Understanding connections between the environment and health

Based at the University of Exeter’s Truro campus, and part of the Medical School, The European Centre for Environment and Human Health focuses on two major areas: emerging threats to health and wellbeing posed by the environment, and the health and wellbeing benefits the natural environment can provide.

Home to some of the brightest talent in the field, the Centre is conducting research in wide-ranging areas including Health and Climate Change, Microbial Ecology, Oceans and Human Health, and Wellbeing and the Environment.

Microbial Ecology

Antibiotic resistance poses a potentially catastrophic threat to human health. Using molecular approaches in the lab, investigators are analysing the ecology and evolution of microorganisms to help us understand how antibiotic resistance can develop and spread through the natural environment. Exeter’s work informs government departments such as Defra and appears in reviews commissioned by Parliament. We work closely with a range of organisations including Astra Zeneca and Surfers Against Sewage to ensure that findings have demonstrable impact beyond the laboratory.

Wellbeing and the Environment

Exeter’s research shows that time spent in natural environments can improve physical and mental health. With UK adults now spending only 20% of their time outdoors and the figure for children just 9%, understanding the barriers to the use of outdoor space is essential.

Using large population-based data sets as well as smaller, more focussed studies, researchers are unpicking the possible therapeutic properties of ‘green’ environments. Exeter Professor Lora Fleming is leading the 6 million pan-European Blue Health programme, investigating how aquatic environments affect the health of Europe’s population.

Will you help us to advance understanding of the connections between the environment and health?