On the 9th of June 2017, the EU’s Scientific Panel for Health is organising its second annual conference on: “Health research in a connected and participative society”. The European Public Health Association – EUPHA, EuroHealthNet and the European Public Health Alliance – EPHA, welcome this conference, and especially the priority it will give to participative and collaborative research. However, having read the programme, with its focus on health technology, digital innovation and health care, it risks missing an opportunity to promote research that could bring major benefits to the health of Europe’s citizens. Specifically, we are concerned that there is insufficient attention to public health research. Such research, seeking to develop population-level responses to the growing burden of diseases, and especially of multi-morbidity, can offer innovative means to prevent and protect health by tackling some of the major drivers of the overall burden of disease.