My placement at GlaxoSmithKline

Emma Greening
BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science

“Choosing to do a placement year at GlaxoSmithKline was one of the best choices I could’ve made during my degree. Spending a year working in the management of Phase II-IV clinical trials has given me so many opportunities to learn about the drug development process, and play a key role in the progression of new therapies in the Immunoinflammation, Neurosciences and Dermatology therapy area. I was able to experience a scientific career away from the lab bench, and the skills I’ve gained during this time will be completely invaluable when returning for final year and when applying for graduate jobs. I really couldn’t recommend applying for an industrial placement year enough!”

Welcome Biosciences

For our Welcome Events in the Biosciences we conducted an Actionbound scavenger hunt, aimed at improving the students’ knowledge and navigation of the Moulsecoomb campus. The points gained in the scavenger hunt resulted in awarded straws which were used to build the egg-holding contraptions needed for the big “Egg Drop Challenge”. 105 students took part in the scavenger hunt – we had 23 teams complete the missions and tasks, resulting in some great pictures with Matt from the School Office. Unfortunately not a single egg survived the big egg drop challenge – but we still had chocolates all round –  in my eyes a great way of ending an afternoon filled with fun and activity – Dr Anja Rott

 

Egg Drop Challenge straw constructionEgg Drop ChallengeEgg Drop Challenge parachute attempt Scavenger Hunt SelfieScavenger Hunt SelfieScavenger Hunt Selfie

An experience of a lifetime

Anna Marie Lawn, third year BSc(Hons) Ecology student tells us about her time volunteering over the summer.

From July-September 2017, I volunteered with the organisation of the Society for the Protection of Turtles in Northern Cyprus, working with the native green and loggerhead sea turtle species.

There, I worked and lived for 6 weeks with 25 students, sharing mattresses laid out on the floor of a room and outside the building on some inhabitants setting quiet alarms as not to wake up others on different shifts, and all equally in our permanent state of being covered head to toe in sand from the previous day. In the day, we made lunch out of whatever was in the communal fridge (mostly pita bread and halloumi) with two students who had been blessed with a day off, cooking each night using whatever vegetables we could find for a low enough price at a nearby market.

Our work day rotated between night and day shifts, consisting of 10-15 hour days. Night workers patrolled protected beaches from 8:30pm-7am, asking people on the beach after hours to leave, and finding adult female sea turtles who we would observe laying eggs and marking out the locations with GPS co-ordinates. Adults would be flipper tagged, have their carapace measured length and width and have their behaviour recorded; all in the dark with only our faint red head torches shining.

Day work consisted of opening and closing ring cages (used to protect the turtles from crabs, foxes and dogs that people would illegally bring to the protected beach) these would be opened according to the time of day and heat of the sand, allowing any hatchlings to leave their nest during the day when the sand is not too hot, and closing the cages in the evenings so the night workers could collect hatchlings for weighing, measuring and biopsying. They would be released the following night- when they are most likely to escape the watchful eyes of predators.

The bulk of day work involved excavating nests that had hatched, or record unsuccessful nests where no eggs hatched.

This work was extremely labour-intensive. One person would locate, and dig an ever-collapsing area of sand that the night workers had marked out 2 months before, after observing the females lay and marking the location of her egg chamber. Digging had to be done gently enough to avoid harming any hatchlings that could be over 1m deep in the cool softer sand. Once, I had over half of my body length head down into a hole in the sand with the Mediterranean sun pounding on my back, I would carefully remove fragments and unhatched eggs and pass them up to my colleagues, along with any survivors that had struggled to get out, or stuck under plastic caught in the nest. Fragments and eggs would be ordered under a range of criteria, along with information about the nest that would be used for the numerous research projects taking place.

Working closely with fellow students, (mainly ecologists and zoologists) watching endangered animals from hatchlings to adulthood emerge, some for the first time, is something that many of us had spent our lives waiting to see. It gives you a special bond to the people you work with, to the country and to the beaches which I worked on every day for all but 1 day off I had in 6 weeks. The extremely hard work we did across the 3 bases in Northern Cyprus (one dealt with over 12,000 hatchlings this season!) is worth the lifelong friends, the experiences and the satisfaction you gain when you release a hatchling that you pulled from the plastics littered across the beaches. This was the experience of a lifetime, and I cannot wait to go back.

Why I donated my entire genome sequence to the public

After speaking about genomic data at the British Science Festival last week, Colin Smith, Professor of Functional Genomics in our school, appears in The Conversation this week. Continue reading

Keep feeding hedgehogs in the Autumn

Mammalian biologist Dr Dawn Scott is urging people to feed dwindling numbers of hedgehogs during autumn to help them survive winter.
Dr Scott, Assistant Head our school of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, spoke out after media reports suggested people should refrain from feeding hedgehogs before hibernation.
She said: “I feed hedgehogs in the autumn to help them attain body weight before the winter and several animals may need this boost to obtain the body weight sufficient to survive hibernation.
“I would encourage feeding hedgehogs in the autumn and I would also encourage the establishment of wildlife-friendly gardens which promote natural food supplies for the hedgehogs.”
Dr Scott spoke on hedgehogs at last week’s British Science Festival (BSF). She said one media report, suggesting Dr Scott was asking people to should stop feeding hedgehogs during autumn, was misleading.
“I presented data on my findings on the impact of people feeding urban mammals including foxes, badgers and hedgehogs. I mentioned my concerns over the emerging impact of food supplied by householders on animal behaviour and stated more research was needed.
“The point of the BSF is to stimulate discussion and debate hence I raised the point of ‘do we actually know the impacts of people feeding wildlife and it might not always be beneficial’. As hedgehogs are in such decline we really do need to know the consequences of our actions in terms of long term affects and this urgently needs more research.
“I was concerned that hedgehogs were noted as active throughout December and January last year and that, although this is likely to be climate related, abundant food supply throughout winter in gardens could also be affecting hibernation timing.
“One of the ecological consequences of urban environments for animals is the potentially constant supply of food which could affect natural seasonal behaviour. Food reduction as well as temperature is a trigger for hibernating animals and so abundant food could potentially affect this trigger. Anthropogenic feeding and how it can disrupt hibernation patterns has been shown in some other species.
“I said I had no direct data on this, it was a point for discussion and raised as an area that needs to be researched in future. I linked this point with the emerging feeding habits of people towards other urban animals and said we need to look carefully at how, what and when we feed wildlife to maximise its benefit and reduce any potential detrimental effects.”
You can find out more about Dr Scott’s research here.

£10,000 for infection research

Simon Booth, a research fellow in our school, has been awarded £10,000 to study why some burns wounds don’t respond to antibiotics as well as they should.

Simon is examining whether burns patients with wound infection receive high enough doses of antibiotics to treat the wound infection.

The study, approved by the National Research Ethics Service, involves taking blood and wound fluid samples to see whether there is sufficient concentrations in the wound compared to blood and if the bacteria in the wound have resistance to the antibiotics.

Simon, seconded from the Queen Victoria Hospital Burns Centre at East Grinstead, said: “Burns wounds infections are very common and yet people who are given antibiotics do not always improve, even when we know the bacteria should be killed by the antibiotics. This is particularly concerning with the rise of antimicrobial resistant infections.”

Simon will also be collecting wound samples from four other regional burns centres.

The award is from the Hospital Saturday Fund, a charity helping individuals with medical conditions or disabilities and providing funds for medical projects for hospitals, hospices, medical organisations. The £10,000 is the maximum award the charity provides.

Simon, working towards a Masters in Clinical Research at the university, said: “I am very grateful to the Hospital Saturday Fund for seeing the value of this research. It will give clinicians vital information about antibiotic prescribing and help in the fight to reduce antimicrobial resistance”

Is austerity really to blame for stalling life expectancy in England?

Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology in our school, writes in The Conversation that: “Far from being a hopeless search for cash, we can increase life expectancy and lower care costs. What we need if political vision and will. Both are currently in short supply.”

Read the full article here.

Brains at the Bevy with Professor Richard Faragher

Join Professor Richard Faragher at Brains at the Bevy, in partnership with the British Science Festival, on Wednesday 30 August, 6-7pm, to talk about ‘How we grow old, why we grow old and what we can do about it?’

Richard will explain that we now understand the major mechanisms that cause humans and other animals to grow old, why these exist and what we can potentially do to promote, healthier and therefore longer lives.

Brains at the Bevy are a series of short and enlightening talks from local academics and all are welcome to attend. The talks take place at The Bevendean Community Pub in Moulsecoomb and each talk will last around an hour with plenty of time for questions and discussion. 

These free talks are organised by the Bevy and Community University Partnership Programme at the University of Brighton and funded by the Sussex Learning Network. Tea and coffee will be provided during the talk and everyone is welcome to stay on afterwards to enjoy the lovely food and drink available at the Bevy.

Email cupp@brighton.ac.uk if you would like to go along. See you there!

How good is your garden for wildlife?

Our mammalian biologist Dr Dawn Scott and fellow experts are revealing the secret lives of animals and insects that live in gardens and lawns.

Watch out for Dr Scott who is featuring in a new BBC 4 TV programme ‘The British Garden: Life and Death on your lawn’.

Dr Scott said: “For this programme we assessed the biodiversity in eight gardens to see how different gardens support wildlife and what features of those gardens were the best for wildlife.”

Presented by Springwatch’s Chris Packham, the film looks “beneath the peonies and petunias” to reveal how male crickets bribe females for sex, how a robin’s red breast is actually war paint and how a single litter of foxes can have up to five different fathers.

The programme is scheduled for broadcast at 9pm on 11 July.

A warm welcome at our open day

Sunshine, blue skies, our brilliant ambassadors and friendly staff welcomed visitors to our campus open day on Saturday 17 June.

Open days are a great way to find out about the local area and campus where you will be studying. You’ll also be able to hear more about your chosen subject and talk to our staff and current students.

If you are thinking about beginning your studies in 2018 and missed this one, find out more about upcoming events on our website.

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