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Grant wins give academics chance to extend excellence

Grants awarded for research into everything from countrywide screening programmes to changes in EU law over chemical regulations have ensured that Brunel University London has continued to have a real-world impact since the books were closed on REF2014 last year.

This success is substantiated by Brunel’s continuing success in obtaining significant grants in key REF discipline areas.

Matthew Glover, a Research Fellow in the Heath Economics Research Group (HERG) will extend the Group’s investigation into the implementation of a screening programme for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). Historically, the illness kills 6,800 men every year, and screening is thought to halve that number.

The research, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Imperial College, will be funded by the National Institute for Health Research and focus on refining techniques and adapting the model to address the clinical and cost effectiveness of screening women.

A £91,000 grant to study the prevalence of financial abuse in people lacking mental capacity, awarded by the Dawes Trust Charity, will give Professor Mary Gilhooly and her team from Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies the opportunity to extend research into financial abuse, recently the subject of work recognised in REF2014.

The initial research identified ways in which professionals caring for the elderly could be helped to develop policy and procedures to uncover abuse and intervene.

In November last year, Professor Andreas Kortenkamp received a £359,977 grant for a

project entitled ‘From policy to action: testing the foundations for routine regulatory mixture risk

assessment’, which will support the scientific basis for changes in EU law and practice so that

endocrine disrupters are regulated as the mixtures to which humans and wildlife

are exposed, rather than as single pure entities.

This body of work will build upon previous research to offer better protection from pesticides that contain this cocktail of chemicals and wider studies into the link between chemicals in everyday use and their effect on the environment and human health.

The work, led by Professor Susan Jobling, meant the Institute for the Environment was selected for the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research excellence and global impact in 2012.

In 2013, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council awarded Dr Gareth Taylor and co-investigators Dr Maozhen Li and Prof Haifeng Wang a grant for £670,923 to develop a scalable smart grid infrastructure to enable a secure transmission system control.

The project relates to research carried out by Prof Taylor and Prof Malcolm Irving, recognised by the REF2014, to produce algorithms used to solve the problem of balancing power generated and required in the UK.

Professor Geoff Rodgers, who led the REF submission for Brunel, said: “This year’s assessment has clearly demonstrated the need for research to be of public benefit. This impact is a significant element of so much of the research being carried out at Brunel, and something that will continue to be relevant as study areas are extended into the future.”

The REF, which assesses the quality of research at universities across the country, showed that the volume of world-leading and internationally excellent research being carried out at Brunel University London has increased by more than half in the past six years

It placed 61% of Brunel’s submitted work in the top two categories, compared to just 43% in its precursor, 2008’s Research Assessment Exercise.

The university was particularly strong in demonstrating the real-world impact of research, brought into the assessment for the first time, with two-thirds of its 78 submissions classified as world-leading or internationally excellent.

For examples of the impact case studies described, please follow the links below: