Posts in EERC Category

The Salford Lecture Series: How the environment affects the immune system Jul 14, 2017

Professorial Inaugural Lecture: Professor Joseph Jackson

Tuesday 18 July 5.30pm Peel Building, Room 337

Join us for the inaugural lecture of Professor Joseph Jackson, Chair in Parasitology in the School of Environment & Life Sciences.

Joe gained his PhD in Parasitology from the University of London, and took up his post at Salford in December 2015, joining us from Aberystwyth University.

Joe’s research looks at how the immune system is affected by the environment we inhabit and should be defined as a “real-world trait”. He says:

“The immune system is a key determinant of individual health, but has evolved to function in a natural environment – rather than in the artificial environments that we live in today. Furthermore, most of what we understand about immunology comes from unnatural laboratory models that don’t allow for the effect of realistic environmental variation.  Studies in naturally-occurring vertebrates are helping us to understand how immunity is adapted to respond to the natural environment. This knowledge may, in turn, help us tailor our environments and lifestyles (or those of other animals of interest) in ways that lead to a healthier immune system.”


Environmental regeneration partnership Aug 01, 2017

Last month, colleagues from the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre (EERC) in the School of Environment & Life Sciences visited the new Mersey Gateway Crossing between Widnes and Runcorn.

As part of our ICZ partnership with the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET), the area around the new toll bridge will be a ‘living laboratory’ to monitor saltmarsh changes and effects on grazing cattle.

Professor Philip James, Leader of the EERC said: “For over a decade now we have been working in the Upper Mersey Estuary. Four PhD projects have been successfully completed and three more are currently underway, two of which are supported by i-Case funding.

“One of the aims of the visit was to agree the location for a 5km x1km RAPELD module, the first site in the UK to be part of the international Programa de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade (PPBio). This will offer University of Salford students excellent opportunities to carry out biodiversity surveys and contribute to an international biodiversity monitoring programme.”

The team was given a tour of the insides of the bridge, something that won’t be possible once it’s operational in the next few months. They were also able to take a lift to the top of the north tower from which they were able to see the Upper Mersey Estuary and begin locating the sampling points for the monitoring programme. They then visited various parts of the estuary at ground level to examine the sites in greater detail.

Paul Oldfield from the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust said: “We would not be able to do this without the support of the University of Salford. Becoming part of an international programme exceeds our expectations of where we thought we would be at this stage of our development.”


New research on radiation and health in Chernobyl Sep 01, 2017

The University’s radiation research continues to expand, with Prof Joe Jackson, Prof Richard Birtles and Dr Kevin Bown from ELS joining Dr Mike Wood’s team of researchers studying the effects of radiation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Their inclusion in the team brings leading expertise in parasitology and immune system function, opening new opportunities to explore the influence of radiation on the health of wildlife in the world’s most radioactively contaminated terrestrial ecosystem.

Funded through one of Mike’s NERC grants, which supports research in Chernobyl’s ‘Red Forest’, Joe and Mike have just completed a 10 day programme of fieldwork in the Zone. Working with Prof Nick Beresford (NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and Dr Sergey Gashchak (Chornobyl Center, Ukraine), they have collected extensive data on mammal populations within the Red Forest and associated health information.  They have also used radiation monitoring technology, including drone-mounted equipment, to quantify the radiation exposure of these Red Forest mammals. The team has returned to the University with a wealth of data, which they will be analysing over the coming months.

Mike’s award-winning research in Chernobyl has achieved significant international impact and has catalysed the development of new collaborations, including Fukushima research with the University of Tokyo. His world leading expertise in environmental radiation protection also led to his appointment as Chair of the Government consultation on new radiation protection legislation for the UK.

“The University of Salford is now recognised internationally as a centre of research excellence in environmental radioactivity.  Our growing team of experts from across the University is working together with our external collaborators to tackle fundamental questions about radiation in the environment and its effects on wildlife.  Our work is informing policy developments, underpinning international radiation protection guidance and making significant scientific contributions across a range of disciplines.” said Mike.

“I am delighted with what we have achieved to date and see this as the start of a much larger programme of radiation research at Salford. There are many excellent researchers within this University, with skills and expertise that could significantly enhance our current activities as well as opening up new opportunities. If colleagues have suggestions of ways in which they could contribute to this research area then I would encourage them to contact me to discuss.”

Mike returns to Chernobyl in early September to undertake the final sampling activities in a 12-month study of the influence of radiation on the soil system.  Prior to this he will be delivering a presentation in Berlin on use of novel technologies in radioecological research, an area in which other Salford-researchers, including Dr Simon Campion (SOBE), Dr Neil Entwistle (ELS) and Dr Paul Kendrick (CSE), have been collaborating with Mike.

You can contact Mike by emailing m.d.wood@salford.ac.uk.


Manchester Science Festival 2017 – still lots going on! Oct 23, 2017

As lead Educational Sponsor of Manchester Science Festival, we are hosting some exciting interactive events as part of this creative celebration of science.

Produced by the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester Science Festival is the largest science festival in England beginning last Thursday and running through to 29 October. The range of events and activities that make up the festival cater for all ages and a whole host of interests – there really is something for everyone, not just those interested in ‘the science bit’.

Throughout last weekend, as part of Manchester Science Festival, we transformed our campus into a massive science experiment over three floors, bringing together interactive and immersive experiences. From controllable floating fish to the latest virtual reality from VR Manchester, eSport demos, retro platforms and interactive VJ events, there was lots to do and see.

 


2017 Professorial and Readership promotions announced

Helen Marshall

Professor Helen Marshall

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce our new Professors and Readers for 2017. All have proved their sustained and recognised leadership and I warmly congratulate each one of them for achieving these well-deserved promotions. I am particularly pleased to see eight of the candidates are women, which ties in with our Athena SWAN objectives to promote gender equality in the career paths of our academics.

Personal professorships have been awarded to Dr Anya Ahmed, Dr Jia Liu, Dr Sue McAndrew, Dr Niroshini Nirmalan, Dr Federica Sotgia, Dr Andy Willis and Dr Mike Wood. You can read their biographies here.

Dr Clare Allely, Dr Paul Comfort, Dr Robert Jehle, Dr David Kreps, Dr James Mulkeen, Dr David Pye, Dr Leslie Robinson, Dr Mo Saraee, Dr Mark Wilding and Dr Heather Yates have been made Readers. You can read their biographies here.

Yours sincerely

Professor Helen Marshall

Vice-Chancellor


Reader promotions 2017

Dr Robert Jehle (School of Environment & Life Sciences)

Robert JehleRobert has worked at the University since 2008, when he was appointed as a Lecturer in Wildlife before being promoted to a Senior Lecturer in 2012. From 2011-2015 he was a Programme Leader of two linked BSc programmes in Wildlife Conservation, which together represent one of the largest areas of undergraduate teaching within the School of Environment and Life Sciences (ELS). Robert’s research revolves around population biological studies on mostly (but not only) amphibians, amongst others resulting in 60 indexed journal articles to date. Since joining ELS, Robert has been awarded external research income for more than ten projects, funded by organisations spanning from national grant agencies and governmental bodies, to the commercial sector.

From 2009-2015 he was the Chief Editor of the Herpetological Journal, which under his editorship reached the highest ISI impact factor of all global scientific journals devoted to amphibians and reptiles, and has been Associate Editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal Animal Conservation since 2009. Representing the University on external bodies, Robert is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Herpetology, and a member of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group. He is also a Trustee of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, which with about 30 staff members is the largest UK-based charity devoted to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, as well as a Council Member of the Tropical Biology Association, a capacity-building NGO and a founding member of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

Dr David Pye (School of Environment & Life Sciences)

David PyeDavid joined the University almost a decade ago, as a Lecturer in the School of Environment and Life Sciences; he currently teaches at all levels across a variety of degree programmes. He has been an active researcher in cancer treatment and the field of glycobiology for more than 25 years and has an extensive list of research publications. David is currently the Scientific Director of Kidscan, which operates out of the University and supports research into children’s cancer at Salford and at other national centres of excellence. In his role at Kidscan, David has encouraged members of university staff to apply for a growing portfolio of research support grants. This has seen the total funding awarded from Kidscan to the University, increase to a level in excess of £1 million since the charity was founded. He has also instigated a Kidscan funded grant scheme that allows university undergraduates to undertake a placement year in a children’s cancer research laboratory. This year has seen a record number of nine Kidscan grants awarded to support Salford students in their placement year.

David also has a keen interest in science policy and has worked in this area, with the learned societies, for many years. He is currently Honorary Policy Officer, Chair of the Policy Advisory Panel and Trustee of the Biochemical Society, which is the largest discipline-based learned society in the biosciences. This role allows him to ensure that issues faced at Salford make their way into government consultations on policy in HE and research.


Professorial promotions 2017

Niroshini NirmalanDr Niroshini Nirmalan (School of Environment & Life Sciences)

Following her postdoctoral training at UMIST, MIB (University of Manchester) and CRUK (University of Leeds), Niroshini joined Salford as a Senior Lecturer in April 2010. Her landmark publications include the first annotated 2D proteomic maps for the malarial parasite P. falciparum, and the development of novel quantitative proteomic methodologies to investigate the malarial proteome and formalin-fixed tissue archives. Since joining us, she has developed two strong internationally recognised research themes, firstly in malaria drug discovery and secondly in research into biomarkers in major trauma. She has established a Class 3 pathogen facility at the University, to enable continuous malaria cultures. Her research group works on various aspects of drug discovery including repositioning, natural product leads, nano-drug delivery systems, etc.

Niroshini has also established a collaborative network between the University, NHS (Manchester Royal Infirmary and Salford Royal) and Waters Corporation to initiate a 200-patient study to define biomarkers of poor clinical outcome in major trauma. The study was awarded NIHR Portfolio status for four years (2015-2019), enabling ring-fenced NIHR funding to employ dedicated research nurse teams. The ongoing study has recruited nearly 100 patients so far, and has established a high fidelity human serum biobank for trauma patient samples here at Salford. Niroshini has concurrently led the School’s flagship Biomedical Science Programme (2011-2015), overseeing the implementation of changes that achieved upper quartile ratings in all key NSS parameters, including an overall student satisfaction score of 100%. She is currently the curriculum lead for the University’s pioneering joint venture with MMU to establish a new medical school in Greater Manchester (GMMedS).

Dr Federica Sotgia (School of Environment & Life Sciences)

Federica SotgiaFederica has an outstanding track record of sustained academic excellence at the national and international level. As a young researcher, she was the first to discover a new form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD-1C) due to mutations in the human Caveolin-3 gene. These findings were published in Nature Genetics. Later on, she shifted her research interest from muscular disorders to cancer, but always maintained her keen focus on mitochondria and cell metabolism, throughout her career.

Her most recent discoveries in the tumor microenvironment and cancer stem cells, have led to the development of a new metabolic model for cancer (termed “metabolic-symbiosis”), as well as a class of novel therapeutics (the “mitoriboscins”) and a Phase II clinical trial for re-purposing doxycycline as an anti-cancer agent in early breast cancer patients. Her most recent work is summarised in a series of high-impact articles published in Nature Reviews Cancer (2015) and Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology (2017). To date, she has published over 180 research articles, garnering more than 16,500 citations with 13,000 occurring since 2012. She has received significant research funding from numerous sources, including the American Cancer Society (ACS Research Scholar Award, USA) and the Healthy Life Foundation (UK), as well as the Foxpoint Foundation (Canada) and other private donors. Over the next five years, she plans to expand significantly her research programme, focusing on new drug discovery, for the development of anti-cancer and anti-ageing agents.

Dr Mike Wood (School of Environment & Life Sciences)

Mike WoodAn international leader in environmental radiation protection, Mike studies the behaviour, fate and impacts of radioactivity and other pollutants.  Author of over 180 publications, his high-impact research has led to significant national and international policy developments.  Recognising the quality and international significance of his research, he was awarded the Society for Radiological Protection (SRP) Jack Martin Prize (2013) for “outstanding academic excellence” and the highly prestigious Times Higher Education Research Project of the Year (2016) for his ground-breaking research. Since 2011, Mike has secured six RCUK grants, including a five-year NERC grant to support his Chernobyl wildlife research. He leads an interdisciplinary network of researchers from across the University and has positioned Salford as a key radioecological research institution internationally.

Mike plays central roles in various international expert groups, including for the EC and IAEA. He is an elected Member of Senate for the University, as well as a member of Council and trustee of the SRP and editorial board member for a leading radiation protection journal. In 2016, Mike was selected to chair the UK government consultation on new radiation protection legislation. He is a regular keynote speaker and delivered the University’s 50th Anniversary Alumni Lecture at the Royal Institution in London. His research attracts extensive media coverage, including Channel 4 news, a BBC4 documentary, ABC Australia, TIME, New Scientist, LA Times and IFL Science.  He delivers national and international capacity building activities, including for the EC and the Japanese Government. He has also led on initiatives, such as research mentoring, to enhance the research community at Salford.

 


High profile visit to the School of Environment and Life Sciences

David SweeneyDavid Sweeney, Executive Chair Designate for Research England, visited the newly refurbished Translational Medicine laboratories in the Cockcroft Building earlier this month, and met with researchers and postgraduate students from the School of Environment and Life Sciences (ELS). David, who first joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director, Research, Innovation and Skills, will become the first Executive Chair of Research England upon the formal creation of UKRI (Council of UK Research and Innovation) in April 2018.

Dean of School, Professor Sheila Pankhurst, said, “We were delighted when David accepted our invitation to come and see our new Translational Medicine labs, to find out more about the research work being done in ELS in areas such as cancer biology, drug development, biomarkers in trauma patients, ageing and metabolomics.

‘David spent a couple of hours with us, and met with a number of colleagues in our Biomedicine Research Group to talk about their research. He spoke at some length with Professors Michael Lisanti and Federica Sotgia, about their work in cancer biology and ageing. David also met with research funding leads from other areas in ELS, including Dr Priya Mondal (see photograph below), who is the Salford lead for a consortium recently awarded a major NERC grant for work on water quality in India, and Dr Erinma Ochu,  who has been appointed interim chair of the BBSRC Bioscience in Society Strategy panel.’

Professor Lisanti added: “It was good to have the opportunity to speak to David about our work in cancer biology and ageing. Professor Federica Sotgia and I are currently exploring the role of cancer stem cells in particular in our research and we were able to show David some of the new discoveries that we have made and describe our key successes.

He was particularly interested in our ideas focusing on the re-purposing of FDA-approved antibiotics as new anti-cancer agents to target cancer stem cells. This approach will dramatically accelerate clinical trials, while possibly saving billions of pounds.  Thus, I believe that our work aligns with the crucial priorities of Research England.”

Pictured below, from left to right, are Professor Niroshini Nirmalan, Chair in Biomedicine; Jackie Njoroge, Director of Strategy; Professor Sheila Pankhurst, Dean of ELS; David Sweeney, HEFCE; Dr Enrinma Ochu, Lecturer in Science Communication and Future Media; Professor Karl Dayson, Dean of Research, and Professor Michael Lisanti, Chair in Translational Medicine.

Group picture

Main article image from left to right: David Sweeney, HEFCE; Dr Gianpiero Di Leva; Dr Arijit Mukhopadhyay; Dr Priya Mondal, Dr Dave Greensmith, and Professor Michael Lisanti


Major UK DNA Working Group meeting comes to Salford

UK DNA working group logo

 

We are thrilled to be hosting around 130 international delegates today and yesterday in our New Adelphi building for the 5th UK DNA Working Group Meeting.

The DNA Working Group provides an open and transparent forum for government agencies, academics and wider stakeholders to discuss priorities for DNA based method development, share learning and progress, explore technical challenges, develop collaborative opportunities and leverage research funding effectively.

Professor Stefano Mariani, Dr Allan McDevitt and Dr Owen Wagensteen from the School of Environment & Life Sciences are leading this event as part of the Scientific Committee along with colleagues from the Environment Agency, Marine Scotland and Natural England. The meeting is being run in parallel with the SeaDNA Project and you can keep abreast of the exciting and impactful programme by following #UKDNAWG on Twitter.

Professor Mariani said: “This community has explosively gathered around these new biodiversity assessment methods within the last 5 years. Working with governmental agencies on the ground give us the exciting opportunity to apply fundamental knowledge to real environmental issues; and our group at Salford is now playing a central role in implementing these approaches across a variety of aquatic environments across the globe, from UK coastal waters, to tropical coral reefs and polar seas.”

The two-day sold out event sees keynote speakers from across the globe share their research abstracts on topics such as standardising DNA monitoring methods for regulatory use and the monitoring of marine invasive non-native species using an eDNA approach.

Yesterday, Naiara Guimaraes-Sales from the School of Environment & Life Sciences presented her interesting paper on the Use of Environmental DNA for Fish Biodiversity Assessment in Brazilian Rivers and Dr Owen Wangensteen, Research Assistant in Marine Genomics shared his multi-marker comparative study entitled “Designing Metabarcoding Primers for Fish Biodiversity Assessment.”

Dean of the School of Environment & Life Sciences, Professor Sheila Pankhurst said: “We’re really proud to be hosting this event with such a brilliant programme and speakers. The first day went extremely well and there was a real buzz around the room.”

During break-out sessions, delegates were able to network and view the poster presentations.

You can see the full programme of events here.

We are thrilled to be hosting around 130 international delegates today and yesterday in our New Adelphi building for the 5th UK DNA Working Group Meeting.

The DNA Working Group provides an open and transparent forum for government agencies, academics and wider stakeholders to discuss priorities for DNA based method development, share learning and progress, explore technical challenges, develop collaborative opportunities and leverage research funding effectively.

Professor Stefano Mariani, Dr Allan McDevitt and Dr Owen Wagensteen from the School of Environment & Life Sciences are leading this event as part of the Scientific Committee along with colleagues from the Environment Agency, Marine Scotland and Natural England. The meeting is being run in parallel with the SeaDNA Project and you can keep abreast of the exciting and impactful programme by following #UKDNAWG on Twitter.

Professor Mariani said: “This community has explosively gathered around these new biodiversity assessment methods within the last 5 years. Working with governmental agencies on the ground give us the exciting opportunity to apply fundamental knowledge to real environmental issues; and our group at Salford is now playing a central role in implementing these approaches across a variety of aquatic environments across the globe, from UK coastal waters, to tropical coral reefs and polar seas.”

The two-day sold out event sees keynote speakers from across the globe share their research abstracts on topics such as standardising DNA monitoring methods for regulatory use and the monitoring of marine invasive non-native species using an eDNA approach.

Yesterday, Naiara Guimaraes-Sales from the School of Environment & Life Sciences presented her interesting paper on the Use of Environmental DNA for Fish Biodiversity Assessment in Brazilian Rivers and Dr Owen Wangensteen, Research Assistant in Marine Genomics shared his multi-marker comparative study entitled “Designing Metabarcoding Primers for Fish Biodiversity Assessment.”

Dean of the School of Environment & Life Sciences, Professor Sheila Pankhurst said: “We’re really proud to be hosting this event with such a brilliant programme and speakers. The first day went extremely well and there was a real buzz around the room.”

During break-out sessions, delegates were able to network and view the poster presentations.

You can see the full programme of events here.

Pic: Dr Owen Wangensteen

 


Research Impact and Funding

There is a growing body of opinion that holds that researchers have a responsibility to articulate the impact of their research to non-academic audiences. Indeed, the way in which research funding is allocated now increasingly reflects researchers’ ability to generate and demonstrate impact.

A renewed emphasis on the importance of both planning and evidencing research impact requires researchers to develop increasingly robust and integrated ‘pathways to impact’ (as illustrated by Research Councils UK) within research funding bids in order to identify and reward the contribution that high-quality research will make to the economy or to society.

 

Newton's cradle impact imageIn the current research funding climate there is also an urgent need for HEIs to generate income streams from sources other than the Higher Education Funding Councils. Now more than ever HEIs are seeking to raise their profiles and develop relationships with industry, policymakers and other stakeholders in a bid to identify new sources of revenue and facilitate knowledge exchange.

Generating impact, and consequently ensuring that a full range of stakeholders will benefit from the research, is therefore integral to Salford’s research strategy and feeds into its single strategic priority around the Industry Collaboration Zones (ICZs).

The recent announcement by HEFCE that Impact will have a 25% weighting in the forthcoming REF2021 exercise (compared with its 20% weighting in REF2014) serves to further reinforce the importance and relevance of the research impact agenda to HEIs today and in the future.

 

Research Impact Fund

To support researchers at Salford in becoming more ‘impactful’, the University operates an internal Research Impact Fund.

This offers small grants of up to £1000 (match-funded by School/Research Centre) to individuals and groups in support of activities that:

  • reflect the University’s desire to increase the impact and reach of its research
  • highlight strategic engagement that builds upon the University’s vision to pioneer ‘exceptional industry partnerships’

The Fund is currently open for new applications, with a deadline of Friday, 19th January 2018 for the latest round. Further details and the application form can be found here:  https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Impact%20Funding.aspx

 

If you would like to find out more about the Research Impact Fund, or impact in general, please contact Emma Sutton, Interim Impact, Engagement and Environment Coordinator on research-impact@salford.ac.uk

Alternatively, please visit the Impact pages on our REF intranet site for further details on impact resources, funding opportunities and upcoming training events: https://teamsite.salford.ac.uk/sites/sc02/REF2021/SitePages/Impact.aspx