Academic public health is an essential part of the public health endeavour. The developments in evidence synthesis and dissemination that have characterised the evidence-based medicine movement – with substantial input from public health academics – are now being more systematically applied to public health. Within all four countries of the UK, there has been welcome investment in public health surveillance and expertise with the establishment of public health observatories in England and similar developments in Wales and Scotland. Recent advances in public health research have included the developments in systematic approaches to evidence synthesis and guideline development. The implementation of the Data Protection Act and its impact on the use of personal data is a serious threat to public health research. Alongside research, another fundamental role of academic public health is to teach and train the public health practitioners and specialists of tomorrow, and also to inculcate a basic understanding of public health in a much wider group.