University researchers secure nearly £1 million funding
Fri, 27 Jul 2012 09:56:00 BST
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have recently secured nearly £830,000 in funding from sources including two major research councils and the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.
Dr Anastasia Callaghan, from the School of Biological Sciences, and Dr Gary Fones, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, were awarded grants by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) respectively, while Professor Arthur Butt and Dr Sassan Hafizi, from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, have been awarded funding from the MS Society.
Dr Callaghan will use the grant to investigate the chemical reactions of enzymes which control the metabolic rate and are responsible for the self regulation of living cells.
Dr Callaghan said: “Understanding the process that occurs in these cells could pave the way for exciting future developments. If we can control metabolic rates artificially, we could optimise chemical reactions and improve both the time and cost efficiency of processes across the pharmaceutical, food and fuel industries.”
Dr Fones will investigate the effect of random and temporary increases of rain water on phosphate and nitrate concentration levels in estuarine waters. He said: “The level of these nutrients has a significant impact on the environment and ecosystems in and around estuaries” He added “Knowing how sudden increases of rain water impacts on water quality in estuaries will help inform ways that we can make it safer for both humans and wildlife who use and inhabit the area.”
Professor Butt and Dr Hafizi have been awarded funding to support a three-year PhD studentship to investigate the effect of cell damage caused as a result of MS. Looking at the effect of the disease on cells which produce myelin, an insulating layer that helps nerve fibres transmit signals, Professor Butt and Dr Hafizi will undertake research into stem cells found in the brain and spinal cord, which could be used to reproduce cells that help generate myelin. Understanding this process could enable future therapies to be developed that can promote the cellular repair mechanisms necessary for improving the cognitive and motor functions of MS sufferers.
The acquisition of the BBSRC and NERC grants takes the total awarded to the University by research councils to nearly £2 million in the past twelve months, smashing the £1.2 million awarded in 2011.
Professor Tara Dean, Director of Research, said: “I am delighted that researchers at the University have been awarded this level of funding and are getting the recognition they deserve in their areas of expertise. Our achievement in securing these applications demonstrates the breadth of research being undertaken at the University and I am confident we will continue to build on these successes.”