Health research at the public health forefront

Health research(ers) at the public health forefront

Woman wearing a mask while running

Health is at the very centre of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our people are doing all they can to contribute their knowledge and expertise in the areas that matter most. Staff and students at Glasgow Caledonian University are putting their skills to best use for the benefit of everyone. As well as staff and students having joined the frontline in hospitals and communities, we have undertaken research and advisory roles on topics ranging from infection prevention, effective contact tracing and hand hygiene to nurse resilience and immunity testing. 

You can read through more detailed examples of our contributions in this area within the sections below.

Contributions to the frontline

GCU gives mental health support to COVID-19 frontline superheroes

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) students are providing lifeline mental health support for COVID-19 frontline superheroes – 85% of whom are burnt out by the pandemic, according to new research.

Our DPsych Health and Sport and Exercise Psychology trainee psychologists are working with the charity SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) to provide one-to-one sessions through a free and immediate service called Time for You.

A new survey, commissioned by SAMH, revealed that the vast majority (86%) of frontline workers across all sectors involved in keeping the country going during the pandemic reported worsening mental health problems.

The research, carried out by 3Gem on adults in Scotland employed in the frontline sector, found 90% of those working in the retail sector, including supermarket workers and younger people aged between 25-34, have been the hardest hit.

Dr Bryan McCann, GCU Sport and Exercise Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology, said: “Frontline workers have been superheroes during the pandemic to make sure that vital services are available to the public. 

“They have been under a huge amount of strain, and some frontline workers are likely feeling the effects of that strain. The Time for You service provides frontline workers with invaluable support during these challenging times. 

“GCU are delighted to be able to work with SAMH to help deliver the Time for You service. Our trainee psychologists are providing one-to-one support to frontline workers through the service, and we are conducting an evaluation which will help to enhance the service so that it provides the most appropriate support.”

Dr McCann said working with the Time for You service will give the trainees “invaluable experience and employability skills for the future” as well as make a positive contribution to the community, fulfilling GCU’s mission as the University for the Common Good.

The trainee psychologists offer frontline workers three different levels of mental health support – ranging from self-help resources, to access to talking therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy.

Time for You is provided by SAMH, GCU and Living Life to the Full. It is funded by Foundation Scotland’s Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund, supported by the National Emergencies Trust.

Health visiting students thrive on COVID-19 frontline

Department of Nursing and Community Health lecturer Bernadette Bradley has had an article in a prestigious journal published which gives a Scotland-wide perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on health visiting programmes. The article entitled 'Training and Adapting in a New World' was published in the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) Community Practitioner Journal.

Bernadette explained that some universities paused their Community Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting) programmes to allow students to go back into clinical areas to help in the COVID-19 emergency.

Bernadette described how the students had grown during their time on the NHS frontline: "As the students resume, it is evident, irrespective of where they were redeployed, that they have developed additional and transferable knowledge and skills within areas such as public health and leadership and provided the opportunities for alternative practice experiences."

Bernadette wrote the article in collaboration with Alison Hackett, University of Stirling; Debbie Wilson, Robert Gordon University; Emma Hay-Higgins, Robert Gordon University; Fiona Stuart, University of the West of Scotland; Lisa Luhanga, Queen Margaret University; Dr Jean Cowrie, NHS Education Scotland.

Dean joins the COVID-19 frontline

School of Health and Life Sciences Dean Professor Andrea Nelson has returned to the nursing frontline to help out on COVID-19Professor Nelson, a registered Adult Nurse, has been working alongside students, nurses and allied health professionals, including many GCU alumni, based at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre (CAC) in north Glasgow.

Expert advice on the pandemic

GCU researcher behind breakthrough in ethnicity data recording in Scotland

Tenacious academic Dr Ima Jackson has won her battle to get ethnicity data recorded into our key systemic health data processes in Scotland through the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

The community engaged researcher said the "disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities in some high-income countries has shown clearly the effects of racism on health, and the recording of ethnicity is to determine the effects of racism and the resulting inequity on people's lives".

Dr Jackson, who works broadly within migration and with those who are marginalised through racialisation within society, is co-lead on the Scottish Government Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity.

The expert group was set up just over a year ago in response to the increased COVID-19 mortality and morbidity in some minority ethnicities and recommendations to record ethnicity data in the vaccine rollout have now been accepted.

Dr Jackson said: "This is a significant breakthrough and I have done it with the support of my group. This is not just for COVID-19 but for future generations that we will now start to collect this data in a systemic, robust and meaningful way to ensure we can as a society document the inequity people have to live with in order to address it.

"Before now, it was well known that Scotland didn't have adequate quality data that recorded ethnicity, but little was done about it until it was obvious in the pandemic that there was an increase of mortality and morbidity in some ethnicities in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the US, but Scotland couldn't say what was happening because it didn't have quality data. The COVID advisory group was advised to use the precautionary principle and rely on England's data.

"The Expert Group advised Scottish Government that this is an opportunity for the lack of recording of ethnicity health data to be righted in the pandemic as our vaccine data set is unparalleled. They were accepting of the group's recommendations but painfully slow to respond.

"It has taken me months of work to achieve this goal and support Scottish Government and most crucially the NHS lead Caroline Lamb to reverse their initial decision to not record at vaccination. I'm pleased to say that the hard work has paid off and ethnicity will be recorded from here on in during future roll out of the vaccination programme- which is to become our key health data set."

Dr Jackson's work has been recognised by Scottish Government and she has been invited to join the Programme Board with the Chief Statistician and senior colleagues across Scotland to identify and support implementation of the systemic changes for robust intersectional data to address the inequity for all those with protected characteristics in Scotland. She has also been invited by the Deputy First Minister to join his COVID recovery group.

Landmark report sets out NHS vision

Professor Cam Donaldson has contributed to a landmark report that could help shape the future of the NHS.

An LSE-Lancet Commission study, released today, sets out a long-term vision for the NHS which re-lays the foundations for a better, fairer health and care service, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Donaldson, chair of GCU's Yunus Centre, has joined 32 leading research, policy, and clinical experts, from across the UK, in calling for yearly increases in funding for the NHS, social care, and public health of at least four per cent in real terms over the next decade.

The expert authors make six other recommendations spanning workforce, disease prevention and diagnosis, digital health, and better integration of public health and social care.

Failure to take action risks a continued deterioration in service provision, worsening health outcomes and inequalities, and an NHS that is poorly equipped to respond to future major threats to health, the report warns.

Dr Michael Anderson, from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and co-research lead of the Commission, added: “The NHS is under our custodianship and we have a responsibility to future generations to secure its long-term survival.

“For the NHS to be truly the envy of the world again, politicians will need to be honest with the public that this will require increased taxation to meet the funding levels of other comparable high-income countries."

Influencing global health policy and research excellence

​Professor Sebastien Chastin has played a key role in developing new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour launched today (Thursday, November 26).

The esteemed academic in health behaviour dynamics, based in the School of Health and Life Sciences' Department of Physiotherapy, said he felt "honoured" to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the greatest research groups in the world to develop the new set of universal guidelines.

WHO said that up to five million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active and that the guidelines were even more important now that so many people are home bound due to COVID-19.

The 'Every Move Counts' guidelines emphasise that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts. WHO recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disability, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.

Professor Chastin was on the expert panel that put the guidelines together and he is particularly proud that the guidelines are universal and include limiting sedentary behaviour. 

COVID-19 public health response

​GCU School of Health and Life Sciences' Professors Sharon Hutchinson and David Goldberg have been at the heart of major research which has provided important epidemiological insights on COVID-19 to aid the public health response. 

Two research papers were recently published in prestigious journals. The studies were carried out at Public Health Scotland by the Epidemiology Research Cell, led by Professor Helen Colhoun at Edinburgh University and Professor Hutchinson, on behalf of the COVID-19 Intelligence, Research and Development Programme, chaired by Professor Goldberg.

The first was published in PLOS Medicine which showed that, along with being older and male, severe COVID-19 disease is strongly associated with past medical history across all age groups in Scotland.

The second paper published in the British Medical Journal found that healthcare workers and members of their household contributed a sixth of COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital among working age adults in Scotland during the first wave.

View the PLOS Medicine research paper entitled 'Rapid Epidemiological Analysis of Comorbidities and Treatments as risk factors for COVID-19 in Scotland (REACT-SCOT): A population-based case-control study' here and the British Medical Journal paper entitled 'Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study' here.

Expert opinion to the Scottish Parliament

Professor Claudia Estcourt is providing expert opinion to the Scottish Parliament, Public Health England and the HM Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor on National Security on contact tracing for COVID-19.  This has resulted from Professor Estcourt’s renowned expertise, as exemplified in her recently-funded National Institute for Health Research Programme Grant for Applied Research (LUSTRUM,, on preventing transmission of sexually transmitted infections through more effective contact tracing and management.

There are many parallels between the process for STIs and COVID-19. For example, Professor Estcourt’s current research includes programmes on 1) self-managed, digital healthcare, focussing on development and evaluation of complex online clinical care pathways, and 2) preventing transmission of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and reducing undiagnosed HIV by increasing effectiveness of partner notification strategies, developing tailored interventions for those at highest risk (

In the popular press, Professor Estcourt has also written in the Telegraph about the important issue of having sex during the pandemic.

COVID-19 cohort

As part of an ‘Intelligence & Research’ brief, led by GCU part-time Professor David GoldbergProfessor Sharon Hutchison has been drafted by Health Protection Scotland to work on establishing a ‘COVID-19 Cohort’. Sharon and colleagues are also being approached by various groups to participate in their studies (such as University College London, for a study on home testing).

Professor Jacqui Reilly, co-Lead of the ‘Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention’ (SHIP) Research Group, is also Nurse Director at NHS National Services Scotland and Executive Lead for Quality Healthcare Associated Infection. Prof Reilly is intensively involved in NHS and Scottish Government planning in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and will bring SHIP group research findings to bear in her thinking and leadership at this time, particularly in relation to handwashing technique and public and professional behaviour change in relation to infection prevention. 

Professor Claudia Estcourt is Clinical Professor of HIV and Sexual Health recently took up the post as joint Clinical Lead of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Sexual Health Services at the Sandyford Clinic.  During the COVID-19 crisis, Professor Estcourt has made several important contributions, such as in published advice for ensuring access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for people at high risk of HIV.

Health economics

Health economics and COVID-19

Professor Cam Donaldson recently gave the latest in the Resilience and Reconstruction Speaker Series of talks presented by The Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC)

Yunus Chair and Pro Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Donaldson reflected on his personal journey as a health economist through the pandemic and exploring COVID-19's impact on health economics. As well as discussing how health economics can contribute to recovery, Professor Donaldson shared his insights on how we can finance and provide health and social care as well as exploring ethical issues associated with testing and ventilation.

COVID-19 vaccine should be global common good

Nations and drug companies have been urged to put the patents for a COVID-19 vaccine in the public domain for the good of humanity.

The pharmaceutical industry, and its university partners, should make the potential vaccine available to all countries without priority or exclusivity and put the "global common good" ahead of profit, according to leading health economists.

Writing in The Lancet Healthy Longevity, health economist Professor Cam Donaldson, Yunus Chair at Glasgow Caledonian University, outlines the dangers of countries acting in their own self-interest in the race to find a vaccine.

In an article, co-written with Nobel Peace Laureate and GCU Emeritus Chancellor Professor Muhammad Yunus, he states: "As the virus knows no geographic boundaries, we have to act to help each other.

"Scientific consensus is that the only way this pandemic will be eradicated is through the vaccination of all people worldwide.

"It is, therefore, important to recognise this in our policy actions to avoid the tragedy of the commons, in which selfish behaviour leads to adverse communal outcomes. This is true for countries as well as individuals.

"We call for the response to COVID-19 to be global in deeds as well as words and based on principles of equal and universal access to treatments and vaccines.

"The mission, and driver, should not be one of profit but, rather the achievement of the widest and maximum health benefit possible."

Campaigners are urging vaccine research to be placed in the public domain and made available to any production facility that pledges to operate under strict international regulatory supervision.

Professor Donaldson added: "The funds required to mobilise around COVID-19 vaccines as a global common good are likely to pale into insignificance relative to what will be required to address on ongoing economic recession consequent on non-eradication.

"The collective reward for laboratories and researchers who contribute to the development of COVID-19 vaccines for the Common Good  would be the ability operate in more settled ‘markets’ and perhaps a Nobel Prize in Medicine, and even in Peace."

Health impacts of COVID-19

Research exposes gaps in mental health support for frontline nurses during pandemic

Researchers have found gaps in mental health support for frontline respiratory nurses and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) health services researcher Dr Nicola Roberts is the Principal Investigator in a new research paper entitled ‘Experiences of nurses caring for respiratory patients during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: an online survey study’.

Dr Roberts worked with colleagues at Edge Hill University and Southampton University exploring the experiences of nurses caring for respiratory patients during the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020. The paper was published in the BMJ Open Respiratory Journal.

The research team analysed responses from over 255 nurses throughout the UK who highlighted concerns over their working environment, the supply and availability of adequate PPE, the quality-of-care individuals were able to deliver, and impacts on mental health to nurses and their families.

Initial findings from the survey published last year found that 21% experienced moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression during the first wave of the pandemic. This study highlights the gaps in mental health support for frontline respiratory nurses and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Roberts stressed that NHS staff were already experiencing high levels of mental health issues, anxiety and depression even before COVID-19, so mental health support is important at all times but even more so during a pandemic.

Ageing Well with Stroke in the era of COVID-19 Conference

Registration is now open for The Ageing Well with Stroke in the era of COVID-19 E-conference 2021, led by GCU researchers.

The virtual event is aimed at anyone involved in stroke care, rehabilitation and long-term support, including: nurses, allied health professionals, doctors, researchers, bioengineers, educators and students in these fields, as well as representatives from the third sector.

This conference on June 17 is the first of its kind and hosted jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University's Ageing Well Research Group and the Living with Stroke and Other Neurological Conditions Research Group, as well as the Scottish Stroke AHP Forum and the Scottish Stroke Nurses Forum. 

The theme of this online conference is 'Ageing well with stroke in the era of COVID-19' and is particularly important at a time where people affected by a stroke have been experiencing unprecedented changes in their care and rehabilitation.

The event aims to create an opportunity to share insights acquired during the pandemic and disseminate research findings and service innovation to facilitate recovery and healthy ageing after stroke. 

Register here for the event on Thursday, June 17, 2021, from 12.30-4.30pm. The delegate registration fee is £35 and £25 for PhD and undergraduate students.

Respiratory nurses on COVID-19 frontline suffer anxiety and depression

Researchers at GCU have found that nurses working with respiratory patients on the COVID-19 frontline suffered anxiety and depression during the first wave.  The study also found that some nurses working with respiratory patients during the pandemic have been struggling to support their families emotionally and financially.

The research, carried out in partnership with Southampton and Edge Hill universities, predicts that poor mental health may increase over this winter period as increased COVID-19 cases clash with high volumes of winter admissions.

Results of the study, led by GCU health services researcher Dr Nicola Roberts, showed that just over a fifth of 255 staff surveyed experienced moderate to severe or severe symptoms of anxiety, and around 17 per cent had similar levels for depression.  It also found that younger nurses with less experience had higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower resilience levels.  Just over 11 per cent of nurses reported that they had difficulty supporting their households emotionally and financially. Many said they felt “overwhelmed” and “exhausted” juggling work and family life.  The study showed evidence of a significant level of anxiety and depression in the nursing workforce and called for action to support the mental health and wellbeing of NHS workers during the pandemic.

Nurses caring for respiratory patients play a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 with their expert skills and knowledge as well as maintaining care for patients with long-term conditions.

The research, entitled ‘Levels of resilience, anxiety and depression in nurses working in respiratory clinical areas during the COVID pandemic’, has been published in the Respiratory Medicine journal here.

The resilience of nurses during COVID-19

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Community Health Dr Nicola Roberts has just had a blog about on the resilience of nurses working in respiratory care during the COVID-19 pandemic published in a leading medical journal. In the BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing blog, the respiratory health researcher explains how the pandemic has had a huge impact on those working in respiratory clinical care. Dr Roberts also discusses some of the research that she and colleagues have been undertaking into improving how to deliver care to those with respiratory disease. The research was carried out in collaboration with colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian Univeristy (GCU), Solent University, University of Southampton, Edge Hill University and Sovereign Primary Care Network.

COVID-19 eyesight survey

In early June 2020, Vision Scientists, Dr Mhairi Day and Dr Dirk Seidel, both registered Optometrists, have launched a survey to find out if COVID-19 affects the eyes.  It is believed to be the first survey of its kind in the UK and is being rolled out across other countries including China, US and Australia.

Public health and prevention

Pandemic impact on senior charge nurses and midwives explored

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on senior charge nurses and midwives will be explored as part of a new study conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and the University of Stirling.

Experts from the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport (FHSS) will lead the project investigating the unique pandemic challenges and experiences faced by this group, who provide frontline clinical and professional leadership to more than 40 per cent of the NHS workforce.

The new study will focus on staff at NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian health boards, however, its findings will be of significance for health services across Scotland and further afield.

GCU Professor Suzanne Hagen, Deputy Director of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU), is co-applicant and key researcher in the study funded by NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian, which is expected to report its findings early next year.

The team will conduct an online survey and undertake interviews to understand the experiences, effects and challenges experienced by the group; identify effective mitigation measures being used; explore support strategies that the group find helpful; and elicit their views on the transition to post COVID-19 services.

Other researchers involved in the study are co-Principal Investigator Dr Carol Bugge, Dr Melanie Dembinsky, and Kathleen Clarke (all of the FHSS); Professor Ronan O’Carroll (Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Stirling); Professor Caroline Hiscox (NHS Grampian); and Dr Juliet McArthur (NHS Lothian).

X-ray app to ease burden on lung specialists and save lives

Researchers are working on a form of artificial intelligence that can help medical staff prioritise lung-disease severity – saving lives and easing the burden on hospitals in COVID-hit regions around the world.

A Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) team will develop an app that will work with existing X-ray technology to identify a host of lung diseases in their early stages, such as cancer, tuberculosis and pneumonia.

The researchers say, globally, 4 million people die prematurely from chronic respiratory disease each year, with figures especially high in low- and middle-income countries, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers are concerned this has put an enormous pressure on skilled medical practitioners in these countries, who are generally located away from rural areas.

Therefore, the research team is seeking to create an app that allows X-ray images to be uploaded and analysed using state-of-the-art trained artificial intelligence models for the presence of different lung diseases. The result, based on the diagnosis, will be available for immediate download, meaning only urgent cases will be referred to a major hospital.

The prototype app will be trialled in Pakistan, where lung-related diseases accounted for 4.48% of deaths in 2018.

Dr Sajid Nazir, of GCU’s School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment and who is leading the research team, said: “Our app will provide a timely, accessible and low-cost solution that, with wider deployment, can take significant pressure off major hospitals and medical practitioners by only referring the cases requiring a hospital visit.  

“X-ray facilities are easy to set up and are widely available in rural areas of Pakistan. However, the radiologists with expert knowledge to interpret and diagnose these images are only available in main hospitals, which are generally away from rural areas.

 “The need to travel to the main hospitals to seek expert opinion on readily available imaging in local rural areas can be avoided through providing this online diagnosis facility. Internet facilities are available in rural areas and a cloud-based application can make the diagnosis accessible to a rural population by integrating it with the basic medical health units located within these areas.”

A prototype of the app is expected by July with full results to be published by the end of this year.

The project is being funded by GCU’s Internal Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Scottish SIREN study recruitment drive going well

Professor Lesley Price, who is co-ordinating the Scottish arm off the UK-wide SIREN study – the world's largest, analysing COVID-19 immunity among healthcare workers – revealed recruitment is going well.  The co-lead of GCU's Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention (SHIP) Research Group, is on a mission to recruit as many as possible volunteers through local health boards before March 31, 2021.  Professor Price and her team are working in partnership with Public Health Scotland, and closely with NHS Research Scotland, the Chief Scientist Office and health boards to get healthcare workers signed up for the study.

SIREN is testing health workers across the UK to provide information on immunity from COVID-19 infection. The SIREN study is the largest cohort study of healthcare workers being conducted in real life. It has produced interim analysis on immunity and vaccine effectiveness that is informing the Government's response to the pandemic. Public Health England published analysis which showed that vaccination is reducing the risk of healthcare workers catching the infection by 70 per cent after the first dose, rising to 85 per cent after the second dose.

The SHIP team is part of the University's Research Centre for Health (ReaCH), which makes a direct and significant contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 3 – good health and wellbeing - issued by United Nations in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity across the planet.

Epidemiologists lead study into prevalence of COVID-19 in Scotland

GCU epidemiologists Dr Norah Palmateer and Dr Andrew McAuley are leading an NHS Public Health Scotland (PHS) enhanced surveillance team to find out how many people have been exposed to COVID-19.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Palmateer and Reader Dr McAuley, who is currently Consultant Scientist within the Blood Borne Virus and Sexually Transmitted Infections team at PHS, are co-leads of the serology workstream.

The serology worksteam is part of Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 at Public Health Scotland and consists of a group of data managers, analysts, admin and project manager.

Dr Palmateer explained: "The aim of the workstream is to estimate the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the general population in Scotland – in other words, we are trying to gauge how many people have been exposed to COVID-19.

"We do this though testing residual samples (i.e. blood samples that have originally been collected for other purposes) – these are from primary care and blood donors.

"Andy and I are pleased to be able to use our expertise to support national surveillance of COVID-19 for PHS, Scotland's national public health agency, during the COVID pandemic. GCU staff contribution to this work builds on a history of collaboration between GCU and PHS - this surveillance will assist Scottish Government with the national response to the pandemic."

The workstream publishes weekly data weekly on a public-facing dashboard Enhanced surveillance of COVID-19 in Scotland 13 January 2021 - Data & intelligence from PHS ( and research from their early phase has been published

GCU leads Scottish arm of major UK-wide COVID-19 immunity study

Glasgow Caledonian University's Professor Lesley Price is co-ordinating the Scottish arm of the UK-wide SIREN study, in partnership with Public Health Scotland, and working closely with National Research Scotland and the Chief Scientist Office. SIREN is a study testing 100,000 health workers, which will provide information on immunity from and prevalence of COVID-19 infection. The primary objective of the study is to determine whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies is associated with a reduction in the subsequent risk of re-infection over the next year. The data will also be used to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 infection in healthcare workers by region.

SHIP team sails across new horizons to reach out to communities during the pandemic

​GCU’s Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention (SHIP) research group has risen to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by finding new and inventive ways to reach out to our communities.

To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) from November 18-24, the researchers have been blogging and organising events to spread the word about the importance of hand hygiene.

They have organised a virtual Bug Hunt on November 27 for pupils at Saracen Primary in Glasgow to encourage the next generation of scientists and health researchers, as a part of the European Researcher’s Night Explorathon 2020 event.

Pupils will be treated to a ‘See your own microbes’ activity where they get to use household items such as pencils, sticky tape and water to make homemade microscopes to help them understand how small things appear larger using equipment like a microscope.

In the ‘Make your own microbes’ activity, pupils will be given a petri dish containing play-dough colours and encouraged to reflect on what microbes look like and design their own.

There will also be a ‘Clean your hands’ activity featuring a demonstration of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) six steps of effective hand hygiene. The children will then be given the chance to perfect their knowledge of how to do these steps  in order.

Read the SHIP team’s latest blog, written by PhD student Lucy Gozdzielewska, to mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week – link here.

Funding for treatment needs overhaul to combat post-Covid drug deaths

Dr Andrew McAuley has warned that post-lockdown Scotland needs to provide proper funding to battle a potential new rise in drug deaths.  Dr McAuley said: "We have had a period of relative economic excess from the mid-nineties to the mid noughties and then we've had ten years of austerity and we probably haven't seen the impact of that on substance use fully yet.”

Hand hygiene study

Internationally, the Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention (SHIP) Research Group is behind the launch of a hand hygiene study in Cameroon which has the potential to reduce the spread of infections in hospitals across Africa. The project "Building capacity for healthcare associated infection and antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Cameroon," is backed by £9,853 from the University's Global Challenges Research Funding. The study taking place in Banso Baptist Hospital is being conducted in collaboration with Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN) and supported by a donation of 1,500 bottles of hand sanitiser from Gama Healthcare. The first main aim of the project is to increase capacity for healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance surveillance in a setting with low resource by providing expert infection prevention and control training.


Research at GCU

Research is instrumental in tackling society’s biggest problems. The health, social and economic challenges uncovered by COVID-19 brings into sharp focus our commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all.

Sustainable Development Goals

These global goals reflect our ethos as the University for the Common Good and our mission to make a positive difference to the communities we serve. Read our institutional research strategy to find out more about our commitment to the SDGs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.

The icons below show which of the 17 SDGs we aim to impact through the research above.

UN SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Expert opinion to the Scottish Parliament

COVID-19 eyesight survey

Hand hygiene study