Festival of Postgraduate Research - Preview no.5
Thursday is our annual Festival of Postgraduate Research. A chance for some of our best postgrads to present posters of their work. In the run-up to the Festival, we’re summarising the presentations on Newsblog, grouped into slightly arbitrary bundles.Today we’re taking a look at research in the Departments of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, Infection Immunity and Inflammation, Biology and Biochemistry.
Uncovering the Molecular Pieces in an Ancient Plant Sex Mystery
Michael Borg (Department of Biology)
Humanity is dependent on flowering plants for food, yet there is a fundamental aspect of flowering plant reproduction which remains a mystery, Each pollen grain contains not one but two fertile sperm cells, required for a ‘double fertilisation’ of female sex cells within a flower, leading to grains, fruit and seeds. Michael’s research into the molecular pathways which govern precisely how these twin sperm cells are created has tremendous potential for improving food production. He co-authored a paper in The Plant Cell earlier this year on the importance of the DUO1 gene.
The role of p53-dependent microRNAs in cancer prevention
Nadia Sheree Purmessur (Department of Biochemistry)
Short lengths of ribonucleic acid called microRNAs can ‘switch off’ genes and have tremendous potential in the treatment of cancer. Protein p53 is a tumour suppressor which regulates microRNAs, enabling the protein to indirectly control the expression of target genes. Nadia’s research examines the relationship between microRNAs and p53 and how this might be used to further our understanding of cancer.
Fathima Farveen Sharaff (Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation)
Microbial biofilms, sometimes called slime cities, are microscopic communities of bacteria encased and defended by a protective coating of slime. They can cause problems in many situations where they occur, most especially in intravenous (IV) tubes where they can becaused by bacteria reacting with the very drug being administered. Fathima’s research into biofilms will provide a greater understanding of what causes them and how they can be prevented.
A fluid you can breathe?
Nawal Helmi (Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation)
Nawal is researching the use of perfluorocarbons in the treatment of Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA). Perfluocarbons are derived from organic chemicals such as methane and propane but with fluorine atoms instead of hydrogen atoms. Because of fluorine’s massive reactivity, these chemicals can dissolve enormous amounts of oxygen, to the extent that it is possible for a mammal to actually breathe the liquid without drowning. Nawal’s research looks at the possible use of perflurocarbon-based artificial blood in the treatment of SCA, a genetic condition which is diagnosed in about 250,000 babies worldwide each year.
Ipods: as dangerous as jet engines?
Thomas Tagoe (Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology)
Thomas’ research is aimed at understanding how noise exposure triggers hearing loss and tinnitus. In the brain there are some nerves which can activate other nerves (excitatory) and some nerves which can prevent other nerves form activating (inhibitory). Thomas’ RNID-funded project investigates how noise exposure influences these excitatory and inhibitory signalling pathways, in particular whether prolonged exposure to sound can cause a lack of inhibition in the central auditory pathway.
Life on the Edge: balancing the needs of nature and people in the remote north-western Himalaya
Shujaul Mulk Khan (Department of Biology)
Shujaul’s research into a remote Himalayan valley presents a microcosm of how humans and nature interact in mountain ecosystems. About 12% of the world’s population live in mountainous areas which are often home to unique planet species, some of which are used by local populations for food, building etc. Shujaul, who is a Lecturer in Botany at Hazara University, Pakistan, surveyed the local communities in this valley while also studying the plant species present to reveal how human society and distinct flora are able to co-exist.
Fusion vaccines for haematological malignancies, the potential for immunotherapy
Yehia Mohamed (Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation)
Malignant tumours are the second main cause of death worldwide, of which 10% are cancerous blood cells. Treatments available include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell transplantation but Yehia’s research looks at a new approach: immunotherapy. This involves using the body’s immune system to recognise and attack tumour cells just like it attacks pathogens. Yehia is investigating the use of special cells called ‘professional antigen presenting cells’ which could potentially induce white blood cells to attack tumours, providing a possible treatment for blood cancer.
Visit the Festival of Postgraduate Research
The Festival of Postgraduate Research 2011 will be held in the Belvoir Suite on the Second Floor of the Charles Wilson Building between 11.00am and 1.00pm on Thursday 16 June. Entry is free so come along, browse the posters and talk with some of Britain’s brightest young postgrads.
- Preview no.1: Physics and Astronomy, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
- Preview no.2: English, Archaeology and Ancient History, Education, Economics and Sociology
- Preview no.3: Psychology, Medical and Social Care Education, Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Health Sciences
- Preview no.4: Geography, Geology and Chemistry
- Preview no.6: Cardiovascular Sciences