Scientists win grant to pursue antibiotic research targeting £10m Longitude Prize

A team of scientists has won coveted research funding as part of an international competition which aims to conserve antibiotics for future generations and revolutionise the delivery of global healthcare.

The team, led by innovation company EDPAL together with University of Lincoln microbiologist Dr Ron Dixon, has won a grant from the Longitude Prize Discovery Awards – a seed-funding programme to help teams compete to win the Longitude Prize.

The Longitude Prize is a global challenge with a £10m prize fund that will reward a competitor who can develop an affordable, rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic test for bacterial infections. The winning point–of–care diagnostic test will help health professionals worldwide administer the right antibiotics at the right time, and it is hoped that it will ultimately help to solve the problem of antibiotic resistance.

The challenge is run by innovation foundation Nesta and supported by Innovate UK as funding partner.

From hundreds of entries, the EDPAL and Lincoln team was one of only 13 winners in this round of funding, with just three others based in the UK. Funding for the 2017 Discovery Awards draws on a grant of £250,000 from MSD, a global healthcare company. Each team awarded funding throughout the competition will progress their research and be assessed by the Longitude Committee (made up of leading experts from across the scientific and industrial world) until a winner of the £10m prize is chosen.
The EDPAL and University of Lincoln team hopes to develop a new system which will help doctors quickly and accurately identify the right antibiotic to tackle different bacteria. If realised, this tool will be invaluable in guiding specific antibiotic treatments for bacterial infections, helping to reduce the spread of drug resistance.

EDPAL was formed by two chemists, Dr Keith Edmondson and Mr Mike Palin, with extensive experience of research and development in wool chemistry and technology. Their appeal to work with microbiologists to pursue their entry idea for the Longitude Prize was met by Dr Ron Dixon, Reader in Biomedical Sciences in the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, who worked with one of his students on promising preliminary tests.

Having secured prestigious Discovery Awards funding, the team’s work will now focus on examining the proteins in bacteria and how they interact with other substances. Specialists from EDPAL already understand how proteins in wool can form a variety of colour complexes with other chemicals, and the team will use this knowledge to devise a colour-based test for bacteria proteins. This test would allow them to correctly and accurately identify particular types of bacteria, and in turn could help health professionals to select the correct antibiotic so that they know it will be effective in tackling an infection.

Clinicians often prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics to sick patients because they have to act quickly on imperfect information, however treating a condition with the wrong antibiotic can help bacteria build up immunity to drugs and therefore contributes to the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Keith Edmondson, Managing Partner of EDPAL, explained: “The development of antibiotics has been vital to improving human health, yet the rise of antimicrobial resistance is threatening to make them ineffective in the future. In the long term our work will not stop the misuse of antibiotics where no regulation of their use is present, but it will provide a tool for the focused prescription of the correct antibiotic and thereby significantly slow the increase in antibiotic resistance. This will allow additional time to develop new antibiotics and ensure that they are useful for a longer period. Hopefully this will persuade drug companies that it is well worthwhile investing in new antibiotics for the future.”

Dr Ron Dixon, Reader in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln said: “The proof of concept for the project was developed in our laboratories by one of our Forensic Science students, supported by myself and PhD researcher Joe Brown, and the initial results were very encouraging. The Discovery Award funding will now support a dedicated researcher working on this for the next 18 months, and we look forward to progressing this exciting work. We are ultimately working towards a more intelligent use of antibiotics, enabling a future of more effective prevention, targeted treatments and smart clinical decision support systems.”

The World Health Organization estimates that antibiotics treatments add an average of 20 years to all of our lives. But in the 80 years since the discovery of penicillin, overuse of antibiotics has put pressure on bacteria to evolve resistance, leading to the emergence of untreatable superbugs that threaten the basis of modern medicine.

Dr Dixon at the University of Lincoln has been researching the mode of action and resistance of antibiotics for the past 30 years, and fellow academics from Lincoln’s Schools of Pharmacy, Life Sciences and Chemistry are also leading a study into the development of Teixobactin – a ‘game-changing’ new antibiotic capable of tackling superbugs without detectable resistance.

For more information on the Longitude Prize competition, visit: www.longitudeprize.org  

The School of Life Sciences ranks highly in NSS 2017 Results

Students have rated the University of Lincoln in the top 20 in the UK for academic support, learning resources and learning community and was also ranked in the top third of institutions in the UK for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017.

The School of Life Sciences scored highly, with rankings listed below.

  • BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare (NSS subject area – Animal Science) – Animal Sciences at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for academic support, with 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare stating they are satisfied overall according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (NSS subject area – Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry) – Biochemistry at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for overall satisfaction and learning resources, second for academic support, and third for learning community according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biology (NSS subject area – Biology) – Biology at the University of Lincoln ranked in the top 20% in the UK for academic support and learning opportunities, with 100% of students stating that staff are available when they are needed according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science (NSS subject area – Other subjects allied to Medicine) – 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science at the University of Lincoln agreed the course was intellectually stimulating, and the subject ranked in the top 20% in the UK for academic support according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Biovetinary Science (NSS subject area – Animal Science) – Animal Sciences at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for academic support, and 100% of students studying BSc (Hons) Biovetinary Science stated they have access to course-specific resources when needed according to the National Student Survey 2017.
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology (NSS subject area – Zoology) – Zoology at the University of Lincoln ranked number 1 in the UK for assessment and feedback, learning opportunities and organisation and management, and second in the UK for academic support, learning community, learning resources and student voice according to the National Student Survey 2017.

Find out more about the School of Life Sciencesor take a look at our Undergraduate Programmes on offer.

RSC’s first female president to share career insights

The first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry will be revealing how science has shaped her life and career in the University of Lincoln’s Be Inspired! lecture series.

Professor Lesley J Yellowlees, who was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to science and a CBE in 2014 for services to chemistry, will deliver her talk ‘What did chemistry ever do for me?’ on 22nd July, 2014.

It is the second free public lecture in the Be Inspired! programme, which will see world-leading female scientists visiting the University to speak about their research.

Professor Yellowlees is the Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and in 2012 became the first woman President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a post she will hold until July 2014.

She said: “As the first woman president of the Royal Society of Chemistry in its 171-year history I am passionate about inspiring and increasing the numbers of women studying and working in the sciences. It is of great concern that the majority of women with qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects do not work in STEM areas. The consequence is a serious loss to the economy and to the subject area.

“I have had a very positive experience in Chemistry and try and make it a priority to remember the help and support I was given and to give back. Statistics, observations and recollections will all feature in the presentation.”

Belinda Colston, Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Lincoln, said: “Professor Yellowlees’ visit follows an inaugural lecture by Dr Dawnie Steadman, Director of the Forensic Anthropology Centre at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, US, which saw 180 people attend.

“Professor Yellowlees is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by women in science and she will be sharing her experiences with students and staff in a special seminar during her time at the University.”

Professor Yellowlees’ lecture will take place at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 22nd July in the EMMTEC on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Campus.

Admission is free but attendees should register in advance. To book a place call the University of Lincoln Events Office on 01522 837100, e-mail events@lincoln.ac.uk or visit the website www.lincoln.ac.uk/events

 

Inspiring the next generation of scientists

A giant planetarium, mock crime scene investigation, a special lecture by a TV wildlife expert and the chance to get up close with some reptiles are just some of the activities planned by the University of Lincoln as part of a national festival of science.

National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) from 14th to 23rd March is a ten-day nationwide celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths, with events and activities aimed at people of all ages.

The University of Lincoln is opening its doors to the public, with a variety of activities on offer for anyone with an interest in science.

Organiser Dr Ciara Casey, from the School of Life Sciences, said: “The University of Lincoln has a world-class reputation for innovation and scientific enterprise. Our ever expanding College of Science is testament to the quality of academic research being undertaken in this area, and we are delighted to be a part of National Science and Engineering Week.”

The Polestar Planetarium offers an exciting exploration of the Cosmos, with specialist projectors creating a 360 degree, hemispherical image of the night sky and large, hi-resolution NASA images. Based in the Main Administration Building of the Brayford Campus, there will be five presentations available to book on to every day between 17th to 21st March.

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham will be visiting the University to host an exclusive question and answer session for students and staff, followed by a public lecture which was fully booked within hours.

An Interactive Science Zone will run from 2pm to 6pm on 19th March, with activities and stands providing a great opportunity for families and schools to explore science in a friendly atmosphere.

As part of this a crime scene tent and forensic table will enable visitors to carry out their own fingerprinting, examine real human bones and discover the life that lives in your teeth!

Also putting in an appearance is ERWIN the ‘friendly robot’ as well as live dog training sessions, animal skulls and fossils displays and interactive chemistry and ecology activities.

On 20th March come and see our red-footed tortoises for a hands-on workshop looking at how these reptiles understand the world around them.

Public lectures include the consequences of training pet dogs with electronic collars and the life and love of black grouse, the successful evolution of a group of South American lizards and how male grouse have evolved to contend with the demands of the female of their species!

Academics will also be out and about in schools, delivering master classes in Engineering, Forensic Science and Chemistry.

To book a place for the Polestar Planetarium please call 01522 837100 or e-mail events@lincoln.ac.uk

To book on or to find out more about any of the other events and activities, please contact us on 01522 835388 or e-mail ccasey@lincoln.ac.uk

For more information on when and where each activity is taking place go to http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/campuslife/whatson/eventsconferences/event,name,30000,en.html

Students from the School of Life Sciences were given a special insight into the work of worldwide pharmaceutical company, Novartis.

The 15 students and one lecturer visited the chemical operations arm of the company in Grimsby, where they were given a guided tour of the laboratories and the reactor floor.

The students were also shown demonstrations of various analytical techniques and were given first-hand accounts from four employees about what it is like to work in the pharma industry, entry requirements and routes of progression.

Novartis visit 1