News in brief

28 November 2017

University of Sheffield academic honoured with national science award

Professor Steve ArmesA scientist from the University of Sheffield has been recognised with a prestigious national award.

Professor Steve Armes, who works in the Department of Chemistry at the University, conducts pioneering work in the field of microscopic polymer particles, which has been recognised by the Macro Group UK committee with the 2018 Macro Group UK Medal for Outstanding Achievement.

His research has potential applications for the development of new cosmetics, laundry products and car engine oils, as well as the long-term preservation of human stem cells.

Professor Armes collaborates with scientists based in the UK, Europe, China, the USA and Australia and also works closely with industrial scientists based at Lubrizol, Ashland, Scott Bader, AkzoNobel, BASF, GEO and Procter & Gamble.

On receiving the award, Professor Steve Armes said: “Over my academic career I have always worked closely with a wide range of industrial companies, in addition to conducting my own curiosity-driven research. Such academic-industrial partnerships always provide us with very interesting problems.

“I am fortunate to lead an excellent team of highly-motivated young scientists who develop highly-marketable expertise during their studies. I accept this award as a tribute to their hard work and ingenuity over many years.”

The Macro Group UK is a joint interest group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry, which aims to encourage and enhance polymer chemistry in The UK.

Chemistry at Sheffield

9 November 2017

How to spot the warning signs of mouth cancer

Learn how to spot the warning signs of mouth cancer and the best ways to protect yourself from the devastating disease at a special event hosted by students from the University of Sheffield.

As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month members of the Sheffield University Dental Students Society (SUDSS) will be taking over a stall at Moor Market on Friday 17 November 2017 to help shoppers learn easy ways to check their own mouth for any signs of cancer and why taking a trip to the dentist is vital.

Students will be on hand to offer free advice between 9am and 5pm.

More than 7,000 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK last year – 30 per cent more than a decade ago. Head and neck cancer is the eight most common type of cancer affecting both men and women.

SUDSS secretary and dental student, Courtney Orloff, said: “We want to get people thinking about mouth cancer.

“It remains a largely preventable disease and it is our duty to make people aware of the ways they can try to protect themselves: stopping smoking and reducing their alcohol intake for example.

“Unlike other cancers which are more common in those aged over 40, mouth cancer is an increasing problem in younger people, whether they have teeth or not!

“We really hope that by going out into the community we will help more people to understand the huge scale of the problem and what we can do about it together.”

This is just one of a number events SUDSS are hosting to raise money and awareness for mouth cancer. The students have hosted a charity bake sale, a special lunchtime lecture, a charity quiz and a netball tournament, as well as selling blue ribbons across the dental school.

Mouth Cancer Action month runs throughout November.

Dentistry at Sheffield

28 September 2017

University of Sheffield wins a number of national patient awards

The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been recognised at this year’s prestigious British Medical Association’s Patient Information Awards in London.

The University, in collaboration with staff from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Optical Jukebox, won in two special awards categories and were runners up in another for its myTube project.

The pioneering online education resource provides information on gastrostomy tube feeding for people living with Motor Neurone Disease and allows patients across Yorkshire to share their personal stories and the difficult care decisions they have made.

A project by the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry, which aims to help children overcome their fear of the dentist, was also highly commended. The self-help guide "Your teeth YOU are in control" includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques for young people with dental anxiety. This project was also shortlisted for a special award for innovative resources aimed at children.

Since 1997 the BMA Patient Information Awards has recognised excellence in the production and dissemination of accessible, well-designed and clinically balanced patient information.

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Vice President and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, said: "We are very proud of the teams from Neurology, Stroke Care and Dentistry at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who won an array of awards at the recent BMA Patient Information Awards ceremony.

"These awards reflect our strategy to provide excellent clinical care and communication and to improve outcomes and quality of life for the patients we serve in Sheffield and South Yorkshire."

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals also came first in the Easy Read award, for producing a series of resources for patients with aphasia who have difficulty swallowing.

19 September 2017

University of Sheffield academic receives grant award to help improve animal welfare in research

A University of Sheffield academic has received over £353,000 in funding to explore approaches to improve animal welfare in research.

Dr Tim Chico and his team, from the Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease, were awarded the grant to develop a zebrafish model for neurovascular coupling (NVC) that could replace some rodent studies and provide new scientific insights.

When studying neurovascular coupling, current models used by animal research institutions generally include rats and mice.

In order to find alternative methods of research, Dr Chico and his team are looking into ways to observe neurovascular coupling in zebrafish, whose brain activity and blood flow can be observed without causing them any pain because of their transparent nature.

Dr Tim Chico said: “The neurovascular coupling response is damaged in a number of important human diseases, including dementia and stroke. It is important to understand neurovascular coupling, and we can now study this in tiny zebrafish.

“Because these zebrafish are transparent we can observe brain activity and blood flow directly without subjecting them to surgery, which is a great improvement over existing studies in mice and other mammals.”

The research grant was awarded to Dr Chico and his team by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), who focus on the replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research.

For more information on the research grant, please visit: https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/developing-zebrafish-model-neurovascular-coupling-nvc

13 September 2017

University of Sheffield evaluation finds specific training for staff makes significant impact on children’s language skills

A team of researchers from the University of Sheffield have found that dedicated training for early years staff has a statistically significant impact on children’s receptive and expressive language skills.

The researchers, from the University’s Department of Human Communication Sciences, completed an independent evaluation of the Talking Matters programme by Elkan, a speech and language training company for education staff and parents.

Their evaluation, which was conducted across 128 nurseries, pre-schools and children’s centres in six areas of England, found that children who received Talking Matters support progressed by an average of seven months in their language development, whilst children in a control group progressed by two months.

Dr Judy Clegg, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “Training pre-school practitioners to facilitate young children's language development is a crucial component of early years provision.

“The study showed that Talking Matters does have a positive impact on young children's language development.”

12 September 2017

PhD student receives two awards in recognition of research skills

A second year PhD student has been awarded two prizes in recognition of her outstanding research skills.

Karishma Chhabria

Karishma Chhabria, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease, was awarded a prize for the ‘best one-minute poster pitch’ at the Sheffield Neuroscience conference in July - a one day event to highlight the different neuroscience research being carried out in Sheffield.

Karishma said: “Each of the sessions had amazing talks by different groups focussing on their particular area.

“It was quite an overwhelming experience to see the depth and breadth of neuroscience research in Sheffield. It makes me feel quite privileged to be a part of it and to have won an award as well.”

Karishma’s second prize was awarded in July for the ‘best 3R's based proposal for replacing rodent models in arthritis research’ at a summer school run by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

The aim of the three-day summer school was to unite researchers from different universities who are all working on NC3Rs funded projects, focussed on the replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research.

Karishma’s PhD supervisor Dr Tim Chico said: ”Karishma is a passionate scientist, and her prizes are evidence of her drive and enthusiasm. I am sure she will continue to win lots of awards in her career!”

To read the full story visit: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/iicd/news/phd-student-demonstrates-her-skills-and-collects-two-awards-in-the-process-1.728697

5 September 2017

University of Sheffield academic appointed to major advisory role in the House of Lords

Matthew FlindersA University of Sheffield professor has been appointed Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Participation.

Professor Matthew Flinders, Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University, will advise the new cross-party committee, which has been established to undertake a major review of citizenship in the 21st century.

A Call for Evidence has just been published and the committee plans to publish a final report with recommendations next March.

Professor Flinders said: “There has arguably never been a more important time to reflect upon the nature of citizenship and civic life in the United Kingdom. It is almost 20 years since Sir Bernard Crick published his path-breaking report on citizenship education and it is therefore fitting that the Sir Bernard Crick Centre is now supporting this important parliamentary committee.”

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, the Committee’s Chairman, said: “We are delighted that Professor Flinders has agreed to act as our Specialist Adviser. I am sure the Committee will benefit greatly from his wide knowledge and experience.”

For further information about the Committee on Citizenship and Civic Participation visit: http://www.parliament.uk/citizenship-civic-engagement

26 July 2017

Dental Schools Council elects new chair from University of Sheffield

Chris DeeryThe Dean of the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry has been elected chair of the Dental Schools Council. 

Professor Chris Deery will take on the new prestigious role in addition to his teaching responsibilities and honorary consultant in Paediatric Dentistry at Charles Clifford Dental Services. He is also currently Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry and chair of the Consultants in Paediatric Dentistry Group.

The Dental Schools Council represents all of the dental schools across the UK and Ireland. Their mission is to produce world-class graduates, innovative research, and to improve the health of the nation through the profession of dentistry.

On his new role, Professor Deery said: “I am delighted to be taking over the position of chair of the Dental Schools Council. We have seen great strides in public dental health over the last decade and these strides are in large part down to the quality of our dental school graduates.

“We must ensure that the high standard of our teaching and training is maintained and that dental education continues to speak with a strong voice.”

He added: “A key issue for dental healthcare is research. We must increase opportunities to conduct research and this includes providing support for those who work in clinical academia. As the recent clinical academic staff survey has shown, progress is being made and we are seeing an increase in the number of dental clinical academics. But more must be done and this will require combined work from organisations across the sector.

“The collective expertise and experience of the Dental Schools Council is essential to facing challenges like this. Professor Youngson has done a fantastic job leading the Council for the last few years. I look forward to continuing this work alongside my dental school colleagues and our colleagues from across dental healthcare.”

Professor Deery was appointed Dean of the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield in 2015. Having joined the University in 2006 as Professor of Paediatric Dentistry, Professor Deery has held several roles within the school including Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching, and Theme Leader for Intermediate Oral and Dental Care. He is currently Programme Director for the MClinDent in Paediatric Dentistry.

He succeeds Professor Callum Youngson, Head of the School of Dentistry at the University of Liverpool, who said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chair and I wish Chris all the best in his new role.

“I look forward to the leadership and experience that Chris will bring and I am excited to continue working with my colleagues to train the future of dental healthcare.”

25 July 2017

Giant floating E.coli sculpture returns to Winter Gardens to celebrate launch of University’s Florey Institute

thumbA giant floating E.coli sculpture has returned to the Winter Gardens to celebrate the official launch of the University of Sheffield’s Florey Institute, which aims to tackle the global problem of antibiotic resistance and infectious disease.

The sculpture, created by installation artist Luke Jerram, is five million times bigger than a real E.coli measuring 28 metres long.

The bacterium has been scaled up to such a size that if a person standing next to it was expanded to the same extent they would be about 9,000,000 metres tall – the equivalent of 29,527,000 feet or 5,592 miles, which is the same as travelling from the UK to Japan.

The use of bacteria is vital in medical research, and although some forms of E. coli can cause illness or even death, it is simultaneously described by scientists as the workhorse of biochemistry, with E. coli bacteria used to replicate DNA, synthesise proteins and as a model to understand the basic principles of life.

The Florey Institute is named in honour of Sir Howard Florey, former Chair of Pathology at the University of Sheffield, who conducted the first ever clinical trials of penicillin – a drug which went onto save more than 82 million lives worldwide. Today, with the efficacy of antimicrobial compounds decreasing globally, and infectious bacterial species becoming increasingly resistant, we need new ways to combat infectious disease. The interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Florey Institute focus on understanding the interaction between ineffective bacteria (pathogen) and our own immune systems (host) to tackle the rising global threat of antimicrobial resistance and reduce the burden of infectious disease.

On 19-20 September 2017, the Florey Institute, in partnership with the Sheffield Antimicrobial Resistance Network (SHAMROK) which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), are jointly hosting a two day symposium ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ in the University of Sheffield's Diamond building which will highlight recent advances in bacterial pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions. The symposium, along with the reinstallation of the inflatable E.coli and a weekend of fun family activities on 16-17 September in the Winter Garden, form a collective programme of events to celebrate the official launch of this flagship initiative funded by the EPSRC.

For more information about the Florey Institute and ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ please visit: www.floreyinstitute.com/thedrugsdontwork.html

For more information please visit https://digitalmedia.sheffield.ac.uk/channel/Krebs%2BFest/67833401

29 June 2017

University of Sheffield scientist receives prestigious Fulbright Award

A University of Sheffield researcher has been awarded the British Heart Foundation Fulbright Award., enabling him to perform research at Stanford University in the United States for one year.

Dr Roger Thompson, clinician researcher and scientist at the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Sheffield, The accolade will enable Dr Thompson to continue research on Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, a condition that narrows the blood vessels in the lungs, which can lead to heart failure.

Through his research, Dr Thompson aims to find out how this narrowing process in the blood vessels is controlled, with the aim of developing a new kind of treatment for the condition.

This is the second award for Dr Thompson who received a JG Graves Research Fellowship last year. He said: “Each week in clinic I see patients with pulmonary hypertension who become progressively breathless despite our best efforts with current treatments. These patients frequently require referral for lung transplantation.

“My long-term aim is to generate new therapies for these patients and improve their quality of life and prognosis. I am therefore excited to be able to continue my research work at Stanford University as a BHF Fulbright Scholar.

“This fantastic opportunity will equip me with new skills that I can bring back to Sheffield, expanding our research portfolio.”

27 May 2017

Archaeology students help schoolchildren unearth a secret garden

ArchaeologyArchaeology students from the University of Sheffield worked with schoolchildren to carry out an excavation to uncover a secret garden.

PhD students Courtenay Crichton-Turley and Rebecca Hearne from the University’s Department of Archaeology helped to direct the dig of an abandoned garden at Broomhill Community Library, Sheffield, with pupils from nearby Broomhill Infant School.

The original heritage garden was installed by designer Percy Cane in the late 1920s, when the library building was a private home for steel magnate Arthur Samuel Lee and his family. Sheffield City Council took over the building to create a branch library in 1957, but the garden fell into disrepair after Yorkstone paving installed by Cane was stolen in 2003.

Members of the Broomhill Community Library group - which took over the running of the facility from the Council in 2014 following cuts to the libraries’ budget - have been working for two years to improve the site.

Archaeological experts from ArcHeritage and students from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology were invited to work alongside the schoolchildren to discover more about the lost garden.

The children, aged six and seven, uncovered items including Victorian pottery and an old clay pipe.

University of Sheffield PhD student Rebecca Hearne said: “It's really important for us to remember as University researchers that knowledge doesn't just reside in the academy; for these young people, the opportunity to dig directly into their past is an exciting one, and one that will hopefully stay with them and inspire them for years to come.

“It's been shown that interacting directly with one's past in this way increases levels of self-confidence, local identity, and a sense of place in individuals - and I'm so excited that we can give these young aspiring Broomhill archaeologists the chance to get down and dirty with their heritage.”

Fellow PhD student Countenay Crichton-Turley added: “We want to make archaeology accessible to everyone and this is a great way to make that happen."

The University’s Department of Archaeology takes great pride in its varied collaborations outside academia which involve schools, colleges, community groups, companies and public organisations both in the UK and across the world.

Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins, Director of External Engagement and Impact in the Department of Archaeology, said: "The recent collaborative excavation in Broomhill shows how archaeology can make links between different sectors of communities, bringing people together to make a real difference to our knowledge of both local history and key places in our environs. Projects like this allow the University to support local communities and show our commitment as a civic institution."

For more information about studying Archaeology at Sheffield, visit www.sheffield.ac.uk/archaeology.

5 April 2016

University of Sheffield reaffirms position as member of the School for Public Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has today (5 April 2017) reaffirmed the University of Sheffield’s position as a member of its School for Public Health Research (SPHR).

The School was established in April 2012 to bring together leading academic centres in England demonstrating excellence in public health research and to complement other NIHR funding streams.

It aims to build the evidence base for effective public health practice including what works practically to improve population health and reduce health inequalities and can be applied across the country to better meet the needs of policymakers, practitioners and the public.

The focus of the School is to continue to have a positive impact on public health, policy and capacity building. It will also continue to integrate with the public health landscape including Public Health England. Funding of £20.5 million - over five years is available to support the School.

Following an open competition, the membership of the School from 1 April 2017 until 30 March 2022 is :

  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Fuse - Research collaboration between Newcastle University, Durham University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University
  • Imperial College London
  • LiLaC – Research collaboration between the University of Liverpool and University of Lancaster
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • University of Sheffield
  • University College London (UCL)

Professor Liddy Goyder, Deputy Dean of the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and School for Public Health Research (SPHR) lead at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted that the University of Sheffield will to continue to contribute as a member of this important national public health research collaboration.”

28 March 2017

Motor neuron disease patients share their stories to help others making life-changing decisions

Jason_LizMotor Neuron Disease (MND) patients from across Yorkshire are sharing their personal stories and giving a unique insight into difficult care decisions they have faced, in order to support others living with the devastating disease.

Their stories will be shared on a pioneering online resource developed by the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and the MND Care Centre, which aims to provide support to patients as well as carers and their families who are facing difficult decisions about care interventions – specifically feeding tubes.

By sharing personal and informative videos the myTube website will offer an insight into people’s real life experiences of living with a feeding tube, patients considering whether to have one fitted, as well as information about potential alternatives so that individuals can learn more about the best option for them. The resource will also be of great value to professional carers and health care practitioners.

MND is a rapidly, progressive neurodegenerative disease which leads to the weakness and wasting of muscles that causes the increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. The disease affects 5,000 adults and kills six people per day in the UK.

As MND progresses it can lead to problems eating. This can result in weight loss, chest infections and even episodes of choking.

Jason Liversidge and his wife Liz feature in the myTube videos with their two daughters Lilly and Poppy.

After being diagnosed with MND in 2013 at the age of 37, Jason found mealtimes became very stressful and he began losing weight very rapidly.

Speaking in one of the innovative videos Jason from Rise near Skirlaugh in East Yorkshire, said: “It was a bit of a shock to start with having a tube fitted, but I think all in all it took me about a couple of days to come round to the idea.

“It doesn’t make a great deal of difference to your physical state – it is more a mental thing of knowing you’re going to have a hole in your stomach. But once you’ve got it, you don’t know it is there – it doesn’t interfer in your life. It is a bit of a no brainer.”

Professor Chris McDermott from SITraN will also be discussing his research into MND and the importantance of developing the myTube resource.

Professor McDermott said: “One of the common misconceptions is that once a person has had a feeding tube fitted they can’t eat anymore. That’s not true, people can continue to eat regardless of whether a feeding tube is in place as long as it is safe for them to do so and they continue to enjoy eating.

“People quite naturally are apprehensive or fearful of things they don’t understand, particularly if there is an operation involved. So to help and support people through the decision it is about giving accurate information, giving patient’s time to reflect on the information and ask questions.

“One of the purposes of putting this website together is to help support people in making those decisions.”

To find out more about myTube and the patients involved in the project please visit http://mytube.mymnd.org.uk/

9 March 2017

What’s the key to keeping your kidneys healthy?

Kidney thumbThe University of Sheffield is hosting a series of health checks and lifestyle advice workshops at the Students' Union to mark World Kidney Day (9 March 2017).

Experts from the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health will be helping to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease, which causes more than 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, and provide vital advice on how to keep your kidneys healthy.

Our kidneys filter around 180 litres of blood of waste and toxins every day. Not only do they produce urine but they play a key role in blood pressure control, keeping bones strong and healthy and preventing anaemia.

Andrea Fox, from the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “World Kidney Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about what the kidneys do and how to look after them.

“Kidneys do far more than filter the blood and produce urine. They help keep the bones healthy, maintain body pH, control blood pressure and ensure we have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.
“When the kidneys fail it has a profound effect on the individual physically, psychologically, socially and often financially.”

Health checks and kidney care advice will be available in the Students' Union Plaza between 1pm and 3pm today (Thursday 9 March 2017).

Albert Ong, Professor of Renal Medicine at the University, will also be taking his research lab on the road with a number of hands on experiments at a special public seminar from 5pm-7pm at the Medical Education Centre, Northern General Hospital.

Staff and students at the University’s Medical School will also be hosting health drop-in sessions along with a spin-bike-a-thon throughout the day in order to raise money for the Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

Ways to improve kidney health include:

• Monitor your Blood Pressure – High blood pressure accelerates kidney damage. To protect yourself from kidney disease you should also maintain a diet low in salt and saturated fats.
• Keep well hydrated – This helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which can significantly lower the risk of developing kidney disease.
• Keep fit and active – This helps reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of kidney disease.
• Don’t smoke – Smoking slows blood flow to the kidneys, decreasing their ability to function properly.
• Eat healthily and keep your weight in check – This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with kidney disease.

For more information about World Kidney Day please visit http://www.worldkidneyday.co.uk/