Friday, 28 September 2012

Around the World with Healthcare Simulation

Guillaume Alinier, Professor of Simulation in Healthcare Education from the School of Health and Social Work, is in great demand to provide a truly international perspective on healthcare simulation.

Currently working in the Middle East at Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar, and after having been one of the co-chairs of the largest simulation event of the year in San Diego in January 2012, Guillaume has recently been invited to deliver keynote speeches and master-classes at two other international events.

At next week’s conference of the European Society of Emergency Medicine being held in Antalya, Turkey, Guillaume will help facilitate a two-day educator workshop with other colleagues from around Europe. He will also deliver a keynote lecture entitled “Simulation is becoming a reality! An overview of high level initiatives from around the world”.

Earlier in September, Guillaume gave the opening keynote speech at the 4th International BACCN (British Association of Critical Care Nurses) Conference in Brighton.  Collette Laws Chapman, BACCN Board member, commented that the conference had record delegate numbers and perfectly showcased BACCN’s dedication to innovation and education for critical care nurses and Allied Health professionals.  Guillaume’s speech, entitled, “Making Simulation real: A Global Perspective!” brought together his wide range of experience and the theme of the conference - “Going Global: Around the world in 48 hours. Quality and Safety in Critical Care”.  Guillaume also ran a pre-conference master-class with Dr Ramawad Soobrah from Imperial College to provide delegates with first-hand experience as to the benefits of using simulation in healthcare education.

Guillaume was instrumental in designing and running the large multiprofessional simulation centre at the University and, over the years, has held national and international roles in the simulation community.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

University Celebrates Over Forty years of Agricultural Research

Our long tradition of agricultural teaching and research at the University was celebrated at the Crop Protection, Conservation and Communication Conference on Thursday 20th September - where the speakers were graduates from the University and provided a passionate insight into their areas of work and research.

The event marked the achievements of graduates in Biology and Environmental Studies and the MSc in Environmental Management, launched new agricultural modules on the MSc in Environmental Management and also celebrated the MBE awarded to Dr Avice Hall earlier this year.
Dr Hall MBE, a lecturer and researcher in plant pathology at the University for more than forty years, has seen many students come through the doors.  She thought that it was great to see so many graduates and researchers at the event and see how the courses they studied here have underpinned their entire careers.

Agriculture faces many challenges, not least coping with the rising demand for food due to the increasing population and meeting the demands for a more sustainable industry.  Agricultural research carried out at the University is critical to understanding crop biology and crop protection, and is pivotal in developing and protecting our food security.  The new specialist modules on crop protection for the MSc in Environmental Management will educate the next generation of crop scientists in these issues, where science is balanced with the practical demands of the food producer.
Keynote speaker, Professor John Lucas, former head of microbiology and plant pathology at Rothamsted Research commented on the breadth of skills of the University’s graduates - the diversity of their experience together with their range of skills is inspiring and will be vital if we are to make progress on solving today’s food security issues.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

University Recognised Alongside Russell Group Through Funding Award

We’re delighted to be recognised as one of only twelve universities to benefit from an additional £6 million of Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF). And, we are particularly pleased that of the twelve, we are the only university which is not a member of the Russell Group.

The extra funding will be allocated by HEFCE among the twelve top performing universities in knowledge exchange and will be available during the 2013/14 academic year. This announcement was made by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, at the recent Universities UK (UUK) conference.

The HEIF funding aims to drive growth and create innovative enterprises, and has been found from efficiency savings in the science and research budget. In return for the release of the £6 million funding, all twelve universities must outline how they will use this funding to drive growth.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Psychology Professor Accepts New Editorial Role

Professor Keith Laws, from the School of Life and Medical Sciences, has been invited to be a Section Editor on the new journal BMC Psychology.

The journal strives for international representation across its editors, and, as one of only two Section Editors from the UK, Keith is delighted to accept this role – with others coming from Germany, the USA, Brazil and Taiwan.

Selection for the role was based on a combination of research on opinion leaders and colleague recommendations. All the Section Editors are highly respected, senior scientists in their respective fields with strong publication records, who also care about the concept of open access.

BMC Psychology is a peer-reviewed journal from the increasingly influential BMC (BioMed Central) series of Open Access journals.  Providing free and permanent online access to all original research articles immediately upon publication, the journal covers all aspects of psychology, human behaviour and the mind, as well as personality and individual differences.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Taking Ginkgo Biloba Does Not Improve Memory

Ginkgo Biloba leaves,
courtesy of James Field
Ginkgo Biloba has been widely used for a number of years to reduce the mental decline associated with aging and also to protect against developing Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a popular remedy having been used extensively in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years.  More recently, it has been marketed as a memory-enhancing supplement for healthy individuals – but are these claims valid?

Recently published research has shown that taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements does not help protect against developing Alzheimer’s nor does it help improve memory problems associated with Multiple Sclerosis - but does taking it have any impact at all for healthy people?

Researchers led by Professor Keith Laws, from the School of Life and Medical Sciences, have found that taking the Ginkgo Biloba supplements did not improve memory, attention or problem solving in healthy individuals. In fact, it had zero impact on the cognitive functions whatever the age of the people, the dose taken or the length of time of taking them. So taking Ginkgo Biloba supplements at any age to boost memory have no impact at all – and may be a waste of time and money.

The paper, “Is Ginkgo Biloba a cognitive enhancer in healthy individuals? A meta-analysis” (published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental) examined the published research of thirteen randomised control trials of over 1000 healthy individuals across all ages.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Modern DNA Techniques Applied to Old Nineteenth-Century Potatoes

Symptom of potato blight
What can old potato samples archived from the late nineteenth-century tell us about potato blight – a serious disease which still affects today’s food production?  How can modern analysis methods help?

Late blight of potato is caused by the microorganism, Phytophthora infestans, which rapidly destroys the leaves of potato crops and was responsible for the infamous Irish potato famine of the 1840s that left over one million people dead and another one million Irish emigrating.

It was the foresight of two nineteenth-century plant scientists to archive potato samples from their potato blight experiment that has enabled today’s modern DNA techniques to be applied - to better understand the disease and its implications for today’s food security.

Researchers, led by Professor Bruce Fitt, have the earliest proof of how this disease survived between the seasons in England and how the potato blight may have survived between cropping seasons after the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.

With growing concerns over food shortages and climate change, late blight remains a serious disease problem in current potato production and has also emerged as a significant disease threat to the organic tomato industry. This DNA technique is a very useful tool in plant disease diagnosis to test seed potatoes or tomato transplants for the presence of the blight pathogen.

The paper Evidence for presence of the founder Ia mtDNA haplotype of Phytophthora infestans in 19th century potato tubers from the Rothamsted archives is published in Plant Pathology.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Women with Alzheimer’s Deteriorate Faster than Men

© Halina Yakushevich |
More women than men have Alzheimer’s Disease, but is there any difference between the sexes in the progression of the disease? In a paper just published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, researchers from the School of Psychology have revealed that women with Alzheimer’s show worse mental deterioration than men with the disease – even when at the same stage of the condition.

The researchers, led by Professor Keith Laws, discovered that men with Alzheimer’s consistently and significantly performed better than women with the disease across the five cognitive areas they examined. Most remarkably, the verbal skills of women with Alzheimer’s are worse when compared to men with the disease – rather different to the profile of the healthy population where females have the clear advantage in speaking skills!

The findings indicate that there is something about Alzheimer’s that specifically disadvantages women. Possible explanations are for a hormonal influence, possibly due to oestrogen loss in women or perhaps a greater cognitive reserve in males which provide protection against the disease process.

The paper Greater Cognitive Deterioration in Women than Men with Alzheimer’s Disease: a Meta Analysis” is the most read article at the online journal from its publish date until the date of this blog with 1648 views.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Professor Shares Expertise on Crop Disease

Professor Bruce Fitt, a well-known expert in his field of crop diseases, is making a significant contribution to a project investigating the barley disease, Rhynchosporium.

Barley is a major cereal grain with important uses as animal fodder and also for the brewing and whiskey industry. Rhynchosporium is the most problematic and economically damaging disease of barley worldwide. Annual crop losses in the UK from this disease are around £7m despite fungicide treatments which cost about £25m.

With over 30 years’ experience in crop diseases, Bruce is a key collaborator on the project which aims to bring more genetic resistant varieties of barley to the market and so ensure our future food security. The five year project, Symptomless Infection of Barley: resistance breeding and integrated crop protection strategies (SIBLINGS project), is funded by the Technology Strategy board and carried out in collaboration with the James Hutton Institute (Dundee), KWS (barley breeding company), DuPont (agrochemical company) and Agrii (agronomy intelligence services).