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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Tigers, caterpillars and other wild things: children’s books in the 1960s

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Monday 16 June – Friday 5 September 2014

MMU Special Collections Gallery, 3rd Floor, Sir Kenneth Green Library

“A delight for visitors of all ages, this exhibition features a host of much-loved characters and stories from children’s books of the 1960s selected from the Children’s Books and Book Design collections held at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. It includes well-known publishers such as Ladybird and Puffin, and authors and illustrators including Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Alan Garner, Judith Kerr, Doreen Roberts, Maurice Sendak, Brian Wildsmith and John Wyndham.”

“Programmed as part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival (26 June – 6 July 2014).”

[Source MMU Special Collections website: ]

Longitude Prize 2014

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

“Antib​iotics was voted by YOU to be the challenge of Longitude Prize 2014.”

“In order to tackle growing levels of antimicrobial resistance, the challenge set for the Longitude Prize is to create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time.”

“What happens next?

Now that the antibiotics challenge has been chosen, we want everyone, from amateur scientists to the professional scientific community, to try and solve it.”

“Nesta and the Longitude Committee are finalising the criteria for how to win the £10 million prize, and from the autumn you will be able to submit your entries.”

“Do you have an idea to solve the antibiotics challenge? Register your interest and we’ll alert you when submissions open in autumn 2014.”

To find out more go to the Longitude Prize website:

[Source Longitude Prize as above]

Improvements to the ORCID Researcher Identification System

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

“Telling Jane Smith from John Smith might be easy in person, but when you’re searching academic libraries, it can prove a little trickier. The Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) system (of which the Wellcome Trust is a member) aims to help solve this problem, and lots more besides. Jonathon Kram, from the Evaluation team at the Wellcome Trust explains more…”

“There are a lot of busy and productive scientists out there, generating a vast amount of information as they document their research. In the Evaluation team of the Wellcome Trust’s Strategic Planning and Policy Unit this leaves us with a bit of a challenge (albeit a pleasant one) – how do we go about monitoring and evaluating this wealth of information?”

“One of the many problems is with disambiguation (as highlighted in this post last year), which can make it hard to see which research belongs to which researcher. How can you tell whether two ‘J Brown’s are the same person?”

“ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, is an answer to that problem which is growing in popularity – over 700,000 live ORCID IDs as of writing. Researchers take ownership of a single online profile detailing their works, keywords, affiliations, other names and funding which can then be used to pre-populate services such as FigShare.”

“The list of organisations which incorporate ORCID identifiers keeps getting longer as the importance of unique and open IDs is realised throughout the field.”

To read more got to:

[Source Wellcome blog as above]

The quest for long-lasting blood

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

“Every day thousands of people around the world have their lives saved or improved thanks to someone giving blood. But imagine how many more lives could be saved if a long-lasting blood substitute could be found, which could easily be stored at room temperature and available to all patients, regardless of their blood type.”

“This is the challenge a team of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded scientists at the University of Essex are hoping to overcome with their Haem02 project to develop a one-size-fits-all, third generation artificial blood substitute. Led by Professor Chris Cooper, the research team are developing an artificial blood substitute that is a safe, long-lasting, virus-free alternative to current blood transfusions available to all countries and immediately accessible at the site of natural disasters.”

“Haemoglobin is the key protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies. The Haem02 team aim to create an artificial haemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC) that could be used as a substitute for blood lost in surgery or trauma. However, attempts so far to make a safe and effective HBOC have proved problematic as outside the protective environment of the red cell, haemoglobin can be toxic. The beauty of the product being engineered at Essex is that it is detoxified by the body’s own defences.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Gravity-beating ultrasonic tweezers provide a sound route to bio-engineering

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

“Pioneering ‘tweezers’ that use ultrasound beams to grip and manipulate tiny clusters of cells under electronic, push-button control could lead to life-changing medical advances, such as better cartilage implants that reduce the need for knee replacement operations.”

“Using the crafted sound fields, cartilage cells taken from a patient’s knee can be levitated for weeks in a nutrient-rich fluid. This means the nutrients can reach every part of the culture’s surface and, combined with the stimulation provided by the ultrasound, enables the cells to grow and to form better implant tissue than when cultured on a glass petri dish.”

“By holding the cells in the required position firmly but gently, the tweezers can also mould the growing tissue into exactly the right form so that the implant is truly fit-for-purpose when inserted into the patient’s knee. Over 75,000 knee replacements are carried out each year in the UK; many could be avoided if cartilage implants could be improved.”

“This is just one potential application of ultrasonic tweezers developed with Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding by a closely integrated team harnessing and combining expertise at four UK universities. The team comprises researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Dundee, Glasgow and Southampton, as well as a range of industrial partners; their extremely close and highly productive collaboration, supported by the four-year EPSRC grant, has established the UK as a world leader in this fast-growing technology.”

[Source EPSRC news: ]

Egg camouflage research animation

Monday, June 16th, 2014

“Did you ever look at the marks and speckles on an egg and wonder what they are for? Pretty as they can be, they are not merely ornamental but have evolved to hide the egg from hungry predators.”

“Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge are investigating the fundamental bioscience behind how the marks on eggs work as camouflage systems, and how this relates to the visual biology of different animals that eat eggs in the wild. Studying camouflage outside of the lab is notoriously difficult because it’s hard to control variables such as light and record aspects of animal behaviour, to say nothing of the fact that camouflaged animals are so hard to see. But it’s work that has applications from the military to urban living space design.”

“For their study system, the researchers have chosen ground-nesting birds such as plovers and nightjars because when the birds fly away (or ‘flush’) from predators their eggs are vulnerable – only the eggs’ spots and speckles can hide it from becoming a meal. That the eggs stay still in the nest during the long incubation period also gives the researchers an advantage because they can take pictures of the eggs, then come back over time to see if the nest has survived or perished. The researchers, including Dr Jolyon Troscianko from the University of Exeter, have taken more than 15,000 images as part of the project.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

Why ‘Alternative’ teenagers self-harm: exploring the link between non-suicidal self-injury, attempted suicide and adolescent identity

Monday, June 16th, 2014

“Around half (45.5%) of ‘Alternative’ teenagers self-injure and nearly 1 in 5 (17.2%) attempt suicide, according to research by scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC)/Chief Scientist Office (CSO) (Scottish Government) Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU), University of Glasgow and researchers from the University of Ulm, Germany.”

“This is the first research to look at why teenagers in certain subcultures are more likely to self-harm and how their motivations differ from other teenagers. Overwhelmingly, the reasons teenagers in this study gave to explain why they self-injure was to regulate distressing emotions and communicate this distress to friends and family. Earlier research found that the majority of adolescents who self-injure have friends who also self-injure and suggested that self-injury might be socially contagious. However, in this study only a minority of the teenagers were found to self-injure because they wanted to ‘feel more part of a group’.”

“The study, published in BMC Psychiatry, was conducted in Germany using 452 school pupils, aged 14-15 years. Pupils were asked to answer questions on how strongly they identified with different youth cultures, such as Alternative (Goth, Emo, Punk), Nerd (academic) or Jock (athletic). They were also asked about risk factors strongly linked to self-injury including, demographic (gender, immigration), social background (parent’s social and economic status) and victimisation (physical bullying and verbal harassment).”

“Researchers found teenagers with an Alternative identity were 3-4 times more likely to self-injure and 6-7 times more likely to attempt suicide than other teenagers, even after allowing for known risk factors. Identifying as an ‘Alternative teenager’ was a stronger predictor of self-injury or a suicide attempt than being repeatedly bullied.”

The article is published in BMC Psychiatry and can be read (Open Access) at:

[Source MRC news: ]

The Art of Risk

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014 – 09:30 – 19:00 at The Howard Assembly Room, Leeds.

Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange presents, The Art Of Risk

“A One-day conference brought to you by Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange and Dare, the groundbreaking partnership between University of Leeds and Opera North.”

“We all take risks. Whether we are an avant-garde theatre company putting on a new production, a medical professional weighing up a tricky clinical decision, or just a normal person going about their day to day life, the decisions we make contain some degree of risk. But on what basis do we make these decisions? How do we judge whether a risk is worth taking? What forms of rationality or irrationality guide our decision-making? What draws some people to take risks and not others? The ways we approach risk vary enormously. This one day event begins with the simple premise that we have much to learn from each other.”

To view the day’s programme and for further information go to:

[Source National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement news as above]

Triennial Review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

“The National Archives is conducting a triennial review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information and is seeking your feedback.”
“The periodic review of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) is one of the ways the government ensures that it maintains a lean, but effective public sector. A Triennial Review is a Cabinet Office mandated process for reviewing the functions of NDPBs, the appropriateness of the body’s delivery mechanism and its governance arrangements. It must consider abolition, a move of the functions out of central government, bringing the functions in-house, merging with another body, delivery by a new Executive Agency and continued delivery by a NDPB.”
“The review of the panel is being conducted in two stages, in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance:
Stage 1 will look at core functions of the panel, assess the need for these functions to continue and the structural options for continued delivery of these functions and, if the conclusion of Stage 1 is that the panel should continue as a NDPB
Stage 2 will examine the control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that the panel is operating in line with government policy including good corporate governance, openness, transparency and accountability”

“The review team is seeking your views as part of Stage 1. If you have any comments, please email by midday on 30 May 2014.”
“Any comments may be quoted in the Stage 1 report, but will only be attributed to you if you have indicated that we may do so. Wherever possible we would appreciate you giving examples to evidence your responses.”

[Source National Archives news: ]

From muscle in motion to exercise in ageing

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

“This summer will see elite athletes in action in events such as the Commonwealth Games and the football World Cup. Improving performance at the highest levels is a serious multi-million industry where the scientific study of exercise can turn the movements of also-rans into the motions of winners. But understanding the fundamental biomechanics and physiology of the human body can benefit millions of people, not just sports stars, as they age.”
“A major new Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded study is now investigating the link between exercise tolerance and muscle metabolism. It’s an area ripe for discovery and application, because the way we react to the stresses and strains of exercise is a strong predictor of mortality – better as measured by some studies than factors such as having been a smoker, having high blood pressure, being obese or diabetic, or having high cholesterol.”
“Split between the University of Liverpool and the University of Leeds, the study is using rarely attempted magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques on volunteers as they undergo a battery of fitness tests. But it’s not just young, fit and healthy superstars that are participating – alongside normal young individuals and elite athletes the over 65s will also be put through their paces to see how the mechanics of exercise tolerance changes with age.”
“The researchers hope that combining multiple physiological studies across the healthy population with a computational systems biology approach could lead to new ways to improve quality of life in ageing populations.”

[Source BBSRC news: ]

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