A master's degree course has been launched to tackle the critical issue of food security. The MSc in food security management at Coventry University will contribute to the development of food systems to help support growing populations. James Bennett, the course director, said he expected a strong interest from prospective students in India and sub-Saharan Africa. The programme will equip students with a comprehensive insight into sustainable food production and management, agricultural systems, climate change and the environment and law and governance. Dr Bennett said the course was equally appropriate for students from developing as well as industrialised countries.
Toxic fire fighters
Research suggests that toxic gases from specialist flame retardant materials are the primary cause of death in fires. Anna Stec, a lecturer in chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Fire and Hazards Science, found that some flame retardants added to items such as carpets, furniture upholstery and plastics to suppress flames in fires actually increase the danger of invisible toxic gases. The research focused on the most widely used category of halogen-based flame retardants, which contain the chemical element bromine. Dr Stec said: "Flame retardants have the undesirable effect of increasing the amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide released during combustion. These gases, not the thermal effects of burns on the body, are the number one cause of fire deaths."
A gleaming platform for news
Journalism students at a university are benefiting from a state-of-the-art broadcast newsroom. The facility at the University of Salford's MediaCityUK site is equipped with the latest technology and is situated under the building that will house some production for ITV. A partnership with Avid, a hardware technology firm that has sponsored the media training suite, will allow students to learn on professional broadcast equipment. The site will also offer students supplementary resources including career advice and bespoke lectures and seminars. Andrew Cooper, academic director for Salford's MediaCityUK site, said: "We are helping students to learn about the technology that the production industry uses, and we are ensuring that we develop the next generation of broadcast talent."
Hurt hearts could use a break
Damage to cardiac cells after heart failure can be undone by allowing the organ to rest, research shows. Scientists at Imperial College London transplanted the failing heart of one rat into the body of a healthy rat. The undamaged heart supplied the damaged one with blood while allowing it to rest. Given a break, the injured heart muscle cells began to repair themselves and the damage was reversed. The findings could pave the way for less intrusive treatments than open-heart surgery for cardiac patients, who are at high risk of death in the year after heart failure.
University of Glamorgan
Big plans for growth
A total of £28 million is to be spent on expanding a university's campus and student facilities at two sites. Plans by the University of Glamorgan will increase capacity at its Cardiff site and upgrade student facilities in its Treforest site outside the city. Glamorgan, which has seen the number of applications rise by 43 per cent in the past four years, hopes that the expansion will allow it to take on 2,500 more students. The expanded Atrium 2 campus in Cardiff will train students in broadcasting, animation and the performing arts. The Treforest campus will gain new lecture theatres and laboratories.
A university has struck a deal to train physiotherapists for a London health trust. Brunel University has won a contract with NHS London, which oversees healthcare in the capital, to train 82 fully funded physiotherapy students. This will allow it to offer a new pre-registration MSc in the subject. John Cossar, the university's director of physiotherapy, said: "This new contract is an indicator of how we have met the heightened quality standards set by NHS London for the training of physiotherapists."
Care demands make parents ill
Parents of autistic children are more likely to suffer from colds, headaches and coughs because of the stress of caring for their offspring, a study reports. Researchers from Northumbria University said that lengthy activation of stress responses in such parents made them more likely to become ill. Mark Wetherell, senior lecturer in biological and health psychology, said that "the consequences of these effects are far-reaching and can influence the ability of the caregiver to provide consistent, effective and sustainable care for their child".
Leeds Metropolitan University
Former Friends of the Earth director Jonathon Porritt gave the keynote address at the opening of a centre aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the built environment. Work at Leeds Metropolitan University's Leeds Sustainability Institute will focus on creating more sustainable buildings, infrastructure, energy, business practices and information technology systems. Mr Porritt said: "There is no point building wonderful buildings if people don't manage them to optimise the benefits of more sustainable design. The Leeds Sustainability Institute has said 'that's our patch, where we can add real value', which allows it to think in interdisciplinary ways about how the built environment shapes every aspect of people's lives."
Thins of the mothers
The children of women who become pregnant while dieting may be predisposed to become obese or diabetic, research suggests. Scientists from the University of Manchester, working with colleagues in New Zealand and Canada, studied the brains of unborn twin lambs conceived while their mothers were on a restricted diet. They discovered alterations to the structure of the DNA in the region that regulates food intake and glucose, resulting in an increased risk of the lamb becoming obese or diabetic in adulthood.
Gown for glory
Postgraduate students at a university famous for its red undergraduate gowns are to have their own attire for formal events. Previously, postgraduates at the University of St Andrews wore the gown and hood of their highest degree, but many of those in the university's large international cohort did not graduate in a gown or had no access to one in the UK. New black gowns have been created in the popular Cambridge MA style with the crest of St Leonard's, St Andrews' postgraduate college. It is hoped that the innovation will allow postgraduate students to feel a part of the gown tradition. Postgraduates were not entitled to wear the red undergraduate gowns because St Leonard's has no undergraduates. The red gown was introduced in 1672 to distinguish undergraduates from local residents and allegedly to deter barkeepers from serving young students.
A passage from India
A university has opened offices in New Delhi to help its recruitment of Indian students. Staff at the University of Westminster's new registration and help centre will also forge links with academics, government officials, businesses and alumni in India. The university has also announced a new scholarship scheme for Indian students and a partnership with Jamia Millia Islamia, a Delhi-based university, to collaborate on postgraduate film and photography courses. Myszka Guzkowska, Westminster's pro vice-chancellor for external affairs, said: "It is our goal to strengthen these existing ties into long-term, sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships for the university and for India."
Queen Mary, University of London
Scientists have discovered how a gene "brainwashes" healthy cells into becoming cancerous. Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London found that the notorious cancer gene FOXM1 tricks cells into adopting a "memory pattern" that is similar to cancer cells. Iain Hutchison, honorary senior lecturer in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, and co-author of the study, said: "Understanding how a gene such as FOXM1 can convert normal cells into cancer is an important step towards finding new diagnostic tests for early cancer detection." He gave the example of mouth cancer, which "if detected early, when the disease is most receptive to surgical treatment, has a very high cure rate".
Salsa and dips
One of the largest Latin dance festivals in the North of England and one of the best-attended in the UK was hosted at a university on 31 March. At the fourth Teesside Latin Dance Festival, which was hosted by Teesside University's students' union, workshops were held throughout the day while the evening featured professional performances. Pictured are salsa teacher and choreographer Sam Abdelati, aka Sam Mr Sleek, and Ruth Evans, a student from Newcastle University studying history and languages, who were among those taking part in the event.