New research will benefit patients

Scientists at the University of Brighton are playing an integral role in developing a new early warning system that tells patients and carers when urinary catheters are infected and at risk of blocking.

Urinary catheters are the most commonly used medical devices, with hundreds of millions sold worldwide every year. Many of these will be used for long-term management of incontinence in older individuals or those with spinal cord injuries, and these patients are at particular risk of infection, and associated complications.

One of the most serious complications of infection is the encrustation and blockage of catheters, which is mostly caused by a bacterial species called Proteus mirabilis. Blockage, in turn, leads to the onset of serious complications such as kidney infection and septicaemia, one of the UK’s biggest killers.

A reliable system for patients or their carers to spot infection early and take action before blockage occurs would have considerable benefits to patients, and could considerably reduce NHS costs.

Dr Brian Jones

Dr Brian Jones

Leading the university’s research is Dr Brian Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology at the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, and Head of Research Development at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. This work is a collaboration with scientists at the University of Bath.

 

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South Africa field trip 2016 – days 11 and 12

The last two days were dedicated to personal projects where students collected data to answer their own research question. This year studies ranged from the effects of burning on plant biodiversity to behavioural observations of Rhino. This is another great opportunity to put into practice the skills learned during the taught sessions, but also to spend time focussing and enjoying their field of interest.

Overall this trip was another success and students really enjoyed their experience:

“The South Africa field trip has to be one of the best experiences of my life! It has been a huge boost to my academic learning, coming away with a larger skills set and focus for my future career! My personal project involved me being on foot researching southern white rhino, a once in a life-time opportunity. It such an inspirational and incredible trip, I am itching to get myself back to South Africa!” 

Daniel Bardey recording white rhino behaviour

Daniel Bardey recording white rhino behaviour

Everything about the module was perfect, there isn’t much more to say, but it has definitely been one of, if not the best experience of my life

Great field trip location, staff, good timing and methodical learning process

Unfortunately all good things come to an end, but before packing our bags and flying back to Brighton, there was a last chance to unwind at the Kopje, one of the highest points overlooking the reserve where we could all admire the sun setting on another successful and rewarding trip…. Until next year!

South Africa field trip 2016 – Day 9

After 9 days of intensive field work, students were rewarded with a game drive in Pilanesberg National Park. Year on year the objectives are to spot most of the BIG FIVE. This year was a good one with elephant, lion and rhino spotted by everyone. Other sightings included crocodile, hippo, flamingos and Kori bustard.

A species on the brink of extinction

A species on the brink of extinction

South Africa field trip 2016

This year 24 second year students flew to South Africa with Dr Anja Rott, Dr Rachel White and Dr Neil Crooks to take part in the Biology Field trip.  All students shared a common interest for wildlife conservation and the great outdoors!

During 12 days at Mankwe Game reserve, near Pilanesberg National Park, students improved their species identification skills and undertook a wide variety of exercises in both data collection and data analysis, ranging from large mammal transects to Vegetation Condition Index (VCI), bird counts, camera trapping and sweep netting for invertebrates – to name just a few. Early mornings were rewarded with fantastic wildlife sightings and beautifully lit landscapes.

Connected to the above activities, the students were constantly learning about best practice for managing a wildlife game reserve, including fire management and anti-poaching.

 

Biological Sciences at Brighton

Third year Biological Sciences BSc(Hons) student, Steven Purnell, tells us more about studying here

Biological Sciences is a diverse topic, ranging from biomedical modules to ecology and optional geology/ geography modules. Most of your module choices will be optional, meaning you can pick and choose the topics you are most interested in.

The Brighton teaching staff are excellent; well-informed and enthusiastic lecturers. The support staff are always helpful, particularly in the labs where the technicians are always willing to point you in the right direction.

My final year project (studying the antibiotic resistance of biofilm-forming Escherichia coli) helped me learn skills such as designing an experiment, conduct literature reviews of previous publications and gave me a great deal of good laboratory practise.

I did an internal placement year at the university, assisting a lecturer in his research on pathongenic E.coli inSteven-Purnell the microbiology research laboratory, which expanded my experience. Puttingtheory into practice really helped me to understand the practical side of what we had learned.

I am currently applying to PhD places in various microbiology topics, in particular work with pathogenic E.coli as it is a topic I have become increasingly interested in from my placement year and final year project experiences.

I would describe my course as fascinating, enjoyable and enthralling. If you want a biology course encompassing both biomedical and ecology topics, this is definitely the one you should pick.

Boosting the fight against cancer

The university has been awarded £148,600 to find new ways to deliver anti-cancer properties from the spice turmeric to prevent or treat the disease.

Scientists will be working with collaborators in Vietnam where the climate and soil on higher ground is suitable to cultivate Curcuma longa from which turmeric, used in cooking in India and south Asia as well as in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, is derived.

The funding has come from the Newton Institutional Links, part of the UK’s official development assistance programme and which provides grants for the development of research and innovation collaborations between the UK and partner countries.

Members of the University of Brighton’s drug delivery research group, Professor John Smart and Dr Ananth Pannala, will work with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology on formulating curcumin preparations to be manufactured in Vietnam and marketed globally.

Professor Smart said: “Curcumin has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and has been used for the prevention and treatment of cancer, diabetes, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease.

“It is poorly absorbed when given as a tablet or capsule, its limited solubility being a major factor. This work will develop a curcumin-containing tablet or capsule using soluble carriers or dispersible oils that are acceptable, stable and optimise bioavailability.

“These will be required to be manufactured sustainably within Vietnam, using locally available materials. The project will last two years and will include regular visits to Vietnam to develop the collaboration.”

UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, discussed the university’s involvement in the project on a visit to the Vietnam Academy this week (12 April).

For more information on our research in this area visit

https://www.brighton.ac.uk/research/our-research/life-health-and-physical-sciences/research-groups/biomaterials-and-medical-devices/index.aspx

Lord Robert Winston is coming to UoB – 03.06.16

Lord Robert Winston, known for his pioneering research in the biological field, is coming to the University’s Hastings campus on June 3 to give a talk to science students and staff!

The talk will take place in the Havelock lecture theatre at 4pm so please arrive at 3.45pm.

Register here

So who is Lord Winston??

Lord WinstonHe is one of the most respected and influential contributors to the field of biology in our lifetime, transforming the understanding and application of fertility treatment. He developed gynaecological surgical techniques in the 1970s which improved fertility treatments, and developed improvements to IVF. His work developed pre-implantation diagnosis in order for embryos to be screened for genetic diseases, preventing couples passing on their genetic predispositions to certain illnesses to their children, such as cystic fibrosis. He has spent his career extensively researching, and has produced over 300 publications on reproduction and stages of pregnancy.

Now he is Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, and leads a program at the Institution of Reproduction and Developmental Biology at Imperial College London to improve human transplantation. He is also chairman of the Genesis Research Trust, an important charity working to promote better health for women and babies. He has a strong interest in educational issues, and has combined his two passions to become a successful childrens author, writing books to explain science in a fascinating way to inspire young children. He is also a successful author for adults, and has created award winning documentaries for television over the years. He has accumulated a variety of awards for his work, and is now a board member and Vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, regularly speaking at the House of Lords on Education, Science, Medicine and the Arts.

A* Scientist outreach work

a_star_scientist-23zhsb9On 16 March the ‘A* Scientist’ outreach team completed another successful hands-on science morning with Year 4 children (8-9 year-olds), and a tailor-made talented and gifted afternoon with Year 3 children (7-8 year-olds), at Bramber Primary School in Worthing. The A* Scientist team is made up of experienced and talented members of PaBS including Dr Angela Sheerin, Dr Anna Guildford, Dr Claire Marriott and Ms Bertie Berterelli. We also had a special guest from the BrightSTAR team, Ms Maria Verdenelli, who was disseminating principles from her PhD studies.

Thirty year 4 children enjoyed our specialist science program that included strawberry DNA extraction, cheek cell staining and the much-enjoyed organ assembly race against the clock. In the afternoon the team held a special talented and gifted session with the Year 3 children that saw the creation of our own pH indicator and volcano competitions with the principles of basic chemical reactions as part of the learning outcome. In parallel to this, Ms Verdenelli held an additional hands-on workshop for the Year 4 children to design new methods to mend heart conditions.

The A* Scientist outreach team was founded over four years ago and in this time we have seen upwards of 1,000 children. We have gained over £18,000 of funding (including Springboard, WPOOG and Compact Plus) which has enabled purchase of equipment, consumables and some salaries.

The ‘smart’ dressing that could save lives

A ‘smart’ medical dressing that glows when it detects bacterial infection is a step closer to saving lives of burns victims.

Around 5Smart-dressing-Cropped-398x272,000 children and 13,000 adults a year in England and Wales are treated in hospital with serious burns. Infection is a common and serious complication for these patients, but at present it is difficult for doctors to diagnose these infections, and confirmation can take several days.

The University of Brighton, and its partner organisations – the Queen Victoria Hospital and Blond McIndoe Research Foundation in East Grinstead – are playing a key role in a £1m research project to test the effectiveness of a new infection-detecting dressing which aims to improve treatment and save lives.

The University of Brighton’s Dr Brian Jones and colleagues are working in collaDr-Brian-Jones-Cropped-398x272boration with the University of Bath and the Healing Foundation Children’s Burns Research Centre. The team has developed a prototype dressing that will detect infection by a simple and easily-observed colour change, alerting healthcare professionals that the wound is infected.

For the full story, visit our website

Urban badger research used on BBC’s Autumnwatch

Our research on badgers in the city is featured on BBC’s Autumnwatch.

Ecologists working on the project include Dr Dawn Scott, Assistant Head of the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences;  Bryony Tolhurst, Senior Lecturer, and Masters’ student Heidi Karlsson.

Dawn Scott and Chris Packha. Picture Kristina Turner

Dr Scott said: “The research we are conducting is looking at how badgers use urban environments and we have collared seven badgers across the city to track where they go and how they have adapted their ecology and behaviour to urban living.”

Remote cameras in a number of key habitats will include Badger Cam, situated by a badger feeding area to watch their nightly activities. In conjunction with the University of Brighton, the team plan to test Brighton badgers to discover whether urban badgers have more of a preference for anthropogenic (human) food than their rural cousins.

Autumnwatch begins 2 November with Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games.