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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 PHE 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.
Public Health England
Public Health England is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, whose mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and address inequalities. PHE’s involvement in this unit is led by their Emergency Response Department. The Emergency Response Department (ERD) works with national and international partners to ensure that healthcare professionals are able to respond to emergencies.
The Emergency Response Department's Science and Technology group develops and applies specialist scientific and technical capabilities to identify, model and assess the potential risks posed to UK public health by newly emerging and infectious disease threats, including bioterrorism. The group also works with teams from across PHE on other health protection incidents and emergencies where needed. 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: PHE, Department of Health and Social Care and other government departments and agencies; professional bodies and the public; providing realistic simulated inputs to ERD’s tabletop and field-based exercises; specialist systems to help with real-time visualisation and analysis of emergencies, and the targeting and use of mitigation strategies.
The following teams make up the ERD Science and Technology Group:
- The Geographical Information Systems team develops, maintains and applies geographic information systems to support the work of ERD. They also maintain many corporate GIS resources, give training in applying GIS, and delivering GIS support to projects across PHE.
- The Medical Entomology and Zoonoses team advises PHE and the UK government on public health risks from endemic and emerging vector-borne diseases in the UK. It also advises the government on contingency planning.
- The Epidemiology and Modelling team develop and apply a toolbox of established and bespoke mathematical models. These are designed to assess the potential public health impacts of newly emerging and potentially high-impact infectious diseases. They also help understand the likely relative benefits of different mitigation strategies.
- The Scientific Computing team provides specialist IT services to the other teams in the group, particularly, mathematical modelling, GIS, MEZE and Behavioural Science. They collaborate with colleagues at PHE and outside to develop IT solutions for a wide range of scientific and health protection projects.
- The Behavioural Science team conducts applied research and evaluation on behavioural and psychological aspects of health protection incidents and emergencies, including a focus on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. They advise PHE and other government departments on preparedness and response to public health emergencies.
The group has an international reputation for its work in integrating risk assessment, disease vector ecology, deliberate release epidemiology, airborne dispersion models, and the application of geographic information systems, scientific computing, behavioural science and mathematical modelling to emerging infections and CBRN preparedness.
Also involved in the EPR HPRU is the Department’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 PHE Real-time Syndromic Surveillance Team (RSTT) is also heavily involved. This team are responsible for co-ordinating multiple national syndromic systems and recently led the development of a large national primary care system which is able to provide local, daily primary care data on over 20 million patients. Finally, the Environmental Hazards and Emergencies (EHE) department employs teams including toxicologists, environmental scientists and epidemiologists to study the effects of environmental exposures.