University awarded £14 million to expand research into lifestyle changes which could help those from multi-ethnic communities with chronic conditions live longer and better lives

Professors Tom Yates and Charlotte Edwardson

More than £14 million has been awarded to The University of Leicester to expand its research into the prevention and management of chronic disease through physical activity.

The University’s transformative work will directly benefit people living in Leicestershire and is among 18 Higher Education projects to receive funding from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England Fund. It is the highest amount awarded to any institute.

Money will go to the University’s Leicester Lifestyle and Health Research Group (LLHRG) over the next five years.

Based within the Leicester Diabetes Centre at the Leicester General Hospital, the LLHRG works with NHS staff to better understand how chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease can be prevented and managed by becoming more physically active and through lifestyle changes such as diet and sleep. 

The funding recognises the University of Leicester’s unique position within the sector as conducting world leading research in the disciplines of both Sports Science and Clinical Medicine. Leicester is the second ranked University nationally for both disciplines by the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021).

Professor Tom Yates, the Director of LLHRG, has generated national and international impact with his research on diabetes prevention and the benefits of brisk walking

He said: “The funding will make a transformative difference to the work of the group through investment in staff, facilities and equipment. It will allow us to expand our resources and continue our excellent engagement with local partners including University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the city and county councils, sports clubs and other Higher Education institutes to name a few.” 

Ground breaking research by the LLHRG into the health impact of sitting down too much has already contributed to revised clinical guidelines across the globe and has influenced wearable technology leaders Fitbit and led to the creation of the UK’s first evidence-based programme encouraging desk-based workers to sit less and move more often throughout the day.

Prof Charlotte Edwardson, LLHRG’s Deputy Director, said: “Leicester is a wonderfully diverse city and an ideal place to engage multi-ethnic communities where supporting engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviours is a priority. We know our research is already making a difference to the lives of people in Leicester and Leicestershire. This funding will allow us to grow these success stories into wider systemic impact for the benefit of all.” 

Money from Research England’s ‘Expanding Excellence in England’ fund supports small and excellent research units and departments in Higher Education where real economic, environmental and societal impact is possible and where Government priorities can be met. 

Dr Steven Hill, Director of Research at Research England, said the funding award would create “future leaders in areas of research excellence where there is untapped potential.”

University of Leicester Vice Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah added: “This award is testament to the high-quality and exceptional research environment here at the University of Leicester which is making a real difference to the lives of people in our community and further afield. Congratulations to Professor Yates and the team in the Leicester Lifestyle and Health Research Group for their impactful work which will transform this field for years to come.” 

About the E3 Fund
The Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund supports small and excellent research units and departments in higher education providers across England to expand and increase their activity where they have potential to grow.

About Research England
Research England shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in English universities. It distributes over £2bn to universities in England every year; works to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity; and supports and challenges universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society.