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NOTE: This award ended 31st March 2020. The work undertaken by this HPRU and the partnership continues to progress via a new award received from the NIHR funding a Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Exposures and Health. Please see the website for more details.
Proposed Research Themes and how they fit into the overall research strategy of the NIHR HPRU
Our strategy is to investigate the impact of exposure to exogenous environmental chemicals and other pollutants, to gain greater understanding of the mechanism of their interaction with human systems and hence generate new knowledge on health risks to the human population. This new knowledge will be used in health impact assessment and targeted policy research to inform and improve public health and medical response.
The four themes are united by their focus on use of multiple data sources and approaches that together establish both exposure to and health effects of environmental hazards.
We will take advantage of new sensor techniques and omics technologies (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, metabolomics) coupled with advances in small-area methods and geographical Information Systems (GIS) techniques, to gain better understanding of the distribution and effects of environmental exposures to a range of hazards, effective biological dose and mechanisms of action.
In this context, we are looking at both epidemiological effects and mechanisms of low level exposures to chemicals in the environment, as well as specific effects of non-ionising and ionising radiation, air pollutants and transport noise on human health.
This is to be achieved through our four research themes:
- Theme 1: Epidemiological assessment of low level environmental exposures
- Theme 2: Modes of toxicity (Biochemical pathways from toxin to disease)
- Theme 3: Health impact of low dose non-ionising and ionising radiation
- Theme 4: Health effects of noise and air pollution including nanoparticles
The four themes, individually and synergistically, integrate mechanistic and epidemiological knowledge to achieve a robust assessment of health effects of all levels and types of environmental exposure. This knowledge is needed for translational research that will directly inform the optimal choice of interventions.
By utilising common methods/data (biological + small area outcomes + exposure models) across the four themes we both strengthen and broaden our Unit’s ability.
Common knowledge on effects in humans and on supporing evidence on mechanisms makes risk assessment and policy/intervention choice more "robust" and "evidence based". Through these four themes we address the main environmental and toxicological hazards affecting the UK population.