The NIHR Global Health Research Group on Global COPD in Primary Care will be based at the University of Birmingham and will be co-directed by Dr Rachel Jordan and Professor Peymané Adab at the University's Institute of Applied Health Research, who will work with leading primary care experts in China, Brazil, Georgia and FYR Macedonia.
Together they will embark on several research projects over the next two years to find better ways of early detection and improving the management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in primary care and the community in each of the four global regions, with transferrable lessons to other settings and countries.
COPD is a progressive lung disease, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is mainly caused by smoking, but particularly in less developed countries, exposure to indoor air pollution, passive smoking and gases and fumes from the workplace can also be important causes of the disease.
There is no cure for COPD, but treatment can help ease symptoms, lower the chance of complications and hospitalisations, and generally improve quality of life. Over half of those with the condition do not know they have it, and so earlier diagnosis could improve the outcome for patients.
Professor Peymané Adab, Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham, said: "We are delighted to have secured this funding which will enable us to deliver research that will have a real impact and will lead to measurable benefits to COPD patients living in low and middle income countries around the world.
"Sharing our expertise, we will work with our international partners to identify areas of priority within each individual country and we will provide them with the skills and training required to ensure they are equipped to improve their own research capacity to impact on the diagnosis and treatment of COPD."
Dr Rachel Jordan, Senior Lecturer in Public Health & Epidemiology, said: "This important research will continue to build on the University of Birmingham's established position as a top 100 global university and is part of our clear vision to make a difference to not only our city, our region, and our nation, but also our world."
It is one of 33 new research units or groups announced today by The Department of Health. They have been funded by £120 million from NIHR's Global Health Research initiative which has given UK-based universities and research institutes the opportunity to develop and expand their existing global health work.
Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said: "This funding allows our universities to strengthen their research and expertise as a leader in Global Health Research.
"The UK will continue to be at the forefront of health knowledge, and it is only right that we support developing nations as they improve care for patients and public."