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New Digital Health Enterprise Zone director sets out bold plan for cutting edge research and teaching

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Dr Liz Breen, new director of the Digital Health Enterprise Zone

Specialist centre generates state of the art research to advance the digital health agenda

Dr Liz Breen from the University of Bradford has been named as the new director of the campus-based Digital Health Enterprise Zone (DHEZ).

The facility, which is currently used to conduct Phase 3 trials of the Novovax covid-19 vaccine, houses state-of-the-art health facilities, business incubation space, research and teaching facilities.

Dr Breen, an expert in Supply Chain Management and a Reader in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences in the Faculty of Life Sciences, whose recent articles on the current Covid 19 vaccines cold supply chain gained international coverage, said there was huge potential to use the DHEZ in partnership with outside companies and explore new ways of forging closer community ties.

She said: “We have this opportunity to be forward thinking in our research and teaching agendas.

“Research conducted within the DHEZ, such as the Stage 3 Novovax vaccine trials, shows the  calibre of our facilities and our reputation for excellent research. The DHEZ is a multi-functional innovation facility which aims to undertake state of the art research to benefit our local community. Through this facility we can inspire new teaching methods in relation to digital health, simulation experiences for students, offer testbeds for our researchers and present  a warm and inviting space for our communities and patients accessing our onsite services.”

Dr Breen said she also wanted to see the DHEZ’s facilities used in partnership with outside companies and to explore new ways of working with the local community.  

She added: “My role as director is to have those conversations within and external to our university to create teams to deliver pioneering research. We aim to respond to healthcare needs within Bradford and surrounding communities, working with our healthcare partners and patients to make healthcare services better for all. In doing so we can determine how digital solutions fit with community needs.”

Part of the DHEZ is equipped with a simulated home environment which can be used for behavioural research and deployment of innovative technologies, as well as to train healthcare professionals. “We can use our facilities to predict what skills students will need in the future, get ahead of the curve and equip our students with those skills”.

“Our students are the future generation of healthcare professionals and we aim to train them to be both capable and confident in doing their roles. A simple thing such as visiting a patient within their home can be daunting for a student. This visit can be simulated within the DHEZ Technology House and observed for training and development purposes, to build student confidence in undertaking this activity”  

“We have some lovely resources which we can use to deliver outputs which benefit our students, researchers and our community.”

DHEZ is part of a £13m partnership led by the University of Bradford and the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, with £3.5m of funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has supported DHEZ from the outset as the regional hub for digital health innovation. 

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