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22 August 2011 | PR 11/100

Leading experts join forces to examine how lifestyle changes affect long-term health

Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust/ University of Leicester have been awarded a total of £4.5 million over five years from the Department of Health to look at how nutrition, diet and lifestyle can impact upon the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

The funding will enable the establishment of a Biomedical Research Unit (BRU), which will bring together some of the country’s leading health experts from Loughborough University and UHL/University of Leicester.

BRUs are part of a Government initiative to develop NHS and university partnerships, which will enable the country’s top scientists to ensure that their new scientific discoveries are translated into ground-breaking medicines, treatments and better care for NHS patients.

Loughborough is the only university without a medical school to have been selected to lead a BRU in the latest round of announcements, made on 18 August.

Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University, said: “We are delighted to be working with University Hospitals of Leicester/University of Leicester on this initiative, which recognises the very important role that exercise science can make to the health and wellbeing agenda.

“It is also recognition of the significant contribution that Loughborough is able to make to some of today’s most widely-debated healthcare issues, even though it does not have a medical school.”

Professor Myra Nimmo, Dean of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences,
said: “It is widely recognised that lifestyle is one of the main drivers of chronic disease in modern environments and that, consequently, developing effective lifestyle interventions is fundamental to successfully tackling this urgent healthcare need.

“Strategies to prevent or treat chronic disease have traditionally focused on medical interventions, but this funding deviates from that model and Loughborough is delighted to be a part of a group who will provide the leadership in this important area.”

The UHL-Loughborough Biomedical Research Unit is underpinned by a unique ability to take basic experimental research focusing on one extreme – those who are physically fit – and to apply it to the other extreme, ie those with high risk of, or diagnosed with chronic disease.

The research will focus on extending the boundaries of physical activity research into two highly novel and clinically relevant areas of investigation – sedentary behaviour and short bouts of high intensity exercise – and investigating the key aspects of the interplay between physical activity, appetite regulation and nutritional therapies to improve energy balance.

The research will pay particular attention to how these interventions affect Black and Minority Ethnic populations and younger adults.


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Public Relations Office
Loughborough University
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E: publicrelations@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1. The Biomedical Research Units funding scheme aims to support NHS/university partnerships to undertake internationally excellent translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need, and in which the country has identified research strengths.  The scheme enables excellent, but comparatively small research groups at the forefront of their field internationally, to achieve or further develop critical mass.  The priority areas for BRUs are:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Deafness and Hearing Problems
  • Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia)
  • Gastrointestinal (including Liver and Pancreatic) Disease
  • Musculoskeletal Disease
  • Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle (including Obesity)
  • Respiratory Disease

2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. 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.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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