Bath hosts new water-based public health initiative
21 Jan 2024
The University of Bath is to host the newest Research England Centre of Excellence, with £13 million to fund a new hub for water-based health monitoring.
Its Centre of Excellence in Water-Based Early-Warning Systems for Health Protection, WBE@Bath will test water systems for traces of pathogens or other biomarkers to support the creation a public health surveillance system
Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will provide £8.4 million – two thirds of the total investment, with the remainder coming from the university and its partner organisations. Research England is providing a total of 18 institutions with a share in £156 millions-worth of Expanding Excellence funding designed to boost key research units.
Member of the University’s Institute for Sustainability, professor Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, will lead the project and serve as a co-director of the Water Innovation Research Centre and.
She commented: “COVID-19 demonstrated how the successful management of disease outbreaks is critically dependent on real-time, cost-effective and comprehensive surveillance systems enabling testing of whole communities, irrespective of location.
“Our previous research has shown the transformative potential of using wastewater-based epidemiology to carry out this testing in locations such as water recycling centres. These techniques could give us a crucial tool in detecting future epidemics before they happen.”
The centre will include an ‘urban living lab’, state-of-the-art analytical capabilities witha digital water-sensing platform, training base and testing infrastructure designed to provide “low-cost and real-time community-wide profiling of population health and the environment”, says the university.
Additionally, five prize fellow positions and a doctoral training partnership will be created through the project.