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King's College London
King’s College London is one of the top 10 UK universities with 31,000 students and 8,500 staff, who come to us from some 150 countries.
We host four MRC centres and two Biomedical Research Centres, including the only Centre for Mental Health, reflecting our excellence in this area.
King’s has several areas of strength for this unit.
- Assessing and guiding behaviour during a crisis:
Since 2005, King’s has developed techniques for rapidly collecting data on how the public react to crises. The team has assessed distress, behaviour and public health needs following the 7 July London bombings, the Litvinenko affair, the novichok incident, several major floods, the H1N1 pandemic, the coronavirus pandemic, the Fukushima meltdown and the Hawaii ballistic missile false alarm.
- Reducing symptoms after an emergency:
King’s has expertise in assessing the causes of symptoms attributed to environmental exposures, including assessments of “Gulf War syndrome,” “Iraq War syndrome,” chronic fatigue syndrome and symptoms attributed to chemical exposures, non-ionising radiation, vaccinations and other risks. King’s also has extensive experience in evaluating interventions to prevent or treat such symptoms, through the King’s Centre for Military Health Research.
- Reducing the mental health effects of trauma:
King’s has a strong record in designing interventions to protect mental health following traumatic events, through King’s Centre for Military Health Research.
- Improving medical training:
King’s hosts a state-of-the-art Simulation And Interactive Learning Centre (SAIL), incorporating an outpatient consulting room, six-bed ward and home environment. The SAIL Centre and King’s Learning Institute provide a strong base for improving emergency preparedness training.
The University of East Anglia
UEA is ranked 10th in the UK for quality of research outputs (Times Higher REF 2014 analysis) and UK Top 25 for research quality (Times Higher REF 2014 analysis). UEA research is embedded in our outstanding teaching and connects our world-leading academics with society, government and industry. Ten Scientists from UEA and the Norwich Research Park have been named in the top 1% of the world's most highly cited researchers. UEA was the first university to appoint a Professor of Health Protection and is one of the foremost centres of health protection research in England. UEA has several areas of strength for this unit.
We are experts in the use of health surveillance data for event detection within public health, with special emphasis on syndromic surveillance (e.g. telehealth). Our research has focussed on evaluating different detection algorithms and, and through outbreak simulations, identifying the types of outbreaks that can/cannot be detected. We have also explored the potential of social media as a source of health surveillance data, and pioneered cutting-edge technologies (e.g. machine learning), to support the UKHSA risk assessment process.
Additionally, we have a strong social science team providing expertise in emergency response to natural disasters. Specifically this involves understanding the vulnerability of people to disasters and how disaster management can be strengthened. This is supported with pioneering risk communication methods to improve preparedness
We are also skilled in risk assessment and the mathematically modelling of disease, making world leading contributions to the West African Ebola and South American Zika epidemics. We have explored the vulnerability of refugee/migrant populations. We have also modelled low probability, high impact events such as risks to the water supply.
The UK Health Security Agency
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is responsible for protecting every member of every community from the impact of infectious diseases, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents and other health threats. UKHSA provides intellectual, scientific, and operational leadership at national and local level, as well as on the global stage, to ensure the nation’s health secure.
UKHSA develops and applies specialist scientific and technical capabilities to identify, model and assess the potential risks posed to UK public health by newly emerging threats to health. This includes research to better understand ahead of time the epidemiological, political, social, and behavioural drivers that increase the risks such threats pose, and to suggest improved public health strategies to reduce them. These capabilities assist with policy, planning, public health countermeasures and communications for UKHSA, the Department of Health and Social Care and other government departments and agencies, and professional bodies and the public.
UKHSA’s involvement in this unit is led by the Behavioural Science and Insights Unit (BSIU) in the Science Group. The Behavioural Science and Insights Unit (BSIU) is at the forefront of understanding public and professional attitudes and behaviours and their impact on health security. Our remit covers both the public and stakeholders (e.g., local authorities, voluntary and community groups, high risk settings such as prisons). The evidence generated is used to inform strategic decision and policymaking, service design and operational improvements. The BSIU conducts applied research and evaluation, utilising qualitative and quantitative methodologies, applying theoretical models and frameworks appropriate to the context of the work. The BSIU works in support of the public health incident and emergency response functions of the organisation, supporting UKHSA’s role as a Category 1 response organisation, through the provision of rapid research, evidence synthesis and advice.
Also involved in the EPR HPRU is UKHSA’s Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response Directorate, including the Directorate’s Exercises and Training Teams, who deliver health-led exercises across the UK, Europe and internationally to test emergency preparedness to major public health incidents and emergencies.
The UKHSA Real-time Syndromic Surveillance Team (ReSST) is also heavily involved. This team are responsible for co-ordinating multiple national real-time syndromic systems including those that monitor emergency department attendances and NHS 111 calls. These real-time surveillance systems deliver an ‘all hazard’ service, supplementing existing UKHSA surveillance programmes and supporting incident and emergency response. Finally, the Environmental Hazards and Emergencies (EHE) department employs teams including toxicologists, environmental scientists and epidemiologists to study the effects of environmental exposures.