How air pollution affects our respiratory system and Quality Improvement reporting in health care services could be improved

Posted by ew205 at Jun 12, 2018 01:24 PM |
Doctoral Inaugural speakers from the College of Life Sciences to share research into public health on Thursday 14 June

Issued by University of Leicester

Issue date: 12 June 2018

Images available to download at:

At the University of Leicester’s final Doctoral Inaugural lectures for this academic year, two research graduates from the College of Life Sciences will be discussing their research on issues pertaining to public health on Thursday 14 June.

Dr Shane Hussey, of the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, is one of the researchers behind the ground-breaking interdisciplinary study into how air pollution affects our health- more specifically, the bacteria living in our respiratory tracts. During the lecture, Shane will be sharing his research for the project.

The World Health Organization describes air pollution as the “largest single environmental health risk”. Air pollution is thought to be responsible for around 8 million deaths per year.

The University of Leicester study provided the first evidence to show that bacteria are directly affected by Particulate Matter (PM). Also known as particle pollution, PM is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air.

Past research has shown that PM damages health by causing tissue damage and altering how the immune system functions, but there had been no research into how exposure to PM affected the bacteria that cause the respiratory tract infections associated with PM exposure.

Shane’s research, part of which was published in the journal Environmental Microbiology in 2017, found that black carbon, a major component of PM, altered biofilms, or the bacterial communities which form on surfaces, changing the way these biofilms formed, their structures, the composition of the matrix surrounding the bacteria, and their functioning.

The research established that the health effects of PM were not just due to effects on human cells and tissues, but also how they directly act on bacteria- possibly increasing the potential for infection and changing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.

Shane said: "I feel very lucky to have been involved in such an important project which is helping us understand the seriousness of how air pollution affects our health."

Joining Shane will be Dr Emma Jones, who did her PhD in Health Sciences at the University, and is currently a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Warwick.

Emma’s research systematically examined poor reporting of Quality Improvement (QI) research.

QI involves analysing how care is delivered and then making changes which lead to better system performance and better quality and safety for patients.

Approximately 5% of surgical patients globally have a complication which could have been avoided, which causes them to die or have a reduced quality of life.

QI interventions are an important way of reducing the incidence of adverse events and improving overall system functioning in surgery. Such interventions seek to improve processes of care using characteristic methods, some of which have been adapted for use in healthcare from industry such as Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles.

Emma’s research was the first to systematically examine the completeness of QI reporting in the surgical literature and to ask why reporting QI in the surgical literature is so hard.

Emma said: “My PhD focused on the problem that when QI research in surgery is published, it is often written up so poorly that people in other hospitals can’t understand what they need to do to repeat any success.

“I have dedicated my career to making lasting improvements in quality and safety for surgical patients. By drawing more attention to the problems of reporting and understanding how to raise the standard of reporting, more patients could benefit from surgical QI research.”

Professor Dave Lambert, Doctoral College Director, said: “These talks are a clear demonstration of the immense value of doctoral research – here are two researchers, who have undertaken ground-breaking studies with important health relevant implications.”

Commencing at 5pm, the lectures will be held in the George Davies Centre, Lecture Theatre 2, with a reception following the event.

All University staff, students and members of the public are invited to attend the Doctoral Inaugural Lectures. Entry is free, but seats must be booked in advance.



Share this page: