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Sheffield Hallam appoints chief for its Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

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Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) has named professor Rob Copeland as the first director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), set to open later this year.

Copeland is a chartered sport and exercise psychologist and director for the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) in Sheffield – a London 2012 Olympic Games legacy programme that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation through sport, exercise and physical activity.

Copeland's specific area of expertise focuses on behaviour change interventions in public health and he has had research, consultancy and service evaluation experience in both clinical and non-clinical settings. A member of several national academic advisory boards, he has informed national government on the promotion of physical activity and has worked with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer in preparation for the forthcoming update on national physical activity guidelines in the UK.

"This is a really exciting time for the university and for Sheffield as we push forward with our plans to revolutionise healthcare on a regional, national and international scale," Copeland said.

"Increasingly, healthcare in the twenty-first century is not just about treating illness and disease, it is about supporting people into better health, wellbeing and wellness.

"Inactivity leading to long-term chronic illness is a global challenge. New, technological advances make it so easy for us to lead sedentary lifestyles but they also have huge potential to help people self-manage and adopt and maintain healthful behaviours.

"The AWRC is in prime position to shape research, innovation and practice so that future generations are sufficiently active to benefit their health, wellbeing and economic outcomes."

Situated at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, AWRC will undertake research focused upon taking services and products from concept to market.

The aim is to develop the centre into a "hothouse of innovation", bringing together those who make apps, activity loggers, health and sports equipment, orthotics and clinical devices.

Under Professor Copeland's leadership, the AWRC will seek to find solutions to key public health issues – from physical inactivity, rising obesity and drug and alcohol misuse to developing preventative measures against life-limiting diseases and illnesses.

The AWRC is a key part of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District/Global Innovation corridor.

It has received £14m central government funding as part of the 'Northern Powerhouse' agenda, and confirmed partners include global healthcare giants Cannon Medical UK and Westfield Health, as well as the likes of parkrun UK and Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity.

Professor Alison Metcalfe, pro vice-chancellor of the university's Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, said: "Sheffield is the home of a new healthcare revolution of which AWRC is at the forefront and will become a model of urban development that will positively influence economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.”

Copeland was appointed from a choice of eight international candidates who were interviewed for the position.

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Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) has named professor Rob Copeland as the first director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), set to open later this year.
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