Universities to bid for £56m climate change and air pollution fund

Up to £56m will be made available for research into the potential health effects of climate change and air pollution, health minister Nicola Blackwood has announced.

Universities in England are invited to apply to be selected to partner with Public Health England (PHE) to form the next wave of Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

An open competition will be held to select the most promising research proposals from academics who will be funded from April 2020 to March 2025.

The current HPRUs have responded to major events in recent years including the Novichok, Ebola and overseas terror incidents.

In 2017 to 2018, the HPRUs were involved in 413 studies and 514 peer review publications and they supported a total of 254 PhD students and secured £50m funding from other sources.

Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: ‘Air pollution can have a devastating impact on our health and is a key issue that we need to tackle through research.

‘We’ve just seen the warmest February day on record and we have a duty to the public to consider the health challenges climate change brings.’

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director, Public Health England added: ‘The NIHR Health Protection Research Units are a globally unique and hugely successful initiative.

‘Having access to the best available, most reliable evidence is critical in supporting PHE’s mission to protect the public, and the work of the HPRUs has had a key role to play.

‘We look forward to working closely with university colleagues to craft research programmes that will have a positive impact on the nation’s health over the next 5 years and beyond.’