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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Clostridium XII – International conference on the genetics, physiology and biotechnology of solvent- and acid-forming Clostridia.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Date: 10-12 September 2012
Venue: The University of Nottingham

“The genus Clostridium contains a diverse set of organisms both pathogenic and nonpathogenic. The physiologic diversity of this Genus is quite remarkable and provides a broad view into sporulation, energetics, regeneration of reducing power and pathway switching from acid production to solvent production.”

“The clostridia belong to the avant-garde of biotechnologically important microbes. The recent development of a battery of tools for genetic manipulation paved the way for exploiting the enormous metabolic potential of this bacterial group, embracing biofuel production, lignocellulose conversion, and exciting new enzyme activities.“

“The respective transnational interest is reflected by the biannually held Clostridium conferences since 1990. The upcoming Clostridium 12 meeting will be next in this series. It will provide new findings to researchers from academia and industry and hopefully also attract young graduate students, just entering this fascinating field.“

For further information, programme and registration, visit the Clostridium XII website at:

[Source BBSRC News:

Diagnostics for viruses step closer to reality

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have developed a technique which could form the basis of a non-invasive diagnostic for Adenovirus – the virus responsible for a large number of common illnesses.”

“The biosensor technology developed by researchers at the University of Leeds can not only detect the presence of the virus, it can also identify the individual strain and the number of virus particles present.”

“Currently, testing for viruses is complicated, time consuming and requires specialist preparation of samples to identify virus DNA. Using this new technique, testing for viruses could be much quicker, simpler and ultimately less costly. For patients, this sort of diagnostic would mean faster treatment. “

The study underpinning this research ‘Novel impedimetric immunosensor for the detection and quantitation of adenovirus using reduced antibody fragments immobilized onto a conducting copolymer surface’ has been published in the journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics 32 (1) 15 February 2012 pp104-110.  Available in ScienceDirect via the MMU electronic library.

[Source BBSRC news: ]

New international standards to aid data sharing in the biosciences

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Led by researchers at University of Oxford (UK) and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) at Harvard University, (USA), more than 50 collaborators at over 30 scientific organizations around the globe have agreed on a common standard for integrating biological data sets. This will make it possible to consistently describe the enormous and radically different databases that are compiled in the biosciences in fields ranging from genetics to stem cell science, to environmental studies.”

“This collaborative effort provides a way for scientists in widely disparate life science fields to co-ordinate each other’s findings by allowing behind-the-scenes combination of the mountains of data produced by modern, technology driven science. This will allow researchers to put data to work more effectively and to find relationships between different research projects.”

“A commentary, published on Friday (27 February) in the journal Nature Genetics describes an ecosystem of standard-compliant data curation and sharing solutions and the establishment of its on-line presence, the ISA Commons. The commentary is signed by all the collaborators.”

To view the commentary in Nature Genetics go to:

To find out more about ISA Commons go to:

[Source BBSRC news: ]

£7M public funding available for research to deliver better fruit and veg

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“A new research initiative aims to bring academic researchers together with industry in order to deliver bigger yields of better quality fruits and vegetables for the consumer through more sustainable farming practices.”

“Fruits and vegetables are a vitally important part of a healthy diet. Increasing yields and reducing waste will be crucial if we are to ensure global food security, providing a healthy, nutritious and affordable diet to a growing global population.”

“The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will be providing up to £7M funding via the Horticulture and Potato Initiative for research projects with both an academic and an industrial partner. Additional funding will be provided by the industrial partners themselves and by the Scottish Government and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).”

“One of the areas where the Initiative will focus is on helping growers adapt to a changing climate. Many varieties of the food crops we grow in the UK have been tailored to very specific local climate conditions. This means that even slight changes in growing seasons, water availability and weather extremes could cause dramatic reductions in production if not countered with research expertise.”

The first call for research proposals is now open. Please see the BBSRC website for further information

[Source BBSRC  news: ]

RCUK Digital Economy – Impact Review

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the UK Research Councils, is conducting a review of the impact of RCUK-supported Digital Economy research over the coming months. This review will focus on the entire Research Councils’ Digital Economy portfolio, not just on the research and training supported by the RCUK Digital Economy Theme.”

“The review, which will be chaired by Andrew Herbert OBE, FREng (previously Chairman of Microsoft EMEA) will assess the extent to which the portfolio has:

  • Delivered tangible benefits (impact) to the UK in areas identified to be of strategic importance to the UK economy, UK society and the UK research community
  • Shown international excellence in respect of originality, significance, rigour and exploitation of research and training
  • Added value and accelerated progress beyond what would have been achieved without the Theme. “

“The panel will deliver a report identifying further opportunities to maximize the impact of the Theme and making recommendations to the UK research community and Research Councils as to the means by which this may be accomplished. The Panel Report will be published during the summer of 2012 and the Theme Action Plan during the autumn of 2012.”

See further details and the link to an online survey (deadline for completion Friday 16th March 2012) at:

Further information is also available on the RCUK Digital Economy pages of the RCUK website:

[Source: EPRSC news as above]

Minister launches next generation of supercomputers for UK researchers

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Imagine if every person on the planet were able to carry out 250,000 calculations per second simultaneously. This is the combined capability of the next stage of development, announced today, of two giant computers, HECToR and BlueGene/Q, based at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computing Facility (ACF). It marks the next chapter in the UK’s supercomputing programme.”

“The computers can deliver complex computer simulations across a range of scientific disciplines and are funded by four of the UK Research Councils, EPSRC, STFC, NERC and BBSRC. Their increased computing capacity and performance will help UK researchers’ work in forecasting the impact of climate change, the fundamental structure of matter, fluctuations in ocean currents, projecting the spread of epidemics, designing new materials, the structure and evolution of the universe and developing new medicinal drugs.”

“Launching the new phases at an event jointly hosted by the University of Edinburgh and the UK Research Councils, Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “E-infrastructure is fundamental to modern research and development. It helps our world-leading science base achieve breakthroughs across a range of important disciplines and helps industry design and manufacture new products.”

To read more about the supercomputers HECToR and BlueGene/Q, go to

[Source: EPSRC news as above]

DC-Net: Digital cultural heritage research without limit

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“A European project which aims to bring together the digital cultural heritage and digital research communities, and the e-Infrastructure providers in Europe, in order to maximize opportunities, spark new initiatives and foster cooperation.”

“DC-NET – Digital Cultural heritage NETwork is an ERA-NET (European Research Area Network) project, financed by the European Commission under the e-Infrastructure – Capacities Programme of the FP7, and coordinated by the Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of the Italian Libraries and for Bibliographic Information (ICCU) of the Italian Ministry of Culture.”

“The main aim is to develop and strengthen the co-ordination of public research programmes among European countries, in the sector of digital cultural heritage. This goal has been pursued by the participating Ministries of Culture by endorsing a ‘Joint Plan of Activities’ (to be available soon). These were initiated through a wide and intensive programme of seminars, workshops, meetings and Presidential conferences. Their purpose was to promote encounters between the digital cultural heritage sector and the technological research and e-Infrastructure providers in Europe.”

“The DC-NET project started on the 1st of December 2009 and will end in March 2012. The next and final step will be the launch of a Joint Activities Plan at the final DC-NET conference in March 2012, which gives substance to all the partner efforts.”

For more information go to: ]

[Source: Heritage Portal as above]

Europeana New Feature: Map Search and Display

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Where are the items from your search results located? and How many of them are near you? — just a cou­ple of the ques­tions we can now answer thanks to one of the lat­est enhance­ments to the Europeana portal. The devel­op­ment depart­ment at Euro­peana have been work­ing on a new inter­ac­tive search and dis­play fea­ture that enables you to locate and pre­view search results on a map.”

“The map is auto­mat­i­cally pop­u­lated with the first 1,000 results from a search query and dis­trib­utes them on a multi-layered map (Open­StreetMap, Google Phys­i­cal, Google Street, Google Hybrid, and Google Satel­lite). Items are rep­re­sented by pur­ple cir­cles, the higher the amount of results per area, the big­ger the cir­cle.”

To see the map display go to:

[Source Euopeana blog: ]

History of Catalonia in posters

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Europeana, the portal to European digital collections, has made available the Memòria Digital de Catalunya’s collections of posters. “With over 2,000 posters, the collections range from sports to politics, advertisements and cultural events, giving us a unique insight into Catalonia’s history”.

Here, for example, you can find political posters from the Josep Vinyals collection reflecting the political climate in Catalonia in the 1970s and 1980s.  This was a very intense period for Catalonia and Spain in social and political fields as the transition took place from the Franco regime towards the building of a new State

This digital collection also contains posters from the collections of the Biblioteca de Catalunya, Biblioteca de Comerc i Turisme, Biblioteca de l’Esport, University of Barcelona, and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

To view the collection go to:

[Source Europeana blog: ]

Sourcing sport: current research – exploiting British Library resources

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

 “Unlock the secrets of the British Library’s sport collections in this Olympic & Paralympic year by joining British Library curators and academic experts in a one-day conference at St Pancras. Participants will be given a chance to discover a wide range of sport resources, from sound files, ephemera, images, and historical materials to publications from other countries, including the United States and Russia. The speakers, including Professors Kath Woodward, John Horne, Andrew Sparkes and Matthew Taylor, will be looking at some fascinating and unusual items from the collections, and showcasing their own explorations into the world of sport research.“

Date: May 21, 2012
Venue: British Library Conference Centre
Online booking:  

More details [PDF 132 KB]

[Source BL blog: ]