Today's news

December 1, 2005

New universities miss out on innovation funding
The lion's share of £238 million of new funding to enable universities to transfer knowledge to business and industry will go to elite research institutions, according to figures published today. Eight universities in England will receive an estimated £3 million each over between 2006 and 2008: Cranfield, Imperial College, King's College London, University College London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. New universities had hoped they would win a bigger share of the pot thanks to their applied research and contacts with local industry, but the only new university in the top 20 is the University of the Arts London, although it is closely followed by Oxford Brookes and Kingston.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Dec 2)

Oxford resumes work on £20m animal research unit halted by extremists
Oxford University yesterday resumed construction of its £20 million animal research facility where work stopped almost 18 months ago following intimidation of contractors and their staff by extremists. "The university remains fully committed to the completion of this building," it said. Contractors have been found to replace Walter Lilly, part of the Montpellier Group, which pulled out in July 2004. But the university would not give details of the companies involved. Indeed, David Holmes, Oxford's registrar, pleaded "security concerns" for refusing to answer most questions at a press conference, called by the university to announce the resumption of work at the site on South Parks Road.
The Financial Times, The Times, The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Dec 2)

Kaplan buys third UK college
Kaplan Inc, the American test-preparation company, is continuing its expansion into the British higher education market with its third UK college. The company this week announced it had bought Holborn College, a private law and business college in London with 1,900 students. It follows agreements to set up joint colleges for international students with Sheffield University and Nottingham Trent University.
The Guardian

University to lead on superbug research
Thames Valley University is to lead research into hospital superbugs under a healthcare research contract from the Department of Health. The university's Richard Wells Centre is to establish and direct a new national healthcare-associated infection research network, managing work on prevention and control of these infections in the National Health Service on a three-year contract. The prevalence of superbugs, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus , has hardly declined in hospitals in England over the past decade. Although not all of these infections can be avoided, it is estimated that up to one third can be prevented.
The Guardian

Nose cells could reverse paralysis
British scientists are to begin trials early next year of a new technique that promises to reverse the paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries. A team at the Spinal Repair Unit at University College London has begun recruiting the first patients who might benefit from the therapy, which uses cells from the lining of their own noses to regrow damaged nerves. The procedure, which has been shown to work in rats, will first be used experimentally on patients with brachial plexus avulsion, an injury in which the nerves are pulled out of an arm, leaving the limb paralysed.
The Times

MIT unveils neuroscience research centre
Massachusetts Institute of Technology will today open the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, making the university's brain and cognitive science complex the largest neuroscience research centre in the world. The opening of the complex is the latest push in MIT's slow transformation from a university known for its expertise in engineering and "hard" sciences such as physics and chemistry to a leader in life sciences. "MIT was founded with a mission to bring our knowledge to bear on the world's problems and this building is a great marker of these exciting new areas," said Susan Hockfield, a neuroscientist and MIT president.
The Financial Times

Fears of big freeze as scientists detect slower Gulf Stream
The ocean "engine" that helps to drive the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and keeps Britain relatively mild in winter has begun to slow down, say scientists. Harry Bryden of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton said the ocean currents of the North Atlantic acted as a conveyor belt that carried warm water at the surface in one direction and transported cold deep-water currents in the other.
The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Scotsman

Giant scorpion makes its mark
A British palaeontologist has discovered the footprints of a giant water scorpion that used to roam across Scotland 330 million years ago. The tracks of the 1.6m-long creature, called Hibbertopterus , show that although it normally lived underwater, it could also crawl on to land. Martin Whyte, from the University of Sheffield, found the scorpion tracks during geological fieldwork in central Scotland. "I came across a block of sandstone and noticed a strong central groove with three rows of crescent shaped footprints on either side," he says.
The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Times

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