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The University of Southampton

Healthy Ageing and Multimorbidity

Healthy Ageing

With an aging population and rising rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, more and more people are living with multiple health conditions leading to a poorer quality of life and disability. This is putting enormous pressure on health services and is becoming one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century.

New treatments and better service delivery are needed to enable us to make better lifestyle choices and help us maintain functional abilities and wellbeing in older age.

The Faculty of Medicine has word-leading expertise in a number of non-communicable diseases and our focus on interdisciplinary research ensures that we can address the growing challenge of multimorbidity in the UK and around the world.

Our Healthy Ageing and Multimorbidity research theme include research groups in Respiratory, Allergy and Critical Care, Musculoskeletal Disease, Nutrition, Metabolism, Endocrinology and Cardiovascular Disease, Inflammation and Immunity, and Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Respiratory, Allergy and Critical Care

Southampton is a leading international centre for research in respiratory disease, especially asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), and respiratory infections. Our respiratory research programme encompasses translational studies in human disease, linking basic and clinical science with strong collaboration with pharma. Complementing the clinical research strength is significant expertise in respiratory biology including immunology, airway cell biology, mast cells, genomics, biomarkers, and the respiratory effects of air pollution.

In allergy the Faculty leads the Isle of Wight Birth Cohort which has been running for over three decades investigating epidemiology, natural history, genetic and environmental risk factors in the origins and progression of asthma and allergy spanning three decades and also offers the internationally recognised MSc Allergy programme.

In critical care we host major programme of research in perioperative care including the major WesFIT phase III pragmatic trial assessing efficacy of a prehabilitation programme in patients undergoing cancer surgery.

Musculoskeletal research

Our musculoskeletal research includes world-leading epidemiology research by the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, augmented by translational research in inflammatory arthritis, elderly care  and a vibrant interdisciplinary programme in biomedical engineering focusing on strategies to regenerate bone and cartilage using stem cell technology. Interdisciplinary research in musculoskeletal ageing includes collaboration with the School of Health Sciences in a Versus Arthritis-MRC Centre of Excellence in Sport and Osteoarthritis, and with Engineering addressing high-resolution imaging and skeletal strength. The MRC LEU also hosts the Versus Arthritis MRC Centre of Excellence for Musculoskeletal Health and Work.

Nutrition, Endocrinology and Metabolism

This group conducts internationally-recognised interdisciplinary research, which incorporates the metabolism and functionality of fatty acids and nutritional immunology; metabolic conditions including obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease and early life nutrition. Diagnosing and meeting nutritional challenges in older people; metabolomics and the microbiome; and nutritional determinants of resilience and response to therapy in chronic disease are also strong research areas. There is also a strong research programme in interventional cardiology.

Through collaboration with other research groups, our researchers link pre-clinical science discoveries to public health and clinical applications.

Immunity and Inflammation

The Immunity and Inflammation group undertakes research into immune mediated disease including infections such as hepatitis and tuberculosis. We have a strong programme of work in systems immunology, skin and drug allergy and basic research into gd-T cells, natural killer cells and other aspects of innate immunity.

Clinical Neuroscience and Vision Science

Focusing on clinical and environmental factors that impair brain development and impact on long-term neurological and neurodevelopmental function, our clinical neuroscientists are making ground-breaking discoveries in neuroinflammation and neuropathology. The Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG) and the Interdisciplinary Dementia and Ageing Centre (iDeAC) foster this interdisciplinary research across the University.

Our Vision science research covers a range of areas from genetic to cell biology to clinical studies of paediatric and adult eye disease. We have a major focus on retinal diseases including new therapeutic approaches such as gene therapy, pluripotent stem cells and retinal cell transplantation with interdisciplinary work in the application of AI to disease stratification.

Psychiatry and Mental Health

Our academic psychiatry group focusses on improving clinical outcomes in patients with mood, anxiety, sleep and addiction disorders and psychopharmacology. There is strong partnership working with Solent NHS Trust and with the School of Psychology.

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