HAS Research Blog


Just showing posts from September 2010

Research image of the month #2: Bioluminescent bacteria 

Posted by Kathleen Steeden | 1 comment

We actually have an image and a video this month, courtesy of Dr Gareth Robinson in the Department of Applied Sciences. The photo above shows a plate of glowing Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria viewed under a low light imaging camera for 0.5 seconds.

Bioluminescent bacteria can be used as an excellent reporter of metabolic activity and have many applications in scientific research, from checking food is heated thoroughly to testing the effectiveness of antibiotics. Dr Robinson is working with Dr Darren Reynolds, Dr Robin Thorn and PhD student Dann Turner on research that uses bioluminescent bacteria to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel disinfectant.

Speaking about the applications of bacterial bioluminescence in research at UWE Dr Robinson said, “We use the DNA from naturally occurring bioluminescent bacteria, (like those in the light organs of deep sea marine creatures), and transfer it to disease causing bacteria to make them glow. Our current research uses bioluminescent bacteria to evaluate the effectiveness of electrochemical solutions as disinfectants that could potentially be used in hospitals. If the disinfectant kills the bacteria then they stop glowing, either due to the destruction of the cell or because they stop metabolising.”

Click on image to view video clip of bioluminescent bacteria growingThe time-lapse video clip on the right, recorded with a low light camera, shows genetically modified bioluminescent E. coli growing on an agar plate overnight.

For more information contact Dr Gareth Robinson

Also see our interview about bioluminescent bacteria with Professor Vyv Salisbury

International Nursing Conference Beijing 2010 

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Did you know that..?

  • The Chinese have to pay at point of delivery for healthcare
  • The healthcare system in China is hospital centric with poorly developed provision for community care
  • China has only 1.39 nurses per 1000 population (the US has 9, France 8 and Norway 16).

These are some of the facts that Dr Antonia Beringer (above) from the Centre for Learning and Workforce Research learnt when she presented the 'Education for practice' paper at the International Nursing Conference Beijing in August 2010.

The Conference was held to celebrate the 90th anniversary of nursing education at Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and saw over 600 delegates attend, the majority from mainland China but joined by visitors from other countries including Denmark, Finland and Portugal.

Keynote speakers included Health Ministers of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Party, Dean of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, USA, and Dean of Nursing at Sydney University, Australia.

A workforce shortfall, plus the need to respond to changing disease patterns related to increasingly western lifestyles, has created strong support from the PRC Party for better resourced nurse education and professional development. Consequently Chinese universities and hospitals are looking to the US and Europe for models of care delivery and nurse education. Although PUMC Beijing has established collaborations with Johns Hopkins University (US) and Metropolitan University (Denmark), the conference revealed that there are opportunities to set up collaborative links with cities in other provinces.

Speaking about the experience Dr Beringer said, "The Conference had a real celebratory atmosphere. The event was a marvellous opportunity to share ideas and experience with colleagues working in such a different healthcare system but facing similar challenges, such as the shortfall in the nursing workforce. The presentation of the Education for Practice project was well received, although it was quite a challenge to speak to Chinese slides - for which I am indebted to Vanessa Luk of RBI and her translation skills. The trip has made me aware of opportunities for cooperation and collaboration well beyond my usual horizons. A really memorable experience."

For more information contact Dr Antonia Beringer

HLS academic featured in New Scientist 

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Dr Priscilla Heard, a neuropsychologist from the Department of Psychology at UWE, has been featured in a New Scientist article about painting techniques that trick the brain. Trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) effects are used by artists to create the optical illusion of depth on a flat surface. Through clever use of shadows and perspective artists can fool the viewer’s brain into perceiving a 3D object. In the article Priscilla explains why these visual ‘tricks’ work.

The New Scientist feature follows Priscilla’s involvement in curating an exhibition about trompe l’oeil art –  'Art and Illusions, Masterpieces of trompe l'oeil from antiquity until the present', which was held at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence from October 2009 – January 2010.

Read the full New Scientist article online here

Visit the Palozzi Strozzi website to read about the 'Art and illusions' exhibition

Winter 2010 Research seminar programme 

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The Health and Life Sciences Research seminar programme for the 2010 Winter term is now available online.

Seminars take place on Wednesday lunchtimes from 1-2pm at either Glenside or Frenchay campus and everyone is welcome! We have an exciting programme this term with internal and external speakers presenting on a range of topics from drugs for diabetes to the relationship between appearance and exercise.

See our Research events webpage for details of forthcoming seminars.

Centre for Research in Biomedicine Review Day 2010 

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The Centre for Research in Biomedicine (CRIB) held their annual Review Day at UWE on 6 September 2010. The event brought together over 60 delegates with a range of biomedical research interests. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Gough delivered the opening address, which summarised CRIB’s key achievements, and highlighted the importance of quality research for the next Research Excellence Framework. Director of CRIB, Professor Olena Doran said: “The Biomedical research carried out by CRIB is one of UWE’s strategic priorities. The Review Day demonstrated the diverse, collaborative and multidisciplinary character of CRIB research, as well as our international profile. It also gave the Centre members a chance to identify our future challenges and goals”.


Clockwise from top left: Professor Olena Doran, CRIB Director, speaking at the Review Day; stands; delegates discussing a poster; Professor Richard Luxton, Director of IBST, delivering a presentation; the stand of TOCRIS Bioscience, one of the event sponsors; Sarah Dean with her winning poster.

The event included presentations from guest speakers, three sessions with oral presentations, and a poster session. The guest presentations were given by:

  • Professor Jeff Holly, Professor of Clinical Sciences and Head of Research at the Department of Clinical Science
  • Professor Elek Molnar, Professor of Neurosciences at the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, University of Bristol
  • Professor Richard Luxton, Director of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology.

The guest speakers gave excellent scientific presentations and highlighted the importance of ongoing collaboration between UWE and the University of Bristol in which CRIB plays a key role. Professor Luxton spoke about strengthening the links between IBST and researchers and outlined the support which IBST can provide to Research Centres. Speaking about the importance of this Professor Luxton said “There are new opportunities for researchers in CRIB to develop industrial collaborations and disseminate their research findings to wider audiences which could result in further funding opportunities and support to commercialise innovation”.

The event sponsors, TOCRIS Bioscience, Fermentas Life Sciences, Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology and Appleton Woods Ltd, donated  prizes for the best posters and presentations. The prizes were awarded to:

  • Jennifer May – 1st presentation prize ‘An in vitro model of chemotherapeutic damage to mesenchymal stem cells’ (J.May, R. Morse, J.Xu, N. Avent, Ch.Cox, S. Febrey, S. Wexler and C. Donaldson). 
  • Lynda Matthews – 2nd presentation prize ‘Measles! Mumps! Rubella next? An audit of rubella susceptibility in pregnant women’ (L. A. Matthews, L.M. Lawrance, D. Gray, S. Gray).
  • Sarah Dean – 1st poster prize ‘The expression of FAB7 in triple negative breast cancer cases from Malaysia’ (S. Dean and A. Rhodes).
  • Dann Turner – 2nd poster prize ‘Monitoring of infection and lysis by bacteriophage using bioluminescent bacterial reporters’ (D. Turner, R. Smith, D. Reynolds).

Congratulations to all the winners!