Press Office


New public health research partnerships awarded over £4 million

Health protection research at Newcastle University is to get £4.6 million investment.

Led by Professor Peter Blain at Newcastle University, the new Health Protection Research Units (HPRU) will investigate the health effects of chemical and radiation exposures, identify diagnostic biomarkers and develop novel medical interventions for treating patients following exposure incidents.

Professor Blain, Director of the new HPRU, said: "The new funding will enable world class research into the mechanisms underlying the adverse health effects of chemicals and radiation, and the translation of this knowledge to population health protection and the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have suffered exposure to them.”

The money comes from a competition from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and funded by the Department of Health.

The University is also involved in a bid with King’s College London and the University of East Anglia to examine emergency preparedness and response. Professor Blain added: “Understanding how people behave in major incidents and being able to respond in the most optimum ways to treat and manage casualties, is vital to safeguard the public.”

Funding for each Unit will be held by a university in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) to enable collaboration between world class research in academia and PHE.

The outcome means there will be strengthened research focus in key areas, such as emergency preparedness and response, and the impact of environmental hazards.

On the announcement, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “These partnerships will bring together research from academia and Public Health England to ensure world class health protection research in England.

“By focusing on research across a wide range of public health areas, the units will take new scientific discoveries from the lab to benefits for patients and the public. I believe they will have a significant impact on the health of the population.”

Meanwhile, Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “These innovative public health research partnerships confirm the place of health protection research right up where it needs to be, alongside the very best in clinical medicine. We are incredibly grateful to the National Institute for Health Research and the Chief Medical Officer for guiding us to this end, and of course the successful University applicants.”

The HPRUs will be based at Newcastle University Medical Faculty’s Medical Toxicology Centre, which is acknowledged as a leading centre for research into the mechanisms of adverse health effects of chemicals and the development of medical countermeasures.

(Adapted from the Department of Health and Public Health England press release)

published on: 20 December 2013