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


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.”

Discovering nature…from home!

Dr Rachel White is encouraging the University of Brighton community to get involved in the 2020 City Nature Challenge between 24-27 April – which has adapted to the coronavirus restrictions by focusing on the wildlife you can discover from home.

The worldwide collaborative event will see over 200 city regions working together to discover the wildlife on their doorstep. Dr White, Senior Lecturer in Ecology & Conservation, is leading The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere’s (The Living Coast) entry into the challenge.

From the comfort of your own home, the flagship event of Nature 2020 involves people taking photos of nature through the free iNaturalist App. From there, the number of observations, observers and identified species will be collated and logged to measure how successful each region has been, with the final results announced on 4 May.

Dr White told BBC Radio Sussex: “Across the world, the City Nature Challenge has had to shift its plan for how everybody can get involved – but there are still plenty of ways. Read More

Donated safety equipment

University donates safety equipment to NHS Trusts

The University of Brighton has donated face visors, half face respirators, safety glasses, disposable gloves, aprons, hand sanitizer to healthcare providers throughout Sussex.

Dr James Ebdon, Head of the university’s Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group, said: “This was the result of an urgent request, and we didn’t hesitate to respond. This is a national emergency and it is important that we do what we can to help – wherever and however possible.”

Scientists and staff in the university’s School of Environment and Technology (SET) and the Schools of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science (PABS), joined forces to draw up an inventory of key supplies prior to the period of lockdown and so were swift to respond when the requests started arriving.

Dr Ebdon said: “Getting this equipment dispatched to three separate local NHS Trusts was a collective effort by our technical staff including Magda Grove, Pete Lyons, Jack Barker (from SET) and Cinzia Dedi, Bertie Berterelli, Joe Hawthorne (from PABS) and Kirsty Smallbone (Head of the Schools of Environment and Technology and Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science).

Kirsty said: “This was a great effort and I want to thank everyone concerned. We want to help the NHS as much as we can.”

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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