Climate research a highlight in new NERC funding

The University of Leeds has been awarded £3 million by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to shed light on why the climate is warming at an uneven rate with pronounced pauses and surges. The project, which will be led by Professor Piers Forster from the School of Earth and Environment, is funded via NERC’s new ‘highlight topics’ – one of the research council’s new ways of funding strategic research.

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Leeds to be leading centre for precision medicine

The Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP) has been involved in an initiative to bring a centre of excellence in precision medicine to the city, the government has announced. Precision medicine uses diagnostic tests and data-based insights to understand a patient's disease more precisely and so select treatments with more predictable, safer, cost-effective outcomes. The UK’s research and clinical expertise, combined with government’s major investment in relevant research infrastructure, has placed it in a leading position in this area. The Leeds centre, which will run alongside other similar centres in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and Oxford, was compiled by the LAHP, a consortium that brings together ten statutory organisations in Leeds -- the city’s six NHS organisations, its three universities and Leeds City Council – into a formal partnership.

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Reducing the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is investing £1.4 million in the University of Leeds to help counteract the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes. The new funding, announced on Friday 23 October, is part of the BHF’s new research strategy which commits to spending over half a billion pounds on research in the next five years. Professor Mark Kearney, from the School of Medicine, is leading a team looking at ways to help protect people with diabetes from an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Dreaming of a good night's sleep

New research from the University of Leeds has revealed that some people are losing more than 15 day’s worth of sleep a year. The study showed that more than a quarter of the British population suffer from dangerously low levels of sleep - with many sleeping as little as five hours per night - and that it could harm their health. Despite aiming to undertake around eight - nine hours sleep a night, 30 to 50 year-olds were the most likely group for being in debt to their sleep body clocks. 

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How can we build wildlife-friendly roads and railways?

Scientists behind new research into the effects of transport infrastructure on biodiversity have developed much-needed approaches to protect wildlife. A Defra-funded study, conducted by a team from the University of Leeds led by Professor John Altringham, sets out best practice principles for assessing the impact of new roads and railways on bats, as well as the effectiveness of mitigation measures installed to help them cross safely. These new survey methods should improve the efficiency of planning processes, thereby benefitting both developers and wildlife. The researchers’ report also highlights the need for a more rigorous, evidence-based approach to protecting wildlife during development. 

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Is the end in sight for reading glasses?

A University of Leeds researcher is developing a new eye lens, made from the same material found in smartphone and TV screens, which could restore long-sightedness in older people. As people age, their lenses lose flexibility and elasticity. This leads to a condition known as presbyopia, common in people over 45 years old, and can require optical aids, such as reading glasses. Devesh Mistry, a postgraduate research student in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is now working with liquid crystal to create a truly adjustable artificial lens.   

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Learning the right lesson from Mendel's peas

Biologists arguing about whether the results of experiments by the man hailed as the father of modern genetics are "too good to be true" have been distracted from a more important debate. In a new paper in Science about Gregor Mendel, the 19th century Austrian monk whose experiments on peas revealed the basic principles of heredity, University of Leeds science historian Professor Gregory Radick suggests the time has come for a different perspective on the controversy, which over the years has encompassed allegations of fraud and Cold War political pressure.

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Leeds wins £4.2m funding to develop robot fixers of the future

The University of Leeds is leading a pioneering £4.2m national infrastructure research project with the vision of creating self-repairing cities. The project will develop small robots to identify problems with utility pipes, street lights and roads and fix them with minimal environmental impact and disruption to the public.The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and was announced on Friday 16 October by the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson. The team also includes researchers from some of the UK’s other top universities including Birmingham, Southampton and UCL, with Nottingham, Sheffield, Oxford and Imperial as supporting partners. 

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Supercoiled DNA is far more dynamic than the “Watson-Crick” double helix

Researchers have imaged in unprecedented detail the three-dimensional structure of supercoiled DNA, revealing that its shape is much more dynamic than the well-known double helix. Various DNA shapes, including figure-8s, were imaged using a powerful microscopy technique by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in the US, and then examined using supercomputer simulations run at the University of Leeds. As reported online on 12 October in the journal Nature Communications, the simulations also show the dynamic nature of DNA, which constantly wiggles and morphs into different shapes – a far cry from the commonly held idea of a rigid and static double helix structure.  

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CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing Holds Launch Conference on ‘Creating Age-Friendly Community'

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Ageing held a Launch Conference on ‘Creating Age-Friendly Communities’ on 8 October 2015 to enable experience sharing and discussion on various aspects of the theme. Topics covered in the conference included: Redesigning Communities for Aged Society, Frailty and Geriatric Syndromes, and Age-friendly Hospital and Service. The event attracted some 300 renowned academics in gerontology from the U.S., Singapore, Japan, mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as representatives from organizations working on improving seniors well-being and welfare.

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