Our research in health and wellbeing aims to improve the health of people and communities around the world.
We work in partnership with universities, hospitals, charities and health trusts to support and enhance the research and application of healthcare in the UK and worldwide. This is an essential part of delivering our strategy and vision.
The benefits of our ongoing health partnerships include providing healthcare staff and organisations with the training and technologies they need to succeed, finding better ways to share healthcare data to improve the patient experience, supporting students interested in a career in healthcare or research, and finding methods to improve advanced diagnosis of critical conditions.
Portsmouth Hospitals University (PHU) NHS Trust
We have a long-running strategic partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals University (PHU) NHS Trust. The partnership aims to enhance clinical and academic excellence, and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities.
To achieve excellence in collaborative education, training and innovation, the partnership supports new capacity, projects and infrastructure. It also supports the sharing of education and training opportunities to benefit staff and students.
The strategic partnership supports a number of collaborative projects between the University and Portsmouth Hospitals — including projects specialising in new healthcare technologies and their application.
The Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit (PTTU)
The Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit (PTTU) is a collaboration between our researchers and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU). The unit specialises in providing the skilled staff and infrastructure needed to develop and deliver clinical research projects — including clinical trials in new healthcare technologies.
PTTU supports research studies at all stages, including study development and grant applications, trial set-up and delivery, and patient, public and community engagement.
The partnership has won multiple awards, including the Award for Excellence in Public and Patient Involvement from the NIHR Clinical Research Network Wessex.
This partnerships benefits patients and the community by:
- Providing the skilled staff and infrastructure needed to develop and deliver high-quality clinical research projects
- Sending Patient Research Ambassadors (PRAs) to share their experience with patients and increase understanding of the research opportunities available
- Holding research awareness events and research clinics
- Representing patients in their meetings with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
Supporting Innovation and Growth in Healthcare Technologies (SIGHT)
SIGHT is a programme developed by the University to assist small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the healthcare technology sector, and engage with them through the Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit (PTTU). The programme benefits from the clinical and academic expertise of our researchers and our delivery partners, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) and the Clinical Research Network Wessex.
The £1.7m programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and works collaboratively with industry partners, patient groups, clinicians and academics to provide quicker access to groundbreaking healthcare technologies.
The partnerships benefits business by:
- Giving SMEs access to clinicians and patient groups
- Sector specific support, information and guidance to enable growth in regional/national and international markets
- Quarterly business innovation engagement workshops
- Bespoke advice to help overcome regulatory barriers that currently limit opportunities to expand into new markets
- Providing financial grant scheme for SMEs to access additional support
The CoBra project
On the CoBra project, we work in collaboration with Université de Lille, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), SATT Nord, Technische Universiteit Delft, Oncovet, Demcon, Eurasanté and Centre Oscar Lambret. The main goal of the project is to improve a patient's quality of life and reduce chances of fatality due to prostate cancer.
CoBra aims to develop a new medical robot prototype for brachytherapy (a type of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer patients) and biopsy guided by CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanners.
The aim of the medical robot prototype is to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatment of localised cancers in patients in the 2 Seas area. This area includes the coastal regions of England, France, Belgium (Flanders) and the Netherlands.
The partnership benefits:
- Patients who often need to travel outside the 2 Seas region to access appropriate brachytherapy treatment
- Practitioners and physicists through training on MRI based robotic brachytherapy and biopsy
Health, wellbeing and educational partnerships
Our ongoing partnerships in local communities and global populations explore the factors that affect people's health, wellbeing and educational potential.
The Portsmouth-Brawijaya Centre for Global Health, Population, and Policy (PB Centre)
The Portsmouth-Brawijaya Centre for Global Health, Population, and Policy (PB Centre) is a partnership between us and the University of Brawijaya in Malang, Indonesia.
Through this partnership we conduct evidence-based and policy-led research on basic and applied bio-social determinants of health. The goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of people worldwide through research, teaching and training.
Research expertise within this partnership includes:
- Gender relations
- Food security
- HIV transmission
- Domestic violence
The centre recently completed a research project – supported by a £510,577 funding award from the Medical Research Council – to explore whether financial incentives and access to free services in private health facilities can reduce the rates of premature deaths and poor health in pregnant women and their newborn in India and Bangladesh. The results of this project will help determine how barriers to health care services can be reduced, and support improved health goals for women and children in both countries.
This partnerships benefits:
- Future scientists by providing the methods to do more complex data analysis challenges
- Practicing researchers by supporting postgraduate and continuing professional programmes that will develop their knowledge of population health
Beyond the School Gates
Beyond the School Gates was originally set up as a research partnership between the Universities of Portsmouth, Brighton and Sussex and West Sussex Parent Carer Forum. It was funded initially by SLN: COP (2018-2019) and has recently been extended with funding from Southern Universities Network (2019-2020). The extended project partners include University of Portsmouth and Releasing Potential School, Havant. In April 2020, Beyond the School Gates was established as a charity.
Through the project, former excluded students and their parents are trained as researchers, and given the opportunity to listen to the voices and experiences of current excluded students and their parents through focus groups and interviews. Data analysis of interviews forms the framework that guides a subsequent mentoring service where the researchers mentor excluded secondary school students to consider what a ‘successful life’ looks like them, and what they want to achieve in the future.
As well as receiving support to build their skills and confidence, student are also given access to the resources they need to meet their developmental and educational needs, and help to re-engage education to achieve their goals.
The partnership benefits:
- Students: Those who have been excluded and marginalised from or refuse to attend secondary education
- Students and their Parents: By developing positive relationships between students and parents, they can work together to achieve the education needs and aspirations of the student
- Parents: Those who need support to develop confidence and skills can access resources that will support their children to re-engage their education
- Schools: By listening to the voices of their students, schools can better address systemic and structural issues that form barriers to these students’ learning
Autism Centre for Research on Employment (ACRE)
ACRE was created as a collaboration between us and Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council, Isle of Wight Council and Autism Hampshire.
Only 16 percent of adults on the spectrum are in full-time employment, compared to 47 per cent of people with other disabilities (National Autistic Society).
ACRE works to empower and support autistic people to realise their full employment potential. Specially, they aim to:
- Promote the rights of autistic people to contribute to our society
- Enable the provision of personalised support tailored to their individual strengths and needs
- Strengthen a commitment to the regional, national and international community
ACRE's goal is to help people on the autism spectrum — without or with mild learning disabilities — into work. It was founded in 2014 and shortly after received a grant of £65,000 from the Department of Health’s Autism Innovation Fund. In 2016, the centre received the Outstanding Adult Services award from the National Autistic Society.
The partnership benefits people on the autism spectrum by:
- Giving them the tools they need to prepare for and find work, and to identify their strengths and values
- Enhancing their job opportunities through sharing knowledge on the needs of people on the autism spectrum with employers
- Improving their chances to retain work by supporting their employers to make workplace adaptions, tailored to their needs
Climate and health partnerships
Our climate and health partnerships are working with local communities to reduce their risk of diseases caused by air pollution.
Air Pollution Interdisciplinary Research (AIR) Network
The AIR Network is a global team of community representatives, practitioners and researchers from Kenya, Sweden and the UK.
The network's long-term aim is to create innovative, participatory solutions to air pollution and to address its effects on human health in low-resource settings in Sub-Saharan Africa.
AIR Network's research focuses on particulate matter (PM) – a pollutant that, when inhaled, can reduce life expectancy and lower a person's quality of life through respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. To reduce people's exposure to PM, the network is bringing together researchers from different disciplines and people who live and work in informal settlements (sometimes referred to as slums) to discuss the issues, raise awareness and consider potential solutions.
The partnership benefits the local populations by:
- Raising awareness of the health issues of PM
- Working with them to reduce their exposure to PM
Tupumue (let’s breathe in Swahili) is a 3-year collaborative project which aims to find out how many children from two areas in Nairobi have lung problems, and to explore children’s experiences of lung problems and air quality. Our lead partners are Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Kenya Medical Research Institute
The Tupume team includes two researchers from the University of Portsmouth. The study is funded by a £720,000 grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Kenya Newton Fund’s UK-Kenya Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases and an additional £100,000 from the Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Award in 2020. The team is working to develop culturally-relevant activities in Nairobi to raise awareness of lung health and air quality and collect data.
The partnership benefits:
- Residents in two communities in Nairobi who live with poor air quality by raising their awareness through song, theatre, puppetry and visual arts
- The health and wellbeing of Nairobi citizens by improving our understanding of lung health and what contributes to it
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Clinical health partnerships
Through our clinical health partnerships, we're working to better understand rare diseases, cancers, inflammatory and respiratory conditions, infection and oral health.
Improving diagnosis of rare genetic diseases
In this collaboration, our European Xenopus Resource Centre works with the Wessex NHS Genomic Medicine Centre to explore and improve our understanding of the links between genetic changes in DNA and rare genetic diseases (RGDs).
Rare genetic diseases (RGDs) affect 1 in 17 people at some point in their life – a total of 3.5 million people in the UK every year. The majority of people affected are children, and only 30% of undiagnosed RGD patients survive their 5th birthday —. but diagnosis of RGD increases 5-year survival rates to 80%.
We’re analysing anonymised data from the 100,000 Genomes Project to identify rare disease genes and to develop treatment studies to improve the lives of patients locally and globally. As of 2020, we’ve successfully analysed 10 rare disease genes and identified the genes leading to two new rare genetic diseases. Our European Xenopus Resource Centre was awarded £1.5 million by the Wellcome Trust in 2018 and this supports our work in improving the diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.
This partnership benefits healthcare by:
- Researching methods of advanced diagnosis in RGD patients
- Contributing to computational databases used around the world to identify and treat RGD patients
National Early Warning Score (NEWS)
Our work on patient deterioration is done in partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) — and led to the development of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
Early warning score systems convert a patient’s vital signs measurements into a measurement of their risk of acute illness. NEWS has been adopted by all NHS hospitals and ambulance services. The vital signs measured include:
- Respiration rate
- Oxygen saturation
- Systolic blood pressure
- Pulse rate
- Level of consciousness
Data analysis conducted by our researchers led to the development of NEWS by the RCP in 2012. NEWS 2, developed in 2017, has received formal endorsement from NHS England and NHS Improvement to become the early warning system for identifying acutely ill patients – including those with sepsis – in hospitals in England.
NEWS2 was the only adult early warning score mentioned in the May 2020 guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the clinical management of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. It was recommended for "the recognition and escalation of treatment of the deteriorating patient".
The partnership benefits healthcare by:
- Standardising assessment and responses to acute illness
- Highlighting the urgency of need of treatment in patients
- Creating a pragmatic approach to early warning measurements that can be deployed across all healthcare systems
- Providing knowledge and expertise to organisations and individuals that want to use NEWS
Frequency of Observations (FOBS)
Frequency of Observations (FOBS) is a collaboration between our researchers in Clinical Outcome Modelling, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), the University of Southampton and Oxford University.
Vital sign observations include measurements of patient heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. In the NHS, it’s recommended that these observations are combined into a single score (the afore-mentioned NEWS score) that can be used to monitor whether a patient's condition is deteriorating. Taking observations can interfere with a patient's rest and sleep but changes spotted early can help medical staff provide early treatment and avoid serious consequences including death of the patient.
In this partnership, we’re using measurements from 2 hospitals to inform how often observations should take place, and if there is evidence to support increased observations in patients with a high NEWS score. The aim is for this evidence-based protocol to be safe and achievable across all acute NHS hospitals.
The partnership benefits healthcare by:
- Helping nurses to make better use of their time
- Improving the patient experience
- Developing an evidence-based protocol for monitoring vital signs
The HAVEN Project
The HAVEN Project is a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Deterioration of patients regularly goes unnoticed in hospitals and can lead to treatment delays and serious consequences that may include death. Patient demographics, lab results and vital sign recordings are also often all stored on different hospital databases and not always visible together.
The aim of the project is to develop a hospital-wide IT system that stores all this data and uses it to create a continuous risk assessment for all hospital patients. Risk prediction algorithms can then be developed and tested to show a patient’s pathway from the first signs of deterioration to admission to an intensive care unit (ICU).
The HAVEN project was funded by the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, a joint venture supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health.
The partnership benefits healthcare by:
- Giving clinical staff the tools to identify, rank, review and treat patients at risk
- Determining the best way to present the risk information to support decision making in clinical staff
- Reducing treatment delays for patients showing signs of deterioration
The Missed Care Project
The Missed Care Project (Nurse staffing levels, missed vital signs observations and mortality in hospital wards) is a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) and the University of Southampton.
Previous studies have noted that inadequate nurse staffing levels are a factor in poor care, preventable deaths and increased death rates in hospitals. Recent studies have started to look into ‘missed care nursing’ as a key factor leading to negative patient outcomes. ‘Missed care nursing’ is defined as nursing care that was needed but not done.
Instead of relying on nurses to self-report the care they give, the Missed Care Project used direct measurements of the recorded time of vital signs measurements to explore how nurse staffing levels related to missed or delayed observations.
The results of the study in one hospital showed a clear link between a lower-than-average registered nurse staffing level and an increased risk of death. There was also a link between a higher-than-average healthcare assistant staffing level and an increased risk of death.
The partnership benefits healthcare by:
- Working to reduce patient deaths in hospitals
- Informing the planning of NHS staffing levels
- Highlighting the importance of increased patient observations
- Showing that healthcare assistants are not as effective as registered nurses in monitoring patient deterioration
The Brown Lab and Queen Alexandra Hospital
Under the leadership of Dr James Brown, the University of Portsmouth works in collaboration with Queen Alexandra Hospital to explore links between bacterial colonisation and enteric glial cell function and to improve training and early detection of neoplasia.
This partnership is researching the important role likely played by glia in inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease as well as functional disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and polyp formation. They're also researching the reliability and effectiveness of advanced endoscopic imaging techniques.
The partnership benefits health research by aiming to:
- Identify the precise role of glia in a broad range of intestinal pathologies
- Improve training and early detection of neoplasia such as dysplastic changes within Barrett's oesophagus and the detection of diminutive polyps within the colon
The Dental Academy
The Dental Academy is a modern, primary-care based school that trains General Dental Council-registered and qualified dental care professionals, and offers comprehensive oral and dental healthcare to the public. It's run as a partnership between Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at King's College London, whose dental students are also trained at the Dental Academy in Portsmouth.
In 2018, the Dental Academy achieved a 95% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey with 100% of our graduates placed in either further education or work within 6 months.
Research at the Dental Academy focuses on delivering evidence-based healthcare to patients and the community, and on improving the quality of dental education.
The global team of postgraduate researchers, research associates and research clinicians work on areas such as:
- Children's oral health
- Dental care for new and expecting mothers
- Oral health within the older community
- Community outreach dental activities
The partnership benefits:
- Students who can train in teams in modern clinical facilities that replicate those in real NHS dental practices
- The public who can receive free dental health services in exchange for professional experience for our student dental nurses, hygienists and therapist
- Schoolchildren and the homeless community through preventative and educational workshops on good dental care run by our students
Novel biomarkers for early prediction of infection
In this partnership, multiple University faculties work alongside clinical scientists, microbiologists and surgeons from Queen Alexandra Hospital to explore the natural formation of microbiological biofilms on implants.
Prosthetic joint infection (PJI) is one of the most common reasons for failures of hip and knee reconstruction or replacement, and corrective revision surgery can lead to added patient suffering and health risks as well as increased costs to the NHS.
This partnership is a step towards reducing these risks. Researchers are using DNA/RNA sequencing and 3D phase-contrast X-ray microscopy approaches to explore biofilm formation on prosthetics and identify novel biomarkers that can be used in the early prediction of infection in patients with orthopaedic implants.
This partnership benefits patients and the NHS by:
- Reducing additional suffering and risks caused by corrective revision surgery
- Improving the lives of those with prosthetic joint infection
- Reducing the costs of corrective surgery
The Academy of Safety Science and Practice
The Academy of Safety Science and Practice is based at the University and works on national and Wessex based professional safety projects.
The partnership aims to increase the understanding of safety in all its professional and practical dimensions. The work of the Academy is based on practice-based clinical research and teaching. The partnership will have strong industry links with Healthcare, Aviation, Nuclear and FTSE 100 companies, with regard to operational safety learning in industry.
The partnership benefits people and communities by:
- Supporting and contributing to the national safety agenda in healthcare and other professions
- Helping individuals and organisations understand, implement and improve their safety and culture
- Supporting and mentoring research around learning from harm, safety, organisational reliability and resilience, crises and disaster management
- Providing up to date teaching materials and publications on safety
- Undertaking research in the field of operational safety and learning from potentially harmful situations, disaster and crisis management and high reliability in organisations
- Encouraging and mentoring safety research projects
Our partnerships in healthcare technologies are using research to develop advanced prostheses and efficient technology transfers. Our researchers are also finding ways to improve the careers of women through their access to modern technology.
Design of Enabling Regenerative MAterials (DERMA)
The DERMA project has developed new interventions for the management and treatment of:
- Dermal ulcers
- Other chronic non-healing wounds
- Related skin conditions, including stomas
DERMA has developed two novel wound dressing materials incorporating marine-sourced polymers:
- A prototype odour-absorbing and antimicrobial wound dressing material
- A prototype diagnostic wound dressing material with the diagnostic capability to indicate the presence of bacterial infection in the underlying wound
This work addresses the common challenge of improving the quality of life of the increasingly elderly population of the coastal regions along the Southern North Sea and the Channel, known as the 2 Seas area. To accomplish the work, the project received €2.7m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
This partnerships benefits:
- Patients with improved treatment and quality of life
- Healthcare providers with better treatment options and cost savings
- Regional industry with a boost for innovation, blue economy and sales
Fit 4 Purpose Prosthetics
The University of Portsmouth is a partner in Fit 4 Purpose Prosthetics, a collaboration led by the University of Salford. Other partners include the University College London, Makerere University and the Universities of Southampton and Jordan.
The partnership is designing low cost prosthetic arms for Low Income Countries. The project aims to make designs which are appropriate for the cultural and practical needs of the target populations.
Upper limb loss/absence is believed to be more common in parts of the world where, for example, there is conflict and/or where road safety is poor. This loss of limbs can negatively affect a patient's ability to work and travel, which can have severe consequences for people with low resources.
Currently, prosthetics in these regions are usually fitted and maintained by a relatively small specialist workforce in hospitals or clinics — places which many find difficult to access. What is required is a design of prosthetic limb that is cheap and easy to construct and fit.
The project is funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Challenges Research Fund.
The partnership benefits users of prostheses by:
- Working to understand patient needs, cultural constraints and clinical manufacturing resources, through scoping studies and focus-group activities
- Developing specifications to analyse limitations of current prosthetic devices and designing and manufacturing novel designs based on these specifications
- Investigating new ways to provide grasp and manipulation without using the conventional means to actuate prosthetic arms
- Developing the digital tools to support and evaluate prosthesis use
International University-Industry Partnership: promoting world-class healthcare through technology transfer
The University leads this collaboration with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia — other partners include the University of Malaya, University of Strathclyde, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), and industrial stakeholders in the UK as well as Malaysia.
The partnership aims to promote the development of world-class healthcare devices and technologies with active engagement of industry.
This partnership benefits our partners by:
- Providing a platform and capacity development of technology transfer in the field of healthcare engineering
- Developing a challenge-led interdisciplinary technology transfer project, in the specific area of "healthcare technology for the older people"
- Strengthen links with local industrial partners, enhancing mutual trust and aligning their visions
- Addressing economic, legal, government and social issues related to the development of technology transfer
- Working towards future funding to sustain the technology transfer activities
PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies Fostering Social Inclusion) PI
PONToon aims to improve access to, and the quality and impact of, digital technologies and creative industries for women from diverse backgrounds who find it difficult to access equal training and employment opportunities.
The partnership uses new technologies such as games development and 3D/virtual reality technology, social media and web/mobile apps to support and up-skill women.
Our partners in this project include ADICE, Amiens Métropole and Aspex Gallery.
The partnership benefits women by:
- Supporting their economic inclusion
- Giving them the skills to improve their access to digital technologies and creative industries