Pupils in Dumfries & Galloway Get an Insight Into EU BREATH Project

As part of a wider campaign to increase public awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), academics and PhD students from UWS recently ran a highly successful public engagement drive targeting Galloway schools.

This was part of the Border and Regions Airways Training Hub (BREATH) mission to identified regions, including the South West of Scotland. Their recent drive culminated in a video recording of the engagement events at Penninghame Primary and St Ninian’s Primary Schools (Newton Stewart) for European circulation by the Special European Union Programmes Body.

The BREATH project, which is a cross-border partnership between UWS, Queen’s University Belfast and the Dundalk Institute of Technology (leads), sees the development of cross-border research to better understand and alleviate the impact of COPD.

COPD is an incurable lung disease that is a leading cause of death worldwide and is particularly prevalent in both South West Scotland and Ireland. In Ayrshire & Arran and Dumfries & Galloway, COPD-related hospital admission is amongst the highest in the UK. It significantly impairs quality of life and has a high cost to health services and the wider economy.

The €7.7 million EU INTERREG VA funded BREATH project has established a world-class cluster of researchers who will help address the causes, treatment and potential prevention of COPD. In 2011 the annual economic burden of COPD across the EU was estimated at approximately €141.4 billion.

Professor John Lockhart, Director of the UWS Institute of Biomedical and Environmental Health Research (IBEHR) and BREATH partner, said: “As part of our mission in raising public awareness of COPD, a disease which is particularly prevalent in South West Scotland, the BREATH team have been presenting to schools throughout region – including our most recent drive in Dumfries & Galloway, where we have engaged 1,800 pupils to date.”

Dr Anne Crilly, who coordinates BREATH public engagement at UWS, confirmed that

“…it has been a mutually rewarding experience for pupils and PhD students alike, and we have received a wonderfully enthusiastic response from all the schools we have engaged with.”

Dr Gary Litherland, who engineers the underpinning BREATH research projects, added: “Hopefully we have not only educated children on lung health and disease but also given them insight into how scientific research helps us to understand disease and find better treatment for those affected by COPD –possibly inspiring some to become young scientists for the future.”

To view, a video of one of the recent visits CLICK HERE