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Brunel's research into the effects of chemicals on the environment wins Queen's Anniversary Prize

Brunel Institute for the Environment’s research revealing the link between chemicals in rivers and reproductive health has won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

By uncovering a link between exposure to water pollution and sex change in male fish in UK rivers, Professor John Sumpter’s research team 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.

This ground-breaking new area of research now shows that a plethora of 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.

Led by Professor Susan Jobling, the Institute was selected for the Queen’s Anniversary Prize as a leading example of excellence not just in research, but also in the global impact of its work. 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 wastewater treatment processes to remove them or restrictions and bans on their production.

Professor John Sumpter, Brunel University:

“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.”

Professor Chris Jenks, Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University:

“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.”



Professor John Sumpter was Head of the Institute for the Environment at Brunel University until August 2011 and is continuing his groundbreaking work at the Institute. He has been succeeded by Professor Susan Jobling, a long-time member of the Institute and a key figure in the impact of the research. Profile of Professor Sumpter 

The Institute for the Environment focuses on world-class research and the provision of postgraduate studies dedicated to tackling environmental problems in collaboration with industry and the public sector.

The Royal Anniversary Trust

The Royal Anniversary Trust is an independent charity – registered number 1,000,000 – concerned with the advancement of education for public benefit. It was set up in 1990 with the object of carrying out a programme of events and activities during 1992, funded and supported from private sources with official endorsement, to mark the 40th anniversary of The Queen’s accession and her years of service as Head of State. The Trust currently works to promote world class excellence in UK universities and colleges through The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

The Prizes are a biennial award scheme which is within the UK’s national honours system. As such they are the UK’s most prestigious form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution. The honour is distinctive in recognising the institution rather than an individual or team. The scheme was established in 1993 with the approval of The Queen and all-party support in Parliament.

All eligible universities and colleges in the UK are invited to enter the biennial rounds of the scheme. The assessment process is overseen by the Awards Council of the Trust which makes the final recommendations which are submitted to the Prime Minister for advice to The Queen.

A full list of winning institutions is available from 

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For further information please contact Emma Cutting

Tel 07557 163 744 or 01727 733 886