Key project summaries
Project: Disinfection Testing Unit – Cleaning and Disinfection with Healthcare Settings [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 3,6,9,11,13,14]
Research Team: Dr W Mackay, Prof. Fiona Henriquez, Kenny Richardson, Ngozi Amaeze, Dr Claire Chalmers
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has highlighted the importance of infection control in healthcare settings and in the community. We have been working continuously since the beginning of the outbreak with academic and industry partners to support the Worldwide effort to contain the pandemic. Our research and consultancy work focuses on the prevention of the spread of infection in healthcare settings, by investigating the role of the built environment and staff uniforms and PPE in the spread of infection. We also have expertise in studying the persistence and survival of pathogens in healthcare settings and how common environmental factors contribute to this, and disinfection susceptibility. Work with the Scottish Ambulance Service has focused on the washing of ambulance staff uniforms and cleaning of ambulances as measures to reduce the risk of the spread of infection. Our work with companies focuses on the independent evaluation of disinfection technologies, supported by our new clinical research laboratories including a purpose built infection control single occupancy hospital isolation room for the safe testing of disinfection technologies and procedures. In 2020-2021, we have collaborated with 9 different industrial partners, including international companies on COVID-19 related work, optimising and validating new anti-viral and anti-bacterial disinfectant agents (including environmentally friendly compounds) and protocols and optimising the efficacy of fabric face coverings and contributing to government ‘calls for evidence for COVID-19 related matters’. Projects have been funded through the Scottish Funding Council, Innovate UK and consultancy.
Project: Creating the Borders and Airways Training Hub (BREATH) to Combat COPD [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 9]
Research Team: Dr Gary Litherland, Dr Anne Crilly, Dr Andrew MacKenzie, Dr Iain McLellan, Dr W Mackay, Dr Andisheh Bakhshi, Dr Robin Freeburn, Prof Carl Goodyear, Prof John Lockhart, Dr Joanna Brzeszczynska, Lynette Dunning, Kenny Richardson
COPD is an incurable and progressive lung condition characterised by progressive airflow reduction, breathing difficulties and irreversible lung damage – and ranks as the 3rd leading cause of death world-wide. Despite the high prevalence of COPD and associated mortality and morbidity within Scotland and in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, there has been insufficient research focus in this field. Funded by €7.7m Interreg VA funding from the Special EU Programmes Body, our partnered initiative to combat COPD in these regions has established a new research training hub – the Borders Regions Airways Training Hub (BREATH). Within BREATH we have brought together 50 researchers (including 19 PhD students) to investigate key aspects of COPD pathology including airway epithelial and smooth muscle dysfunction, focusing on novel roles for PARs.
Project: Key Lab for Shale Gas Resource Exploitation, Hunan University of Science & Technology (HUNST), PRC [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 2,6,7,9,12,15,17]
Research Team: Prof Andrew Hursthouse, Dr Iain McLellan, Dr Steven Kelly, Dr Richard Thacker
Partnership established with HNUST since 2015, resulted in Chinese Government Fellowship awards to Prof Hursthouse as 100 Talent High End Visiting Scholar appointed to the Hunan Regional government Key Lab. The Key Lab was established to research improved methods to explore and assess mineral resource and address control and remediation of environmental impacts. Focused on: 1. Innovative geophysical methods to improve exploration in complex physical terrains; 2. better geological evaluation of resources helps to target exploitation strategies and minimise environmental disturbance and 3. New methods to treat environmental pollutants reducing impact and providing strategies to deal with legacy environmental pollution.
These address real local issues but are also common world-wide – both within China and across terrains where resources are exploited for historical mining and new exploitation strategies. Research collaboration between the 30+ academic staff in HNUST and CER members has led to publications in waste management, resource discovery and mitigation of environmental impact of exploitation. Staff exchange and visiting fellowships to UWS and PhD studentships. It has also supported development of specialist training for Chinese Government delegates through SAFEA awards. http://hnoilgas.hnust.edu.cn/
Project: Aquaculture [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 14]
Research Team: Prof Brian Quinn, Prof Fiona Henriquez, Dr Mhairi Alexander
We are developing new diagnostic tools to assess fish health in aquaculture (SAIC, KTP, industry funded). Identifying fish blood parameters which are indicative of potential disease outbreaks or health problems can act as an early warning measure. We are understanding how Neoparamoeba causes amoebic gill disease to design effective treatment. Neoparamoeba causes amoebic gill disease, which impacts fish health and coastal economies.
Project: Contact Eye Infections [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 3]
Research Team: Prof Fiona Henriquez, Dr Roderick Williams, Dr W Mackay
Award-winning research, which focused on the sight-threatening parasite Acanthamoeba and the development of technology to prevent potential blindness in contact lens wearers by inhibiting the essential metabolic pathways of Acanthamoeba, which the human host is unable to do. The project is core to an international network of Ophathalmologists, contact lens specialists, patients, industry and academic researchers with the aim to protect eye health, aligning to UN SDG 3.
Project: Alleviating the Burden of Osteoarthritis [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 9]
Research Team: Prof John Lockhart, Prof Carl Goodyear, Dr Anne Crilly, Dr Gary Litherland, Dr Andrew MacKenzie, Dr Carmen Huesa, Lynette Dunning
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common and painful condition that affects joints like hips, knees, hands and feet. It occurs when soft protecting tissue thins and roughens, compromising the natural cushion that normally separates the ends of bones. This degenerative disease represents a significant unmet medical need - joint replacement and other treatment is a major drain on health services around the world, and the condition has a considerable negative impact on quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. There is as yet no way of curing osteoarthritis. For decades it’s been accepted that cartilage deteriorates with age, leading to stress on the bone. One revolutionary finding by our UWS team is that in many cases the bone changes before the cartilage – which casts an entirely different perspective on OA. Research on protease-activated receptors (PARs) and the role they play are leading to significant breakthroughs in our understanding of the disease.
UWS researchers, as part of a consortium of universities, have been awarded a £1.2 million programme grant from Versus Arthritis to bring together, for the first time, experts across 5 universities in bone, matrix, molecular and systems biology in a concerted effort to better understand osteoarthritis – particularly in dissecting what role the matriptase-PAR2 axis contributes to OA pathogenesis.
Project: Aquatic Animal Health and Welfare [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goal 14]
Research Team: Prof Kath Sloman, Dr Mhairi Alexander, Dr Frances Orton, Dr Phillip Cowie, Prof. Fiona Henriquez, Dr Iain McLellan, Prof. Jose Alcaraz-Calero, Prof. Brian Quinn.
Our work on aquatic animal health and welfare brings together a diversity of aquatic researchers whose research has impacts within aquaculture, conservation, animal welfare and ecotoxicology. Working with industrial collaborators we are developing behavioural tools to test the attractiveness of novel diets to shrimp in aquaculture and improving the welfare of fish held and transported within the ornamental trade. Our conservation-related projects range from understanding how pollutants affect heath and reproduction in wild amphibians and how large-scale coral reef rehabilitation in Indonesia influences the return of fish communities. Ecotoxicology projects within the group investigate the impact of microplastics on aquatic organisms and the effects of multiple stressors on health and reproduction in freshwater invertebrates.
Project: Antimicrobial resistance in the environment [addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6,9,11,12, 14,15.]
Research Team: Prof. Fiona Henriquez, Prof Andrew Hursthouse, Prof John Connolly, Dr Iain McLellan, Dr Roderick Williams, Dr Kiri Rodgers, Dr Regina Esiovwa, Ronnie Mooney
This work has stemmed from a cross-disciplinary collaboration and focuses on addressing the emergence of AMR in the environment and the development of mitigation strategies with a focus on a ‘One Health’ approach. Our research includes the role of protists in protecting and influence resistant bacteria and the impact of anthropogenic influence has had on microbial communities. The work is funded by NERC and involves geochemistry, social science, microbiology and engineering disciplines.