Cornish research centre secures major funding
The European Centre for Environment and Human Health, based in Truro, has been awarded a second phase of funding to help continue its work in Cornwall.
The £4 million grant is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and has secured the centre's future until the end of 2014, showing continued confidence in the project and the impact it has already had at a regional, national and international level.
Researchers at the centre, which is part of the University of Exeter Medical School, are looking at the ways humans can impact the environment and, in turn, how the environment can impact on our health and wellbeing.
Since the centre launched in May last year, it has published a number of important research findings which are directly relevant to Cornwall, and embarked on relationships with local businesses that are helping to develop skills and promote growth.
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Its research teams have already discovered a potential link between radon and skin cancer; shed light on the role that sunlight and vitamin D may play in developing eczema and food allergies; strengthened the evidence that smoking causes low birth weight in babies; and revealed that people tend to be healthier the closer they live to the coast.
As part of its key areas of research, teams are currently examining the fate of pharmaceuticals in our environment, the occurrence of microbial pollution on Cornish beaches, the role that physical activity can play in healthy ageing, and the way that healthy workplaces can reduce sickness and absence at work.
Professor Lora Fleming, Director of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, said: "Since our launch, we've produced research that is crucial to our understanding of the importance of the natural environment to health and wellbeing.
"We've worked with local companies and communities to ensure our research has direct relevance to the local economy, and have begun to train the next generation of academics.
"I'm delighted that this work will be able to continue as we grow Cornwall's reputation as an international focus of expertise on the health and wellbeing."
Professor Steve Thornton, Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "As populations increase, age and modernise, the connections between the environment and human health will be an increasingly important focus of research.
"This area is central to the research aims of the University of Exeter Medical School and the location of the European Centre in Cornwall presents a unique opportunity to ensure our studies are targeted and have relevance within the region."