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Dr H Barton 

The identification of carbohydrate-rich plant foods from Niah Cave, Sarawak, Borneo
£2,263 British Academy 
This project will investigate the use of carbohydrate-rich plant foods in the tropical rainforests of Sarawak by prehistoric hunter-gatherers. This study will be carried out in association with the Niah Caves Project, under the direction of Professor Graeme Barker, School of Archaeology and Ancient History. My research at Niah Cave has been an investigation of preserved starch grains found within the guano-rich occupation deposits in the cave, some of which date back to at least 50,000 years before the present. These starch grains, produced by all living plants, are particularly abundant in storage organs such as tubers, fruits and nuts. When people processed or discarded these plant tissues in the cave, some of their starch grains were preserved. The granules vary in their size and shape between different species and therefore have the potential to inform archaeologists about prehistoric diet in a very direct way. This work compliments that of pollen and phytolith analysis as starches can be very numerous in some parts of the plant that lack pollen and/or phytoliths, bridging a gap in our ability to detect certain types of plants or parts of preserved plant tissue. This grant will enable me to increase the reference collection of tropical starch-rich plants that is necessary for the identification of starch grains from the archaeological deposits at Niah Cave.
March 2003

Dr H Barton 
Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the tropical rain forests of Sarawak

£7,595 L.S.B. Leakey Foundation 
How and when did humans first colonise the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia? Did these forests form barriers to permanent human occupation until the mid-Holocene period, c5,000 years ago, as many archaeologists and anthropologists contend, or was occupation of rain forest feasible as early as the late Pleistocene, c40-50,000 years ago. Currently this debate lacks much needed hard data regarding the distribution and density of key plant resources that could have sustained early human populations in these environments. This project will attempt to redress this imbalance by undertaking a program of forest survey to assess the modern distribution of plant speices that may have been utilised by early forest foragers. While it has to be accepted that the modern forests of Sarawak are not completely analogous to those of the Pleistocene period, it should be possible to establish some benchmarks for this important debate. A program of ethnobotanical research will also be undertaken with the Iban community of farmer-foragers to assess their current use of tuberous plant species and to collect data on the energetics of foraging for tubers in lowland tropical rain forest.
March 2003

Dr J Norman
Kinase control of alphavbeta3 integrin recyclying

£300,955 Wellcome Trust 
Animal cells express molecules on their surfaces whose task it is to establish adhesive contact with other cells and extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen. In order to migrate through the extracellular matrix, cells must make and break these contacts in a coordinated fashion. We have shown that one of the ways in which cells do this is by moving adhesive molecules (or integrin proteins) into intracellular compartments and then re-exposing them at the cell surface in response to particular signals. This proposal aims to explore the molecular mechanisms by which cells control the transport of a particular integrin protein (avb3) from an intracellular compartment to the cell surface. From this there is the potential to identify as yet unknown intracellular signalling systems involved in initiating cell adhesion and migration. A range of diseases result from the aberrant adhesive and migratory behaviour of cells, amongst them are arthritis, heart disease and invasive malignancies. Therefore there is the possibility that intracellular signalling systems characterised in this study may represent novel targets for drugs or therapies aimed at controlling these diseases.
March 2003

Dr J Hales
Psoriasis, streptococcus pyogenes and stress (part 2)

£37,284 Psoriasis Association 
Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK and Ireland suffer from psoriasis, an inflammatory disease, which can cause severe redness and scaling of the skin. Streptococcal throat infections have often been reported to trigger psoriasis or exacerbate established disease. One credible hypothesis, as to the cause of the disease, is that the immune cells clearing Streptococcus pyogenes throat infections become inappropriately diverted to attack keratins in the skin because the microbe and keratin have a degree of molecular similarity. The research funded by the Psoriasis Association aims to establish whether the lymphocytes which accumulate in diseased skin are the same lymphocytes which can clear throat infections, whether the antibodies they promote recognise unique portions of the streptococcal M protein, and whether the well established exacerbation of psoriasis by stress can be explained by the novel finding that the stress hormone, noradrenaline, promotes the growth of many bacteria, including S pyogenes.
March 2003

Professor I Postlethwaite, Dr M Turner 
Stabilisation and performance enhancement in the presence of nonlinearly constrained signals 
£245,339 EPSRC 
This research aims to make important advances in the performance of control systems in the presence of nonlinear temporal constraints, which arise from nonlinear actuators and the limits imposed on plant variables in order to address safety and maintenance issues. 'Anti-windup' synthesis for unstable plants is a significant challenge and most of the work on override control is currently ad-hoc and directed to single-input single-output systems. Our emphasis will be on rigorous theoretical developments using LMI(Linear Matrix Inequalities)-based synthesis to guarantee stability and L2 performance for multivariable systems. Nonlinear compensators will also be investigated, building on our proposed improvements to sector-based nonlinear stability analysis. 

In aircraft, saturations and rate-limits can cause severe pilot-vehicle interactions, called PIOs. It is proposed to use anti-windup methods to design 'phase compensators' to prevent PIOs. Their effectiveness will be assessed and compared with industrial designs through piloted simulations carried out by GARTEUR. An analysis technique, the so-called OLOP criterion, has been developed to predict the susceptibility of an aircraft to PIOs. However, the technique is restricted to single-input single-output systems. We propose to develop a multivariable criterion, which will have far greater applicability.
March 2003

Ms H Parker 
Learning from doing: benefits and challenges of setting up and running Icon5

£10,209 University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust 
ICon5 is an innovative alternative to traditional acute care, providing nurse and therapy led intermediate care in a ward setting. The research aims to provide descriptive and qualitative data on this new UHL service. A secondary aim is to use the data generated to explore the feasibility of developing a collaborative grant proposal to examine the effectiveness of ward based intermediate care with controls in other similar settings.

Specific objectives include:
· to facilitate routine data collection as part of practice at the outset of the new service
· to provide an evidence base to assess effectiveness of a new service thus enabling informed decisions on continuation, expansion or otherwise
· to explore feasibility of possible study methods for future evaluation 
· to learn from the challenges of implementing ward based intermediate care which in turn could help to inform new ways of providing acute care.

The primary end points are:
(i) descriptive data on service activity, case-mix, and outcomes for a six month cohort of patients admitted to ICon5
(ii) views from key professionals on the benefits and challenges of setting up and running the service.
March 2003

Mr J Sung 
Baseline labour market information for Leicestershire

£24,829 EMDA 
The East Midlands Development Agency has set out its aim of making the region one of Europe¹s top 20 regions by 2010 and the Regional Economic Strategy underpins this. In order to deliver the strategy, it has recognised the need to operate in local communities at the sub-regional level. The setting up of Sub-regional Strategic Partnerships (SSPs) in 2002 reflected this thinking. However, labour market data to support Sub-regional Strategic Partnerships is lacking. Most labour market data is collected and published using geographical identifiers, eg standard government office region, Learning and Skills Council and county boundaries, none of which are co-terminous with SSPs. The current project is to derive new SSP data sets from the Labour Force Survey for Leicestershire. It also evaluates the key differences between existing data sets and the new SSP data, and the feasibility to create similar data sets for other areas within the EMDA region. 
March 2003

Dr A Henke
Brauer algebras, young modules and schur-weyl-duality
£126,677 EPSRC 
Symmetry is a central concept in the natural sciences and this concept is mathematically formalised in the notion of a group. The symmetry of an object is described by the action of a group, the symmetry group of this object. This operation of groups defines so-called representations; these are concrete realisations of groups as symmetry groups of an object. The representation theory of groups tries to describe and classify these representations. 

For two of the most fundamental types of groups, the general linear groups and the symmetric groups, some very immediate representation-theoretical questions have not yet been answered. The project is concerned with the families of orthogonal and symplectic groups, which are subgroups of the general linear groups. Their representation theory will be studied via the family of Brauer algebras, a certain algebraic structure which is obtained by glueing together symmetric groups in different degree.
March 2003 

Dr P O'Brien 
Bode M Professor, Dr J Steele, John Morres University, 
Professor G Fraser, Professor M Ward, Dr Wheatley
Optical spectrographs for the Faulkes Telescopes

£112,315 PPARC 
The Faulkes Telescope project, funded primarily by the Dill Faulkes Educational Trust, is currently constructing two 2-m robotic telescopes to be located in Hawaii and Australia. These will be the largest and most powerful telescopes ever built dedicated for use by schools and colleges. We have been awarded PPARC funding to build two optical spectrographs to be permanently mounted on these telescopes by the end of 2003. At this time an astronomical satellite called Swift will be launched by NASA. Swift is dedicated to the study of gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosive events in the Universe. The Department of Physics and Astronomy has provided the X-ray camera for Swift and is a partner in the Faulkes Telescopes project. To enhance both projects, we intend to use the Faulkes Telescope optical spectrographs to study the gamma-ray bursts identified by Swift. These data will also be made available to UK schools thereby raising the profile of physics and astronomy in the UK educational community. 
March 2003

Dr C Brightling
Mast Cell Interactions with Airway Smooth Muscle: Functional Implications for the Pathogenesis of Asthma

£675,131 Department of Health 
Asthma is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. People with asthma become wheezy and breathless because the airways narrow excessively in response to stimuli like allergens and infections. The airways are inflamed and a number of inflammatory features are thought to be important in causing airway narrowing. We have recently found that patients with eosinophilic bronchitis, a condition causing chronic cough without abnormal airway narrowing, share many of these features except that in asthma cells called mast cells are localized within the airway muscle suggesting that this may be critical in the development of abnormal airway narrowing. We will study the signals, which draw mast cells into the airway muscle and the effects of these cells on each other. Understanding why mast cells move into the airway muscle and the how these cells interact may provide us with novel targets for the future treatment of asthma.
March 2003

Professor M Nicholson 
Renal transplant outcomes 
£74,035 UHL Renal Services Directorate 
Funds from the UHL NHS Trust Research and Development Directorate have been used to second Dr Sue Swift and Miss Beth Simpson to work for six months on preparing the Clinical Islet Isolation Laboratory for Department of Health Accreditation under the guidelines: A Code of Practice for Tissue Banks – providing human tissues for therapeutic use. As part of this process the laboratory has been temporarily closed while refurbishments are carried out.

Once re-opened, the effort towards clinical islet transplantation for patients with diabetes is expected to recommence. For this, clinical grade islets will be isolated from pancreas obtained via organ donation and transplanted into a small group of patients with a particularly severe form of Type I diabetes. 
March 2003

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Last update: March 2003 
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