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Queen's Anniversary Prize

Queen's Anniversary Prize article

Press release issued: 28 February 2014

Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, has been presented with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education on behalf of the University in a ceremony held at St James’s Palace yesterday [27 Feb].

The prize - which is the highest accolade for any academic institution - was awarded to Sir Eric by the Queen, in recognition of Bristol’s cutting-edge research into obstetric and neonatal practice.

Birth and the early stages of life are safer because of three strands of research carried out at Bristol.

  • The work of Professor Peter Fleming and Dr Pete Blair in the School of Social and Community Medicine, in association with the campaign to ensure babies slept on their back, has resulted in a dramatic drop in global incidents of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ‘Cot Death’.  The research and subsequent campaign has cut UK cot deaths by 80 per cent, with 25 fewer babies dying each week and has shaped policy in over 30 countries.  Around 15,000 infant deaths in the UK, and at least 100,000 worldwide, have been prevented since the late 1980s.
  • In the School of Clinical Sciences, Professor Marianne Thoresen’s revolutionary treatment on cooling babies who have suffered oxygen shortage at birth is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR).  The treatment, standard throughout the developed world since 2010, saves 1,500 babies from death and disability each year and is saving the NHS, and families, more than £200 million per annum.
  • PROMPT (Practical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training), an obstetric emergency training programme, led by Tim Draycott in the School of Social and Community Medicine, has been adopted by 85 per cent of UK Obstetric Units, and is being rolled out across the world.  PROMPT has shown a 50 per cent reduction in neonatal hypoxic injuries, a 70 per cent reduction in bracial plexus injury and improvement in performance of category one emergency Caesarean sections.

Professor Sir Eric Thomas, speaking about the award, said: “The University is delighted to receive this prestigious award.  It highlights the ground-breaking research being carried out by Bristol academics.  

“The research in obstetric and neonatal practice has made a positive difference to mothers and babies and will continue to save thousands of lives throughout the world.”

A total of 17 universities and three further education colleges won the highest national honour in education.

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: “I warmly congratulate the twenty universities and colleges honoured in The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

“I welcome the role that the prizes play in enabling our institutions to publicise their successes. Britain’s ability to compete depends on the quality of the teaching and research undertaken by our universities and colleges; and particularly on the translation of that work into real benefits for society, business and the growth of the economy.”

The award recognises the academic institution rather than an individual or team. It was established in 1993, and is organised by the Royal Anniversary Trust.

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