Agriculture, Food & Health

With the world’s population set to rise to nine billion by 2050, we face huge challenges in providing enough nutritious food for everyone, using methods that are environmentally sustainable. At the same time, as the population ages, more people will experience non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, dementia and cancer. Our world-leading research in Agriculture, Food & Health is addressing global challenges including climate change, resource degradation, hunger, poverty, diet and disease prevention and treatment. Our experts work with partners globally and locally to influence both policy and practice to ensure evidence-informed decisionmaking.

Flower-powered farming boosts biodiversity and crop yields

Planting insect-friendly flowers alongside crops is helping smallholder farmers in India improve fruit and vegetable yields while using fewer damaging agrochemicals, thanks to research co-developed by Reading ecologists, alongside Indian...Read More >

Let’s talk about hedges

Our beautiful hedgerows support biodiversity, prevent flooding and counter climate change, but half have been lost in recent decades. A team of Reading researchers are informing the public about their...Read More >

In food we trust

If we are to eat more healthily and sustainably, we have to be able to trust the food system. Reading consumer behaviour experts have worked with an EU body and...Read More >

Feeding Innovation

We are a major food and nutrition research university, with the connections, impact and facilities to improve the world’s food system.

Keeping GPs up to speed on COVID-19

GPs have been able to keep up with and respond to the latest clinical updates and resources on Coronavirus thanks to a partnership between the University of Reading and local…Read More >

Safer Medical Devices

A new family of biomaterials for use in medical devices has been created thanks to a collaboration between the University of Reading and BioInteractions Ltd. The materials include a new…Read More >

Shaping Agricultural Policy

Agriculture policy decisions, including a replacement for the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, are being informed by an annual survey of financial data from 1,750 farms across England. The survey is…Read More >

Improving ethnic diversity in higher education

Studies co-produced by Reading researchers with students from under-represented ethnic backgrounds are being used to support fair access to higher education. While there has been a concerted effort in recent...Read More >

Professional Development for the Digital Age

With huge caseloads and stretched budgets, it is harder than ever for GPs to keep abreast of the latest developments through traditional routes, such as conferences and journals. This project…Read More >

Venomous snakebites: rapid action saves lives

Lack of knowledge about snakes and snakebite envenomation (SBE) is a major factor that increases disabilities and deaths and the economic hardship they cause, particularly in agricultural communities in developing...Read More >

Polytunnel research comes to fruition

The commercial success of a collaborative research project at the University of Reading is demonstrating how applied science has the potential to revolutionise the global agricultural sector, by bridging the...Read More >

Taking polymer technology into the field

Research by chemists at the University of Reading is being used to develop new materials for commercial polytunnels with the potential to improve the quality, yield, and resilience of soft…Read More >

Healthy food for a healthy heart

Research from the University of Reading is being used to develop and optimise the formulation of commercial ‘heart-healthy’ drinks and to improve product labelling in the vitamin and supplement industry....Read More >

Healthier milk with a lower carbon footprint

Changes in the purchasing policies of a major milk processor and a major retailer have led to thousands of dairy farmers across the UK and EU changing the ways they…Read More >

Empowering smallholder farmers to overcome climate challenges

An approach developed by a team of researchers at the University of Reading is being used to help farmers in the developing world adapt to and cope with climate change....Read More >

Gaming therapy helps stroke patients recover

Recovering stroke and brain injury patients worldwide are benefiting from a unique, game-based rehab system which targets language and movement problems at the same time. The system has been developed...Read More >

Eye-opening discovery changes clinical practice worldwide

Research which explains why people with eye coordination problems respond differently to treatments has re-written the textbooks, changing international clinical practice. During their lifetimes, one in ten people will seek...Read More >

Defining the true value of bees

Bean, strawberry and apple crops all depend on bees and other pollinating insects. Reading research has identified which species do which jobs, their economic worth, and how to protect them…Read More >

Tackling teenage depression with short and effective therapy

Teenagers suffering from depression can now get treated faster thanks to an effective new form of therapy that takes just six to eight weeks. Depression in teenagers is unfortunately common,...Read More >

Spurring world action to save bees

The pollinating insects that we rely on for food crops have a more secure future thanks to the research and UN policy work of a Reading bee expert. Bees and...Read More >

Pioneering prebiotics for improved gut health

Reading food scientists have made great strides in our understanding of prebiotics – fuel for the ‘good’ bacteria in our guts – shaping health policy and benefiting the health of…Read More >

New anxiety therapy brings help to thousands more children

More young people with anxiety are able to get help faster than before, thanks to a new parent-led treatment developed by Reading researchers. Up to one fifth of children and...Read More >

Bonding over books benefits parents and children

Simple parenting changes such as sharing and discussing picture books are steering disadvantaged children in low-income countries towards happier, more successful lives. Sitting down and looking at a picture book...Read More >

DASHing towards faster drug discovery

Speedier drug discovery is now possible thanks to Reading computing software that allows complex molecular crystal structures to be solved faster than ever before. DASH is computer software that helps...Read More >

Picturing challenges of life in paradise

Every day, island communities in the Maldives feel the impact of environmental change caused by humans. Alex Arnall empowered islanders to use photography to document these challenges and bring their…Read More >

‘Venomous snakebites: Rapid action saves lives’ (2020)

Lives are lost to venomous snakebites every day in rural India. Sakthivel Vaiyapuri’s education programme across Tamil Nadu is tackling the problem, providing a clear action plan for those affected….Read More >

Better cancer care for the elderly

University of Reading research has transformed the care of elderly cancer patients, shaping international guidelines, government policy and the medical curriculum. Caring for older cancer patients has unique challenges –…Read More >

Working with industry to make smoked foods safer and tastier

University of Reading food scientists are working with industry to make smoked foods taste even better while removing the harmful compounds from the smoke. Smoked and smoke-flavoured foods, including smoky…Read More >

The James Parkinson Bicentennial

Two hundred years after apothecary and medical practitioner James Parkinson wrote his essay describing the ‘Shaking Palsy’, we still don’t fully understand the disease named after him. Research into Parkinson’s…Read More >

Motor and Language Therapy: A new multi-modal therapy for neurological rehabilitation

Recent improvements in emergency hospital care have dramatically increased stroke survival rates. This has a knock-on effect: more people than ever need long-term rehabilitation to overcome language and physical impediments….Read More >

Mind control: Explaining the brain’s mechanisms using interactive demos

Controlling a computer with your mind? Really? Professor Salwomir Nasuto’s Brain Embodiment Lab delights in bringing cutting-edge neuroscience to young people, wherever they might be. His large, interdisciplinary team devises…Read More >

Novel strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of snakebites

While large research programmes search for cures for many diseases, venomous snakebites quietly kill around 100,000 people every year. Children, often barefoot in the fields of remote, rural communities are…Read More >

Driving national and international policy to safeguard pollination services

If we want to feed the world’s growing population, we need to understand the complex connections between land use and plant and animal biodiversity. But knowledge in itself cannot guarantee…Read More >

Influencing children’s eye-care professionals

Professor Anna Horwood asks questions about children’s eyesight in ways few others do. How do we develop focus? Should we worry if a tiny baby goes cross-eyed? Do children with…Read More >

Supporting parenting to promote early child development (2018)

Some of a child’s most valuable learning takes place before they go to school. Indeed, school ‘preparedness’ strongly predicts how well a child will fare in school. Professor Peter Cooper…Read More >

Simple minds

The complexity of the human brain is well known, as is the difficulty of translating scientific language so that the latest findings of brain research are easily understood. A project…Read More >

Making nature counts count

Insect pollinators such as bees and hoverflies are critical components of our natural ecosystems, providing important crop pollination services. How their populations are changing in the UK, as they face…Read More >

Bright sparks

Never mind changing lightbulbs – how many neuroscientists does it take to show us how our brains work? In this case, just one: pharmacy lecturer Dr Mark Dallas. Working with…Read More >

Increasing the visibility of children’s eye health (2017)

Professor Anna Horwood, of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, is helping to pioneer new ways of understanding how we use our eyes together to focus on near…Read More >

Getting the UN buzzing

For the past two years, Simon Potts, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, has been playing a major role in improving worldwide policies for the conservation of pollinators and their…Read More >

Bees, Please

How best to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators to food security? And how to ensure that threats they face as ecosystem providers are countered? For research fellow Dr…Read More >

Producing dairy products with reduced saturated fat content

Since 2011, an estimated 3 million milk consumers each year in the UK have benefitted from research from the University of Reading which has helped reduce saturated fatty acids (SFAs)...Read More >

Hazard perception test for new drivers

Research led by Professor Frank McKenna from Psychology has led to the introduction of the hazard perception test, which all learner drivers must now pass before taking the practical driving test. Professor...Read More >

Crops and climate change

As our climate changes, there will be big impacts on crop production. Understanding what these changes will be, and how they affect crops can only help us to better prepare...Read More >

ICMR and the British Heart Foundation

At the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR) at the University of Reading the British Heart Foundation (BHF) funds vital research which aims to understand why heart disease (which...Read More >

Preventing snake bites (2018)

Researchers from Reading are working to understand and educate the public on reducing and preventing snakebites.

Safer smoked foods (2018)

Reading University’s Flavour Centre has been at the centre of an innovation in smoked foods: making them safer.

Healthier, greener milk (2018)

Researchers at Reading are leading innovations in the dairy industry to make many of our favourite foods healthier, including milk.

Rethinking childhood vision (2018)

Research is increasing our understanding of vision development and better explaining the causes of some common childhood eye problems.

Parent therapy (2018)

A research team at the University of Reading has developed a novel treatment that has made treatment more accessible to those who need it.

China’s smarter hospitals

A data platform developed in Beijing and Reading has cut medical errors and reduced patients’ length of stay in hospitals across China.

Saving Britain’s pollinators

Pollinators are in decline worldwide – which species suffer most, what causes the declines and how this will impact nature and society?

Good gut bugs (2018)

Pioneering prebiotics: Fuelling good gut bacteria, and its surprising array of benefits Researchers at the University of Reading are leading the charge to improve our gut health. Gastrointestinal disorders such…Read More >

Better cancer care (2018)

Pioneering a way to better outcomes for elderly patients The assessment, treatment and care for older cancer patients in the UK has fundamentally changed over the last decade thanks in…Read More >