Building Bridges Between China and the World

On 4 April, # international researchers came together at the second WUN China FDI Workshop to examine the progress of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is designed to build knowledge and innovation partnerships and accelerate business development. 

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Cutting fuel costs and CO2 emissions

Cars of the future which advise how to drive more safely and economically could bring significant cuts in fuel consumption and emissions. Eco-driving systems offer visual guidance to drivers, usually built in to satellite navigation systems or via smartphone apps. The systems are not yet widely available, but manufacturers are looking at installing them in their next generation of cars.The ecoDriver project, led by the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds with industry partners including BMW, Daimler, CRF (Fiat-Chrysler) and TomTom Telematics, showed that drivers of cars which had such systems installed saved an average of 4.2% in fuel and CO2 emissions, with an even higher saving of 5.8% on rural roads.

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New study finds vitamin D3 improves heart function

A daily dose of vitamin D3 improves heart function in people with chronic heart failure, a five-year University of Leeds research project has found. Dr Klaus Witte, from the School of Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, led the study, known as VINDICATE. He said: “This is a significant breakthrough for patients. It is the first evidence that vitamin D3 can improve heart function of people with heart muscle weakness – known as heart failure. These findings could make a significant difference to the care of heart failure patients.”

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Unravelling the secret of antibiotic resistance

Scientists from the University of Leeds have solved a 25-year-old question about how a family of proteins allow bacteria to resist the effects of certain antibiotics. Proteins of the ABC-F protein family are a major source of antibiotic resistance in ‘superbugs’ such as Staphylococcus aureus, a group of bacteria that includes MRSA. The findings, published in the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio, provide the first direct evidence of how this family of proteins ‘protect’ the bacterial ribosome, the protein makers in cells, from being blocked by antibiotics.

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CUHK Uncovers Structure and Functions of the Rice YchF-type G Protein

Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, Director of the Centre for Soybean Research of the Partner State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and his team have uncovered the structure and functions of the Rice YchF-type G Protein for the first time. The new findings help improve plants’ defense response and stress tolerance, and maintain a higher agricultural productivity under adverse conditions.

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New funding for livestock research centre

A new government and industry-backed £70million livestock innovation centre has been launched, supported by University of Leeds investment. Bringing together the food industry and researchers, the government has awarded £27.7 million to set up Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIELivestock). It aims to transform the productivity of the UK livestock industry by providing a “one-stop-shop” to drive innovation. The University of Leeds investment has been match-funded by government, giving a total of £7m to help develop its specialist pig research facility. Funding from other industry and research institutions makes up the £70 million.

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Urgent need to transform key food producing regions in Africa

Agriculture in parts of sub-Saharan Africa must undergo significant transformation if it is to continue to produce key food crops. A new study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that maize, beans and bananas are most at risk from climate change. The research is the first to allocate timeframes for changes in policy and practice in order to maintain production levels and avoid placing food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers at risk. Study lead author Dr Julian Ramirez-Villegas from the University of Leeds, who is working with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), said: “This study tells where and, crucially, when interventions need to be made to stop climate change destroying vital food supplies in Africa.

“We know what needs to be done and, for the first time, we now have deadlines for taking action.”

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Using old drugs to treat new viruses

A group of drugs already in everyday use to treat psychosis or depression may also be used to defeat deadly and emerging viruses. Researchers from the University of Leeds found that common drugs in everyday use were successful in preventing a particular virus from infecting cells, by blocking the ion channels that regulate potassium levels in those cells.

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Air quality success, but what about the impact of Brexit?

New research celebrates the success of EU air quality policy, at a time when such policies face an uncertain future because of Britain's European referendum.

The study, led by the University of Leeds, has found that about 80,000 deaths are prevented each year due to the introduction of European Union (EU) policies and new technologies to reduce air pollution. Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, it is the first study to look into the effectiveness of specific EU policies to reduce air pollution across Europe. It reveals that the policies have led to a 35% reduction of fine particles in the atmosphere over the period 1970 to 2010, which has improved public health across Europe. The good news, however, comes at a time when such policies face an uncertain future in light of a potential Brexit.

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Will driverless cars increase reliance on roads?

Researchers warn that driverless vehicles could intensify car use, reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits. Development of autonomous driving systems has accelerated rapidly since the unveiling of Google’s driverless car in 2012, and energy efficiency due to improved traffic flow has been touted as one of the technology’s key advantages. However, new research by scientists from the University of Leeds, University of Washington and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says its actual impact may be complicated by how the technology changes our relationship with our cars. The research, published in the journal Transportation Research Part A, was led by Dr Zia Wadud, Associate Professor in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Engineering and a research group leader in the University’s Institute for Transport Studies.

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