Brunel University has collected the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of the Institute for the Environment's groundbreaking research into the effects of hormone disrupting chemicals.
The ‘Diamond Jubilee’ round of awards was presented by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Prizes recognise and celebrate outstanding work which is deemed to have had a real and practical impact for the benefit of humanity. Professor in Ecotoxicology John Sumpter and his team, including Professor Susan Jobling, secured the award for research uncovering the link between exposure to water pollution and sex change in male fish in UK rivers. The research provided the impetus for human health research also linking chemical exposure with declining sperm counts, increased incidence of male genital abnormalities, and testicular, breast and prostate cancer in human populations.
Professor Sumpter said: “The long-term aim of our research and teaching is to ensure that society thinks more carefully about the use of chemicals and the impact they have on the environment. Our health and the health of our rivers are of great importance, so we’re honoured to receive this recognition of our work at the Institute for the Environment.”
The research, now being led by the new head of the Institute for the Environment, Professor Susan Jobling, shows that many chemicals in everyday use are inefficiently removed by sewage treatment, passing into rivers and eventually into the drinking water supply. Many of these chemicals, including those found in contraceptive pills and dishwasher tablet ingredients, can interfere with or mimic hormones in the body, leading to problems with reproductive health.
The Institute’s work was selected for the Queen’s Anniversary Prize as a leading example of excellence not just in research, but also in global impact. Through their engagement with policy makers, regulators and industries, the Institute’s researchers have been instrumental in helping to find cost-effective ways of managing the risk posed by these chemicals, including new waste water treatment processes to remove them or restrictions and bans on their production.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Jenks said: “Brunel University is delighted to receive this recognition of our globally influential research carried out by the Institute for the Environment. We pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of research at Brunel University and the work of Professor John Sumpter and his team is a fine example of our research excellence.”