Global Health Challenges

We are improving the health of people across the world through new discoveries, treatments and patient pathways and working in partnership to build a transformative health ecosystem in our region.

The prevalence of disease or other causes of poor health vary greatly across the world, but commonly put lives, livelihoods and society under extreme pressure, requiring practical, place-based and sustainable solutions adapted to the individuals and communities affected.

University of Birmingham researchers are dedicated to preventing deaths and reducing healthcare system burden, both in the UK and globally. Through their innovative, multidisciplinary solutions, they are helping everyday lives across the world.

From antimicrobial coatings preventing transmission of hospital-acquired infections to preventing needless maternal deaths in low-resource countries, through to real-time pathogen sequencing and improving surgical outcomes, our research has real-world impact. 

Read more about our real-world impact in addressing global health challenges.

Advancing research into maternal health

Today, maternal mortality remains unacceptably high. Worldwide, pregnancy and childbirth are the number one killer of young women aged 15-19 years, with 50,000 deaths per year in this group alone.

Birmingham now leads Europe’s largest miscarriage research centre – the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research – in partnership with two other universities and four NHS hospitals. In 2019, we were awarded a WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health, with the shared vision of minimising mother and baby deaths from preventable causes globally. 

Improving our resilience to COVID-19

From virology to immunology, our researchers continue to work on addressing the effects of COVID-19. From establishing the first of three UK flagship testing facilities; processing thousands of COVID-19 tests daily, to every sequenced COVID-19 genome in the UK being processed and analysed by a system developed at Birmingham. We are now leading major studies to understand better how the immune system interacts with SARS-CoV-2 to help develop better diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, and investigate the effects on patients of ‘long COVID’.

Building a transformative health ecosystem

Birmingham, and the wider West Midlands, offers researchers the opportunity to work as core partners in our local healthcare system, which treats and cares for a highly diverse population of over five million people.

We are a founding member of Birmingham Health Partners, a strategic alliance of NHS, academic and industry organisations, representing a critical cluster of health excellence, rapidly applying scientific and clinical insights into patient benefit. Our Birmingham Health Innovation Campus (opening in 2023) will further catalyse productive interactions between clinicians, academics, industry and patients to accelerate the field of personalised, precision medicine.

Our NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre builds on our established world-class strengths in inflammation biology and experimental medicine to accelerate access to new therapies and diagnostic tests for patients with chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.

With unrivalled co-located, integrated health and life sciences expertise, we work with industry partners to help develop innovations at pace and scale. Our collaborative approach puts the needs and priorities of communities and healthcare providers at the heart of our agenda.

Our researchers focus on translating cutting edge medical science into new treatments, drugs and medical devices as quickly as possible, using clinical trials and patient studies to improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Health research from the University of Birmingham influences the lives of people not only within the West Midlands, but nationally and globally. 

The impact of Birmingham's expertise is felt across the life course, from saving the lives of mothers and babies from the tragedy of postpartum haemorrhage to understanding the effect of ageing on immunity and investigating how we can live longer, healthier lives. The University’s partnerships with NHS and industry – facilitated through Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) – are key to these influential research outcomes.

The University mobilised with immediacy and great effect to join the global fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, positioning itself as a leader across multiple fields. Birmingham researchers combatted COVID-19 by looking to research findings of the past, such as rapid whole genomic sequencing methods developed during the Ebola epidemic, as well as answering new scientific questions on immunology and developing novel technologies.

United with NHS partners via the collaboration within BHP, and supported by robust research income from a variety of UK and international funders, Birmingham's health research continues to grow from strength to strength.

Ed Smith

Ed Smith

Birmingham Health Partners

Discover more

  • Our Research Impact

    Read our case studies showing how our research is impacting health and improving the lives of patients.

  • Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research

    Read more about how our expert researchers are searching for the causes of miscarriage and pioneering tests and treatments to find solutions.

  • WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Women’s Health

    We are addressing the needs of pregnant women and newborns globally, undertaking cutting-edge applied health research and clinical trials to improve treatments and save lives.

  • How can knowledge of DNA repair in rare diseases be used to treat cancer?

    While ‘rare’, there are over 7,000 different rare human diseases, of which 80% have a genetic basis. The majority have no effective treatment.

  • How can we make surgical outcomes safer across the world?

    Researchers are addressing the critical need to reduce inequalities in surgical care in low- and middle-income countries to improve mortality rates and outcomes.

  • Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit

    We are using clinical trials to improve patient care, rapidly and safely. We use large multi-centre and international randomised trials, as well as smaller data-intensive phase I trials of novel therapies to find the best treatments for patients with cancer in the UK and globally.

  • NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre

    Focusing on inflammatory disease, our vast teams of doctors, nurses, scientists and clinical trial experts are working together, directly with a diverse range of patients, to speed up the process of turning scientific medical discoveries into patient benefit.

  • Birmingham Health Innovation Campus

    Discover more about our world-leading health and life sciences campus which, when it opens in 2023, will be the largest science park of its kind to be co-located with both an internationally-renowned research University and major NHS Trusts.

Our researchers

  • Policy experts

    University of Birmingham researchers and academic experts are working across all major policy areas. This guide aims to enable policy makers to contact researchers quickly and efficiently.

  • Media experts

    The University of Birmingham is one of the UK's leading universities for research and can offer expertise to the media on many different subjects.