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Ebola: lives to be saved with new management approach

Ebola outbreaks are set to be managed quickly and efficiently – saving lives – with a new approach developed by an international team of researchers, including the University of Warwick, which helps to streamline outbreak decision-making.

Dr Michael Tildesley from the School of Life Sciences - with researchers from Penn State University in the USA – have discovered that educating people in areas affected by Ebola about how the disease spreads through communities is the most effective strategy for halting an epidemic.

Read Press Release

Head of Life Sciences shortlisted for BBSRC Innovation Award

LauraProfessor Laura Green, Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, has been shortlisted for an Innovator of the Year award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Nominated in the ‘Social Impact’ category, Professor Green’s research has led to halving the level of lameness in sheep flocks - from ten percent to five percent - in a decade, saving a million sheep a year from becoming lame.

Read Press Release

Bill Gates praises University of Warwick’s impact in fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Speaking at the Geneva summit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), Bill Gates, co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today applauded the efforts of UK scientists in protecting the world’s poorest people from NTDs: “UK aid and Britain’s world-leading research institutions like the University of Warwick are playing a major role in protecting the world’s poorest people from Neglected Tropical Diseases and enabling them to live healthier, more prosperous lives.”

The University of Warwick’s research, which is part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focuses on providing quantitative data on the prevalence of NTDs and the impact of the intervention programmes designed to combat them.

Dr Deirdre Hollingsworth, Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the University of Warwick, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the international effort to rid the world of these terrible diseases. Over the last two years we have made significant progress in understanding how these diseases spread, measuring the impact of eradication efforts and highlighting areas where additional interventions will be required to achieve our 2020 goals. We're optimistic that, with continued coordination and investment, we can protect more of the world’s poorest communities from NTDs.”

Read the Press Release

World TB Day 24 March

On the 24 March 2017 the Fullam lab will be at Cannon Park Shopping Centre from 11:00-19:00.

Come and join us to find out more about TB, and the research that we are doing. There will be the opportunity to talk to people from the lab, take part in a number of competitions to win a tuberculosis petri dish (sponsored by Giant Microbes) and also win a voucher for the best selfie taken in our World TB Day Instaframe that is uploaded to the twitter #WarwickTB. There will be leaflets, balloons and stickers and an interactive activity featuring the 'Big Mouth' clown. Come and join us!

Learn more from our TB video

Any questions, please get in touch with

Producing a rapid diagnostic blood test for stroke to improve treatment and recovery

Sarissa TeamProfessor Nick Dale tells the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) about a point-of-care device for the detection of stroke. Hear what inspired his research, the challenges he faces and the role NIHR has played in his success.

Thu 09 Mar 2017, 13:25 | Tags: Biomedical Science Biotechnology Research

New TB drug candidates developed from soil bacteria

A new treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is set to be developed using compounds derived from bacteria that live in soil - according to an international collaboration of researchers, including the University of Warwick.

The research, ‘Sansanmycin Natural Product Analogues as Potent and Selective Anti-Mycobacterials that Inhibit Lipid I Biosynthesis’ is published in Nature Communications today.

The collaboration was led by the University of Sydney, and included the University of Warwick, Monash University, Colorado State University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Queensland.

Key reagents and expertise in antimicrobial resistance from the research groups of Dr David Roper, Professor Chris Dowson and Professor Tim Bugg at the University of Warwick, played a crucial role in successfully targeting TB bacteria with the new compounds.

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Foot-and-mouth crises to be averted with vaccination strategy

CowResearch by Dr Mike Tildesley and colleagues shows foot-and-mouth epidemics could be controlled quickly and effectively by rapidly establishing how many animals can be vaccinated per day of an outbreak.

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Countering the Courgette Crisis

CourgettesIt seems we are facing a Courgette Crisis. Although it’s really just a bit of a run on green vegetables, it does remind us that actually, courgettes – and now iceberg lettuce – shouldn’t be ‘February vegetables’. This raises some important issues about what we as consumers have learned to expect when it comes to food.

Researchers at Warwick Crop Centre are looking at ways of improving existing UK vegetable and fruit crops as well as looking for completely new ones.

Read Knowledge Centre article 

Breakthrough in stroke detection

Nick DaleProfessor Nicholas Dale and team have developed a unique biosensor technology that has the potential to radically improve the life of stroke victims.

Read full article -The Guardian 22 January 2017

(Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer)

Mon 23 Jan 2017, 15:28 | Tags: Biomedical Science Article Research Faculty of Science

BRAVO: making Brassica crops more resilient

oil seed rapeProtecting the UK’s most valuable crops by making them more resilient is at the heart of a new five-year project, in which the School of Life Sciences will play a key role.

The Brassica, Rapeseed and Vegetable Optimisation (BRAVO) project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), aims to combat losses of Oilseed rape and Brassica vegetable crops by unravelling the processes that control key aspects of plant development.

Read Press Release

Ash dieback: Insect threat to fungus-resistant trees

Ash treeAsh trees which can resist the killer dieback fungus may be more vulnerable to attacks by insects, according to new research.

Scientists from the universities of Exeter and Warwick examined trees which are resistant to ash dieback and – unexpectedly – found they had very low levels of chemicals which defend against insects.

With efforts under way to protect ash trees from dieback, the scientists warn that selecting trees for fungal resistance could put them at risk from insects.

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Deadly sleeping sickness set to be eliminated in six years

deploying_targets_in_drc_photo_by_inaki_tirados.jpgGambian sleeping sickness – a deadly parasitic disease spread by tsetse flies - could be eliminated in six years in key regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Kat Rock and Matt Keeling at the School of Life Sciences, with colleagues in DRC and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, have calculated the impact of different intervention strategies on the population dynamics of tsetse flies and humans - establishing which strategies show the most promise to control and eliminate the disease.

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Warwick School of Life Sciences - Funded PhD Opportunities

The School of Life Sciences combines the University of Warwick’s renowned research and teaching excellence to provide outstanding, diverse and multidisciplinary training in the Life Sciences. World-class facilities and internationally-recognised scientists develop pioneering research ideas and innovations in a wide range of disciplines – from the study of single molecules to models of entire ecosystems. We apply our expertise to solving major global challenges in areas such as food security, disease control, bioenergy, systems biology, neurobiology and climate change. The school has a number of funded postgraduate studentship opportunities to start in October 2017.

Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training (SynBioCDT) – 4 year studentships

This centre is a collaboration between the Universities of Warwick, Oxford and Bristol. We encourage PhD applications from students with a wide range of academic backgrounds, including Engineering, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Plant Sciences, Chemistry, Statistics, Mathematics and Computing.
Warwick SynBio CDT webpage 
Application deadline Round 1: 18 November 2016 
Application deadline Round 2: 13 January 2017

CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership – 3.5 year studentships

Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA) is a consortium of Universities and research institutes that are working together to provide excellence in doctoral research training in Environmental Science. PhD project themes include: Anthropogenic Impact and Environmental Sustainability, Evolution of Organisms and Ecosystems, Dynamic Earth, Organisms, ’omics and biogeochemistry
Warwick CENTA webpage
Application deadline 23 January 2017

Warwick Chancellor's International Scholarship – 3.5 year studentships

This competition is open to Overseas students. Scholarships will be awarded to the most outstanding international PhD applicants. Students are strongly encouraged to identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal before completing an application form. (see the website for a list of some possible PhD projects).
Application Deadline 18 January 2017

MIBTP Doctoral Training Partnership – 4 year studentships

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) is a doctoral training partnership between the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. The MIBTP has an ambitious vision to deliver innovative, world class research across the Life Sciences to boost the growing Bioeconomy in the Midlands and across the UK.

PhD Studentship projects will be focussed in vital research areas such as food security, bio-energy and quantitative biology. Students from a wide diversity of academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Projects are available for those with creative drive in both theoretical (IT and mathematical) and experimental (biology, biomedicine, chemistry, biotechnology) research.
MIBTP website 
Application deadline 8 January 2017

Industrial Collaboration PhD Studentships linked with MIBTP

These studentships are an excellent opportunity to initiate new industrial contacts, develop existing links and help enhance the impact of research. The BBSRC-funded iCASE studentships are designed to provide students with a first-rate challenging research training experience within the context of a mutually-beneficial research collaboration between academic and non-academic partner organisations.
MIBTP website

Lameness treatment guidelines for sheep save UK farmers £700M

Lame lambEvidence provided by researchers, led by Professor Laura Green from the School of Life Sciences, has helped cut the number of lame sheep in the UK national flock by half, saving the industry £700M over ten years and preventing 7.5 million sheep from becoming lame every year.

Read more about the BBSRC funded study

How viruses might influence estimates of global warming

CyanophageThe tiniest life forms on Earth have a big impact on the way carbon dioxide is cycled between the atmosphere and the ocean, new research from the University of Warwick has found.

These life forms are viruses of some of the most abundant organisms on our planet: marine cyanobacteria.

The new research, Viruses Inhibit CO2 Fixation in the Most Abundant Phototrophs on Earth and published by Current Biology, demonstrates that the viruses of these cyanobacteria, cyanophages, use these genes to maintain the so-called “light-reactions” of photosynthesis, while shutting down the “dark-reactions”.

Cyanobacteria have had an incredible impact on the Earth by seeding the atmosphere with oxygen about 3 billion years ago, allowing for the existence of life as we know it. Today, this same process that acts to produce oxygen sucks up CO2 from the atmosphere.

Professor David Scanlan of the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences, the lead author of the research, said: “CO2 is a key greenhouse gas directly implicated in global warming. Given CO2 is converted into organic compounds during photosynthesis, factors that directly affect this process play a key role in modulating atmospheric CO2 levels.”

“We have known about these viruses for several decades” said Scanlan. “Things changed in 2003 when we discovered that these viruses have stolen genes from cyanobacteria that participate in photosynthesis. Now we have shown that these viruses modify photosynthesis during the demise of their host”.

On a global scale this results in losses of 0.02-5.39 Pg C yr-1 to viral induced inhibition of CO2 fixation. Per annum this upper figure is approximately 10% of the total CO2 fixed in the marine environment.

This data has important implications for measuring greenhouse gasses. Professor Scanlan explains:

“Quantification of net primary productivity is usually determined by directly measuring cyanobacterial photosynthesis and these methods rely on the coupling of light reactions to CO2 fixation”.

“In virus infected cells, this assumption of light reactions linked to CO2 fixation is incorrect and can therefore lead to a significant over estimation of CO2 fixation. This has very important implications for our understanding, and the estimates of, global warming.”

Read more


Professor Dave Scanlan
Tel: + 44 24 76 528363

Dr Andrew Millard
Tel: + 44 24 76 523589

The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and the School of Life Sciences

The School of Life Sciences welcomes Professor Murray Grant, who recently took up the position of Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security and, thanks to a generous donation from the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, researchers teach children about soil at the Kenilworth Show.

Plants remember stress to help protect themselves

A new generation of plants better adapted to mitigate the effects of environmental change could be created following a fundamental step towards understanding how plants are able to retain a memory of stress exposure.

The research, led by Dr Jose Gutierrez-Marcos and published in the journal eLife, provides the first compelling evidence that plants have evolved ways to remember previous exposures to stress, in this case high salinity conditions, which can help subsequent progenies withstand the same stress in future.

Read the press release

Selection pressures push plants over adaption cliff – new study has significant implications for how we address rapid climate change

Dr Robin AllabyNew simulations by researchers at the University of Warwick and UCL’s Institute of Archaeology of plant evolution over the last 3000 years have revealed an unexpected limit to how far useful crops can be pushed to adapt before they suffer population collapse. The result has significant implications for how growers, breeders and scientists help agriculture and horticulture respond to quickening climate change.

The research led by Professor Robin Allaby from the School of Life Sciences has just been published in the journal Evolutionary Genomics and is entitled "Evolutionary Genomics Surprisingly Low Limits of Selection in Plant Domestication".

Read the full Press Release

IFSTAL Away Day Success

On Saturday 5 March, Oxford University hosted the first IFSTAL (Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning) Away Day, where students from Warwick, Reading, Oxford, City and LCIRAH were able to meet and network with fellow students and food sector professionals, including Gavin Milligan – Group Sustainability Director at William Jackson Food and Angela Baker – Deputy Director, Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England. Two Masters students and two PhD students from the School of Life Sciences were involved in the day, presenting their own research and working with others to solve ‘real’ workplace scenarios in a relaxed and fun environment.

IFSTAL is an interactive training programme designed to improve postgraduate knowledge and understanding of the food system through numerous activities and events throughout the year, as well as an interactive Moodle site.

Want to get involved? To join you must be a postgraduate registered at Warwick University (or one of our partner institutes), although some events will be open to all.

Email Kelly Reed at to be put on the mailing list.

Alternatively find us on Facebook, Moodle and Twitter – simply search for IFSTAL.

ifstal.jpg ifstal2.jpg
Tue 08 Mar 2016, 10:49 | Tags: Plant and Crop Science Research Faculty of Science

Summer research placements in Entomology and Pathology

Student in labThe School of Life Sciences has a number of summer research placements available in Entomology and Plant Pathology during the summer vacation of 2016. The placements are funded by the BBSRC through its Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (STARS) scheme and provide training in strategically important and vunerable skills for bioscientists.

The 10-week placements are for second year undergraduate students enabling them to join a research group in Life Sciences and undertake a small research project related to the group's activities.

Each student will receive a bursary of £2000 (£200 per week).

For further details and how to apply see the Summer research placements flyer (pdf).

The closing date for applications is 18 April.

BBSRC Press Release 'First STARS awards target vunerable skills in the life sciences'

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