UK NIHR launched a competition in 2013 to establish these new partnerships between UK Universities, and Public Health England – Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs); the University of Liverpool, in partnership with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health England, was successful in being awarded the HPRU in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections
The role of the HPRUs is to help Public Health England in its Health Protection Role through high quality research.
The NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at Liverpool was established in April 2014 with £4M of funding from the UK Government's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It supports and strengthens Public Health England in its role protecting England from emerging infections and zoonoses (i.e. those which spread from animals to humans). It brings together internationally leading researchers from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health England, exploiting synergy, world-class facilities, and breadth and depth in relevant research between these institutions. The Director is Professor Tom Solomon of the University, with Professors Miles Carroll, and David Brown of Public Health England, and Professor Hilary Ranson of LSTM as Deputy Directors.
Specific Goals and Objectives
- Support Public Health England in its immediate tasks of understanding and mitigating currently emerging infections and zoonoses
- Examine factors involved in emergence to help predict future threats
- Maintain a 'Rapid Response Team' of core staff, skilled in epidemiological, clinical, diagnostic, omics and modelling approaches, to readily tackle emerging requirements.
- Train a cadre of scientists in the necessary disciplines, and develop streamlined structures and systems to support them.
- Generate sufficient external funding to support the HPRU going forwards
We will initially target the following current and emerging threats, as exemplars of our multi-faceted approach: hantavirus, hepatitis E, CNS infection, and arthropod-borne diseases (Lyme, Chikungunya and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever).
We will achieve our objectives through five research themes:
- Risk Assessment of Emerging and Zoonotic Threats
- Epidemiological Approaches
- Clinical Surveillance
- Pathogen Discovery and Characterisation
- Vector Biology and Climate Modelling
The impact of our work will be to significantly increase Public Health England's ability to tackle current and future threats, thus informing policy, enhancing decision making, strengthening services and facilitating responses.