Professor Neil Armstrong
Professor of Paediatric Physiology

Research

Research interests

Neil established the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre (CHERC) in 1987 and supported it for 25 years with over £4 million of funding from research councils (e.g. MRC, ESRC, EPSRC), major charities (e.g. BHF, Royal Society), governmental bodies (e.g. EU, Sports Council) and industry (e.g. IBM, Reebok, Masterfoods). He has supervised 34 postgraduate students to successful completion of research degrees and externally examined 35 PhDs in 12 countries. 8 former PhD students are full professors and 2 students for which he was the external PhD supervisor are full professors. 2 other former PhD students are National Teaching Fellows. 25 former CHERC students are teaching and researching in British universities and others are currently in academic posts in France, Portugal, Mexico, USA, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, and Malaysia

Neil’s research in the 1980s was the first to identify UK children’s low levels of physical activity and to link it to a potential obesity epidemic. The media coined the phrase ‘couch potatoes’ to describe his data. His subsequent research focuses on paediatric physiology and encompasses the continuum from elite young athletes through normal healthy children to young people with health problems.

Neil has authored/edited 17 books, contributed over 100 invited book chapters, and published over 250 scientific, peer-reviewed papers on paediatric physiology and children’s health and well-being. He has been invited to make keynote presentations to conferences in 44 countries and he has co-authored about 600 papers to international and national conferences. Neil’s research has been featured internationally in over 300 television and radio programmes some of which have been repeated 15-20 times. The data have generated questions in both Houses of Parliament. Neil has been invited to address Members of Parliament at the House of Commons on several occasions, and Ministers of Education and of Sport have invited him to private audiences in the Palace of Westminster and visited the Research Centre to discuss the implications of his findings for children’s sport, health, and well-being. He was invited to a private audience with Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace and HM the Queen has visited the Research Centre to see his research team in action. Neil’s research won the first (and to date only) Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education to be awarded for research in sport and exercise medicine. The Queen’s Anniversary Prize, awarded for ‘world class work which is of outstanding quality and importance to the nation’, was presented by HM the Queen at Buckingham Palace with the citation:

"The Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre has established Paediatric Exercise Science as an academic field of study in this country and is now a leading world centre.  The promotion of more active lifestyles, and understanding the benefits of healthy living have become part of the agenda for many young people as a direct result of its work"

Neil has acted as a consultant to numerous national and international sports bodies, to national and international research councils from 15 countries and to industry and businesses. He has been a member or chair of numerous national and international working parties on children’s physical activity, sport and health and well-being (e.g. WHO, IOC, FIMS, PWP, FIG, HEA, PEA, BASES). He has externally advised universities all over the world on over 50 professorial appointments.

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