Friday, 31 October 2014

School PhD students shine at local research event

Congratulations! To two of our PhD students who won research prizes at the recent PUPSMD Annual Postgraduate research event held at the St. Mellion Resort in Cornwall.  As part of the postgraduate training programme all registered students within the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry (PU registered) and the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences are invited to participate in the Annual Research Event 2014 and to present their work either via poster or a presentation to an audience consisting of peers, academic staff and other interested researchers.

Kelly Sillence (left) won the best oral presentation for her talk entitled:
“Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) of fetal sex and RHD status from maternal plasma: Digital versus Real-time PCR.”

Martin Helley (left) won the best poster presentation for his poster entitled:

“Toll-Like Receptor and Co-Receptor Expression in Trigeminal Sensory Neurons.”

Beating stiff competition from postgraduates of the other PUPSMD schools - Congratualtions to both of you and your research supervisors, the school is very proud of you!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Longitude Prize 2014

The Longitude Prize 2014, a challenge with a prize fund of £10 million, has been launched to help solve one the greatest issues of our time. The British public will cast the deciding vote to choose the issue that the prize will tackle. The prize has been developed and is being run by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. It was launched by the Prime Minister at G8 last year, and is being supported by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, as funding partner.

School microbiologist Mat Upton's Spectromics machine, "a smarter way to tackle antibiotic resistance using its rapid 'point-of-prescription' test" is in the running and has been selected as one of their Case Studies (left).

The £10 million would certainly come in handy! Hope you remember your friends, Mat......

Monday, 6 October 2014

Foundation to doctor: Alex shares his experience of student Science

Three years ago I found myself in an unpleasant position. An injury had meant that I had to leave a job, which I had loved and had aimed at for over a decade. I had no qualifications to speak of, or at least that would be relevant to most employers, and I had just turned 34 years old with three children. I was effectively in a last chance saloon to provide myself and my family with a future and the potential of a decent income. Not really knowing what was available to me, I took some Open University courses in Science and Engineering. I thought, Great! I can work part time and gradually work towards my qualifications.

Now, bear in mind that no one in my immediate family has a degree and I had great admiration for others that held a degree. In fact, I put them on a pedestal, way above me (you can imagine the level of respect that I have for those with a PhD, but we will come to that later). The decision to return to undertake a degree was made with great trepidation and a certain amount of "will I really see this through?" Well, I found a local community college, which offered a Foundation Degree in Bioscience. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to speak to them, would they even take me? Well, one phone call later and I was on the course. For those wondering how I would afford it, the amount available from the student loan company was more than that which a good part time job would provide. I am not saying it was easy, but it was possible. Community college: I had many pre-conceived ideas about the people I would find there and, for the majority, I was completely wrong. South Devon College had the most enthusiastic, motivational lecturers I have ever met. The subjects were delivered with such a level of interaction that most lectures felt like a discussion rather than a lesson. We were a small cohort that had been whittled down along the way but my fellow students turned into a closely-knit support network of friends. The two years there flew by and I completed with the highest score, a distinction and an award from the Society of Biology.

My level of success had come as somewhat of a surprise to me but the ante was about to be upped. To complete my BSc I had to undertake a final year at the University of Plymouth. Our little cohort would have to go and see how we fared against “proper” Uni students. Certain things became immediately apparent. You get lost…. a lot. There are a lot more students - this sounds obvious but it means lecturers have more students to deal with and there is less interaction than at a community college. You have to stand on your own two feet, find your way around and make yourself known to the lecturers. Each lecturer has their own style of teaching, some simply deliver the material, whereas some enjoy a more discursive session. What I will say is that they were all approachable and willing to have as much input to your studies as you are willing to make. I was fortunate to have a final year project supervisor, Dr Andrew Foey, who would devote hours to his students in the lab and sit and discuss various aspects of immunology in his office.  Where did this lead? In September this year, I graduated with First Class honours and on the 1st of October I began a PhD with Dr Foey as one of my Supervisors (and yes I still see those with a PhD as on a totally different level to myself).

It still hasn’t really sunk in that I have a degree or that I am studying towards a PhD but, looking back, I can pick out moments that have enabled it to happen that now enable me to give a few words of advice. South Devon College was an excellent place to start.  As a mature student, I doubt there is any better introduction back to education than a Foundation degree. Do not be afraid of it, the course starts from the basics and builds up from there. Everyone is equal at the beginning, no matter what your level of knowledge. At either Community College or University, ingratiate and make yourself available to the lecturers, they have a difficult job and you are not their only student! Work, hard from the very beginning, set your standard from the off and keep it there. Take opportunities, show yourself to be interested in expanding your knowledge and your horizons. Additional skills will raise you above others to potential employers and you never know, they could be one of your lecturers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are many support mechanisms at Plymouth University that I have personally seen help fellow students. Value the input of your peers, our little cohort graduated with an exemplary aggregate grade and they are good friends to this day. If you want to do it, have no hesitation. Yes, it is not all plain sailing but it can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling but the bottom line is that you have to want to do it.

Hey if I can do it, anyone can!

Alex Strachan
BSc Hons
PhD Student at the University of Plymouth

Toddlers' Teeth Ticking Time Bomb

You may have caught one of our lectures, Gail Rees, on Radio Devon last Tuesday talking about a new report into the poor state of children's teeth in the UK (or read about it in the Western Morning News). Here is a useful link.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

School research to benefit cancer patients: skeletal repair after treatment for cancer

Unfortunately skeletal damage is a common occurrence following radiotherapy for breast or prostate cancer and hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is increasingly being used to repair this damage. How HBO improves bone tissue was unclear until work published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research by a group led by Dr Simon Fox (Associate Professor in Molecular Pathology & Programme Lead for BSc Biomedical Sciences) in collaboration with the Diving Disease Research Centre established a mechanism of action.  Using a novel cell culture system developed at the university, simon and Dr Hadil Al-Hadi showed that HBO reduced the amount of bone resorbed by skeletal cells. This would help preserve skeletal structural integrity at affected sites and potentially enable a better outcome for patients.  This work highlights the beneficial effect of HBO in the clinic and paves the way for future studies by the group examining the impact of HBO on bone formation using this system and also directly in patients undergoing HBO.  Please follow the links for further information on HBO and the work of the bone Bone Group at UoP.

A human osteoclast the primary                                   Trabecular bone showing areas of                        Hyperbaric chamber 
cell responsible for bone resorption                              formation and resorption used to expose cells to
in the skeleton  HBO Therapy

Simon is an enthusiastic researcher who welcomes interest in his research field.  Simon has provided a wealth of research opportunities for school pupils, undergraduate & postgraduate MSc and PhD students as well as post-doctoral positions. Are you interested in undertaking a research project in Simon’s Bone group?

Lecturer developing machine to help guide antibiotic therapy

Mat Upton was in Birmingham this week at the Conservative Party Conference - not as a delegate! He was there to help showcase the technology being developed by Spectromics (; Mat is a Director at Spectromics, a company developing a revolutionary way to help doctors select the best antibiotic to treat infections. The event was organised by the StartUp Hub (@StartUpHubUK) and was a chance to raise the profile of the company to national press and speak to other new startups from the UK. Some interesting meetings, but no chance for a selfie with Boris!

Spectromics are developing a 10 minute test to select the best antibiotic for treating urinary tract infections - the biggest cause of bacterial infection in humans. These infections are currently treated with a 'best guess' therapy without testing to see which antibiotic will kill the infecting bacteria - it takes too long and costs too much to test every urine sample. With the Spectromics test, a GP will be able to chose the best antibiotic for each case by running a test whenever a patient visits the surgery. This will help significantly in our efforts to reduce inappropriate prescriptions and slow the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Toast: James, The President, Plymouth and Beyond

James Clarke was awarded the IBMS President’s Prize at the recent graduation ceremony at Plymouth University having graduated with a first-class BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science degree.  The President's Prize of £100 plus certificate is awarded to one student graduating from an IBMS accredited BSc Hons programme who has achieved academic distinction in a particular year who is also a member of the Institute. They must be registered as a member of the Institute at the time of the application.

James is pictured  above with Dr Simon Fox, (Left) (Biomedical Science Programme Leader) and Malcolm Owen, (Right) (Secretary, IBMS South West Region branch).

James enriched his BMS degree by being an active member of the student Biomed Society at Plymouth and particularly, by undertaking a second year Summer bursary placement funded by Society of Biology on the role of CCN1 in the resistance of  Mantle Cell Lymphoma to Lenalidomide (Revlimid®) in the laboratory of Dr Lynn McCallum.  “Dr McCallum's outstanding teaching and guidance was instrumental in me continuing in research. The summer intern scheme, helped me develop the required molecular techniques and organisation for effective research. In addition, the enthusiasm of the researchers, in helping me to understand and critique current knowledge in a specialist area, was invaluable.”  James also represented the university as a student ambassador:  “I had been doing general ambassador work from the first year (open days), however moved from general, to a course specific ambassador towards the end of second year. This then lead to employment at various focused outreach events; including the Blue Mile and the Science Showcase. This outreach work by the university helped emphasise to me, the importance of public engagement for all researchers!”

James was successful at interview and is now undertaking a PhD studentship at the University of Southampton. “The course I'm starting is an integrated PhD in Biomedical Science focussed on cell biology and immunology of cancer.  It is a Wellcome Trust-style PhD with three laboratory rotations prior to me selecting one project to work on over a 3 year period. To start, my selected rotations will focus on cancer stroma, MHCI processing and possibly proteomics.  So my first lab rotation will probably be looking at the relationship between TGF-beta, the DNA-damage response pathway and CAF senescence in head & neck carcinoma.  Starting early October.”

It only leaves one thing to be said: Congratulations James, on your success at Plymouth and good luck with your PhD and future research aspirations.  We are sure that we will be hearing of you in the future!

Andy Foey, Sept. 2014. 

New M.Sc. course up and running

This week we welcomed 20 students into the first cohort of our MSc Biomedical Science degree which has recently been accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science. The IBMS commended the programme team on developing a new MSc provision which not only encompassed Biomedical Science knowledge but also plays to the research strengths of the School and strengthens research-informed teaching.

The programme takes full advantage of School’s incorporation into the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry offering projects with researchers from the Medical and Dental Schools within the Centre for Research in Biomedical Science giving students the exciting opportunity to work alongside staff at the forefront of their academic and clinical disciplines.

The MSc Biomedical Science suite of programmes contains a combination of “skills / research application” modules and specialist biomedical modules where the student studies a specific discipline in depth. All students study a  “Genomics, Transcriptomics and Proteomics" module as knowledge of these new disciplines is essential in the fast-moving developments in all disciplines of Biomedical Science. The IBMS commended the inclusion of this topic within the programme along with Personalised Medicine & Medical Genomics.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Holidays! What Holidays? I worked in the Research Laboratories

We always encourage our students to seek extra-curricular experiences, which enrich and support their academic studies and allow them to be more competitive in the work market once graduated.  To that end, over the last few years the school has developed a summer vacation research bursary scheme, offering a rich variety of research experiences working alongside research-active staff and post-graduate students.  This summer, 16 students (a combination of both 1st and 2nd year students) successfully undertook a wide variety of bursary research projects focussed on anything from proteomicsand genetics to immunology and virology .  But enough from me, don’t take my word for it, what do the students have to say?

Jessica Yanwube 2nd year Biomedical science student
This summer I undertook a placement in Prof. Neil Avent’s lab based in Davy building 802. The reason I chose to apply for a placement in this lab is because I will be doing my third year project on this same topic area which is Non-Invasive prenatal Diagnostics (NIPD), and wanted to have a taste of what it would be like when it comes to doing the project. I was able to gain a lot of practice with techniques involved in traditional and real time PCR, western blotting and also to watch some techniques of DNA extraction from whole blood and blood plasma. The main focus of my summer placement was on designing new forward and reverse primers for improved efficiency of an RHD real time PCR assay used for detection of the presence of the RHD gene. Using some computer software packages such as Oligoanalyzer and BLAST, we were able to design an array of primers and pick the best ones based on factors such as GC content and melting temperature. We then tested their efficiency using a real time PCR assay and analysing the results given on the StepOnePlus™ software used. I can honestly say throughout the years of studying science based subjects, this placement was the first experience I had that made me feel like an actual scientist. The experience gained was invaluable and we all got a chance to do experiments we would have never had time to do during the term time. It was great finally being able to put a lot of the theory learnt through the year into practice. With such small intimate groups it’s a great opportunity to ask all the questions you might be too embarrassed to ask in an environment such as a lecture theatre. Given the choice I would do it all again and would recommend it to any first or second year student because it’s too good an opportunity to let pass you by!

Lindsay Ussher 2nd year Human Bioscience student
My research experience with Plymouth University was thoroughly enjoyable, challenging and extremely satisfying.  My work used the field of bioinformatics to explore the possible cure for HIV by exploiting the proteins produced by Endogenous retroviruses. Since my work was bioinformatics based, this gave me the opportunity to develop my computer and problem solving skills. Although I was mostly independent in carrying out my research, I had the chance to work alongside research active staff and found it very helpful to engage in the weekly meetings and discussions with my research supervisor and share my ideas with other members of the research group, researching into similar topics.  This helped develop my communication skills and my overall understanding of science, as I was required to apply the knowledge that I had acquired from lectures to engage in such discussions regarding my research.  Finally, in regards to the future, having first-hand experience of scientific research has changed the way I view science. It has given me more of an appreciation of the processes involved in scientific research and development as well as understanding the implications of scientific discoveries.

Keaan Amin 1st year Biomedical Science student
My school vacation experience within the Centre of Biomedical Research helped me continue and build my ongoing passion for biomedical and clinical medical research through attaining and enhancing analytical and experimental skills, which are considered imperative for a career in the medical field.  This research project experience allowed me the unique opportunity of analysing and interpreting a cancer genome and detecting putative causal mutations through changes in gene expression. Simply an opportunity not many first year university students can say they experienced. I had access to facilities housing the latest and cutting-edge bioinformatics software, I was able to investigate the significance of changes in expression of genes pertaining to cancer induction mechanisms.  Regular scheduled meetings with project supervisors concerning project material and any ongoing issues truly gave me confidence to look above-and-beyond the outlined aims in my initial project application.  Being able to share and communicate concepts and ideas to fellow students whether PhD or Post-Doctorate students provided me with invaluable insight into accruing academic knowledge that I would have once believed to be above my scope of understanding. This honestly made my placement a remarkably fulfilling and engaging experience. The overall vacation project helped me realise the independency, dedication and fervent interest required to complete an academic research project as part of the curriculum in the third year of a Biomedical Sciences degree.

Are you interested in boosting your CV and undertaking a similar vacation research bursary? 
It is simple; start identifying the research area that you are interested in and approach the appropriate research-active member of staff.  Details of next year’s bursary scheme will be announced early next year through the Centre’s Director of Research, Professor Simon Jackson.

Andy Foey, Sept. 2014.

New Lecturers Boost Physiology Profile of School

We are priviledged and excited to be welcoming 2 new members of staff to our school who will take an active part in all aspects of physiology in the context of both teaching and research.  So who are they and what do they do?

Dr Nicola King – Lecturer in Cardiac Physiology
Just prior to joining Plymouth University I worked for five years at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. I led and taught in a number of modules including 2nd year physiology for nurses, biomedical sciences, and BSc students and human nutrition for 2nd and 3rd year students. I also gave lectures and facilitated problem based learning tutorials for medical students. Before that I worked at the University of Brunei Darussalam teaching mainly medical students and leading the team that introduced a new degree in biomedical sciences. In contrast to this mix of different subjects and courses, at Plymouth I will largely be teaching cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology on the BSc Healthcare Science (physiological sciences) course.

In addition to teaching I carry out research investigating the role of amino acids and small peptides in the heart and student attitudes to inquiry-oriented learning. When the blood flow to the heart is stopped (ischaemia) and then restarted (reperfusion) this can damage the cardiac muscle. Vulnerability to ischaemia reperfusion injury increases as the heart ages and in the presence of comorbidities. My most recent work has been studying how amino acids could help to reduce ischaemia reperfusion injury in ageing hypertrophic (abnormally enlarged hearts due to chronic hypertension) and normal hearts.

In my spare time I like to play hockey as a goalkeeper. The photo below shows me lying down on the job as per usual!

Dr Feisal Subhan – Lecturer in Biomedical Science (Physiology)

After spending 18 years in Hong Kong, I travelled to Newcastle upon Tyne to complete my BSc (Hons) in Physiological Sciences and my PhD, in the Respiration and Exercise Laboratory. I spent the next 17 years working in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and lastly Bahrain. I am happily married with three children, two of them teenagers.

My main area of research is on respiration and human physiology. I have worked on lung function, lung inflammation (using exhaled nitric oxide), occupational lung disease, dyspnoea measurement and reproducibility and recently heart rate variability as a marker of autonomic function. The photo below was taken in June 2014 when I had three A level students from the British School of Bahrain, doing a work placement with me. I showed them some of the research we were doing, and made them subjects, with their permission, of course.

I love teaching physiology and science, and have been doing this for many years. I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate students on various degrees and courses. I have an interest in education and have been a workshop facilitator and organizer during many International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) teaching workshops. From 2010 to 2013, I was an education committee member of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS).

I regularly play squash and swim. I am an amateur gemmologist and I love spending time with my family. We love to travel and we hope to enjoy this lovely part of the country.

Welcome Nicola and Feisal to the School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences; I am sure that our students will make you very welcome and will be enthused by your teaching and research that will enrich their study environment!
Andy Foey Sept. 2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Combating the Ebola virus

Virologist Heinz Feldmann is interviewed in the journal Science about his recent experience in Liberia helping to fight the Ebola outbreak with Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Heinz may look familiar to regular seminar goers, as he braved the storms back in February to describe his work and collaboration with our own virologist, Michael Jarvis, on an Ebola vaccine for great apes.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

School lecturer in Newsweek on Ebola outbreak

One of our lecturers, Dr Michael Jarvis, was one of the experts interviewed about the potential for Ebola importation through bushmeat in Newsweek recently. Follow link to read article.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Letters from Berlin - 4

So this final week has been even busier than the last, but it was broken up nicely by the amazing German 7-1 win against Brazil! There are no words to describe how much fun it was to get to watch it here in Berlin and we will be rooting for them in the final back in England!

Trying to wrap up all the projects by the end of the week has been difficult but we have both finished on a high note getting the results we were anticipating, and have now passed the reins onto the rest of the team.

Yesterday we presented these results to our lab team and discussed what direction the projects should go next after we have left, this was also acompanied by a lovely lunch out in the sun to say our thanks and goodbyes.

Tomorrow our flight leaves in the early hours of the morning, meaning a very painful start at 3am!

It has been an incredible experience and we were very lucky to have the opportunity to come here and would definitely recommend Berlin to anyone who is thinking about working in a lab abroad.

Lucy & Nick

Monday, 7 July 2014

Letters from Berlin - 3

Week 3 has been a busy one in the lab, with us working the previous weekend to finalise results (its OK, we still got to enjoy the sun).

Lots of PCRs and gel electrophoresis occurred with the badger and the mastomys PCRs finally being finished and sent for sequencing.The mastomys sequence returned unexpected results, so in the final week we will investigate whether wild mastomys show similar results. The sequencing for the badger viruses is also nearing completion. The initial results look promising, with other sequence yet to be returned to confirm these results.

We also had a good weekend in the sun in Berlin, with temperatures being about 30 degrees for most of the weekend, enabling us to watch the world cup in an amazing atmosphere amongst the crowd at the public open air viewing in tiergarten. We also got to visit the aquarium and chocolate factory, a last weekend well spent!

Our last week will be spent getting the final results to finish our projects and presenting these results to our lab team, as well as going out for a group meal with our lab to thank them for our time here.

Nick & Lucy

Friday, 27 June 2014

Letters from Berlin - 2

Week 2 in Berlin was kicked off with heavy rain all weekend, but that's OK. It reminds us of home! We spent the weekend continuing on our tourist exploration and visited sites such as Check Point Charlie and the DDR museum.

The entire week and no doubt the weeks to come have also held a buzzing atmosphere wherever we go due to Germany's success in the World Cup!

The week in the lab has been exciting; all our training has been completed allowing us to carry out experiments on our own, although our great lab team are still around to help us if we have any queries.

With the research projects full underway we have weekly goals set to try and get the most out of our 4 weeks here, this includes Nick and I splitting off onto 2 separate projects -  Nick studying further the Polyoma Viruses in badgers and I investigating the presence of herpesviruses in multiple organs of Mastomys (a rodent reservoir for the dangerous Lassa virus).

Once our week's research has been completed (and we're confident it will be), we will discuss with our supervisors Bernhard and Michael the best course of action for the next week depending on our results.

Lucy & Nick

Friday, 20 June 2014

Letters from Berlin

First news from our students working in Berlin (see last blog entry)!

We arrived in Berlin to discover that Gatwick had lost my (Lucy) suitcase along the way, probably flying for a nice holiday in the Bahamas or somewhere sunny. So I was without a suitcase for 3 days but after fighting through a few language barriers, it finally got delivered straight to the Robert-Koch institute. We spent the weekend exploring Berlin with Michael Jarvis (our supervisor at Plymouth), going to flea markets and hitting the tourist spots during a 12mile walk led briskly by Michael, which was rewarded with a traditional German beer. 

We started our work in the Lab on Monday led by Bernhard Ehlers and his team, Connie and Sonja, who fortunately speak excellent English to conteract our appalling German (although we are learning). 

The week has been spent learning the variations of techniques in PCR, Gel electrophoresis and Sequencing in this lab in comparison to Plymouth University. One of the huge differences is that PCR is not carried out in one lab, it is separated into a one way system of different labs for each step in PCR to avoid contamination.

The week successfully ended on us getting desired results from our first PCR and Gel electrophoresis searching for herpesviruses in badger samples - meaning we weren't kicked out of Berlin, as joked about (hopefully) by Michael and Bernhard, allowing us to continue in the next stages of our research, looking into variations on the virus as well as looking for herpesviruses within Mastomys samples.

Lucy and Nick (below)

Friday, 30 May 2014

Undergrad students to work in Germany

As an exciting beginning to the exchange of undergraduate students between University of Plymouth (UoP) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, two students from the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences (SoBHS) will be spending the Summer at the RKI in the laboratory of Dr Bernhard Ehlers. Based on an established collaborative interaction between Drs Jarvis (UoP) and Ehlers (RKI), Nicholas Lyons and Lucy Davison will be using state-of-the-art molecular techniques to search for viruses in European Badgers. This is a continuation of the research they did for their third year projects supervised by Dr Jarvis.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Klenerman Seminar

Next Wednesday, Professor Paul Klenerman will be coming from Oxford to talk about his work on the immune responses to hepatitis C virus (which is a major cause of liver disease globally). The virus can be controlled by natural immunity although typically viral evasion strategies lead to persistence. He will describe attempts to characterise the successful immune response and reproduce this using a vaccine, as well as some quite unexpected features of immune responses in the liver. You can find more information on Paul's work here. All welcome.
Wednesday 28th May, Plymouth Lecture Theatre, Portland Square, 1:00pm

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Students planning their Nobel Sessions for new academic year

Here at Plymouth in the Biological Sciences and Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences Schools, we have a vibrant postgraduate student community that organises a variety of talks, discussions and events both inside and outside the university.

Every other week starting from 16th October 2014 there will lunchtime sessions (1-2pm) (free cake and tea provided) covering a wide variety of topics from speakers including undergraduates to PhD students and post-docs. The aims of the sessions are to broaden understanding of The Nobel Prize winning research, which underpins so many of the technologies, medicines and discoveries that we rely on in everyday life (see the Nobel Prize website for more information). The sessions also provide a platform for students to practice their presentation skills in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and improve their science communication. Moreover, attending and presenting at these sessions looks good on your CV and may make the difference in that next job interview!!

Outside of university we also run annual ‘Science in the News explained’ evening sessions during Science Week (blog) which are aimed at the public and held at the nearby Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery. In addition to this we have also contributed to an S-factor (S for Science) event in a local secondary school, where several students presented Nobel Prize winning research. A panel of 'experts' (staff and pupils) and the pupil audience then questioned the speakers, and the audience voted for the most important discovery (more details are on another School Blog). For their efforts the presenters were kindly awarded a year’s subscription to Nature magazine.

To find out where and when our talks are held please visit our University or Facebook page for more information. If you would like to get involved by attending or presenting please don’t hesitate to contact Rebekah Simpson ( or Kirsty Lloyd (

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Boost for research into Parkinson's Disease

Biomed Lecturer Charlie Affourtit is one of the team lead by Kim Tieu (in our Medical School) that has just been awarded a £500,000 grant from the Medical Research Council. Dr Affourtit will be investigating the role of mitochondrial dynamics (the continual fusing and splitting of these organelles) in such neurodegenerative diseases. You can read more about this award in the Press Release below.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Lecturer shows origin of E.coli strain

Dr Mat Upton, one of the lecturers in the School, has just published a study tracking the spread of a virulent drug-resistent clone of E.coli. You can read the article in PNAS, and it is covered in the local newspaper. He has also just started a biotech. company that will develop diagnostic tests for this and other bacteria (see press release below).

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Physiology and Dr Snot

.. the names of the School's booths at a recent Outreach event in Truro! Read more below.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Science in the News

At Plymouth Museum, some of our research students have just given a series of public talks on the following subjects that have recently been in the news.

·         Ever wondered how they determine what is horse meat and what is beef?

·         Climate change, what is causing it and how will it affect you?

·         Are pesticides killing all of our bees?

Keep a lookout for future events. There was a lively discussion about the science behind the most recent headlines. Plus free tea and cake!

Friday, 14 March 2014

All Too Sweet

You might have just heard our Lecturer in Human Nutrition, Gail Rees, on Radio Devon talking about the concerns over obesity and sugar consumption. You can read some of her comments on the BBC website and in the Western Morning News.

Here is the Press Release.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Summer Research Studentships

The School's summer research studentship scheme for 2014 has just been announced with the application forms (which have full details) being emailed today to students. The scheme is intended to involve students in the research currently going on in the School. As well as giving valuable experience, the scheme can help students to chose good topics for their final year project. At the end of the project, the student writes a report and presents a poster on the work done. There will be 5 studentships for first year undergraduate students and up to 20 for second year undergraduate students. Successful applications will provide a stipend of £500 for the student and £250 for consumables for projects lasting up to 8 weeks over the summer period. The School Research Committee will judge applications and award merit on the performance and commitment of the student and the suitability of the project for an undergraduate summer research scholarship. Students interested in applying should contact a potential supervisor in their area of interest to discuss possible projects. Both student and supervisor will then work together on a proposal. The number of studentships is limited, so you need to come up with a good project plan, and that is itself good training. The student will write the brief project proposal after discussion with the supervisor and will fill in the relevant parts of the application form.