2012 biosciences newsletter

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2012 Biosciences newsletter


  • NewsletterBringing you the latest news from the School of Biosciences at the University of Kent 2011/2012

    School of Biosciences

    Inside this edition3 Kent Bioscience funding in

    top decile

    3 Fellowship successes

    3 New Nuclear Magnetic ResonanceFacility from Wellcome Trust

    4 Major awards from BBSRC andTechnology Strategy Board

    5 Undergraduate applications the healthiest ever

    5 Biosciences welcomes 5 new staff

    5 New Look web site

    6 Leading Scientists come to Kent

    7 Entering the Social Media era

    7 Top ten reasons to be aBioscience student in Kent

    8 Science on the buses

    School newsPage 5

    Visitors and symposiaPage 6

    Art for science sakePage 8

    Research newsPage 3

  • 2 University of Kent School of Biosciences

    Hello and welcome to the first ofwhat we hope will be a series ofannual newsletters chroniclingthe achievements of 2011 andlooking forward to 2012.

    It is just over a year since the managementstructure of the School changed and several newcommittees have now had a year to bed in. In thisnewsletter we will let you know some of the majorachievements of the last year and update you withhow the school is progressing.

    2011 was undoubtedly a hard and draining year.Nonetheless, the achievements of the School havebeen considerable. The grant income of the school has scored some notable successes includingawards to the Centre for Molecular Processing, a new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility thanks toWellcome Trust investment in the School and a large Enterprise grant (from the Technology StrategyBoard).

    There have been numerous original peer reviewed research articles from the School including theones listed (left) this is an amazing achievement for a school in which less that 20 staff are activelyproducing research papers. We welcomed the company Cangenix to the School, reorganised ourlaboratory space and introduced some exciting new teaching innovations including a new researchled undergraduate curriculum and two new Masters courses.

    2012 will be crucial year in terms of getting our submission for the research excellence framework(REF) in good shape and we will be gearing up for a pilot exercise later in the year. With recruitmentbooming and five new academic staff, we are looking forward to a productive future.

    I hope you enjoy this newsletter

    Professor Darren GriffinDeputy Head of School


    Selected top publicationsin 2011McVicker G, Sun L, Sohanpal BK, Gashi K,Williamson RA, Plumbridge J, Blomfield IC. (2011)SlyA activates fimB expression and type 1fimbriation in Escherichia coli K-12. J Biol Chem:286 32026-32035

    Phillips C, Roberts LR, Schade M, Bazin R, BentA, Davies NL, Moore R, Pannifer AD, Pickford AR,Prior SH, Read CM, Scott A, Brown DG, Xu B,Irving SL (2011). Design and structure of stapledpeptides binding to estrogen receptors. J AmChem Soc: 133(25):9696-9.

    Adamek, N, Geeves, M A and Coluccio, L M(2011) Myo1c mutations associated with hearingloss cause defects in the interaction withnucleotide and actin, Cell Mol Life Sci 68, 139-150.

    Gabriel AS, Thornhill AR, Gordon A, Brown APC,Taylor J, Bennett K, Handyside AH, Griffin DK(2011). Array CGH on first polar bodies suggeststhat non-disjunction is not the predominantmechanism leading to aneuploidy in humansJournal of Medical Genetics 48:433-437

    Bloemink MJ, Melkani GC, Dambacher CM,Bernstein SI, Geeves MA (2011) Two Drosophilamyosin transducer mutants with distinctcardiomyopathies have divergent ADP and actinaffinities. J Biol Chem 286, 28435-43.

    Hayes NV, Blackburn E, Boyle MM, Russell GA,Frost TM, Morgan BJ, Gullick WJ (2011).Expression of neuregulin 4 splice variants innormal human tissues and prostate cancer andtheir effects on cell motility. Endocr Relat Cancer.3;18(1):39-49.

    Michaelis M, Paulus C, Lschmann N, Dauth S,Stange E, Doerr HW, Nevels M, Cinatl J Jr, (2011)The multi-targeted kinase inhibitor sorafenibinhibits human cytomegalovirus replication. CellMol Life Sci; 68:1079-90.

    Chu D, Barnes DJ, von der Haar T. (2011 )The roleof tRNA and ribosome competition in coupling theexpression of different mRNAs in Saccharomycescerevisiae. Nucleic Acids Res; 39(15):6705-14.

    Romeo CV, Ladakis D, Lobo SA, Carrondo MA,Brindley AA, Deery E, Matias PM, Pickersgill RW,Saraiva LM, Warren MJ. (2011 ). Evolution in afamily of chelatases facilitated by the introduction ofactive site asymmetry and protein oligomerization.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108:97-102.

    Bali S, Lawrence AD, Lobo SA, Saraiva LM,Golding BT, Howard MJ, Ferguson SJ and WarrenMJ (2011) Molecular hijacking of siroheme forheme and d1 heme synthesis; elucidation of anew branch of tetrapyrrole synthesis. Proc NatlAcad Sci 108: 18260-18265

    BREAKING NEWS...Male pride restored as Y chromosome wins a reprievehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/22/male-pride-x-chromosome-reprieve

    Top photographyawards forBioscience staffPhotography awards for Bioscience staff on page 8

  • University of Kent School of Biosciences 3

    Even in these austere times Biosciencescontinues to beat the odds with good fundingnews in terms of our relative standing comparedto other Universities in the country. Recentfigures published with regard to the totalresearch spend on BBSRC grants, divided bythe total number of staff as reported in the lastRAE puts our own School of Biosciences easilyin the top 10%. This means that our total incomeper staff member is in the same league asManchester, Oxford, Cambridge and most of theother top universities.

    The School is set to receive three major awardshaving led three multi-million pound applicationsto the BBSRC. In the first case, an idea fromEvelyne Deery and Andrew Lawrence hasresulted in the funding of a four year project,linked with Queen Mary (Professor Pickersgill),on a novel way to elucidate intermediates ofcomplex biochemical pathways. The project,which also involves NMR (Mark Howard) andkinetics (Mike Geeves), has importantimplications for system biology approaches to

    metabolism. In the second project, Mark Smalesand Professor Anne Willis (MRC Toxicology Unit,Leicester) have been successful in a two-siteBBSRC proposal entitled Defining novelmechanisms of mRNA translational control uponcold shock in mammalian cells. This award,worth approximately 900,000 at FEC across thetwo sites, builds upon ground breaking workbetween these two groups that has shown howcold specific mechanisms control mRNAtranslation and protein synthesis in mammaliancells upon cold-shock at 27-32oC. This fundingwill allow these two groups to further define thecontrol of translation upon cold-shock inmammalian cells, significantly improving ourunderstanding of protein synthesis under suchconditions, potentially leading to newapproaches to improve protein production frommammalian cells and treatments for heart andbrain damage. In the final project, Martin Warrenand Professor Stuart Ferguson (Oxford) havebeen funded to study a novel pathway for thesynthesis of heme.

    Kent Bioscience funding in top decile

    Dr Dan Mulvihill has recently been awarded a 4 year Royal Society Industry Fellowship todevelop novel technologies to allow rapid live cellimaging. Over the four year period Dan will spendhalf his time working with his industrial partner,Cairn Research Ltd, a company that specializesin the design and production of apparatuses tocapture and record rapid changes influorescence signals. One of the projects heplans to work on is the development of anapparatus that can be plugged into any existingmicroscope and will allow the simultaneouscapture of multiple images through differentdepths of a cell. This will allow researchers tobuild instant 3D pictures of where a moleculelocalizes within a cell, to allow the real-time studyof how molecules move throughout the cell.

    Dr Emma Hargreaves has also been awarded anEarly Career Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trustto work on a 3 year project within the Centre forMolecular Processing. During her studies Emmaintends to further unravel the links betweentranscription and mRNA translation inmammalian cells. Using a cross-disciplinaryapproach she will first determine thestoichiometry of key translation initiation factorsand their interacting partners and subsequentlyapply quantitative data to develop systemsbiology models of translation initiation. UltimatelyEmma plans to use the developed models tounderstand the biology underpinning thedynamic levels of eIFs in mammalian cells.

    Fellowship Awards

    Research news

    New NMR spectrometerA new NMRspectrometer wasinstalled in June2011 following anaward of 456,741from TheWellcome Trust toupgrade thebiomolecular NMRfacility inBiosciences. Thenew spectrometer from Bruker UK willallow Mark Howard and his team to workwith much lower sample concentrations aswell as increasing functionality to includestudies of many novel biomolecules. Thespectrometer, that was custom built toMarks requirements, has a uniqueCryoprobe that will observe hydrogen,carbon and nitrogen; considered astypical biological nuclei, but it also hasenhanced capabilities for phosphorous,fluorine and cobalt. Phosphorous providesaccess to nucleic acids, fluorine forenhanced pharmaceutical drug discoveryand cobalt for the study of vitamin B12proteins and metabolic intermediates.NMR spectroscopy provides detailedanalysis of the structure and dynamics ofbiological molecules and so providescritical understanding of how thesemolecules work.

    VC Challenge Cup ResultAfter many rounds involving members ofstaff and students with bats, balls,shuttlecocks, ping pong not to mentionbroken fingers and hospital visits, teamBiocelona finished in third place in theVCs challenge cup. The Sports Centre arekeen to improve on the event for next year.Everyone clear