£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!

BBC Springwatch on garden animals

University of Brighton mammalian biologist is calling on the public for ‘animal stories from the garden’ for research and a special feature for BBC Two’s forthcoming Springwatch series.

Dr Dawn Scott and her team are studying interactions between foxes, hedgehogs, badgers, cats and dogs in the presence or absence of food in people’s gardens.

Dr Scott, Principal Lecturer in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: “Many people support wildlife in their gardens by providing food for them. However, we don’t yet fully understand how providing food can affect the interactions between wildlife.

“It is not always known what animals actually end up eating this extra food or if the animals compete to get access to it. Foxes and hedgehogs have been seen to feed from the same bowl but we have also seen animals come into conflict over the food provided.

“The project will be focused on interactions between foxes, badgers and hedgehogs, but we are also interested in interactions between the same species, i.e. fox and another fox, and also between pets.”

Findings from the research will feature in BBCs Two’s Springwatch which is scheduled to air from 29 May to 15 June.

 

Continue reading

Royal Society honour

Professor Colin Smith, expert on genomics and how the science could lead to improved ways of combatting diseases has been invited to organise a Royal Society meeting with world leaders in the field.

The prestigious Theo Murphy International Scientific meeting at Chicheley Hall on 5 – 6 March next year is entitled ‘Changing views of translation: from ribosome profiling to high resolution imaging of single molecules in vivo’. It will bring together senior and early career scientists from around the world to discuss how new technologies are providing novel insights into how cells function.

Professor Smith is Professor of Functional Genomics in our school. He joined the university last year and is establishing a new genomics facility to investigate future potential for highlighting disease risk and revealing the genetic basis for human diseases.

A ‘genome’ comprises the complete set of DNA molecules within each cell of an organism and in 2013 Professor Smith had his whole genome sequenced. He became the first person to donate his genome sequence under ‘open consent’ to the Personal Genome Project UK.

Genomics technologies have been at the heart of Professor Smith’s research for the past 15 years and he has been engaged in a range of interdisciplinary national and international collaborations, investigating antibiotic production by bacteria, human sleep and human nutrition.

Professor Debra Humphris, our Vice-Chancellor, said: “Huge congratulations to Colin. This is a highly prestigious event and an acknowledgement of his work and his global connections in the field of genomics.”

Professor Smith said: “It is a great honour to have been given the privilege to bring together some of the top scientists in this field to discuss recent breath-taking advances in our understanding of fundamental biological processes.”

Explaining our research on the BBC

The university’s Diabetes Research Group (DRB) featured on BBC South East’s Inside Out programme on 27 February.

Professor Adrian Bone, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and Head of the DRB, and his team explained cutting-edge research being undertaken at the university to improve treatment for a disease that, for Type 1 diabetes alone, affects 10,000 people in the South East.

To watch the programme go to the BBC’s iPlayer service and scan along to 17.40 mins.

New insight into aged-related hearing loss

Scientists at the University of Brighton have moved a step closer to understanding the underlying cause of age-related hearing loss which affects 11 million people in the UK.
Hearing loss is believed to originate in non-sensory cells in the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear containing the organ which produces nerve impulses in response to sound.
The cells are coupled together by ‘gap junctions’ which are formed of two proteins called connexin 26 and connexin 30. It is mutations or failures in these proteins that cause most cases of hearing loss.
However, experiments by our Sensory Neuroscience Research Group have shown that one particular mutation in the connexion 30 protein actually prevents deafness to high-frequency sound.
Professor Ian Russell, Professor of Neurobiology here at university and a member of the group, said: “This was a great surprise: The mutation should have impaired the function of the cochlea, not aided it.”
He said: “Other members of the research team are now making direct measurements from these supporting cells to understand how the mutation changes the properties of the gap junctions. They should obtain measurements that will enable us to understand how the mutation alters the electrical and mechanical properties of the cochlea and eventually lead to our understanding how sensitivity is preserved in a cochlea that would otherwise be decimated by age-related-hearing-loss.”
The Sensory Neuroscience Research Group’s findings were published on 21 February in Nature Communication. Continue reading

Soapbox Science’s first visit to Brighton

Head down to the seafront between 1-4pm on Saturday 29 July and celebrate women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) with Soapbox Science.

Soapbox Science hosts events across the UK and the world raising the profile of women in science – breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes about who a researcher is. And they are coming to Brighton for the first time this summer.
Chantal Nobs, a PhD student at the University of Brighton, was one of 12 women selected to participate in the Soapbox Science London event on London’s Southbank in 2016.

Find out more about the Brighton event here.