Pssst, have you heard the news?? The Health Behaviour Research Centre is soon to become its own department! After many months of preparations, we finally get to share this exciting news with you: on the 23rd of January, the Health Behaviour Research Centre will merge with the Psychobiology Group. Both are currently located in UCL’s Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, but together they will form the new Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health.
What will change?
The head of the new Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health will be Professor Andrew Steptoe, who will be stepping down as Director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health. Andrew has led the Psychobiology group since its formation in 2000. Professor Robert West, who currently leads the HBRC’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, will become deputy head of the new Department. Both will continue to lead their respective research groups within the new Department.
The HRBC’s “Cancer Screening and Communication” and “Energy Balance” groups will undergo some transformations. The former will be split into two new research groups: the Cancer Communication & Screening research group, which will be led by Dr Jo Waller and Dr Christian von Wagner, and the Epidemiology of Cancer Healthcare and Outcomes (ECHO) research group, which will be led by Dr Yoryos Lyratzopoulos.
Similarly, the Energy Balance group will be split into two: the Obesity research group, led by Dr Clare Llewellyn and Dr Helen Croker, and the Energy Balance and Cancer research group, which will be led by Dr Becca Beeken and Dr Abi Fisher.
The HBRC and Psychobiology have always had a common interest in understanding how demographic, psychosocial and behavioural factors influence physical illness. Historically, the HBRC has focused on cancer while much of the work of the Psychobiology group has been in the area of cardiovascular disease and ageing. There are considerable overlaps and synergies in the theoretical and methodological approaches taken, and we hope that the new Department will facilitate even closer links than ever. Last July, the two groups spent a joint “Away Day” learning about each other’s research at the beautiful London City Hall, where the photo below was taken.
As part of the transition process, this blog will shortly be renamed “UCL Health Chatter: the Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health blog”.
In addition, if you follow us on Twitter, look out for the new name of our Twitter account (currently @hbrc_ucl). From 23 January onwards, you can find us on Twitter as @ucl_bsh. If you’re already following us, the name of our account will be automatically updated in your Following list.
What will stay the same?
Some things will never change, however. We will continue our world-class research into the behavioural determinants of health and illness, as well as our education of the next generation of excellent behavioural health scientists via our doctoral research students and the MSc Health Psychology course. Our visiting address will also remain the same, at 1-19 Torrington Place, London.
Why this change?
The creation of a new department is a demonstration of UCL’s ongoing commitment to outstanding research in behavioural science and health, and a recognition of the strengths we have in behavioural aspects of disease prevention, early detection, and prognosis. While some of our work is epidemiological, other research involves clinical and experimental paradigms, so is distinct from that of the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.
We look forward to welcoming you to our new Department and website from 23 January onwards.
Remember, you heard it here first!