Brunel recognised in UK’s best breakthroughs list

Brunel University London’s ground-breaking research into the exposure of people and wildlife to chemicals in their environment has been named as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives.

The decades-long research – which started with Professor John Sumpter’s research group in the 1980s and now involves several academics from Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies – is honoured in the UK’s Best Breakthroughs list for its pioneering work.

Brunel researchers revealed the link between chemicals in rivers and the reproductive health of aquatic life, with the endocrine systems of fish disrupted by synthetic female hormones from contraceptive pills that pass through sewage treatment works. This and other research significantly influenced European legislation banning the discharge of hormone-disrupting chemicals into wastewater.

The list was compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of the MadeAtUni campaign to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London, said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the university to be featured in the UK’s Best Breakthrough list. We’re extremely proud of the work of our academics and the difference they are making to people, lives and communities.

“The MadeAtUni campaign is an incredibly important initiative for Brunel as it allows students, alumni, the local community and the wider population to understand the work that we do and the impact it has.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics.

“The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life was put together in partnership with universities across the UK. As part of the MadeAtUni campaign, every university in the country was invited to nominate the one thing from their institution which they believe has had the biggest impact on people, lives or communities. Over 100 universities submitted a nomination. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community, and culture and sport.

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