Campus round-up - 12 December 2013

December 12, 2013

Inner visions

These pictures, which show a computed tomography scan of a Peruvian mummy, are part of an exhibition showcasing extraordinary images from biology and medicine. Visions of Discovery is being hosted by the University of Dundee and will run until January. Other images, all generated by biomedical research at the institution, include illustrations of cancer cells dividing, the structure of the skin and scans of the human circulatory system. Jenny Woof, reader in immunology at Dundee and organiser of the exhibition, said: “The images are not only visually attractive but also tell the story of the pioneering research going on in Dundee using state-of-the-art technologies.”

University of Wolverhampton
Strike force

A hip-swivelling African football hero has joined forces with a UK university to provide access to technology for underprivileged children. The University of Wolverhampton is launching a multimedia centre in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, with Roger Milla, who has set up a foundation, Coeur d’Afrique, to help poor children in his homeland. Mr Milla, now 61, won global fame with his goalscoring – and celebrations – at the 1990 World Cup. Ndy Ekere, dean of Wolverhampton’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “We have close links in Cameroon and Roger is a national hero, plus his work helping children and acting as an ambassador is well known.”

Lancaster University
Urban redevelopment

English cities that have won funding to support small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from a university’s expertise. Lancaster University is taking a leading role in the £32 million Regional Growth Fund programme to boost economic development across the country. Drawing on its management school’s expertise in supporting SMEs, Lancaster will work in partnership with government departments and the Cabinet Office’s Cities PolicyUnit on support for more than 16 cities.

Newcastle University
Sans teeth, sans confidence

Losing one’s teeth can be as emotionally damaging as losing a limb, researchers have found. Academics at Newcastle University interviewed 39 adults in the North East of England, aged from their mid-20s to 80, and found them to be “devastated” by tooth loss. Some are so affected that they avoid leaving the house, while others feel it has aged them prematurely. This suggests that tooth loss should be treated as a debilitating chronic illness, the researchers suggest.

King’s College London
Genetic case for treatment

New drugs to treat motor neurone disease could be developed thanks to the discovery of a genetic variant. Research led by King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry has identified a mutated chromosome that may provide the “key part of the puzzle” for why the most common form of the disease, sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, develops. The analysis of genetic data harvested from more than 17,000 people, which involved universities in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the US, is the largest study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which causes nerve fibre death.

Brunel University
Reel diversity

The low numbers of black, Asian, minority and female film-makers in the UK will be discussed at a summit next month. The international conference at the British Film Institute in London on 22-23 January is the culmination of a year-long project funded by a £54,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Led by Sarita Malik, lecturer in media and communications at Brunel University, the conference will hear how projects across the country have addressed the lack of diversity in the UK’s film-making industry.

University of Essex
Intern if you want to

A graduate internship programme that will support up to 60 three-month placements has been launched. The Essex Graduate Internship Project, run by the University of Essex in partnership with Santander Universities, offers subsidies of up to £1,500 for each internship established. Susan Stedman, employer engagement manager at the university, said: “Getting involved in the project is an ideal opportunity for businesses, charities and other organisations, both large and small, to secure a high-calibre graduate to work on a project or piece of work that might [otherwise] have been put on hold.”

University of Leeds
Generous benefactor

A university’s campaign to raise £60 million has been given a major boost thanks to a £9 million gift from a former student. The donation is the largest the University of Leeds has received and will be used to construct a library, to be known as the Laidlaw Library in honour of the donor, Lord Laidlaw. The Conservative peer studied economics at Leeds in the 1960s and went on to have a successful business career. He said his student experience “showed me how privileged I was and it stayed with me”.

Loughborough/Nottingham Trent
Can’t stop this signal

A functioning embroidered antenna could provide a communications boost to soldiers and rescue workers. The flexible, lightweight and water-resistant antenna has been produced by researchers from Loughborough and Nottingham Trent universities. Made using conductive threads, the antenna is similar in scale to a brand logo and could be woven on to any garment during mass production. Tilak Dias, leader of Nottingham Trent’s Advanced Textiles Research Group, said the technology avoided problems with traditional antennae such as their weight and propensity to break, and their tendency to “attract unwanted attention for the military during covert operations”.

Middlesex University
Call of duty 3D

Researchers have developed a video game-style training system to help the emergency services prepare for crises. Middlesex University led the project with 12 European partners and the system is already being used by airports in Portugal and Iceland. The tool presents workers with a three-dimensional and interactive virtual event such as a plane crash or a terrorist attack, and allows them to communicate with other trainees working in the virtual world. Managers can tailor the level of complexity in each scenario. Usually training for these events requires costly live demonstration exercises.

University of Nottingham
Chinese walls become doors

A UK university has signed an agreement with China’s Guangdong University of Finance to create an institute to train as many as 2,000 Chinese senior managers a year. The institute, announced in Beijing during Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the country last week, will be known as the Guangdong-Nottingham Advanced Finance Institute and will be housed in a bespoke building financed by the Guangdong regional government. David Greenaway, the University of Nottingham’s vice-chancellor, hoped that the agreement would “open the door to numerous opportunities for the university and the UK in Guangdong and other parts of China”.

University of Dundee
‘Skeleton’ key to morgue

A Scottish crime author has written a children’s book about one of his characters – “Skeleton Bob” – to raise money for a new university research morgue. Stuart MacBride, writer of the Logan McRae crime thriller series, has already raised money for the University of Dundee’s Million for a Morgue campaign by auctioning off the chance to feature as a character in his next detective novel. Although Mr MacBride has spoken about Bob before and written occasional narratives about him for his nephew, The Completely Wholesome Adventures of Skeleton Bob is his first outing in book form.

East Anglia/John Innes Centre
Viral load off your mind

Worried that your niggling sore throat could develop into full-blown flu just in time for the Christmas break? Researchers have patented a quick, simple dipstick flu test, which could speed up diagnosis and allow antiviral drugs to be administered in a timely fashion. Besides keeping the holidays happy and free from illness, it is also hoped that the procedure could prevent new pandemics arising. The test, developed by the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre, an independent institute for research and training in plant and microbial science, uses sugar labelled with gold to produce a solution that changes colour in the presence of flu viruses. “We are now looking for a diagnostics company to help us bring it to market,” said Rob Field, group leader at John Innes’ biological chemistry department.

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