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Our first five years: highlights and achievements

On 27 January 2020 the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) announced its commitment to fund Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) for another five years. From 1 April 2020, we will be known as the NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation (HPRU BSE) at University of Bristol, reflecting our expanded scope to use insights into health behaviour in the design, evaluation and implementation of public health interventions.

Our new HPRU will build on the successes of the last five years. Since our launch in 2014, we have contributed to 350 peer review publications, and generated £20 million in additional research income. Above all, our research has had a real impact on people’s health. 

Health impact highlights

  • We provided crucial evidence that led to the introduction of the Meningitis B vaccine in infants. The UK became the first country in the world to routinely offer this vaccine, which has been shown to be highly effective.
  • Our work has been critical to the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advising the continuation of the effective Meningitis ACWY vaccine in teenagers, which was originally introduced as a temporary programme.
  • Evidence we generated on hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevention has informed clinical and policy guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), PHE, NHS England and European and Global agencies.
  • We showed that HCV treatment as prevention was necessary for achieving substantial reductions in HCV transmission and prevalence in people who inject drugs.
  • We undertook the first global synthesis that quantified the effect of interventions to prevent HCV and HIV transmission in people who inject drugs.
  • We co-developed, with service users, new health promotion materials to support UK and EU strategy to switch from high dead space to low dead space syringes that will be cost saving and reduce transmission of blood-borne viruses. 
  • Our research in collaboration with the HPRUs in Emergency Preparedness and Response and Environmental Change and Health showed that commissioners and providers of services should prepare for a substantial mental health burden in communities affected by flooding. This information is being used by local authorities to plan for flooding events and is informing the work of PHE and other agencies, nationally and internationally.

In addition, our investigators:

  • secured NIHR programme grants for interventions to promote antibiotic guardianship
  • were key partners in BristolBridge, an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded project to explore novel ways of tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and
  • recently secured Medical Research Council Newton funding for a collaboration with China on AMR.

Find out more about who we are, what we do and how you can get involved