A new, high-profile International Olympic Committee (IOC) Research Centre has been announced to be based at the universities of Bath and Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh - Bath Research Centre – named the UK Collaborating Centre on Injury and Illness Prevention in Sport (UKCCIIS) - will draw on extensive, specialist expertise at both institutions, as well as their long-standing track record for research that has helped to enhance athlete health and prevent injuries in sport.
For over a decade, the University of Bath has been leading ground-breaking research to improve player safety in rugby. Major projects completed with England Rugby and World Rugby directly informed scrum law changes. Most recently, its development of the injury prevention programme, ‘Activate’, led to its global roll-out by World Rugby.
The University of Edinburgh has internationally recognised expertise in Olympic athlete health research, sport and exercise medicine and orthopaedics. Its research has helped to inform clinical practice, and guide sport governing body injury and illness (e.g. COVID 19) prevention policy. Recent research includes projects with the World Olympians Association, World Rugby, the R&A, and IOC Medical and Scientific Department.
Current funded research topics span multiple Olympic and non-Olympic sports – including rugby, gymnastics, golf and horse racing. These focus on long-term health for active and retired athletes; injury/illness epidemiology and prevention across youth and adult sport; sports medicine; musculoskeletal health and orthopaedics; health and wellbeing; digital and data innovation in sport; as well as growth and maturation in developing athletes.
This summer, Edinburgh and Bath joined forces (along with Cardiff Metropolitan University) under a World Rugby grant focusing on injury prevention in female rugby union players across Scotland, England and Wales. Edinburgh was also recently awarded IOC funding for a long-term prospective Olympian Health Cohort tracking the short and long-term health of current Olympic athletes.
The new Edinburgh – Bath IOC Research Centre will connect multidisciplinary expertise in academic and clinical teaching both nationally and internationally. It will cover themes including sports injury and illness prevention, sports and exercise medicine, and orthopaedics to help translate research into clinical practice.
For over 30 years, Bath has delivered postgraduate sports medicine education, including an MSc SEM, MSc Sports Physiotherapy, and its recently launched MSc Football Medicine in association with FIFA. The University of Edinburgh is internationally renowned for teaching and research in medicine, sport and exercise science and physical activity for health, and in Autumn 2023, will also be launching a new MSc in Sports Medicine.
Commenting on the announcement, IOC Research Centre lead, Edinburgh Sports Medicine Research Network co-lead (ESMRN) and sports injury specialist at The University of Edinburgh, Dr Debbie Palmer, said: “We’re delighted to partner with colleagues in Bath in this new IOC Research Centre and look forward to building upon our current work and collaborations, both nationally and internationally.
“Working together will help improve our understanding about current athlete health issues, provide new knowledge and deliver impactful research, that can translate to make a real-world difference. By working collectively, we will be better placed to protect athlete health.”
Co-lead for the new IOC Research Centre, Professor Keith Stokes, Director of the Centre for Health, and Injury & Illness Prevention in Sport (CHi2PS) at the University of Bath and Medical Research Lead at the Rugby Football Union, added: “The opportunity to engage with a global network of research and clinical specialists will further develop our ability to deliver high quality research that makes a real difference to the safety and welfare of athletes across all levels of sport.
“National and international collaborations will help us to answer questions more quickly and will ensure that we can reach more athletes in our effort to make all sport safer and at all levels.”
The wider team includes Dr Andrew Murray (FASIC), Dr Iain Murray (Edinburgh Orthopaedics) and members of the Edinburgh Sports Medicine Research Network and; Dr Carly McKay and members of the Centre for Health and Injury and Illness Prevention in Sport.