The consortium URBAN_X project is coordinated by the RECETOX Centre of Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic), which is the environmental research institute from the Widening region, collaborating with three European leading research institutions in the broad field of social and environmental epidemiology: University College London (UCL), Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), and Utrecht University.
Masaryk University is a public education and research organisation, founded in 1919 as the second Czech university, in Brno, South Moravian Region. It comprises of nine faculties and two university institutes with over 200 departments, institutes and clinics, more than 37,000 students and 4,500 employees, making it the second largest university in the Czech Republic.
The Centre, which is responsible for the project's implementation and is also its primary beneficiary, is an independent department of Masaryk University’s Faculty of Science in Brno, Czech Republic, celebrating more than 35 years of academic and research excellence in the fields of environmental and health. Although it initially focused on the interactions among chemicals, environments, and biological systems, and their consequences on local, regional, and global levels, the Centre’s current, and long-term strategic vision is to become an international center of excellence, supporting research and education focused on unravelling the role of environmental factors in human health, aging, and wellbeing, developing innovative approaches to environmental and health protection, and tools for prevention, diagnostics, and intervention.
RECETOX is currently the faculty’s most successful institute in terms of number of implemented European framework projects (now c. 17 H2020 projects), and its research infrastructure (RI) is included in the Czech National Roadmap of Large Infrastructures for Research, Development, and Innovation. RECETOX is currently conducting two major longitudinal cohort studies, operates accredited trace analytical laboratories, environmental databases, and information systems. RECETOX also serves as the Regional Centre of the Stockholm Convention for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer in Central and Eastern Europe and the National Centre for Toxic Compounds of the Czech Republic.
Over the last decade, RECETOX has earned an international reputation in the environmental sciences, especially in the fields of environmental analytical chemistry, toxicology and modelling.
University College London (UCL)
UCL is London’s leading multidisciplinary university, and is currently ranked as the 5th best university in Europe and the 15th worldwide and it has one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres for biomedical science. Its publications attract more citations from fellow researchers than any other university outside North America. UCL excellence extends across all academic disciplines, and it has one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres for biomedical science. Two UCL academic units will participate in this project. First, the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care (IEHC, approximately 130 researchers), part of the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences, is a multidisciplinary institute with epidemiology, statistics and sociology, with a strong emphasis on longitudinal studies and environmental predictors of health. It will contribute in assessing the impact of suspected risk factors, including those related to the social environment, on health. Some examples of the large population studies conducted by IEHC include the Health Survey for England, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), the Whitehall II study and the HAPIEE study in Central and Eastern Europe. Second, the Development Planning Unit, part of the Bartlett (UCL’s global faculty of the built environment and architecture) conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that help to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development. The Unit is a multi-disciplinary group, with extensive and ongoing research and professional experience in various fields of urban, regional, environmental, social, and institutional development throughout the world.
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGLOBAL)
ISGlobal is a cutting-edge institution with the aim to address global public health challenges through research and education. ISGlobal is one of the main research centres in Global Health in Europe with 30 research groups and more than 350 people and affiliation to two leading universities (University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University). ISGlobal has a broad international research portfolio in communicable and non-communicable diseases, with special attention to environmental health determinants. ISGlobal has multidisciplinary expertise in environmental epidemiology, exposome methods, urban environment exposure assessment, geographical information systems, biostatistics, urban health studies, and longitudinal birth cohort research.
Utrecht University (UU) is the largest university in the Netherlands, employing 3600 scientists and 3300 support staff. More than 30,000 bachelor and master students follow a range of studies. The Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) at UU is a partnership between the faculties of Medicine, Veterinary medicine, and Science where approximately 130 staff members, among whom some 50 PhD fellows, are engaged in world class environmental health scientific research and education. The research of IRAS is conducted in three domains: environmental epidemiology, toxicology, and veterinary public health. The mission of the Environmental Epidemiology Division of IRAS is to conduct research on environmental contributors (nongenetic factors with a focus on environmental, occupational and lifestyle exposures) to adverse health effects. IRAS has a strong reputation for producing world class research in environmental exposure science and health. This work is very well cited with several papers in the top 1% of most frequently cited papers in relevant ISI fields. IRAS has been at the forefront of Exposome research. IRAS has been involved in the large EXPOsOMICS project, which was among the first EU-grants on the Exposome. IRAS researchers established the I3CARE Exposome centre which combines research efforts on the Exposome from the University of Toronto, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Utrecht University. IRAS researchers also initiated together with the UMCU the establishment of the Utrecht Exposome Hub, which is an interdisciplinary research Hub of Utrecht Life Sciences in which 45 researchers from 4 faculties have been brought together to accelerate Exposome research at Utrecht University.