professor of Social Psychology
Telephone: 020 7815 5888

Daniel Frings is a Professor of Social Psychology.


Prof. Katya Mileva

School/Division: Applied Sciences / Human Sciences
Job title: Professor in Human Neurophysiology; Director of the Sport and Exercise Science Research Centre
Telephone: 020 7815 6281

Katya's main research focuses on the neurophysiology of movement with particular emphasis on the neuromuscular and cardiovascular effects of physical activity and agents, as well as on electrophysiological signal processing.


Prof. Jane Wills

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Primary and Social Care
Job title: Director of Research and Enterprise; Professor of Health Promotion
Telephone: 020 7815 7996

Professor Jane Wills is Professor of Public Health and Health Promotion at LSBU. She was until 2021, the Director of Research and Enterprise responsible for the strategic direction of research for the Centre for Applied Research in Improvement and Innovation. Her research interests lie principally in the areas of health education and communication, behavioural interventions and workforce development.


Helen Cherry

School/Division: Health and Social Care / Allied Health Sciences
Job title: Centre Executive Committee (CEC) Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Representative and Co-Investigator
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7815 8388 c/o Susie Sykes

Prof. Nicola Martin

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Education
Job title: Professor of Social Justice and Inclusive Education; Professorial Research Lead
Telephone: 020 7815 5779

Nicola has a PhD focussing on inclusive practice with autistic university students. She has 35 years’ experience in education working with disabled pupils and students from nursery age to adults in FE and HE and an international research profile in the field.