The LAPHRN (London and North Thames) conference: getting to the heart of Public Health Research in Local Authorities

10 Nov 2023

The inaugural Local Authorities Public Health Research Network (LAPHRN) conference for London and North Thames will take place in March 2024.We are looking forward to bringing colleagues together, hearing from leaders in the London system and - in response to questions from our partners - to unpicking what we really mean by Public Health Research in Local authorities – the forms it takes, what work is currently ongoing and how we can learn from success stories to do better. In this blog, Jess Sheringham and Leonora Weil from LAPHRN (London and North Thames) address some key questions about the conference, its aims and how it differs from other conferences in the public health research space! 

Why have a conference? 

LAPHRN (London and North Thames) regularly meets online to bring local authority staff and researchers together. Online meetings are good for information and discussion and are very convenient in our post-pandemic hybrid world. But we all recognise the value of being in the same room for generating ideas and building collaborations! 

In recent months, we have signposted a growing number of public health staff working in local and regional policy roles to mainstream public health research conferences. This is encouraging and reflects the growing volume of local authority-based research going on. Some of those that approached us have gone on to attend conferences and found it an excellent experience. But they also commented that it wasn’t always the best place to encounter the kinds of research they felt is needed to influence local policy. and that it could feel lonely where they couldn't identify those working in local authority settings e seeking to build a research portfolio. 

At the first LAPHRN (London and North Thames) conference, we want to change this. We aim to provide a platform to celebrate applied public health research designed to influence local and regional policy.   

Click here to visit the conference webpage

Who is the conference for?   

The conference is focused on public health research going on in local authority settings in London and North Thames (including parts of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex). To be eligible to attend, you need to work on public health research in any local authority setting in London or North Thames or in partnership with those doing research in these areas.  

We’ve already had an excellent response to the invitation for registrations so to ensure access is fair, we will be limiting the number of attendees per organisation. We encourage you to: 

  • coordinate applications across your organisation 
  • submit an abstract to share work from your own organisation (see abstract submission)  
  • if you are the chosen representative, come prepared to share the learning and contacts when you’re back in your own organisation. 

We will offer an online registration from January 2024 if you are not able to attend in person.  

Is what I do ‘applied research’? 

We’re very broad in what we consider research. It just needs to take a systematic approach and to generate learning of relevance to other areas.  

The conference planning team put together this list of questions. If you can answer ‘yes’ to using a systematic approach to addressing any of them, then we would consider it research and this conference would apply to you: 

  • Is there a problem you’re trying to understand?  
  • Do you want to learn from what others are doing?  
  • Do you want to test how something works? 
  • Do you evaluate initiatives in Local Authorities?  
  • Have/do you use evidence to make change/decisions?  

Do I have to work in a public health team in a local authority to come?  

The conference isn’t restricted to people working in public health directorates in councils – others that might be eligible to attend include: 

  • Researchers or leaders working with any LAs in London and North Thames on public health research 
  • staff in other directorates) working on determinants of health (e.g. housing, transport, planning 
  • voluntary sector representatives working with LAs in London and North Thames on public health research 

What people can hope to gain from attending? 

The conference programme has been developed through listening to our network attendees and our oversight group made of London leaders and academics according to their needs and suggestions. The day is shaping up with excellent speakers, panels, opportunities for discussion and workshops.  It will offer:  

  • Keynote speakers from Professor Kevin Fenton and Professor Lucy Chappell
  • Insights into the future of applied public health research in London and North Thames from public health leaders in policy and university settings 
  • Networking with a wide range of research active public health professionals  
  • Professional development– through sharing your work, and/or attending skills building sessions, e.g., tips in disseminating research from public health journal editors  
  • Building collaborations through interactive topic-focused workshops  

What next? 

We’ll share more blogs on the conference as the programme and activities develop. In the meantime, please do get in touch if you have any questions or would like to be involved in organising any aspect! 

Jess and Leonora

Check out our conference webpage here

Contact the organisers via

Related Content
Back to top