Arctic Drift: A Year in the Ice - watch the documentary on 16 October
In September 2019, the icebreaker RV Polarstern left her home port in Bremerhaven to sail north. Her goal was to act as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), the largest Arctic Research Expedition ever undertaken, with the collaboration of over 80 institutions from 20 countries, to study both winter and summer processes and relationships between ocean, ice and atmosphere.
University of Warwick SLS scientists Dr Alison Webb, Professor Hendrik Schaefer and Professor Yin Chen, undertook the 'Sea Ice Microbiology and the Role in Cycling of Sulfur' (SIMbRICS) Project during the second half of MOSAiC. Overall, this project, in collaboration with the University of Groningen (NL) and the University of East Anglia (UK), aimed to study the in-situ production of the climate-relevant biogenic gas dimethylsulfide (DMS) and to link this with the diversity of the microbial community.
As the sea ice transitioned from the long Arctic winter, through a short spring to summer of 24 hours of daylight, ice melt created a highly variable environment of meltponds and a stratified surface ocean, which changed again through the onset of autumn. These changes create a high stress environment for the microbiome and the SIMbRICS project is investigating how these changing conditions affect the production of climate-relevant trace gases such as DMS.
Starving Tuberculosis (TB) of sugars may be a new way to fight it
Tuberculosis is a devastating disease that claims over 1.5 million lives each year. The increase in TB cases that are resistant to the current antibiotics means that novel drugs to kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) are urgently needed. Dr Elizabeth Fullam and colleagues have successfully discovered how Mycobacterium tuberculosis uses an essential sugar called trehalose, which provides a platform to design new and improved TB drugs and diagnostic agents.
Press Release (15 April 2021)
Associate Professor/ Professor of Infection Microbiology position available
Applications are invited for an Associate Professor or Professor of Infection Microbiology to join the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick.
The School of Life Sciences has an international presence in microbiology, particularly within the global research priority of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We aim to appoint an outstanding new academic staff member to strengthen research in cross-disciplinary approaches, complementing existing strengths in the School and leading a laboratory based research group in one or more of the following areas: antimicrobial resistance, anti-infective discovery, host-pathogen interactions and immunology including the microbiome, microbial genetics, virology and structural and chemical biology approaches to address human and animal infection.
Closing date: 30 April 2021
Construction completed on “world-class” biomedical research building
Our impressive new IBRB biomedical research building has been completed. The new state-of-the-art lab spaces will support our interdisciplinary world-class research in neuroscience, microbiology and infection, and cell biology.
Press Release (24 March 2021)
Science on the Hill event 30 March - New Scientists: New Research
Our next event is on Tuesday 30 March, 7-8pm - New Scientists: New Research.
Hosted by Prof Kevin Moffat the speakers are Dr Erin Greaves from Warwick Medical School and Dr Ellie Jameson and Emily Hill from the School of Life Sciences.
Hunting for life-saving phage in sewage
Dr Eleanor Townsend and Dr Ellie Jameson were part of a documentary on the ‘Secret Science of Sewage', aired on Thursday 18 March. The researchers were filmed collecting samples from Minworth Sewage works and characterising the phages they contain, as a possible solution in the fight against antimicrobial resistant bacteria. Dr Eleanor Townsend was filmed in the School of Life Sciences imaging suite, imaging the phages on the Transmission Electron Microscope. Dr Ellie Jameson discussed the results with Dr George McGavin.
The Jameson laboratory, at the University of Warwick, is developing phage cocktails to prevent the most common UTI infections (Enterobacteriaceae) that can lead to severe complications. Findings have recently been published on the use of phages to prevent catheter biofilms: Townsend, E. M., Moat, J., & Jameson, E. (2020). CAUTI’s Next Top Model–model dependent Klebsiella biofilm inhibition by bacteriophages and antimicrobials. Biofilm, 2, 100038. This involves hunting for novel, diverse phages in sewage and characterising them.
The Jameson laboratory has also supplied their rigorously characterised phages for compassionate use in patients with no other treatment options. This work was recently peer reviewed and accepted in the journal; Phage - Townsend, E., Kelly, L., Gannon, L., Muscatt, G., Dunstan, R., Michniewski, S., ... & Jameson, E. (2020). Isolation and characterisation of Klebsiella phages for phage therapy. bioRxiv.
Work is currently being expanded to design phage cocktails to treat pneumonia, bloodstream infections and inflammatory bowel disease in collaboration with Professor Trevor Lithgow at Monash University.
Identified: A mechanism that protects plant fertility from stress
As temperatures rise due to global warming the need to protect plants from stressful conditions has increased, as stress can cause a loss in yield and cause further impact economically. A consortium led by Professor Jose Gutierrez-Marcos have successfully identified two proteins that protect crops from stress, which is key in safeguarding food production.
Press Release (1 March 2021)
University of Warwick signs agreement with agronomy specialist to bring UK beans to market
The University of Warwick’s research commercialisation wing, Warwick Innovations, has signed a contract with agronomy specialist Agrii to promote the commercial production of UK haricot beans developed by Professor Eric Holub from Warwick’s Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences. Professor Holub has bred three haricot bean varieties which are adapted for growing in the UK climate and are more suited to standard farm machinery.
“Self-sufficiency in food production is important for reducing human impact on global climate. British-grown beans can help us shift our diets to a healthier future, adding to other UK ingredients to supply the growing trend of flexitarian diets with new markets like Brit-Mediterranean and Brex-Mexican style food.” Professor Holub.
Press Release (9 February 2021)
Chemical memory in plants affects chances of offspring survival
Warwick scientists design model to predict cellular drug targets against Covid-19
A computational model of a human lung cell has been used to understand how SARS-CoV-2 draws on human host cell metabolism to reproduce by Dr Hadrien Delattre and Professor Orkun Soyer. This study helps understand how the virus uses the host to survive, and enable drug predictions for treating the virus to be made.
Press Release (25 November 2020)
Diabetic drug could slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease
A hallmark of Parkinson's disease is the degeneration of a group of neurons in the brain that release the neurotransmitter dopamine (dopaminergic neurons). By introducing low concentrations of structurally-defined aggregates of alpha synuclein, a key toxic species in Parkinson’s disease, into single dopaminergic neurons, Emily Hill and Dr Mark Wall have shown these protein aggregates open a specific channel in the cell membrane, reducing neuronal excitability.
Press Release (24 November 2020)
Breakthrough in studying the enzyme that ultimately produces fish odour syndrome
Fish odour syndrome (trimethylaminuria) is a debilitating disease, in which the liver cannot break down the smelly chemical trimethylamine which is produced by enzymes from bacteria residing in the gut leaving people with a fish like odour. Dr Mussa Quareshy and colleagues are paving the way to prevent the syndrome after a breakthrough in studying the enzyme in the gut which produces trimethylamine.
Press Release (23 November 2020)
Understanding lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis
For young people with cystic fibrosis, lung infection with Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, is common and is treated with antibiotics in the hope that this will prevent a decline in lung function. However there has recently been debate over the role S. aureus plays in CF lung disease. Dr Esther Sweeney, Dr Freya Harrison and colleagues have used a new model of CF lungs which could be used to make better decisions about future use of antibiotics.
Press Release (19 November 2020)
Chemical clues in leaves can reveal ash tree resistance to deadly disease
Natural way to boost crop yield to be explored by Warwick Scientists
Breakthrough in studying ancient DNA from Doggerland that separates the UK from Europe
UKRI fellowships awarded to Life Sciences Academics
Two academics from Life Sciences have been awarded a UKRI Future Leader Fellowship.
- Dr Byron Carpenter for his project titled: Developing a synthetic signalling system capable of the precise spatial and temporal control of protein function in living cells.
- Dr Erin Connelly for her project: Datamining medieval medical texts for modern medicines.
The fellowship scheme is awarded to the best researchers in the UK, keeping research and innovation in the UK world class.
Warwick Researchers to provide COVID-19 Intervention Modelling for East Africa (CIMEA)
A £1m grant from the Wellcome Trust has enabled researchers to work with East African countries in their emergency preparations for COVID-19 as the pandemic spreads across Africa. Press Release
Professor James Nokes comments:
'We hope that by closely combining our efforts with in-country expertise in modelling, epidemiology, health economics and systems and vulnerability mapping we can develop models appropriate to each setting with results that will immediately feed into the policy making process to have the greatest impact.'