NIHR Health Protection Research Unit


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The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at University of Oxford was established in 2014, in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).  It is funded by NIHR.

The HPRU is a multi-disciplinary research group whose overall goal is to develop new ways to detect, monitor, investigate and reduce the occurrence of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance in the NHS.

It is doing this by:

1. Developing the use of two powerful new technologies, for use in PHE and ultimately, roll out across the NHS

  • Advances in computer methods that have made linking information across different databases quicker and more accurate over the last few years (‘data linkage’)
  • New machines that can read all the letters of a microbe’s genetic code quickly and cheaply (‘whole genome sequencing’)

2. Training a group of experts who can use these new technologies to provide better Health Protection services (e.g. faster and cheaper ways of identifying and monitoring the spread of the new so-called ‘super-bugs’)

3. Conducting clinical research to:

  • develop and test new ways to decrease the occurrence of healthcare-associated infections
  • target antibiotic resistance, by reducing the use of antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to public health in the UK and worldwide and is a significant burden to the NHS.  Antibiotic-resistant infections are more severe, require longer inpatient stays, and are associated with higher mortality.  Reducing antibiotic use is key to addressing antimicrobial resistance.

Research Themes

The HPRU conducts a broad programme of research across 3 themes: ‘Data’, ‘Genomics’ and ‘Interventions’.  Individual research projects often cut across these themes, but all have the same overarching goal higlighted above: to deliver new, cost-effective ways to detect, monitor, investigate and reduce the occurrence of healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance in the NHS, supported by a strong evidence base.



University of Oxford: Professor Derrick Crook

PHE Professor Neil Woodford

APHA Partner:  Dr Muna Anjum

Theme Leads

Professor Jim Davies
Professor Alan Johnson

Professor Tim Peto
Professor Neil Woodford

Professor Sarah Walker
Professor Chris Butler