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BIOCHEMISTRY
Dr K Brown, Dr G Jones (Oncology)
RM31087
Investigation  of the Biological Relevance of Low Levels of DNA Adducts Derived from Ethylene Exposure
£228,161   European Chemical Industry Council
Under normal living conditions humans are exposed to a wide variety of carcinogenic chemical compounds. Many of these carcinogens (genotoxins) interact with DNA, producing covalently linked products (DNA adducts), which if not repaired may cause a mutation and the initiation of the carcinogenic process. This purpose of this project is to investigate the biological relevance of low levels of DNA adducts, caused by exposure to ethylene oxide, a metabolite of ethylene and know human carcinogen, using human cellular systems. We are interested in the effects of ethylene exposure because it is the most widely used petrochemical in the world and is also formed in humans during normal physiological processes. By quantifying and characterising the amount and types of DNA damage caused by ethylene oxide over a wide dose range and correlating this with the ability of this compound to induce mutations, it will be possible to assess the biological risks to humans associated with exposure to low doses of ethylene.
April 2003

BIOLOGY
Dr D Harper
RM48051
Lakes of the Rift Valley
£42,184   Earthwatch Institute
This research, which has been supported continuously by the Earthwatch Institute since 1987, is quantifying the ecosystem health of three internationally important lakes (designated under the RAMSAR international convention) in Kenya. The waters of Lake Naivasha, Kenya's largest freshwater lake, support one of Kenya's top three economic industries - horticulture. The lake's structure and processes have experienced serious degradation in the past three decades, much of it unrelated to the horticultural abstraction: Harper's research team has quantified the change and put forward firm proposals for management. The waters of Lake Bogoria to the north, are alkaline and caustic, which make it the major feeding ground for up to 2 million lesser flamingos, and give it high biodiversity and economic value through tourism: Harper's research team is investigating the causes of the inexplicable mortality of tens of thousands of birds at irregular intervals, through both the health of the birds themselves and of their food supply, the bacterium Spirulina. The waters of Lake Baringo, adjacent to Bogoria, are fresh, yet loaded with sediment from a catchment eroded by poor soils and overgazing; Harper's team will quantify the loss of productivity in the lake and examine mitigation techniques.
April 2003

Dr D Twell, Dr S Oh
RM48053
Functional Analysis of TIO, an Essential Gene Required for Gametophytic Cytokinesis 
£248,004   BBSRC
Cell division is essential for all living organisms and is completed by the process of cytokinesis, the last essential step in the distribution of genetic information and cytoplasm between daughter cells. In plants, where the cell wall prevents cell migration, asymmetric division is an important mechanism to generate cellular pattern. However the processes which establish polarity, regulate cell partitioning and control final architecture are not well understood. In this regard male gametogenesis, which is also vital for plant fertility, is an excellent system to address these fundamental processes in the context of the whole organism. Asymmetric division at pollen mitosis I is a key event in the specification of pollen cell fate and differentiation. 
To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this asymmetric division we have identified TIO, an essential gene required for gametophytic cytokinesis at pollen mitosis I and is closely related to the human and drosophila FUSED protein kinases which are involved in the hedgehog (Hh) signal transduction pathway. This work combining in planta functional analysis and imaging techniques should allow significant progress in elucidating the molecular mechanisms involved in control of gametophytic cytokinesis.
April 2003

CHEMISTRY
Professor J Percy, Professor E Hope
RP10083
Technology Transfer Forum in Synthetic Fluorine Chemistry
£134,267   DTI/EPSRC/LINK
Organofluorine chemicals impact on almost every impact of consumer life and the country’s economy, through agrochemical, pharmaceutical, semiconductor and telecommunications industries. For example, up to 20% of new drug molecules in clinical trials contain one or more fluorine atoms. The challenge lies in getting the correct numbers of fluorine atoms into the right locations, which is the chemists’ role. 
The Technology Transfer Forum brings the Leicester group together with groups in Durham, Oxford and UMIST; a Technology Translator employed by the Forum will help us to identify the key technologies needed by industry to secure the next generation of important fluorinated molecules. Important issues include the identification of new fluorinated raw materials and the development of chemistries that allow complex fluorinated molecules to be manufactured with minimal environmental impact. We will organise workshops and masterclasses to train young researchers in the key technologies, and will seek to procure long term industrial and EU support to secure UK and European competitiveness on equal terms with the large American and Japanese groups in the field.
April 2003

CHILD HEALTH
Dr J Grigg
RM12032
The Health Impact of Traffic Related Particle Pollution in Young Children
£92,871   Department of Health
This project will determine the association between exposure to traffic-derived particle pollution and i) respiratory symptoms in preschool children, and ii) disease in later childhood. Respiratory health data will be obtained from a cohort of 4,400 preschool children surveyed in 1998 and 2001, and to be surveyed in 2003. Exposure to particles at the home address will be determined in two ways. First, modelled annual particle exposure for the home address will be generated using the Leicester City Council AIRVIRO model. Second, the distance between the home and the nearest main road will be calculated using a digitized road map and geographical information system technology. Modelled particle exposure, or distance from road, will be entered in a multivariate model to test the independent association with the prevalence of wheeze, cough, and NHS use for each survey period. Longitudinal cohort data will be analyzed to categorize children as having one of three distinct types of wheeze; transient early, persistent early and new late onset asthma. The association between lifetime exposure to particles and these phenotypes will also be determined.
April 2003 

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY
Dr M Page
RS16013
The Whittleford Project
£300   British Academy
Dr Mark Page is to visit the Huntington Library in California in order to investigate the parish of Stowe in Buckinghamshire in the Middle Ages. Stowe is well known for its landscape gardens, now in the possession of the National Trust. Their creation in the 17th and 18th centuries led to the abandonment of the village, the site of which is now lost. The archive at the Huntington may reveal the extent of the medieval village and the chronology of its decline following the arrival of the Temple family. Dr Page works on the Whittlewood Project, funded by the AHRB and directed by Professor Chris Dyer in the Centre for English Local History.
April 2003

ENGINEERING
RP12062
Benefits of HVDC Links in the European Power Electoral System and Improved HVDC Technology
£169,454   CEC
A methodology and associated software and hardware tools will be produced to assess the potential technical, economic and environmental benefits and impacts of high-voltage DC (HVDC) transmission in the largely HVAC electrical power transmission and distribution systems of the European transmission network. The project will also assess the potential benefits of using more environmentally acceptable HVDC power cable systems. It will for the first time establish design tools and reliability prediction methods for HVDC cables systems to support compact cable design and assist transmission systems studies. New power cable deployment methods will also be assessed. This will assist the strategic development of the European transmission network, facilitate the trans-European energy market, reduce energy losses and generate environmental benefits.
April 2003

ENGLISH
Professor G Walker
RA12013
Messenger and Communication in Medieval and Early Modern Drama
£2,700   British Academy/Association of Commonwealth Universities
The despatch and arrival of messengers, books and letters are crucial elements in many of the most important dramatic plots of the pre-modern period. Ranging from the Angel who visits the Virgin Mary in the York Annunciation pageant to the envoys who populate the history plays and city comedies of the Stuart stage, messengers provide insights into the profound changes in the material and intellectual contexts of English drama in this period. They also offer insights into wider cultural changes in the period, themselves driven by developments in the organisation, technology, and conceptualisation of travel and communication. This project will examine the conditions those conditions, analysing the ways in which dramatists (from the anonymous authors of the urban cycles in York and Chester to Shakespeare and his contemporaries) staged the commissioning, delivering and interpreting of messages and the personal and social relations they carry. 
April 2003

GENETICS
Dr M Jobling
RM33061
Wirral and West Lancashire Viking DNA Project, Part II
£2,400   BBSRC
If Vikings invaded and settled particular regions of the British Isles, we may be able to see their legacy within the DNA of modern populations of these regions. The male-specific Y chromosome is more likely to have preserved the signal of Viking presence than other parts of our DNA. In this project we extend the BBC's 'Blood of the Vikings' study in the Wirral and West Lancs region, where Viking settlement is known to have been substantial, but where modern population influx has also been great. We plan to analyse the Y chromosomes of men from these regions who also have surnames known to have been present their in mediaeval times, and thus to bypass the recent major population movements in the region that may disturb the relationships between old genes and modern geography.
April 2003

GEOGRAPHY
Dr J Kaduk
RP13012
Old Growth Forest Carbon Balance Stimulated by a Coupled Land Surface, 12C and 13C Cycle Model and Process Evaluation
£5,000   Nuffield Foundation
Concern is growing about climate change caused by greenhouse gases and feedbacks from global carbon stores. In particular, temperature increases might result in CO2 emissions from the biosphere, thus a stronger greenhouse effect and an even stronger temperature increase. Such interactions in the earth system result from a complex web of different processes. To evaluate the impact of climate change on the biosphere, we need therefore well tested process based models describing the response of ecosystems to changes in climate. The research of this project aims firstly at estimating and understanding the car-bon balance of a specific ecosystem, an old growth forest stand, using a model of the energy, water and carbon exchanges with the atmosphere. Secondly, the representations of the different processes in the model are tested against observations from the forest. The simulation of two carbon isotopes instead of only one allows extracting additional information from the observations.
April 2003

Professor A Parsons
RP13005
Jornada Basin LTER IV
£53,238   National Science Foundation via New Mexico State University
The Jornada Basin in southern New Mexico is one of the Long-Term Ecological Research sites funded by the National Science Foundation. Research in the Basin has been undertaken since 1912, and the site has been part of the LTER network since 1982. The current phase of funding (2000-2006) has the overall theme of Linkages in Semi-Arid Landscapes. Within this theme, the aim of this component is to understand the relationship between the flux of water, and its associated sediment and nutrient loads, and the vegetation communities within the research site. To achieve this aim we have installed 98 samplers across vegetation boundaries to measure shallow interrill flow that occurs during summer thunderstorms, instrumented 5 stock ponds that are located within different vegetation communities to record rates of flow into these ponds, and we are surveying a larger number of these ponds to establish rates of sediment infill since they were constructed in 1984. Together, these sets of measurements will allow us to understand the relationships between vegetation and the generation of runoff and transfers of sediment and nutrients between different vegetation communities.
April 2003

NEPHROLOGY
Dr A Bevington
RM146017
Gene-Silencing of the Key Anabolic Amino Acid Transporter Sat2 in Wasting Illness and Related Cardiovascular Disease
£1,995   Peel Medical Research Trust
Wasting illness (particularly wasting of muscle) is a major problem in chronic diseases such as kidney failure, and is an important but poorly understood contributor to the increased risk of heart attack and stroke observed in these patients.
A recently discovered factor which is impaired in this process is the SAT2 nutrient transporter in the outer membrane of muscle cells, which supplies the cells with amino acids from which they make proteins.
The aim of this study (in collaboration with Dr David Lodwick in the Division of Vascular Medicine) is to impair expression of the gene which codes for SAT2 in cultured muscle cells so that the precise effects of this transporter on the functioning of the cells can be determined. 
April 2003

PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY
Dr A Holland
RP16101
Gaia Radiation Contract - Number 55 550
£31,250   ESA via Astrium SAS
In 2010 we anticipate the launch of the European Space Agency's 6th cornerstone scientific satellite mission, GAIA, which will study the precise position (astrometry) and brightness (photometry) of over one billion stars in our galaxy. This mission will be lunched into the L2 point beyond the earth and will be subjected to the ravages of the space weather arising from 
the Sun. The Space Research Centre is leading the assessment of radiation and particle damage on the detectors on-board GAIA, toward ensuring that the accuracy of the scientific results is maintained throughout the spacecraft's 6 year operational life. This work will investigate the damage caused and hopefully develop improved hardness of the detectors to the space 
environment. 
April 2003




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