Health of World’s Rural Communities in Focus for New International Research Institute at Lincoln

A new research institute bringing together world-leading specialists in the study of rural health has been established at the University of Lincoln, as academic teams globally grapple with urgent new questions about the nature of health and disease.

The Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health (LIIRH) will conduct world-class research that focuses on the greatest health issues facing rural communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Working in partnership with a network of national and international collaborators and acting in conjunction with the new Lincoln Medical School, the Institute seeks to establish itself as the preeminent rural health institution worldwide.

Under the direction of Global Professor of Rural Health, Professor Frank Tanser, and comprising the research expertise of Global Professor of Rural Health and Care, Professor Mark Gussy, together with other colleagues from around the world, the Institute will focus its research around key thematic areas including:

1. Chronic care, chronic disease and disadvantaged populations;
2. Prevention, early detection and screening; and
3. Health metrics and disease modelling

Through their research, academic teams will examine the characteristic challenges rural communities all over the world face, such as a lack of healthcare facilities, poor transport infrastructure, workforce skills gaps, health inequalities, and poverty.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vital importance of understanding the factors that affect the health of rural populations – from the risks of disease outbreaks and transmission to the unequal burden of disease among different demographic groups.

By leveraging links to expert teams in universities and research centres all over the world, its researchers and collaborators will bring together learning from a variety of countries and contexts, be that rural Lincolnshire, the Australian outback, or sub-Saharan Africa.

Located in the heart of a large rural county, LIIRH is uniquely placed to serve as a fulcrum for rural health research: as well as investigating issues of global concern, the Institute will be central to new efforts to better understand the health and care concerns of rural communities on the east coast of Lincolnshire, one of the most complex and challenged rural areas of the UK.

The Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health has had the support of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and is working closely with the National Centre for Rural Health and Care, which is headquartered in Lincolnshire.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, said: “I am delighted that the University has established the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health, which will be at the forefront of efforts to research, and contribute efforts to tackle, some of the most difficult issues facing our rural communities. While many of these challenges are not specific to rural communities, they are often made worse by the geographical remoteness and lack of infrastructure which characterises these communities. The new Institute, comprising world-renowned scholars, will come forward with rich analysis, critical insights, and innovative solutions that will benefit the rural communities of Lincolnshire, the UK as well as rural communities globally.”

Professor Andrew Hunter, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) at the University of Lincoln, said: “The launch of the Institute at this critical time serves to highlight the particular needs of rural communities. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted, perhaps more than ever before, the challenges faced by those living and working in rural areas. The Institute, working alongside academic, public sector and industry partners, is well-placed to contribute to national debates, as well as global challenges.”

Professor Frank Tanser, Director of the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health, said: “Rurality is a principal theme at the University of Lincoln, and a key aspect of the University’s civic mission. The LIIRH is a bold new initiative borne out of the recognition that rural populations face complex health challenges that are not faced to the same degree by their urban counterparts. Ultimately, these unique challenges require transdisciplinary approaches to fully address the multi-faceted factors inherent in them.”

For more information on the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health, visit: https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/research