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Internal News - 19 April 2006

Vice-Chancellor joins pandemic flu working group

University of Bath Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, has been invited to join a working group of senior academics investigating how science can help the UK prepare for a bird flu pandemic.

The working group, which has been set up by the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, will examine the extent to which scientific evidence is being used during policy development and contingency planning in the UK for dealing with the threat of pandemic flu.

"This study will provide a timely analysis of the underlying science of avian and pandemic influenza,” said Sir John Skehel, Director of the National Institute for Medical Research who will be chairing the working group.

“The threat of an influenza pandemic is sufficient for the UK to prepare as well as it possibly can, both in terms of prevention and treatment.

“This includes understanding the threat through taking account of advances in scientific research carried out in the UK and in other countries.

“The study will identify priorities for future work to inform policy-making, and we expect to publish our findings later this year. “

Professor Breakwell emphasised that: “The development of effective plans for dealing with any pandemic will rely upon anticipating how people will behave when faced with the threat.”

The working group has issued a call for interested parties to submit evidence to the study, and will be seeking advice from experts and sources in the UK and other countries.

Professor Breakwell is a social psychologist specialising in research on risk communication. She is a chartered health psychologist and a fellow of the British Psychological Society. In 2002, she was elected as an academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.