Leicester expert to chair Government committee in environmental health

An environmental health expert based at the University of Leicester has been appointed chair of a prominent Government scientific advisory committee.

Professor Anna Hansell, Director of the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability and Professor of Environmental Epidemiology, will chair the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) from June 2021.

COMEAP provides independent advice to Government departments and agencies on how air pollution impacts on health, drawing members from a range of specialist fields such as air quality science, atmospheric chemistry, toxicology, physiology, epidemiology, statistics, paediatrics and cardiology. Professor Hansell has been a member of the group since 2019.

Professor Hansell said: “We are all exposed to air pollution, both outdoors and indoors. The Committee plays a vital role in identifying how air pollution may affect health. Its work ensures that policy makers have access to robust scientific evidence.

I am delighted to take up the post of chair of COMEAP. I look forward to working with the dynamic group of scientists and experts that form the Committee to help reduce the burden of disease from air pollution.”

Professor Hansell holds long-standing research interests in environmental impacts on human health and the health of the environment, with special expertise in air pollution and respiratory disease, as well as environmental noise and health.

She started her clinical career in respiratory medicine and has worked in the fields of public health and environmental epidemiology for more than 20 years.

Leicester’s Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability (CEHS) was founded in 2018 to develop new areas of research that build on existing work in environment, health and sustainability across the University, and to date has led or participated in multi-disciplinary research grants totalling £20million.

CEHS hosts a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Environmental Exposures and Health at the University of Leicester, formed in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Centre will be formally launched in July 2021 as part of the University’s Centenary celebrations. During this virtual event, CEHS Director Professor Hansell and Deputy Director Professor John Gulliver will provide an overview of the exciting work taking place in CEHS and the future vision.

The event will also include a keynote address from Professor Sir Stephen Holgate MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, UKRI Clean Air Champion and Special Advisor to the Royal College of Physicians on air quality.

The Professorship in Environmental Epidemiology at the University of Leicester is generously supported by entrepreneur Bob Woods, MBE.