• A £4 million grant from The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was awarded to researchers led by the University of Warwick, to set up a new Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Genomics and Enabling Data. This unit will ensure that cutting edge genomic methods are being used to protect public health.
  • Researchers will use genomic methods to detect and prevent epidemics.
  • The research aims to reduce the burden of infectious diseases, investigate the likely effects of control strategies, and make sure that healthcare resources, especially antibiotics, are used optimally.

Newswise — Infectious diseases could be detected, prevented and controlled thanks to a new £4m grant from the NIHR to the University of Warwick. Researchers will work with partners to develop the use of cutting edge genomics to protect public health.

The £4 million grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is part of an announced a £58.7 million research investment to protect the public from health threats such as antimicrobial resistance, air pollution and infectious diseases.

Researchers from the School of Life SciencesMathematics InstituteDepartment of Statistics and Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick will use this £4m grant in partnership with researchers from Public Health England, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge to use innovative techniques to protect the public’s health and minimise the health impact of emergencies from infectious diseases.

The new unit specialises in genomics and enabling data. Researchers will look at the genomes of infectious diseases and have one collective data bank to improve English public health.

The scientific researchers from all four institutions will use their expertise to pursue four different themes over the next five years.

Theme 1 Detecting and analysing outbreaks of infectious diseases

Theme 2 Integrating genomic and enabling data into traditional infectious diseases and epidemiology

Theme 3 Developing and implementing user-friendly databases and interfaces

Theme 4 Analysing and predicting evolutionary dynamics and in particular antimicrobial resistance trends

Professor Xavier Didelot, director of the Health Protection Research Unit in Genomics and Enabling Data at the University of Warwick comments:

“It is a great pleasure and privilege to have been selected to lead this Health Protection Research Unit. I am looking forward to working closely with all partners at the University of Warwick, Public Health England, the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

This grant from NIHR means that over the next five years we will work together to develop the use of new genomic methods to protect and improve the nation's public health, including looking at the detection and spread of diseases, or tackling antibiotic resistance.”

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said:

“The UK’s achievements in public health to date have saved the lives of millions of people. This would have been impossible without world-leading research conducted by some of brightest minds up and down the country.

“The latest round of NIHR’s Health Protection Research Units, which have previously played a pivotal role in responding to major events such as the Novichok and Ebola incidents, will continue protect the health of the public and reduce inequalities – helping us all live healthier lives.”

Prof Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said:

“Tackling major public health threats such as antimicrobial resistance, emerging infections and air pollution requires innovative, collaborative research. Our partnerships with leading universities play a critical role in building the science that keeps us safe – not just from current threats, but the health challenges of tomorrow.”



27 JANUARY 2020


About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

· Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care

· Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research

· Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future

· Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services

· Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy


The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.