£221,000 to find a new tool to help fight cancer

Bhavik Patel and Melanie FlintThe University of Brighton has been awarded £221,000 to develop a sensor device that will measure biomarkers in tissue to aid personalised cancer therapy.

Currently, little is known about how different amounts and types of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species influence the state of tumours and their response to chemotherapy.

Researchers will be looking to develop a novel electroanalytical sensor that can monitor these species over long time frames and provide answers to these questions.

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Breakthrough in ageing research

University of Brighton scientists have helped discover a way of regenerating  ageing skin cells – with compounds based on those found in red wine, dark chocolate and red grapes.

Laboratory experiments showed cells not only look physically younger but behave more like young cells and start dividing.

Professor Richard Faragher, the University’s Professor of Biogerontology, and Dr Lizzy Ostler, Head of Chemistry, said the breakthrough should generate more research into tackling health issues associated with ageing.

Professor Faragher said: “These findings illustrate the enormous potential of ageing research to improve the quality of later life. Older people no more want to be sickly ‘frequent flyers’ with the NHS than teenagers do.

“A recent Government report recognised historic underinvestment in ageing research in the UK. I say to politicians of all parties: Redress this now and give our older people the healthy futures they deserve.”

Dr Ostler said: “Breakthroughs of this kind really need chemists and biologists working on research and teaching together under the same roof. We prize our multidisciplinary collaborative atmosphere at Brighton. This breakthrough vindicates that approach.”

The scientists, members of the University’s Stress, Ageing and Disease Centre of Research and Enterprise Excellence, worked together to select the best compounds for testing from a library designed and synthesised by Dr Vishal Birar, whilst he was undertaking a University of Brighton-funded PhD studentship under Dr Ostler’s supervision. Continue reading

High note for “Sister Act” Gospel choir

A Brighton choir has reached the finals of the national University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY) competition.

Sound of Zion, based at the University of Brighton’s Moulsecoomb campus, will be competing against eight other university gospel choirs at a televised event at the Dominion Centre in Wood Green, London, on 24 March.

Founded by Debbie-Ann Ofosuware, who graduated last year from the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences (BScHons Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences), and Teniola Taiwo who graduated from the University’s Brighton Business School (BAHons in Business and Marketing), the choir comprises singers from both Brighton and Sussex universities.

Teniola, a Marketing Assistant in Brighton, said: “I can’t believe we’ve reached the finals! I never thought we’d have such an opportunity when we first started. It’s been an incredible journey and so many lives have been touched along the way – so even if we don’t win, we’re still grateful.”

The final is described by the UGCY organisers as a “Sister Act meets X Factor” event for the whole family. Judging will be singer-songwriter Stephanie Sounds, and Creative/Music Director Ayo ‘Ace’ Oyerinde, Mobo Award winning Gospel artist Volney Morgan and record producer Les Moir from Integrity Music.

Other finalists include Imperial College Gospel Choir, Cambridge University Gospel Choir, Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir, and returning champions London College of Creative Media Choir.

University Gospel Choir of the Year is a voluntary organisation providing a platform for university gospel choirs across the UK to develop and showcase their musical abilities.

Tickets for the 6.30pm show are available at: www.eventbrite.co.uk/ugcy2018

Student research success

Yesterday our final year MChem students had a day trip to London to the home of UK chemistry, the Royal Society of Chemistry‘s Burlington House base. The event was an early career research conference on environmental chemistry hosted by the RSC Environmental Chemistry Interest Group

MChem students outside Burlington House

An event of this sort welcomes research presented by PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, a smaller friendlier way to present your work and gain valuable experience as well as find out about a wide range of topics in the area. In this case though, we showcased how undergraduate research can be every bit as important and that it is never too early to start your research career.

The day started with a warm welcome and some interesting talks from early career researchers from several different institutions.
Good time was given to the poster session which allowed the presenters time to speak to everyone about their work. The worthy winner of the poster prize certainly had a good talking point with acetate overlays for her mapping project of lead in Glasgow. Interactive posters, a great idea. Our students got to talk to PhD students about their work and what it was like to do a PhD, the real life version from the coal-face.

Lunch provided additional networking opportunities, and a free lunch which students always seem to enjoy! Though for one of our students the nerves were setting in as her talk neared.

Sarah Chandler presented her work from her third year research project on developing autonomous electrochemical sensors to analyse metals in the marine environment. It’s quite unusual for third year students to undertake real research but here at B20171215-100356.jpgrighton we feel it’s the best way of developing their practical skills and ability to think about more than what is presented for examination. Starting in the third year also means they are already skilled researchers by the time it comes to their final year projects and their can use this experience when applying for PhD positions.

 

Sarah’s project was very successful and she worked hard to understand a new area and add her own ideas during the process. Ultimately she managed to develop a sensor that could detect sub-ppb levels of As in real samples, and with a little more development should work well in the field without additional reagents. During the talk she impressed with her knowledge and ability to convey the intricacies of her work with clarity and interest. That she is still to complete her first degree only added to the impact of her presentation.

The day ended with a great keynote explaining one very varied career path with some interesting tales and some great advice for the students starting out. Not least that often what seems like a disaster at the time can turn out to be great interview fodder when you explain how you dealt with it.
The final act of the day after thanking all the presenters was the oral presentation prize.

Much to her surprise Sarah was awarded the prize, testament to her tale20171215-101420.jpgnts and proving that you don’t have to be doing a PhD to undertake great research. I’m sure she’ll go far.

All the students got so much out of the day, from hearing research from people not far from where they are in their careers, to the great career advice from the two keynotes and the networking opportunities provided so well throughout the day. We’d like to thank the RSC Environmental Chemistry Group organising committee for a successful day, we’ll definitely be back.

Determining the sex of human remains – using tooth enamel

Scientists at the University of Brighton have discovered a new method of determining the sex of human remains – by testing tooth enamel. DNA sequencing is currently the most common method but this can be expensive, time-consuming, and often depends on finding a good quality sample. The new method is quicker, cheaper, and uses tooth enamel, the most durable human body tissue and the hardest tissue in the human body. It survives burial well, even when the rest of the skeleton or DNA has decayed.

The breakthrough has the potential to improve studies of archaeological finds and medical and forensic science. Researchers have tested the method on the remains of seven adults from the late 19th Century as well as male and female pairs from three archaeological sites ranging from 5,700 years ago to the 16th Century in the UK. In each case, the method successfully determined the sex, as confirmed by comparison with coffin plates or standard bone analyses.

The research has been carried out by Dr Nicolas Stewart, senior lecturer in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, with colleagues at Durham University and the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

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Come and visit us this winter

It might be cold outside but don’t let that stop you visiting us this winter!

If you’re considering starting an undergraduate course here in 2018, why not sign up to one of our campus tours taking place during December and January and find out more about what it’s like study at Brighton?

The tours will give you the chance to explore the campus where your course of interest is based, view our facilities and talk to our staff and students.

Find out more and book onto a tour <link to: https://www.brighton.ac.uk/studying-here/visit-us/campus-tours/index.aspx>

My placement at Biocompatibles

Georgia Fleet
BSc (Hons) Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

“My experience as R&D Technician at Biocompatibles is heavily lab-based and the confidence I’ve gained in carrying out experimental work and reporting my findings to an industry standard has been significant. I work on a number of projects in which I have a range of responsibilities such as running polymerisation reactions, characterising different bead prototypes, and exploring catheter delivery techniques. It’s very rewarding to finally put my years of education to good use. I’m having a great time and could not recommend a placement year highly enough!”

What’s it like to be a new student at Brighton?

For this post we have a guest piece by one of our new first year students Alexander Ludlow. Alex has just started on the BSc(hons) Chemistry course here at Brighton and has kindly recorded his experience of the Welcome Week here which cuyliminated in a social event in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry, followed by ChemSoc’s first social event of the year (without the staff present!).

Welcome week – students finding their way around campus

Monday

My first day studying chemistry at Brighton had a light start, we were welcomed by the Head of School who put into context what studying in Brighton meant and how we can get the most of it. The day mainly consisted of activities to familiarize yourself with the Campus and online student learning environment. To finish the day off we competed against other tutor groups for a scavenger hunt, which I was sceptical about, but ended being a very enjoyable task, where I not only got to know people in my tutor group, but also got to know the buildings where I’d be taught.

Tuesday

Today was some administration before we can get into the Chemistry laboratories. Later in the day we had a fun lab activity, where there was a simulation of typical hazards and bad practise in the lab. We had to explain to the technician the hazards we had found and how we would deal with them.

Wednesday

My Wednesdays are not very busy because the University likes to keep this day open for you to do sports, should you choose to. We had our first Course related talk today, detailing how we should study, which was helpful. Our lecturer, the Inorganic chemist named Ian Gass, whom is a fan of Iron, and sounds like Frankie Boyle, created a light and fun environment, whilst still speaking in a very detailed manner allowing me to follow what he was saying easily. For an example on note making and the importance of attendance he taught us about Crystal field theory, I found it very difficult and almost hypocritical the idea that a ligand forming a dative covalent bond with a central metal ion, can be considered to have an ionic interaction with the central metal ion. I said to one of my peers “I’ve just realised chemistry isn’t black and white” they replied “have you only just realised?”. Chemistry is so beautiful and complex so it needs to be explained via a model that can represent the main features in a simplistic way, because to be able to understand chemistry you need a broad understanding of how many things work. It’s only now I realise I was being taught the ‘lite’ version of chemistry in previous education and the simplified version. I am excited for the year ahead but also a tad scared about the content, and the only thing I can do is be proactive and work as hard as I can and seek support when I need it.

Thursday

Thursday was a late start, not much chemistry involved, because today was freshers fair, 6000 students piled into AMEX stadium to sign up for the 116 societies Brighton university had to offer. A good day and was a surprising sight.

Friday

Friday was a fun day. Whilst the 5 sets of stairs in the Watts building weren’t fun, the talk on keeping your online image positive and working on describing your weaknesses and strengths was helpful. Next, we had a small talk from the Royal Society of Chemistry which was interesting, and found out the results to Monday’s scavenger hunt. My team only got a silver, but I’ll take that. Monday was also ChemSoc’s first social. I really enjoyed meeting 3rd years and hearing their experiences and tips for first year, chemistry at UoB seems to be a tight knit group that all seem to know and support each other.

Funniest photo competition pictures

Thanks Alex for giving us an insight into your first week. We’ll catch up with the new students later in the year.

Our next Open Day is Saturday 21st October. You can visit the main University of Brighton website to sign up.

Turning wine into gold at the British Science Festival

Dr Peter Cragg

This week University of Brighton is co-hosting the British Science Festival 2017. Last night if you headed to the East Street Tap pub in Brighton you will have happened across some crazy chemistry turning wine into gold! Dr Peter Cragg  astounded the patrons of the pub by taking an ordinary glass of wine and extracting gold nanoparticles from the acids you find within it.

There is still more fun to be had at the British Science Festival check out their website for details.