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31 July 2012 | PR 12/146

National initiative to examine how lifestyle changes affect long-term health opens for business

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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester – Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) has opened its doors for business to look at how physical activity, diet and lifestyle can impact upon the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

State of the art exercise equipment has been installed and new staff have been appointed at both the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) and Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS). 

The NIHR Leicester – Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU was awarded £4.5 million NIHR funding over five years from April 2012 plus £1.38 million capital funding by the Department of Health. 

The NIHR Leicester – Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU will focus on improving health for patients with long term conditions such as diabetes by using and improving upon therapeutic lifestyle interventions. For example, these interventions could increase the amount of movement and physical activity people take part in, reduce time in sedentary behaviours, and use other approaches such as the interplay of exercise and appetite control, and minimising weight re-gain after bariatric (such as gastric band) surgery.

The important work of the BRU will be integrated with and complement the UK’s first ever National Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre of Excellence based at Loughborough University, an Olympic legacy project recently announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. 

This new BRU is a collaboration between Loughborough University, one of the leading international institutions in exercise research, University Hospitals of Leicester and the University of Leicester. It provides an opportunity for researchers in the East Midlands to become some of the leading experts internationally in research into lifestyle, and in particular physical activity interventions to both prevent and treat diseases such as diabetes.  The funding will create nearly thirty new research posts. 

Anne Milton, Public Health Minister said:

"We know that having a good diet and being active can help protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. That’s why it's important for us to understand how diet and lifestyle can affect and perhaps treat long-term conditions. The work being carried out by NIHR Leicester-Loughborough BRU will positively benefit patients taking part in the research and will help improve the lives of those living with chronic conditions.”

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, Department of Health, said:

“The world-class research undertaken in this NIHR Unit has the potential to directly benefit the health and lives of patients and will also contribute to knowledge that will improve the nation’s health. With the 2012 Olympics now underway, the national and international interest is focused on physical fitness and activity, and the opening of this Unit is particularly welcome and timely.”

Professor Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes and BRU Director said:

“Physical inactivity is estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death globally and our research will particularly include subjects from black and minority ethnic groups and young people at the highest risk of chronic diseases. The award of this BRU will allow us to become an International Centre of Research Excellence undertaking the full spectrum of lifestyle research which we believe will make a real difference, not only to people in the East Midlands but nationally and internationally. The award was made after an interview involving international experts from across the world including Australia, Canada, the US and Europe and was a highly competitive process. The award will mean that we will be able to attract and retain some of the leading researchers, nationally and internationally, in this area.”

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Hannah Baldwin
Head of PR
Loughborough University
T: 01509 222239
E: H.E.Baldwin@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1.  About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded through the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.  Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research.  The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence, and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.  www.nihr.ac.uk

2.  NIHR Biomedical Research Units
The NIHR has established Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) to undertake translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need to further enhance its abilities to deliver on this overall goal.

3.  NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU
The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU will focus on improving health for patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, by using and improving upon therapeutic lifestyle interventions, for example increasing the amount of movement and physical activity people take part in, reducing time in sedentary behaviours, and other approaches such as the interplay of exercise and appetite control, and minimising weight re-gain after bariatric (such as gastric band) surgery. The BRU also forms an integral part of the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), the first of its kind in the UK.  The go to centre for research and treatment of diabetes, the LDC comprises the Diabetes Research Network, the national DESMOND programme (a structured health intervention programme for people with diabetes), postgraduate training for health professionals and a clinical diabetes service.

4.  University of Loughborough
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching and strong links with industry.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

Loughborough has been selected by the British Olympic Association as the Official Preparation Camp Headquarters for Team GB prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The University has also signed a partnership with the Japanese Olympic Committee that will see both organisations working together until the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Follow the University’s London 2012 Olympics news on Twitter - @lborolondon2012

5.  About Leicester’s Hospitals
We are one of the biggest and busiest NHS trusts in the country, incorporating the Leicester General, Glenfield and Royal Infirmary hospitals. We have our very own Children’s Hospital and run one of the country’s leading heart centres.

Our team is made up of more than 10,000 staff providing a range of services primarily for the one million residents of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Our nationally and internationally-renowned specialist treatment and services in cardio-respiratory diseases, cancer and renal disorders reach a further two to three million patients from the rest of the country. 

We work with partners at the University of Leicester and De Montfort University providing world-class teaching to nurture and develop the next generation of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, many of whom go on to spend their working lives with us.
We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of many research programmes and new surgical procedures, in areas such as diabetes, genetics, cancer and cardio-respiratory diseases. In 2010 we earned £21.4 million in research grants for the 825 clinical trials we led, bringing benefits to thousands of our patients.

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