News in brief

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 schoolchidren 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/