Dr Sarah Pitt

COVID-19 – a tragedy but there are reasons to be proud

A Brighton virologist has been “heartbroken” by the COVID-19 tragedy but maintains the pandemic has produced moments to be proud of.

Dr Sarah Pitt, virologist and biomedical scientist at the University of Brighton, said: “What has happened is an absolute tragedy and totally heart breaking.

“I’m just as upset as everyone else but it is heartening to see how people have pulled together and how the best minds in the country and the world have pooled their expertise to make a global effort get on top of this disease and to help each other by sharing information. This degree of sharing doesn’t always happen as freely as it is happening now.” Read More

Sammuel Penny examining a frog in Madagascar

Hopping onto the world’s stage – meet the new species of frog no bigger than a 5p coin

A Brighton scientist has co-discovered a new, tiny species of frog – just 1cm in length – and it is already being classed as critically endangered.

The miniature stump-toed ‘Stumpffia’ froschaueri, a member of a frog genus which is endemic to Madagascar, was discovered in north-western region of the island and differs from all others in colour and body make-up.

The frog’s known distribution is limited to three forest patches which, according to the scientists, are “severely threatened by fire, drought and high levels of forest clearance, thus suggesting a classification of “Critically Endangered” according to IUCN Red List criteria”.

Dr Samuel Penny, lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has just had a paper on the discovery published in ZooKeys.

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Prof Colin Smith

Vitamin D – it won’t prevent COVID-19

Top scientists have dismissed social media reports that high doses of Vitamin D can protect people from COVID-19 but have emphasised the importance of maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in the body.

Among them are Professor Colin Smith, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Functional Genomics, who said: “There are currently some very misleading articles doing the rounds on social media about mega doses of vitamin D as a Covid-19 protective measure – which are not true – and hence the urgent need to inform the public.” Read More

pipette

University helps with hospital COVID test

University of Brighton technical staff stepped up when a hospital ran short of vital equipment for running COVIC-19 tests.

The microbiology laboratory at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital had to change one part of its COVID-19 testing protocol and needed special pipettes – multichannel pipettes capable of transferring small quantities of liquids – to perform the tasks.

They contacted the University and technical staff in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences (PABS) came to their assistance.

Senior Technicians Bertie Berterelli and Joe Hawthorne searched round and found a quantity of pipettes, tested them to ensure they worked properly, and then delivered them to the hospital.

PABS Technical Officer Cinzia Dedi said: “My colleagues were pleased to help the hospital, especially in these trying times.”

Image of virus

COVID 19: a lesson on why vaccines are so vital

The Coronavirus crisis has highlighted the critical need for families to keep up with vaccinations, according to a Brighton immunologist.

Dr Nadia Terrazzini said: “We are living through the biggest case study of what the world would look like without vaccines – they are the single most effective way to protect us from infections.

“This crisis will be over and we will probably all come out if it feeling different people, on many levels. And it will, hopefully, make us all more aware of the importance of vaccines and the role of immunology research.”

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Dr Nadia Terrazzini

Remote teaching: It felt like a jump into cold water

Here, Dr Nadia Terrazzini, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Immunology, tells of the trials of switching to remote teaching.

“I feel like I have started a new job. Only last week I was busy working in the lab with my final year students who had to complete the final experiments for their lab projects.

And on Monday morning there I was setting up the laptop that I was lucky to get from the school, in our designed, personal area in a house I share with hubby and three kids (all connected to internet for work and home schooling) and joining a meeting on Microsoft Teams (MT).

It felt like a jump in cold water. I even forgot to switch on my camera at first (sorry team) as I was still hot and flustered after just completing an online PE session with my daughter (PE with Joe Wicks!).

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Headshot of Bhavik Patel smiling

Distance teaching – so how’s it going?

Here, Professor Bhavik Patel, Professor of Clinical and Bioanalytical Chemistry in the Centre for Stress and Age-Related Disease, details how he’s coping – and how he’s found his patio windows at home are perfect substitutes for white boards:

The transition to teaching and assessing students at distance practically over the course of 24 hours has certainly brought out many mixed emotions. There is the concern of how this format of distance teaching and assessment will be received by the students and that we have limited experience of distance learning. A part of me is up for the challenge of exploring creative ways to teach and assess our students.

 

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