HAS Research Blog


Just showing posts from July 2010

Research image of the month #1: Cell membrane 

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The first in our monthly research image series is this striking picture that looks almost as though it could be the atmosphere of a distant planet. In fact it shows the inside of a cell membrane. The cell has been split apart by particle enhanced cell lysis, which involves energising paramagnetic particles (the round balls in the picture) with ultrasound energy and using them to break down cells to capture their contents.

This image is a result of UWE PhD research, which aims to develop particle enhanced cell lysis as a novel technology for rapid diagnosis.

Courtesy of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology

Current Issues in Breast Cancer 

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The one day Current Issues in Breast Cancer conference was held at UWE at the beginning of July. The event was a collaboration between the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology (IBST) and researchers from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences UWE, and was held with support from University of Bristol, University of Malaya Medical Centre, North Bristol NHS Trust and Bristol Research and Innovation Group for Health (BRIG-H).
The aim was to provide an update on a range of issues that influence the management of women with breast cancer. The speakers were international experts in their respective areas and between them touched on topics such as; the influence of diet on metabolic pathways and cancer, epidemiological differences in the incidence of breast cancer, the latest in biomedical research, surgery and therapies, breast cancer recurrence, and inequalities in provision of services and survival.

Pat Turton, a lecturer in Adult Nursing at UWE, Bristol, commented on the event stating that "It is rare that healthcare professionals, scientists and people affected by cancer come together to discuss and reflect on new advances in treatment and in clinical care. Over 100 people attended the event, and the audience was a clear mix of patients, supporters, people involved on the science side, and healthcare professionals. Of particular note was the interest in the presentation 'Breast cancer in Asia' by Professor Chang Har Yip, University of Malaya Medical Centre, which gave a global perspective, as well as the contribution of Professor Jeff Holly to the debate about nutrition and breast cancer".

Prof Cheng Har Yip from the Department of Surgery, University of Malaya Medical Centre who spoke about breast cancer in Asia, with Dr Anthony Rhodes from UWE's Centre for Research in Biomedicine (CRIB).

Pat went on to state that "The benefits of this shared education for professionals and the general public in the changing world of cancer will be increasingly important as people struggle to make good decisions and give helpful advice in these challenging times".

Visit the IBST website for more information about the conference, including photos and details of presentations.

Spotlight on postgraduate research - Anja Dalton 

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Each month we'll be introducing one of our PGR students and interviewing them about their work. This month we meet Anja Dalton who is investigating the low levels of cycling amongst women in the UK.

What’s the title of the project?
Cycling Circles: gender and social influence in UK cycling.

What are the main aims of the research?
I was concerned about the low levels of cycling amongst women in the UK (only one third of cycling trips are made by women) and wanted to find out more about why they weren't cycling.  I was also interested in how people may influence each others behaviour and how people taking up cycling might encourage others to do so as well.

How are you collecting data and how will you use it?
My study is largely qualitative and I am interviewing people who cycle and then conducting focus groups with people who know the original interviewee.  This is a novel methodology, based on social network analysis (SNA) and I am hoping this will enable me to investigate experiences of cycling and the similarities and differences in experince between men and women.  This methodology should allow me to understand more about how social influences and social norms work in relation to cycling behaviour.  I will also be using some secondary quantitative data sets to help pick out patterns in gender and cycle usage.  Initially I will be collecting data for an exploratory study in Bristol and then later this year I will be moving on to Cardiff Bay where most of my research will be conducted.

Who are you working with?
My supervisory team are Dr. Jane Powell (Director of Studies) (HLS), Dr. Paul Pilkington (HLS) and Prof. Graham Parkhurst (Centre for Transport and Society).  I have a lot of contact with colleagues in both health and in transport, which suits an interdisciplinary project of this nature.  I am part of a research consortium called iConnect (Impact of Constructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel) (http://www.iconnect.ac.uk/), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which is a 5 year investigation and evaluation of the Sustrans Connect2 cycling and walking infrastructure(http://www.sustransconnect2.org.uk/).  Connect2 is a Big Lottery funded project which aims to provide links in over 70 communities around the UK to enable people to cycle and walk for everyday journeys.  The iConnect consortium comprises eight academic institutions and is led by Prof John Preston at the University of Southampton.  Jane Powell is the Principal Investigator for this project at UWE and works closely with the partner institutions across the UK. 

What are the applications of the research in the ‘real world’?
The aim is to understand better the barriers to increased participation in cycling by both genders, but particularly by women and to make recommendations to maximise their participation in the future.  Cycling is hard to beat for enjoyment, independence, cost-effectiveness, health and environmental reasons and I hope that in the future many more people discover these benefits as well.  

What’s your background/how did you come to UWE?
After finishing a degree in Environment and Development at Durham University I spent several years working largely in the voluntary sectory in a variety of campaigning, press and marketing roles.  I worked for Oxfam, British Red Cross, Sustrans and Watershed, among others.  I also did an MA in Tourism and Sustainability at UWE and I enjoyed the research for the dissertation so much that it made me think about returning to to a PhD.  

Do you have any plans for after you've complete your research?
I'm not fully decided yet, but my current dream is to return to my roots and work in Berlin for a while, researching cycling and walking there, so if anyone hears of anything...

For further information contact Anja Dalton

From bytes to bites 

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As an initiative between, Bristol Institute of Technology (BIT) and the Centre for Research in Plant Science (CRIPS) a joint research focused workshop took place on 29th June 2010. The workshop From Bytes to Bites hosted by the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology (IBST) was aimed at addressing significant challenges of the present day including sustainable food security, sustainable energy production and the management of biodiversity. 

As expressed by the Director of CRIPS Dr. Neil Willey “Meeting these challenges is increasingly dependent on a combination of technology and plant science- BIT & CRIPS might find much productive interaction by focusing on such challenges.”

The aim of this workshop was to informally discuss research activity in BIT and CRIPS and to identify collaboration and project opportunities. The areas of input from BIT included modelling, data analysis/mining and instrument development.

The integration of the two sets of researchers was facilitated by creating interactive group work. This stimulated identification of the key ideas, challenges and the opportunities for the future collaboration.  Dr Janice Kiely, Director of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology stated, “The workshop was successful, and we all look forward to see the exciting ideas turning into projects. As this definitely is a great example of bridging the gaps between the two diverse research areas”.

For more information contact Urszula Strzemiecka 

Appearance Matters 4 

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The Centre for Appearance Research held their 4th Appearance Matters conference at the historical Wills Memorial Building in Bristol on 22 and 23 June. The conference brought together 168 international delegates, amongst them psychologists, researchers, specialist nurses, academics, postgraduate students, medical professionals, sociologists and charity representatives with an interest in issues around the psychology of appearance.

Clockwise from top left: Prof Nichola Rumsey and Dr Diana Harcourt, CAR directors, with keynote speaker Prof Alex Clarke (centre); delegates networking and admiring the poster displays in the Great Hall; a visitor studies one of the paintings from the Saving Faces exhibition; delegates in a presentation. [Photos courtesy of Paul Hobbs photography]

The event was supported by the charities Healing Foundation and Changing Faces, which fund and assist people living with disfigurement and campaign to change public perceptions of those with visible differences. Saving Faces, the Facial Surgery Research Foundation also lent the conference some paintings by Mark Gilbert that portray patients before, during or after surgery for injury, disfigurement or cancer.

Professor Alex Clarke, Royal Free Hospital London, and Professor Lina Ricciardelli, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia gave the keynote speeches. Across the two days delegates also attended presentations and workshops, which highlighted the scope and quality of research in areas including working with patients, adolescents, user involvement, the impact of new media on body image, young people and visible difference, cancer, weight, interventions and surgery.

Dr Diana Harcourt (co-director of CAR) spoke really positively about this year’s conference: “Worldwide, interest in the psychology of appearance has increased greatly in recent years. The Appearance Matters conferences are an international forum for research across all aspects of appearance and the 4th event has been an absolute success.  As ever, we were pleased to welcome delegates from both clinical and academic backgrounds, and from many parts of the world including Malaysia, the United States, Australia, South America and across Europe and the UK. Our highly respected keynote speakers Alex Clarke and Lina Ricciardelli both spoke engagingly about their research and the workshops and presentations prompted lively discussion amongst attendees. Now we just have to start planning for Appearance Matters 5…”

For more information contact Emma Thomas