UoA 5 - Biological Sciences


We are committed to delivering excellent research with impact, providing direct economic and societal benefit for the communities we support.

Through fostering strong partnerships with external stakeholders across public, non-profit and for-profit sectors we ensure relevance to wider society, with our strong focus on applied research enhancing impact. Notable examples which are included in our three impact case studies, are our research on scalp cooling as a preventative measure for chemotherapy induced alopecia; collaborative research assisting local government and communities to better manage their wild coffee resources and research undertaken with the UK nuclear industry on effective radioactive waste disposal.

The following impact case studies have been entered for the REF 2021 submission. Find out more below.


Case study: Prevention of Chemotherapy-Induced Hair Loss Through Scalp Cooling: Transforming Patient Wellbeing by Providing the Evidence Base for Worldwide Roll-Out 

For many cancer patients, chemotherapy-induced hair loss (alopecia) represents the most feared and traumatic aspect of their treatment. The only available method to combat alopecia is scalp cooling. Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have provided the evidence base for this technology and were instrumental in Paxman, a Yorkshire-based small British SME specializing in scalp cooling, becoming the world’s leading provider in this field and obtaining clearance for a medical device from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As a result, by 2020 Paxman had 70% of the global scalp cooling device market and supplied 98% of NHS Trusts and private providers in the UK, along with a further 53 countries. This meant that the technology became available to around 80,000 patients per year globally, proving “psychologically monumental” for many in improving their quality of life during treatment.


Case study: Improving the understanding and simulation of gas generation from Radioactive Waste Disposal Sites

There is international agreement that deep geological disposal facilities (GDF) are the preferred option for the management of radioactive wastes. The safety of these facilities depends on the time it takes for the radioactive material to return to the surface. These return times are determined through the use of mathematical models which represent the processes controlling the transport of these materials. Microbes control a number of key processes in GDFs since they are able to degrade radioactive wastes and enhance or retard the transport of radioactive elements, for example through the generation of gases such as methane.

Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have uniquely worked at the interface between fundamental research and model development since 2003 with a specific focus on waste degradation, gas generation and associated impacts on radioactive transport. This research has allowed more factually accurate and appropriate models to be applied to GDF in conjunction with Nuclear Waste Management Organisation Canada, Low Level Waste Repository Ltd UK, Radioactive Waste Management UK and Ontario Power Generation.


Case study: Empowering communities to maintain biodiversity, protect wild coffee and stimulate sustainable forest use in southwest Ethiopia

The sustainability of 151,000 hectares of tropical montane forest in Sheko and two adjoining districts in southwest Ethiopia is under threat, impacting environmentally as well as economically on the wellbeing of those who live there. Research by the University of Huddersfield has developed innovative mapping which has been embedded within a community forest management (CFM) process through training for 61 forest management groups (FMGs). 176,000 people have begun actively managing the forest and have protected its integrity.

CFM has been shown to maintain biodiversity and enhance carbon storage as well as preserving wild coffee in the natural forest. In another district in southwest Ethiopia, Gera, a new satellite method has also been developed and applied to assess the extent of the degradation that has been occurring where farmers have manipulated the natural forest to create “coffee forest”. This loss of biodiversity and regenerative capacity of the tree canopy in coffee forest is now on the agenda of government staff in Gera District and the research community as the country seeks to develop increased value from coffee grown in the forest and to do so sustainably.