Innovations from LSHTM that have transformed health

For 120 years, we have been training future public health experts and carrying out research to improve health all around the world.

Watch to see just some of the ways we have changed health in our history so far, plus read more of our innovations below. 

Other innovations from our history include:

  • 1958 – We linked pollution with respiratory conditions
    In 1958, Professor Donald Reid and Dr A S Fairbairn conducted surveys of respiratory illness among civil servants which suggested that areas with frequent, thick and polluted fog had a higher incidence of chronic bronchitis and that the disease in these areas had a more serious prognosis.
  • 1980s – We established one of the largest and most comprehensive scientific studies of sexual behaviour in the world
    Working with UCL in the late 1980s, we cofounded the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles in response to the emerging HIV epidemic. Conducted every 10 years, the findings have greatly influenced current-day sexual health education and services in Britain, including those for HIV, chlamydia screening, teenage pregnancy, and health education campaigns for young people and men who have sex with men.
  • 2000s – We helped expand access to effective antimalarial treatment through the private sector
    In the early 2000s, we showed antimalarial medicines were widely available from retail outlets, and evaluated ways of improving them. This played an influential role in the creation of a global financing mechanism designed to improve access to drugs through subsidies and price negotiations.
  • 2010 – We showed how a cheap and widely available drug could stop tens of thousands of trauma patients from bleeding to death needlessly
    In 2010, the CRASH-2 trial demonstrated that the clot stabilising drug tranexamic acid reduced the chances of death from severe blood loss by a third. Traumatic bleeding, mostly from road traffic accidents or violent crimes, kills millions of people per year. The team went on to demonstrate how the same drug could prevent women dying from blood loss in childbirth.
  • 2014-16 – We introduced a novel design for vaccinating people against Ebola
    In the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we designed an innovative ‘ring vaccination’ approach for a trial of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine in Guinea. The same design was later used as the vaccination strategy during 2019’s major Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • 2015 – We demonstrated that a mother’s diet before conception can permanently alter  how her child’s genes function
    In 2015, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM published the first evidence of this epigenetic modification on future offspring’s DNA. Further studies demonstrated changes to the function of a gene influencing immunity and cancer risk.
  • 2018 – We developed a new method to create cheaper vaccines
    In 2018, we developed an innovative glycoengineering technique to create vaccines. Traditional glycoconjugate vaccines for protection against bacterial pneumonia and meningitis require over 300 steps, are very expensive and not currently produced in the UK. This new method is incredibly low cost and can be used to create new vaccines for many bacterial diseases that do not currently have one.

More of our work can be discovered in the LSHTM historical timeline.


Here's to another 120 years of health innovation!