Major research assets are the University’s Field Research Unit and high performance computing capability in addition to which Food@Leeds has access to an array of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

Field Research Unit

The Field Research Unit is centred on three farms owned and operated by the University with activity also taking place in other places. Facilities include laboratories, glasshouses, animal accommodation and a field area. There is an automatic weather station relaying data to a dedicated computer.

The farms are situated close to Bramham between the A1 and the A64, 13 miles from the University campus and roughly equidistant between Leeds and York:

  • Headley Hall, the main arable centre
  • Spen Farm, which houses the Pig Research Unit
  • Wise Warren, originally a dairy farm and now owned by the University, is 263 ha (630 acres), the majority of which is in arable and the remainder as grass. Hedgerows, many of which are hawthorn only, though some are shrub rich and likely to be pre-enclosure, bound the fields. There are only a few small copses planted by the commercial farm but there are two long-term agro-forestry experiments comprising trees grown in rows through arable crops and some small woodland blocks acting as forestry controls.

A considerable amount of ecological and agronomic work is carried out at the farms including crop pests, field trials of GM crops, small mammals (including radio-tracking), beneficial insects, trees and crops, intercropping and farm animal nutrition.

High performance computing

A new supercomputer hosted at the University of Leeds is offering businesses and academic researchers across the North of England world-class computing power

The N8 High Performance Computing (N8 HPC) Centre puts one of the world’s 250 most powerful computers, called Polaris, at the disposal of researchers at the universities of Leeds, Manchester, Durham, Lancaster, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle, and their industry partners.

The supercomputer is capable of a peak performance of 110 trillion operations per second – the approximate equivalent of the combined processing power of 500,000 iPads.

The £3.25 million facility, which is based on the existing N8 Research Partnership involving the North’s leading research-intensive universities, will also offer consulting and e-infrastructure training to lower the barriers for companies wanting access to its processing power.

Also to be hosted at the University of Leeds is a supercomputer set to transform health research in the North of England.

The Health eResearch Centre (HeRC) machine is one of the first large memory computers to be deployed for healthcare research in the UK. It has 1,000 times more memory and over 100 times more power than a standard desktop computer.

By increasing the computing muscle available to health researchers across the North’s leading research universities, it will speed up analysis vital to fighting disease and allow much more ambitious projects to be undertaken.

HeRC will be hosted in the same facility at the University of Leeds as the existing N8 High Performance Computer (N8 HPC), run by the N8 group of northern research-intensive universities.

Additional facilities and equipment

These include but are not limited to:


The Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA)

LIDA is the home of two major programmes for data intensive research: the MRC Centre for Medical Bioinformatics and the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre. LIDA is bringing together applied research groups alongside data scientists in mathematics and computer science to open up unparalleled opportunities to understand health and human behaviour. The University of Leeds is investing in a purpose-built and fully equipped facility to maximise benefits for collaborative research and engagement with external partners. LIDA will also provide a safe data room, advanced computational infrastructure, and a fully equipped training suite. It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.

Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU)

Leeds’ CTRU is a UKCRC registered Clinical Trials Unit with expertise, experience and skills in early phase trials, large multi-site trials and related methodological research. Its three Divisions are:

The Complex Intervention Division leads clinical trials in rehabilitation research in stroke and has a rapidly developing portfolio in Diet & Obesity as well as mental health and older people. The Division has a strong track record and a scientific strategy covering the design, delivery and analysis of evaluations of complex interventions both within secondary care and the community.

The Cancer Division leads clinical trials in national and international breast and colorectal disease and undertakes the largest myeloma clinical trials in the world, being at the leading edge for developing new treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, and undertaking high profile international breast and colorectal cancer trials. Many of these trials are run in collaboration with industry, and they continue to change practice worldwide.

The Comprehensive Health Research Division Comprises portfolios in cardiovascular, musculo-skeletal, dentistry and skin. The Division is leading trials of interventions including diagnostic tests, medical devices and pharma.

The Human Appetite and Research Unit (HARU)

HARU has eight dedicated experimental cubicles capable of monitoring food intake behaviours and their psychological correlates with precision and sensitivity. The laboratory kitchen caters for all aspects of food development and preparation from micronutrient manipulations to total daily energy intake.  The biochemistry room is fully equipped and staffed for venepuncture, cannulation and the preparation and storage of plasma for hormonal assay. We are experienced in measuring resting metabolism, body composition, substrate oxidation and maximal aerobic fitness. Research in the HARU takes a lifespan approach ranging from early infancy to advancing age, and combines expertise from several scientific disciplines including psychology, human nutrition, dietetics, sensory science and sports science.

Other areas

  • Bio-imaging, proteomics, structural analysis and the analysis of molecular interactions (e.g. electron and confocal laser scanning microscopy, electrospray mass spectrometry, MALDI-MS, Q-Tof-MS/MS, X-ray crystallography, NMR, CD and surface plasmon resonance)
  • Computational fluid dynamics – the Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics is unique in the UK, Europe and the World and provides expertise in modelling airflow from a micro to macro scale. This facilitates greater understanding of, for example, airflow in containers helping to minimise product wastage during transportation, to airflow over terrain allowing optimal design and placement of wind turbines.
  • Advanced dielectric and microwave engineering facilities in Electronic Engineering and Food Science
  • World class facilities in acoustics and ultrasound


Much of Leeds’ equipment is available for use by external organisations. Please visit