University of Leicester |

 

eBulletin
Home >> News and Events >> [eBulletin] >> Research Summaries

 
ARCHAEOLOGY AND ANCIENT HISTORY
Dr T Hopkinson
RA11040
16th congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research 2003
£687  British Academy
The Neanderthal people of Ice Age Europe became extinct in the 10,000 years or so following the arrival of modern human beings (Homo sapiens) in Europe, probably from Africa, around 40,000 years ago. It has been suggested that they became extinct because they were less able to adapt to rapidly changing climate than modern humans, and lacked their capacity for the complex organisation of activity in the landscape.
However, research by Dr Terry Hopkinson has cast doubt on these explanations for Neanderthal extinction. He has shown that so-called leaf points, a kind of stone tool probably used as spear tips, were made by Neanderthals only in those parts of Europe which experienced rapid alternations between open and forested landscapes in the period between 60 and 40,000 years ago. Furthermore, leaf points are found only in locations which were occupied by small numbers of people for short periods of time, and not in those caves occupied more heavily as residential centres. This shows that Neanderthals were both sensitive to rapid climate change and capable of sophisticated organisation of complementary activities in social centres and the landscape periphery. Neanderthals were, in these respects, much more ‘modern’ than we have thought, so we must look for other reasons for their eventual extinction.
Dr Hopkinson is presenting his work at the 16th Congress of the International Quaternary Union in Reno, Nevada, July 23rd-30th.
September 2003

Professor C Ruggles
RA11037
Cultural Astonomy in new world cosmologies symposium 
£631   British Academy
Professor Ruggles, together with Professor Gary Urton of Harvard University, is organising a conference in the USA in October to celebrate the career of Professor Anthony Aveni, widely acknowledged as America's leading archaeoastronomer. Aveni was one of the first in the field to move forward from studying "ancient astronomy" to addressing broader issues in the study of ancient cultures -such as cosmology, perception, and indigenous concepts of space and time- through the ways in which ancient peoples understood and acted upon what they saw in the skies. There will be several leading archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and astronomers, with a particular focus upon Mayan studies, and a prestigious festschrift is expected. This grant is to support Clive Ruggles's attendance. 
September 2003

BIOCHEMISTRY
Dr C Bagshaw
RM31095
Control of myosin conformation through optical probes
£90,060   Wellcome Trust
The International Research Career Development award will enable Dr András Málnási-Csizmadia (Eötvös University, Hungary) to visit Leicester for several months each year for collaborative research on myosin, a protein involved in cell movements. Myosin is known to undergo shape changes that are fundamental to its activity and results in the macroscopic movement of an organelle or organism. We plan to introduce chemical groups that contain a double bond capable of cis-trans isomerisation in key locations in the myosin molecule. The rearrangement of the of the cis-trans double bond results in a length change of the chemical group that will force the domains of myosin to move by about a nanometer. This reaction can be driven by light. The implications are two fold. 1) By controlling the relative domain motions of myosin we can study the relationship between structure and function. 2) The myosin molecule may become a light driven switch with nanotechnological uses.
September 2003

BIOLOGY
Dr C Ferris
RM48060
Undergraduate Student Bursaries 2003 - A phylogeographical analysis of Cistus salvifolius in the Mediterranean
£1,600  The Nuffield Foundation
Cistus salvifolius is a small perennial shrub that occurs throughout the Mediterranean region. It is an outcrossing species that bears white flowers that are insect pollinated. Dispersal is generally over small distances and isolated populations, particularly those on islands, are likely to have been genetically isolated for a long time. Fragmentation of the distribution will have encouraged the species to adapt to local conditions and we would expect that divergence between populations will have occurred . The species is morphologically quite diverse throughout its distribution range. Thus there will likely be a geographical pattern to the genetic variation that exists in this species.

Such patterns may reflect the patterns of colonization following past climate change rather than adaptation to the local conditions. This can best be tested using markers that are not subject to selection. This project will focus on examining the patterns of genetic variation using neutral molecular markers. 

The project aims to:

· Assess the patterns of genetic variation throughout the Mediterranean region using chloroplast   
  DNA markers
· Elucidate the population genetics and the long-term history of the sage-leaved rockrose using
  the patterns of genetic variation in the species.
September 2003

Dr J Bailey
RM48061

Natural control of Japanese Knotweed
£14,000  CABI Bioscience
Japanese Knotweed was introduced to the West more than 150 years as a spectacular garden plant, initially commanding a high price. Once its true nature became apparent, it was quickly evicted from gardens, but this only hastened its spread! It is now considered a problem plant throughout Britain, many parts of Continental Europe and North America. This spread has been entirely vegetative from rhizome cuttings. Earlier work at Leicester showed that the plant growing throughout Britain was actually a single clone of the original introduction. The same clone also occurred on mainland Europe and the United States. Japanese Knotweed actually grows much better in its adopted range than it does at home in Japan. The damp climate suits it and it left all the animals that normally feed on it behind in Japan. Herbicide treatments are only a partial solution, and in its preferred habitat along watercourses restricts the range and potency of herbicides allowed. Biological control is a natural way of controlling invasive alien species by re-introducing them to the predators that they have left behind. Obviously very careful testing is required of any potential agent in case the problem is doubled rather than halved! CABI Bioscience have an excellent track record in this respect. In 2000 I accompanied one of their entomologists and a mycologist to Japan, where a number of collections of potential agents were made. In order to get the most effective Biological Control it is necessary to return to the area of origin of the invasive plant. Work at Leicester had already indicated that Japan rather than China was the source of the original introduction. Molecular techniques involving chloroplast DNA RFLPs will be used to test a range of live Japanese plants currently in the quarantine house at the Botanic Gardens. This will determine the precise geographical location of the British clone, and hence indicate the best place for the selection of Biological Control agents, to be used in the control of this terrible weed.
September 2003

Dr D Harper
RM48040
Supplement - Trinity Broads Restoration
£23,227   Environment Agency
The Norfolk Broads have been the subject of intensive ecological and conservation research for a quarter of a century, since it was first revealed that they were suffering rapid degradation from sewage effluents and agricultural chemicals in the 1960s and 1970s. The most successful research has been the ecotechnical method called 'biomanipulation' which is the careful manipulation of the food web structure in target lakes.
The Trinity Broads are three broads in the south-east of Broadland, with added value to the landscape and environment of this, Britain's first lowland National Park because They are free of any powered craft. They are an important source of water for the Great Yarmouth area.
This extension to the biomanipulation research that has been undertaken by Dr Harper in partnership with the Environment Agency, Essex & Suffolk Water, English Nature and the Broads Authority on these broads, will enable the effect of the largest lake management in lowland Britain to be fully evaluated and the results published.
September 2003

CELL PHYSIOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY
Dr T Herbert
RM36055
Regulation of proinsulin synthesis
£10,950  Royal Society
In pancreatic ß-cells the metabolism of glucose regulates a variety of physiological processes including insulin synthesis and secretion. Interestingly, glucose exerts a specific stimulatory effect on insulin synthesis, which is mediated through an increase in the rate of its translation. However, the molecular mechanism behind this specific increase in insulin synthesis remains unclear. This grant will provide us with funding to carry out a preliminary investigation to identify, and determine the function of, proteins that specifically bind to the insulin mRNA in situ which are likely important in its regulation.
September 2003

Dr T Herbert
RM36054
The ternary complex eIF2:GTP.Met:tRNAi and its role in glucose stimulated protein synthesis in pancreatic beta-cells
£183,773
In response to glucose, the pancreatic beta-cell rapidly increases insulin and total protein synthesis. These increases in protein synthesis are mediated entirely at the translational level and ensure the replenishment of newly secreted proteins such as insulin. Indeed, ongoing translation is necessary for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion as inhibition of translation impairs insulin secretion. Importantly, any dysfunction in insulin synthesis or its release can lead to diabetes. However, the mechanism by which glucose regulates protein synthesis in pancreatic beta-cells is poorly understood. Therefore, the primary aim of this project is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which glucose regulates protein synthesis by investigating how glucose modulates translational ternary complex (eIF2, GTP and Met-tRNAi) formation. This work will lead to new insights into beta-cell function and therefore may lead to the development of better treatments for diabetes.
September 2003

Dr N Brunskill 
RM36051
Support for Dr R Chana
£43,258   University Hospitals of Leicester
In patients with kidney disease large quantities of protein and fat are filtered from the blood into the urine. This project focuses on how the presence of fat in the urine may damage the kidney further and exacerbate kidney disease. The research will examine the effects of fat on the expression of different genes in kidney cells and will help provide information about rational therapies for progressive kidney diseases.
September 2003

CHEMISTRY
Professor A Hillman
RP10088
Acoustic wave and sensor for metal ions based on poly [M(salen)crown] recognition chemistry
£1,000   British Council
This award supports collaboration between the Universities of Porto and Leicester, involving electroactive polymer films based on Schiff base complexes of transition metals with applications in catalysis and sensors. The Porto group has expertise in the synthesis of novel "salen"-based
ligands, capable of both polymerization and of recognition and complexation of metal ions from solution. The Leicester group has expertise in polymer film characterization via their electrochemical, optical and viscoelastic properties. The long-term goal is the development of a polymer-based generic sensor for metal ions, combining the sensitivity of electrochemical and acoustic wave detection with the selectivity of complexation chemistry. 
September 2003

CHILD HEALTH
Dr J Grigg
RM63012
Role of small monocytes in chronic infective paediatric lung disease
£78,000  The Children's Research Fund
Lung damage in cystic fibrosis is caused by neutrophils (a type of pus cell) entering the airway from the blood. Attention has therefore focussed on the role of neutrophil in cystic fibrosis, and not on other cell types. Recently, a co-applicant of this grant, Professor Zeigler-Heitbrock (Leicester), has identified a new, type of cell in the airways of adults with bronchitis; a condition that has many similarities to cystic fibrosis. The new airway cell is the "small macrophage". These small macrophages release high levels of tissue-damaging substances, which in turn recruit neutrophils into the lung from the blood. We hypothesise that the small airway macrophage is a key part of the inflammatory mix that causes lung injury in cystic fibrosis. In this study, we will sample airway cells from children with cystic fibrosis, and measure the number and proportion of small macrophages before, during and after infective exacerbations. Our results may lead to the development of therapies specifically targeted at macrophages in this distressing condition.
September 2003

DERMATOLOGY
Professor R D R Camp, Professor W Schwaeble
RM63005
Immunomodulatory activities of the component system in inflammatory skin diseases
£54,000 British Skin Foundation
The complement system comprises a complex series of blood proteins that are activated by microbes and result in the production of complement fragments that play a key role in the immediate defence against infection. Our recent work suggests that complement activation has an unexpected suppressive effect on other elements of the immune system and may impair long-term immune responses to infection. This PhD project aims to clarify interactions between complement products and the ‘cellular’ immune system, and will also determine the role of skin cells in the local production of relevant complement proteins.
September 2003

EDUCATION
Mr L Rogers
RE10038
Use of ICT in Caste Study for Teacher Training
£22,892   CEC
The School of Education is teaming up with education departments in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Slovakia to develop CD rom and Web-based resources for teacher training. Experienced teachers in local schools in the city and county of Leicester will be working with Laurence Rogers, Senior Lecturer in Education, to video record examples of the expert techniques used by teachers in their classroom teaching. All the examples will represent the best practice of professional skill in the classroom and will be used as case studies for student teachers in training. The steering group will design support materials so that the case studies may used in a variety of ways; for example, by school mentors working with individual or groups of student teachers, or by university tutors leading practical workshops, or by individual students for personal study.
The team in each country will focus on two areas of skill so that a collection of material for ten topics will be built up. All the materials will be available in English and will be published in 2005.
September 2003

ENGINEERING
Professor S Spurgeon, Professor N B Jones, Dr F Schlindwein, Professor J Watson, BOC Edwards
RP12069
Fault prediction in quasi-steady state rotating machines
£232,025   EPSRC
As machines become more complex and valuable there is a greater need to protect them from the consequences of breakdown. Prediction of faults with appropriate levels of confidence (in terms of false alarms) is an important issue. Earlier research carried out by this team was centred on the diesel engine, which has rotating and reciprocating parts and is operated mostly with variable load and speed. Many rotating machines, such as pumps in vacuum systems, are, in contrast, expected to work in the steady-state most of the time. Predictable transient loads are still present but they are present for a much smaller fraction of time. Unpredictable transients are often very brief. Both types of transient phenomena may produce diagnostic information but the main challenge lies in looking for small and subtle changes in the “steady-state”. This project seeks to extend the previously developed methods into this new context. The techniques will be tested in an important real application; a pump made by BOC-Edwards at Shoreham in Sussex. 
September 2003

Professor J Fothergill, Professor L Dissado
RP12071
The development of nanocomposite dielectric structures
£100,251   EPSRC
This proposal stems from the encouraging results obtained during the first half of 2002 when Professor Nelson from Rensselaer (USA) was working in the Leicester University laboratories (UK) under the auspices of an EPSRC contract designed to provide some project support to nurture a program to investigate the possibilities of using nano-materials as dielectrics. This earlier work provided evidence that nano-materials can exhibit some substantial differences in characteristics. It is now postulated that some of the attributes uncovered may have important implications for the utilization of these materials as dielectrics. Since electrical insulation is a pervasive technology, the impact could be very substantial.
The present proposal seeks to build on the preliminary work by establishing a co-operative 3-year program between Rensselaer (which has an established Nanotechnology Centre) and the University of Leicester, which is one of Europe’s leading centres for dielectric research. The insight gained from the previous work would be used as a springboard for examining the way in which the unique behaviour of these materials may be utilized to create insulating structures with enhanced properties and utility. The dielectric withstand and endurance would be used as the primary benchmarks for success. A number of techniques would also be examined for the assembly of these structures for use as dielectrics.
September 2003

ENGLISH
Dr G Dawson
RA12015
Overseas Conference Grant
£676 British Academy
Dr Gowan Dawson of the Department of English has been awarded a British Academy Overseas Conference Grant which enables him to attend the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals conference on The Victorian Periodical Press: Texts and Contexts in Edmonton, Canada in September 2003. Dr Dawson will give a paper entitled: 'W. T. Stead, T. H. Huxley and the Control of Meaning in the New Journalism'.
September 2003

EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Dr N Cooper, Professor K Abrams
RM62005
The use of evidence synthesis and uncertainty modelling in economic evidence-based health-related decision models
£136,214   MRC
Resources dedicated to health care are limited and under increasing demand from consumers. It is therefore important that the resources available are used in order to produce the greatest benefit for the population. When clinical trial data is limited, decision modelling provides the best possible framework for performing cost-effectiveness analysis in which the additional costs of a new intervention are weighed against the additional effects. In particular it enables decision-makers to investigate the cost-effectiveness of a range of alternative treatment strategies for different settings or subgroups of patients. However, there are a number of methodological challenges associated with the practical application of decision modelling that need to be addressed. The aim of this project is to develop a more comprehensive decision modelling framework in which all available evidence can be incorporated into one coherent economic model and reported together with the appropriate measure(s) of uncertainty whilst making the overall results transparent and easy for the policy decision-maker to interpret.
September 2003

GENETICS
Professor R Trembath
RM33068
Vacation Studentship - SNP detection and variation for haplotype sharing in Cluster Headache
£1,240  Wellcome Trust
Cluster Headache (CH) is a distinct form of primary headache characterised by specific autonomic features and periodicity. The aetiology of CH remains unclear, however, numerous familial examples of the disorder have been described. More formal segregation analysis supports the view that CH susceptibility may be conferred as an autosomal dominant trait, the disease allele activing with markedly reduced gene penetrance. In collaboration with Dr Michael Russell (University of Copenhagen) we have performed a genome wide (>400 marker density) scan, in eight multiplex families with CH and identified 7 regions with non-parametric LOD scores of 1.5 or greater. No family was large enough to generate a score of 3.3 on its own. To further explore these intervals we next investigated the allelic frequency distribution between an independently ascertained cohort of CH cases and matched controls also recruited from Denmark. Three contiguous polymorphic mircrosatellite markers (distributed over a genetic interval of 2cM) showed significant support (p<0.001) for allelic association (Joy et al, manuscript in preparation). The objectives are to perform bioinformatic analysis of known and putative transcripts within the region demonstrating allelic association and to identify and validate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within positional candidate genes for CH.
September 2003

GEOLOGY
Dr M Purnell
RP14041
The Evolution of Complexity in Early Vertebrates
£301,399  NERC
Understanding the evolution of complexity in plants and animals is fundamental to understanding the evolution of biodiversity. One of the major current research themes in this area of scientific investigation concerns the theory that vertebrate complexity has increased through time, and that this increase is linked to doubling of the number of genes in the vertebrate genome. Despite the importance of this research there are outstanding fundamental problems. The view that vertebrate complexity increased through time is a subjective impression that has never been exposed to scientific scrutiny. Consequently, the idea that complexity is linked to gene
duplications is rather speculative. The timing of gene duplications is difficult to determine because few major groups of vertebrates survive from the important interval of diversification. I will address these problems by conducting the first analysis of the evolution of complexity in early
vertebrates.
September 2003

Dr L Coogan
RP14040
Thermal and chemical consequences of focused hydrothermal fluid-flow in the lower oceanic crust at fast-spreading ridges
£38,951   NERC
New oceanic crust is constant being formed at mid-ocean ridges such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which runs down the centre of the Atlantic ocean. The crust is formed by the solidification of magma within volcanoes and the heat released by cooling these volcanoes (from -1200°C) leads to extensive water circulation within the crust. This project will investigate the thermal and chemical evolution of the water within the crust. This will allow a better understanding of how the composition of seawater is modified by this process and how the volcanoes that build the oceanic crust work.
September 2003

HEALTH SCIENCES
Professor P Vostanis, Professor B Broad (De Montfort University), Dr M Stuttaford (University of Warwick) 
RM62015
£120,000   The Foyer Foundation
Young homeless people have complex social and mental health needs and cannot easily access specialist services. The Foyer Federation provides a network of residential units across the United Kingdom to prepare young homeless people for independent living. Five mental health posts have recently been appointed in key Foyers, to cover the interface with local mental health services.

A national evaluation of this service will be undertaken by the research team over three year. Quantitative and qualitative outcome measures will be completed by young people, Foyer staff and mental health professionals at regular intervals. A sub-sample of young people will be followed-up for in-depth interviews to explore the impact of the service.
September 2003

HISTORICAL STUDIES
Dr J Storey
RA15018
The Frankish Annals of Lindisfarne and Kent
£684   British Academy
This is an award from The British Academy to cover travel to the biennial conference of The International Society of Anglo-Saxonists which is meeting in Phoenix, Arizona in August 2003, to deliver a paper on 'The Frankish Annals of Lindisfarne and Kent'. These are among the earliest records of English history, dating from the early decades of the seventh century, that have been preserved exclusively in manuscripts made in Carolingian Francia in the ninth century. They are evidence for the collection of written history in the earliest decades after the conversion of the English to Christianity, and provide very rare, independent evidence of the sort of information that was available to Bede for his monumental 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'.
September 2003

Dr D Gentilcore, Professor C Jones, Dr Marland, Dr M Thompson, Dr David Hardiman (University of Warwick)
RA15021
Wellcome Trust Strategic Award in the History of Medicine
£49,310   Wellcome Trust
The research of the group will be focussed around the theme of cultures and practices of health. This constitutes a unique and distinctive orientation among groupings of historians of medicine in UK universities. The theme: 
·highlights within the range of our interests the experience and representation of health and illness and related conditions such as gender, sexuality, reproduction, food and nutrition, consumption; the social management and construction of illness; medical ritual and ceremonial; the verbal and behavioural expression of suffering and distress, through mental or somatic illness, across time periods and cultures; and the interactions of practitioners with sufferers, kin and community within a range of therapeutic systems; 
· links to (as well as broadening and contextualising) the Wellcome Trust priority area of ‘Medicine and the Marketplace’, dealing with the purchasing of care and accessing services and treatment;
· permits problems associated with medical marketplaces to be approached through the prism of existing areas of excellence at Warwick and Leicester, namely, the social history tradition and the new cultural history and its offshoots including historical anthropology, analysis of texts and discourse, and the history of the body. 
September 2003

Dr G Jones
RS16017
Transnational Database and Atlas of Saint's Cults
£11,365   Aurelius Charitable Trust
What’s in the name of a church? More than meets the eye, according to a University of Leicester academic who has won a major grant. People chose one patron saint in preference to another for practical reasons.

Some saints were associated with critical times in the farming year, others with particular crafts. Often they reveal something previously unknown about a local community, says Dr Graham Jones of the Centre for English Local History.

The Aurelius Charitable Trust has granted about £12,000 to enable Dr Jones to extend his database and atlas of saints’ cults to Berkshire and parts of Hampshire and Wiltshire.

‘Extremely interesting patterns emerged north of the Thames, so the aim is to see whether they carry on south of the river,’ says Dr Jones. ‘People in the Vale of the White Horse saw life differently to those on the Downs and in the wooded areas beyond.’

Dr Jones is available to speak to local groups about his work, which an academic assessor recently described as of ‘major national importance’.
September 2003

Professor P Cottrell
RS16018
Ionian Bank 1835-1907: A History
£55,000   Alpha Bank 
An important feature of the world economy’s development over the nineteenth century was the very marked growth of British overseas financial interests. Founded in 1839, Ionian Bank was one of the first London-based corporate multinational financial institutions. From 1864, when Greece gained suzerainty over the Ionian Islands, it became a major Anglo-Greek commercial bank, conducting business through a significant branch network centred upon Athens. The aim of this project is to research and write a history of the first phase of Ionian Bank’s development. The focus will be upon its foundation and maturation as a trans-national financial institution. 

Somewhat unusually, a considerable part of Ionian Bank’s records have survived, now housed within Alpha Bank, Athens, or the Archives Department, Library, London School of Economics. In parallel with this project, Alpha Bank has provided funding for the conservation, cataloguing and digitisation of Ionian’s papers located in London. 
September 2003

LAW
Professor E Szyszczak
RL10015
Irregular Migration and Human Rights Conference
£1,5000   British Academy
The city of Leicester, long reputed to be a model of multiculturalism, will host an international conference on Irregular Migration and Human Rights from 28-29th June 2003. 

Professor Erika Szyszczak is the Director of the Centre for European Law and Integration (CELI) within the Faculty of Law at the University of Leicester, where the conference will be held. She said: “This conference comes at a crucial time. Irregular migration is at the top of today’s political agenda. This conference will have an impact upon European Union and UK government policy making, giving it a clearer theoretical underpinning. 

“Human rights and migration are an important issue for a subject that is perceived to threaten the stability and sustainability of the very fabric of our society. The words ‘trafficking’ in human beings’‘, “illegal immigrants”, asylum-seeker’ and ‘refugee’ are swathed in misunderstanding and prejudice. EU policies aim to prevent irregular migration and it is this preventative approach which will be focussed upon at the conference.

“But the conference will inform this preventative approach by addressing human rights issues from a broader theoretical and international context, with papers from leading researchers and practitioners in the field.”

There has been a wide interest in this conference, with delegates registered from as far as the Ukraine and Egypt, as well as representatives from the Council of Europe and non-governmental organisations.

Kluwer will publish the conference papers in a book in 2004. Discussing the importance of this publication Dr Ryszard Cholewinski, Deputy Director of CELI explained: “The book will assist practitioners by describing and explaining recent trends and developments as well as being of interest to social scientists, political scientists and the NGO sector.” The book will also be useful to government policy-makers, national and European parliamentarians, and those who report on and hope to influence policies, such as journalists and lobbyists.

The conference has received generous support from the EC Commission Jean Monnet Project, the Society of Legal Scholars, the Council of Europe and the British Academy.
September 2003

MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
Dr A Henke
RP15064
Decomposition numbers and endomorphism rings of permutation modules
£4,600  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, or more generally of algebras - a central area in mathematics - 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 will attack those by studying endomorphism rings of certain permutation modules via combining theoretical and computational tools. It is expected that this will provide new theoretical inside with respect to decomposition numbers and Ringel duality, but also will stimulate the development of the general computational tools.
September 2003

Dr J Levesley
RP150606
Approximation on the sphere using positive definite radial basis functions
£10,817   EPSRC
Since we live on a big sphere (almost) it is important to be able to deal with information defined over either the whole or part of the sphere. Often, for example when we receive information via a satellite, this information is very partial and we might want to reconstruct the information as accurately as possible at points in between samples. Recently, a popular method for such reconstruction has been the radial basis function method. We are interested in looking at some of the theoretical aspects of this method so that practitioners may be confident that the reconstruction is accurate to some given tolerance. Our investigations might also lead to improved computational methods for constructing good approximations.
September 2003

Dr N Ghani
RP15061
Inductive, coinductive types, monads and comonads
£6,000   Royal Society
The efficient representation and manipulation of data is one of the central tasks facing programming language. Type systems aim to achieve amongst other properties (i) abstraction so as to hide implementation details and thereby facilitate modular programming; (ii) expressivity
so as to uniformly capture as wide a class of datatypes as possible; (iii) disciplined recursion principles to provide convenient methods for creating and using data; and (iv) formal semantics to underpin reasoning about the correctness of programs.

One of the best known approaches is that of inductive types which meet three of the four criteria outlined above but fail to adequately capture some important datatypes. This project is at the forefront of research into extensions of inductive types to include coinductive types and higher order versions of both inductive and coinductive types. In the long run, it is anticipated that this research will facilitate the development of better programming languages.
September 2003

MEDICINE FOR THE ELDERLY
Professor T Robinson 
RM143005
The prognostic significance of cardiac barorecptor sensitivity following acute stroke in the COSSAC study

£151,618  Stroke Association
Stroke is the most common life-threatening neurological condition. Cardiovascular disease is the most important cause of the increased mortality observed in stroke patients surviving over six months. The baroreceptor reflex arc is important in the short-term regulation of the cardiovascular system, and interestingly impaired baroreceptor sensitivity is associated with increased mortality in patients surviving heart attack. Baroreceptor sensitivity can be easily assessed by non-invasive beat-to-beat blood pressure monitoring devices, and may be potentially improved by drug treatment strategies. The proposed study will therefore assess if baroreceptor sensitivity can be used as a simple but strong predictor of long-term outcome following stroke in patients recruited to the ongoing Continue Or Stop post-Stroke Antihypertensives Collaborative Study (COSSACS). The COSSAC Study is assessing whether pre-existing treatment for high blood pressure should be continued or stopped in patients for the first two weeks following acute stroke. Therefore, the influence of initial treatment on baroreceptor sensitivity and outcome can also be assessed.
September 2003

Dr M Fotherby
RM61003
Audit of stroke management from secondary to primary care
£15,000   Primary Care Audit Trust
Stroke is a major cause of adult disability in the U.K. Stroke survivors have wide ranging requirements that need ongoing management long after discharge from hospital. These include institution of measures to prevent a further stroke and rehabilitation and support so that optimal recovery is achieved. Making sure that high standards of care are delivered is vital. This audit will assess the care given to stroke patients following discharge from hospital and while back in the community. The standard of care provided will be compared with that set out by the Royal College of Physicians. Results from the audit will allow any deficiencies in care to be rectified. 
September 2003

MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY
Dr B Burke
RM15046
Effect of Hypoxia on interactions between Macrophages and Mycobacterium Tuberculosis 
£20,000   Medisearch
Tuberculosis (TB) is increasing both nationally and internationally. 1 in 3 people worldwide carry this potentially fatal infection. TB is also prevalent in the Asian community in Leicester, and there have been recent outbreaks in several schools in the city. The bacterium which causes TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), infects a type of white blood cell called a macrophage, normally responsible for killing invading bacteria. The immune system limits the infection by surrounding the infected cells with uninfected macrophages, forming lumps called granulomas. This physically contains the bacteria and infected cells, and starves them of oxygen. However, MTB can survive such conditions, and the low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) may actually enhance the ability of the bacterium to resist drug treatment. In this project we aim to determine the effect of hypoxia on the ability of macrophages to detect and resist infection by MTB. 
September 2003

NEPHROLOGY
Dr P Topham
RM63001
Mechanisms of podocyte cytoskeletal remodelling in proteinuric renal disease
£78,110   National Kidney Research Fund
Patients with kidney disease often have large amounts of protein in the urine (proteinuria). This is an important problem because it increases the risk of kidney disease progressing to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or transplantation. Reducing the amount of protein in the urine can slow the rate of loss of kidney function but current treatments are unfortunately incompletely effective. Although new more effective treatments are required their development is hindered by a fundamental lack of understanding of how proteinuria develops.
It is clear however that proteinuria is associated with damage to a specialised kidney cell, the podocyte. Podocyte injury results in a profound restructuring of cell shape and this appears to be critically important to the development of proteinuria.
This research aims to determine how kidney damage leads to structural change in these cells and ultimately proteinuria. The work will focus on a group of small molecules, Rho-family GTPases, that are important regulators of cell shape. The experiments will examine how these molecules regulate the changes in the podocyte in response to injury and how other related molecules interact with them. The function of the molecules will be altered using a variety of techniques in order to determine whether the podocyte response to injury can be modified, and the development of proteinuria ameliorated. In the long term this may have an impact on the treatment of patients with proteinuria.
September 2003

PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY
Dr E J Bunce
RP16118

Kronian magnetospheric and auroral dynamics
£95,586  PPARC
The immense and rapidly rotating magnetospheres of the gas giant planets provide an insight into the general workings of planetary magnetospheres. This research will deal with the fundamental aspects of plasma interactions and electrodynamic phenomena in Saturn’s magnetosphere. The ultimate goal is to address one of the key questions for the Cassini mission: What is the source of momentum in Saturn's magnetosphere, the solar wind or planetary rotation? I will aim to answer this fundamental question through studies of the large-scale magnetic field and current systems, in the main using the Cassini magnetometer data. Coupled with this I will collaborate with other Cassini instrument teams and with the Hubble Space Telescope observing campaign team, in order to examine the influence of the solar wind on the aurora as opposed to internal rotation-driven effects. Overall this suggested work is relevant and timely, and central to the UK’s planetary science agenda.
September 2003

Professor S Cowley
RP16114
Little Earth: A Solar-Planetary Investigation
£30,381  AHRB
The new ACE/AHRB Arts and Science Research Fellowship scheme aims to support collaborative research in arts and sciences. Little Earth is a project involving an interdisciplinary review of the work of Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland. It will be conducted jointly between members of the Radio & Space Plasma Physics group in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, and artist Jo Joelson, a co-director of London Fieldworks, an artist-led organisation that produces large-scale interdisciplinary art projects. The review will facilitate dialogue around the notion that Birkeland’s extensive study of aurora in the early 1900’s has contributed significantly to the current understanding of space weather. It will focus on developments in observation and visualisation techniques from the Victorian era to the present day, from the perspective of both artists and scientists. From this research a series of 3D computer visualisations will be created linking historic and contemporary studies of electromagnetic activity. These works will be incorporated into a digital video installation to be presented in art and science venues nationally and internationally. The installation will represent an exploration of extraordinary ideas and developments in science, technology and the arts which affect how we visualise and understand life on our planet.
September 2003

Professor A King
RP16113
UKAFF - support for running costs
£51,948  PPARC
The UK Astrophysical Fluids Facility (UKAFF) is a national supercomputing facility for research in theoretical astrophysics. UKAFF currently operates a 128 processor supercomputer housed in the 
Department of Physics and Astronomy. This was jointly funded by a total of around £5M from HEFCE and the computer company SGI. Since it launched as a national service in 2001 the facility has been used by astrophysicists from more than 20 UK universities as well as their international collaborators. UKAFF also operates an EU visitor programme funded by the Fifth Framework Programme. Simulations performed on the supercomputer have included star and planet formation, colliding stars and gas being swallowed by black holes. This grant enables continued operation of this highly successful facility. A multi-million pound upgrade to the facility is expected in the near future. Further information, including a list of publications and movies of simulations, is available at www.ukaff.ac.uk  
September 2003

Dr N Nelms, Dr J Pye
RP16110
GERB 1 contingency ARC-2003-002
£9,688   NERC
T
he Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget Instrument (GERB) is an Earth observing payload launched successfully aboard the Meteosat Second Generation satellite in August 2002. It is the first of a series of four instruments that aim to make long-term (15-20 years) observation of the 
Earths radiation budget - the difference between incoming solar radiation and outgoing thermal radiation - as a contribution to climate modelling. The detector focal plane assembly and front end electronics for GERB were developed and built in the Space Research Centre at Leicester University. The first instrument is now operational and returning data to Earth and the latest grant will support further calibration work.
September 2003

PSYCHIATRY
Professor J Lindesay - King's College, MRC Newcastle University, Newcastle General Hospital, University of Manchester, Moogreen Hospital, University of Oxford, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Kingshill Research Centre, Institute of Health Science, MRC Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Psychiatry
RM62001
£173,512   MRC via Kings College London
Most people with dementia develop disturbances of behaviour at some point in their illness, and this sometimes leads to major problems with their care and wellbeing. Although treatment guidelines recommend that behavioural and environmental interventions should be tried first, the commonest response to these problems is treatment with neuroleptic drugs. There is evidence that they are of some benefit, but their use is associated with significant adverse side effects. There is also some evidence that the newer ‘anti-Alzheimer’ cholinesterase inhibitor drugs may be effective for this problem. This study is a large multi-centre RCT of risperidone (an atypical neuroleptic), donepezil (a cholinesterase inhibitor) and placebo, in patients with dementia whose agitation has failed to respond to an initial brief standardised psychosocial intervention. It aims to resolves some of the uncertainties that persist regarding the most effective approach to this difficult and important clinical problem. 
September 2003

SOCIOLOGY
Dr E Annandale
RS140020
Managing the Body: Health and the Experience of Children with Prader-Willi Syndrome
£9,150   Prader-Willi Syndrome Association
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder which as among its clinical sequela an increased interest in food (hyperphagia) which can develop into an insatiable obsession. Unless diet is controlled, weight gain can be very rapid, leading to obesity, disease, and even early death. Through in-depth case studies of families with a child diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, the research aims to provide an insight into the techniques of successful food management.

SURGERY
RM22058
Study of subintimal angioplasty by magnetic resonance angiogram
£19,000   Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation
The Departments of Surgery and Radiology in Leicester were pioneers in using a new technique called subintimal angioplasty to replace bypass grafts in patients with threatened gangrene of the legs. This technique involves making a new channel in the artery to allow blood to bypass blocked arteries. The only way to tell whether or not these new channels remained open was first of all if the leg survived and secondly that the patient improved symptom-wise. In order to find out exactly what happens to these channels, we intend to examine the patients using magnetic resonance angiography, which is non-invasive and will allow us to assess the progress of these angioplasties. The work has been supported by the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and will give us an insight into how we should proceed in such patients in the future. 
September 2003

UROLOGY
Mr B Sherwood
RM60019
Alkaline comet assay as a rapid predictive test of radiotherapy in bladder cancer
£32,000   British Urological Foundation
Bladder is a common disease. Tumours that invade the muscular wall of the bladder account for approximately 30% of such cancers and carry a particularly poor prognosis. Currently, the main treatment options are surgical removal of the bladder or radiotherapy. Unfortunately not all tumours respond to radiotherapy and treatment is unsuccessful in 50% of patients. If the radiosensitivity of a tumour could be predicted at the time of diagnosis, patients with radioresisitant cancer could be advised against radiotherapy and offered surgery. Alternatively, those with radiosensitive tumours could be given radiotherapy. The Alkaline Comet Assay (ACA) measures damage caused to cells by radiation. Using bladder cancer cells grown in vitro, this assay accurately predicts cells survival after irradiation. 

In the present study, we will collect tumour cells from patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer and determine whether the ACA can predict the response of tumours to radiotherapy in vivo. If this were the case, the assay would potentially be of enormous benefit in deciding the optimal treatment for individual patients.
September 2003



Back to [eBulletin] index

News
Features
Out and About
People
Events Diary
Notices
Media Coverage
Higher Education News
Bulletin + Research/Books Supplement
Press Release Archive

 


[University Home][Press and Publications][University Index A-Z][University Search][University Help]

Last update: April 2003 
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
Maintained by: Barbara Whiteman

This document has been approved by the head of department or section.
If you are an authorised user you may edit this document through your Web browser.