NSS 2020 Results – 100% Overall Satisfaction for Chemistry

Yesterday the NSS results for 2020 were published and we are delighted to say that across the Chemistry subject area (i.e. for PCS and chemistry courses combined), this year’s voting students gave us an Overall Satisfaction score of 100 %.

This year has been a difficult year for staff and students largely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which had a profound and rapid effect on the way our courses were delivered. On top of this, the 2019 NSS Overall Satisfaction was an all-time low for the Chemistry@Brighton team and we spent much of the year trying to identify and address the issues that the NSS 2019 raised. However, with the help of our students and specifically through their honest contributions to our focus groups, and their rapid communication of issues arising to course reps, we were able to take action to avoid a repeat of any of the issues that had a negative effect on our 2019 NSS score. So, a big thank you to our PCS and chemistry students.

The NSS results come on top of several other Chemistry@Brighton successes this year. Sihem Ziada, current Chemistry 3rd year, was elected president of the Brighton University Student’s Union – more details here. Professor Ostler was elected Chair of the Heads of Chemistry at the Royal Society of Chemistry – more details here. Professor Patel was awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Final year project work of previous students Hannah Cave, Maciej Migas and George Garret was published in three journal articles and Chemistry staff continued to publish high impact research including a recent publication in Advanced Functional Materials (Impact Factor 15.621).

The Chemistry@Brighton team

ACS Editor’s Choice for Brighton’s chemistry research

ACS Editor’s Choice for recently published Chemistry Research;

Recent work by Dr Marcus Dymond (Division of Chemistry, PABS) and Prof. George Attard (University of Southampton) with collaborators at the MAX IV synchrotron/ University of Lund, SE has been selected as a prestigious American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice article.

The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, which publishes 51 research journals across the chemical sciences. Each year the ACS chooses 365 articles (one per day) from across its many journals to make open access as part of the ACS Editor’s Choice program. On the 29th of October 2017 new research by Dr Dymond and colleagues was chosen.

The paper, published in ACS Langmuir, looks at the membrane disrupting properties of aliphatic aldehydes. Aliphatic aldehydes are a class of chemicals that are used by algae as part of a defence mechanism however aliphatic aldehydes have also been implicated in a range of health related problems and disease mechanisms in humans. Notably aliphatic aldehydes are produced in cells as a response to reactive oxygen species (oxidative stress) interacting with lipids and there is an increasing body of evidence linking oxidative stress to global health challenges such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and many other health conditions. Aliphatic aldehydes are also produced when some fats are heated to high temperatures for frying food, raising concerns about their incorporation in the human diet.

The researchers used X-ray diffraction facilities available at the MAX IV synchrotron SE to show that aliphatic aldehydes destabilise the flat structures formed by some of the most prominent lipids found in cell membranes. Typically cells contain large numbers of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine lipids, which form flat lipid bilayer membrane structures that contain protein. The most widely known example is the plasma membrane, which encapsulates the cell and allows it to control chemical conditions inside its interior. However lipid bilayers are like microscopic springs that store elastic energy and it is thought that by controlling the composition of their membranes cells can regulate the elastic stress stored within. This enables cells to regulate the function of some proteins, which respond to elastic stresses in the membrane.

In the particular case of aliphatic aldehydes the researchers found that as the concentration of these molecules increases the lipid mixtures form curved aggregates, which cannot form flat bilayers. These results strongly suggest that aliphatic aldehydes cause high levels of elastic stress in membranes. It is already known that high elastic stress can disrupt the activity of membrane bound proteins and the research suggests that the negative health effects of aliphatic aldehydes might be linked to this property as summarised in Fig 1.