The BREATH (Border and Regions Airways Training Hub) project is a cross-border partnership creating a world-class cluster of researchers at UWS, Queen’s University Belfast and the Dundalk Institute of Technology. BREATH won a Northern Ireland Healthcare Award and will help address the causes, treatment and potential prevention of COPD.

The 19th annual Northern Ireland Healthcare Awards took place at the Europa Hotel, Belfast on 22 February 2018. The Awards are dedicated to celebrating those whose exceptional expertise and contribution to their profession have transformed the provision of healthcare for the better.

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. In 2011 the annual economic burden of COPD across the EU was estimated at approximately €141.4 billion.

Throughout the five year project, over 30 researchers and doctoral students will work together not only to better understand COPD but to raise awareness of the disease to help encourage preventative measures and timely treatment and disease management.

Professor John Lockhart, Director of the UWS Institute of Biomedical and Environmental Health Research (IBEHR) and BREATH partner, added: “We are delighted that the important work of the BREATH project has been recognised in this way and that we have won a Northern Ireland Healthcare Award”.

“Together with our Irish partners, BREATH offers a wonderful opportunity to gain new insights into lung disease. By better understanding this often ‘invisible’ killer disease, we hope to develop new and improved treatments – as well as helping prevent COPD by public awareness in the affected regions.”

Dr Gary Litherland, BREATH Partner added, “Deaths from respiratory diseases recently exceeded those from coronary heart disease in Scotland for the first time. Increasingly it is recognised that lung health needs to be made a national priority, as poor public awareness has resulted in an under-prioritisation of this disease.”



University of the West of Scotland