News in 2012

  • PROMPT training tackles emergencies in pregnancy and birth 15 October 2012 PROMPT (Practical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training) is an obstetric emergencies training package now used in 85 per cent of UK maternity units. With the potential to save millions in litigation costs for health services, PROMPT also looks set to achieve substantial reductions in preventable perinatal harm both in the UK and worldwide.
  • The Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project – a collaboration between Discovery Programme Ireland and the University of Bristol 3 October 2012 An exciting collaborative project adopts scientific methods to uncover the links between Ireland and the Roman Empire.
  • Contributing to the welfare of laying hens 13 September 2012 Research into the welfare of laying hens, undertaken by Professor Christine Nicol, contributed significantly to the UK Government's decision to sign up to the battery cage ban in January 2012.
  • Early season treatment of sheep could reduce the incidence of blowfly strike as climate warms 3 September 2012 Changing climate patterns are likely to put ewes at higher risk of parasitic disease, which could have important implications for farmers.
  • Volcanological input reduces uncertainty surrounding volcanic ash forecasts 3 September 2012 Models used to predict how much ash is pumped into the atmosphere and where it goes during a volcanic eruption are being informed by world-leading volcanology experts from the University of Bristol.
  • Research into rare Sorbus reproduction informs conservation of the Avon Gorge 3 September 2012 Conservation management plans for one of Bristol’s historic woodland sites are being shaped by new findings about the complex reproductive biology of some rare tree species.
  • From maize oil to murder: the diverse applications of sophisticated chemical analyses 3 September 2012 A suite of sophisticated molecular and stable isotopic techniques developed by organic chemists at the University of Bristol has proven to be a powerful diagnostic tool for analysing organic materials.
  • Conker Tree Science: how small investments can reach thousands 3 September 2012 It all started with handing out 1,000 vials containing ‘alien bugs’ in Bristol’s shopping hub of Cabot Circus. Two years later, Conker Tree Science, a hypothesis-led citizen science project, has engaged thousands of people across the UK and generated important data about the spread of an invasive leaf-mining moth.
  • Predictive model serves as blueprint for the flood risk management industry 3 September 2012 A two-dimensional flood inundation model has helped advance the predictive tools used to generate national flood maps, assess flood risk for the global insurance and re-insurance industry and estimate flood damage.
  • East meets West — Building a ‘remembering’ community 21 August 2012 Can telling stories about a socialist past and sharing these with a wider public help improve understandings of multiculturalism in Britain today? Two researchers from the Department of German set out to explore this question with the East Meets West project, in which local Eastern European migrant communities play a central role.
  • Cot deaths: How a Bristol research pioneer has saved more than 100,000 young lives worldwide 18 July 2012 Cot deaths in the UK have fallen by 80 per cent over the last 20 years following groundbreaking research by Peter Fleming, Professor of Infant Health and Developmental Physiology and Dr Pete Blair, Senior Research Fellow and their team
  • Improving care for children with cleft lip and palate 11 July 2012 A Bristol research team, headed by Professor Jonathan Sandy from Bristol Dental School, undertook a nationwide review of services for cleft palate patients in the UK, leading to dramatic improvements for patients and their families.
  • Questions of guilt and innocence: Telling stories about war-time Czechoslovakia 15 June 2012 Developing a new understanding of a nation’s experience during the Second World War can be an emotive, controversial area, particularly when discussions reveal a new, more painful history.
  • Uncovering the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in south-west Turkey 14 June 2012 An expert team of archaeologists is investigating Çaltılar 'höyük', an ancient settlement mound in Turkey, to uncover evidence about the region's early history.
  • Marking British involvement in bicentennial celebrations of Latin American independence 8 June 2012 Latest research from the University of Bristol ensures that the little known role of British adventurers in the Latin American independence struggles is included in national events planned to commemorate 200 years of freedom from Spanish colonial rule.
  • Saving thousands of newborns by cooling them down 1 June 2012 Inducing hypothermia in a newborn may not seem the obvious way to preserve a new life or prevent brain injury, but a cooling treatment pioneered by Professors Marianne Thoresen and Andrew Whitelaw in Bristol now saves 1,500 babies from death and disability every year in the developed world.
  • Geologists delve deeper to understand history of the Atlantic 29 May 2012 For years, scientists have endeavoured to gather evidence of how the Earth has evolved over time. In a bid to go yet further, Bristol scientists are taking an original tack, searching for ancient deep-sea corals that could further reveal the significance of the ocean to large scale global change
  • Retrieving knowledge from the archives of the mind 21 May 2012 Skills once learned but forgotten are not entirely lost, according to research by the University of Bristol, which suggests that while memory might seem to fail us, our brains actually hold on to old information.
  • The lessons of multilevel modelling 8 May 2012 Multilevel statistical models developed by Professor Harvey Goldstein and Dr George Leckie show school league tables to be unreliable guides to school choice.
  • Thucydides — still relevant today? 30 April 2012 Thucydides, the ancient Greek historian of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, has long been quoted by politicians, military strategists, historians and philosophers. He has been considered as the father of both scientific history and political realism. But how extensive is his influence on the modern world and how has this developed?
  • Making sense of those vital statistics 18 April 2012 Behind every quantitative research project, there’s a statistician waiting to make sense of the data, and more than 18,000 users worldwide are working with software developed at Bristol’s Centre for Multilevel Modelling to do it.
  • Visualising the Olympics 17 April 2012 “Images depicting the Olympic Games provide fascinating commentary and insight into the socio-economic and political contexts of the time in which they were designed,” says Dr Mike O’Mahony, art historian and author of Olympic Visions from the Department of Historical Studies.
  • Two’s company — investigating the relationships between Candida albicans and other microbes 15 March 2012 Candida albicans can live inside the human body for a long time without any problems when suddenly, they turn on us and cause disease. Why this happens is the subject of a NIH-funded research project which has opened up a new line of oral microbiological enquiry.
  • Uncovering an historical mystery 15 March 2012 This is the story of an historian, the unpublished lifework of an academic, and how analysing a book proposal led to an international, collaborative research initiative known as The Cabot Project.
  • Misbehaving neurons and the complexities of human brain disease 14 March 2012 How do our brains process the mass of information that constantly confronts us, and how does this processing go wrong in debilitating disorders such as autism and schizophrenia? Bristol neuroscientists are equipped to answer these questions, which are increasingly critical as the social and economic burden of cognitive impairment increases.
  • Changing heads in Ghana: From bureaucrats to inspiring educational leaders 13 March 2012 Ghana’s government is investing in new leadership training across the country’s primary schools thanks to the combined energies of 20 inspiring Ghanaian headteachers and the expertise of a Bristol-led research programme known as EdQual.
  • The Schola Cantorum 13 March 2012 The Department of Music is home to a very special choir. Known as the Schola Cantorum, this 16 strong all-female choir specialises in medieval music, particularly Old Hispanic and Gregorian chant, under the guidance of senior lecturer and medieval music specialist Dr Emma Hornby.
  • Ice Pigging 12 March 2012 Ice Pigging is set to become the pipe cleaning technique of choice with many countries using the award winning method, devised by Professor Joe Quarini from the Faculty of Engineering, to clean their water pipes.
  • Two weeks in a busy dental clinic in Kenya 20 February 2012 For 4th-year student Saagar Patel, the high staff-to-patient ratios, the necessary speed of dental care provision and the important educational role played by dentists in a Nairobi hospital really struck home.
  • World’s first trachea transplant marks new era in stem cells 20 February 2012 A multinational collaboration involving experts in surgery and tissue-engineering from the University of Bristol made medical history when they carried out the first ever transplant of a bioengineered windpipe, with life-changing results.
  • Microbiology provides novel insights into disease 20 February 2012 Detailed investigations of how a bacterium that causes dysentery in humans infects its host has yielded insights that may represent new vaccine targets and could ultimately help confront the challenges raised by other species of increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause different diseases in humans, animals and plants.
  • New moves in molecular gymnastics for DNA repair 20 February 2012 Since the double helical structure of DNA was famously solved in 1953, much has been discovered about the complex functionality of our genetic material, providing an increasingly detailed level of knowledge that is vital in underpinning medical approaches to disease.
  • High throughput proteomics could hold the key to new treatment strategies 20 February 2012 The pathogenesis of dengue virus, which infects millions of people worldwide, has so far eluded scientists whose efforts to understand the disease have yielded limited insights. But after years dedicated to investigating the molecular and cellular biology of dengue fever, virologists at the University of Bristol are using novel approaches to identify cellular proteins that could inform more effective drug design and diagnostic development.
  • Neuroscientists examine hormones and neurones for key to energy balance 20 February 2012 Obesity and high blood pressure are two of the world’s biggest health problems. In a novel study that examines both conditions in parallel, neuroscientists at Bristol University are examining how mechanisms in the brain and body adjust to nutritional intake. Their research aims to identify the signalling pathways that disrupt energy levels and trigger weight gain and hypertension.
  • Using 19th century equations to understand transition to turbulence in pipe flow 20 February 2012 Understanding how fluid flow through a straight pipe changes from being steady to an irregular state – the so-called ‘transition to turbulence’ problem – is one of the greatest challenges in fluid mechanics. By combining theory and experimentation, Professor Richard Kerswell (Bristol University) and Professor Tom Mullin (Manchester University) studied how solutions to equations over 150-years-old could explain what is seen in nature. The ultimate aim of this work is to control or even prevent turbulence arising when its consequences such as increased drag are undesirable, for example, pumping oil in transcontinental pipelines and the airflow across an aeroplane wing.
  • Statistical modelling and methods for complex causal inference 20 February 2012 Dr Vanessa Didelez is a statistician developing methods to understand better causal mechanisms, the processes linking cause and effect in complex systems in motion that evolve over time, so-called dynamical systems. As many standard methods fail to handle multiple time-varying factors rendering them unusable, she is uniquely combining graphical models with background knowledge and statistical algorithms. Although her anticipated methodology could be applied in many different contexts, she foresees particular benefits for computer scientists, social scientists, geneticists and health professionals. For example, well acquainted with the biomedical community, she helps medical researchers analysing large longitudinal HIV patient data sets to enable the advancement of personalised medicine treatment programmes.
  • Molecular biology reveals the survival instinct of plants 20 February 2012 Changes in the genetic make-up of plants are being examined by molecular biologists whose studies represent a major step forward in efforts to understand how shifts in environmental conditions will affect the future growth and survival of crops.
  • Evolutionary tactics revealed by plant-animal communications 20 February 2012 The iridescent properties of spike-moss plants could serve more than just an aesthetic function by creating a cunning distraction for predators, research suggests. Investigations into the cross-talk between flora and fauna aim to pinpoint the survival capabilities of these little-known plants and explore whether such an evolutionary instinct could provide additional insights into the world’s biodiversity.
  • Dental practice in a Tanzanian hospital 13 February 2012 Having spent their training to date in the UK, dental students Lydia Harris and Rob Mahal decided to investigate the provision of dental care in a developing country. Their research took them to Tanzania where they found that things were very different from what they were used to.
  • Engaging with teaching in the Far East 13 February 2012 Oral microbiologist Dr Angela Nobbs from the School of Oral and Dental Sciences provided Japanese colleagues with a taste of the school's interactive teaching methods through an intensive lecture tour at Kyushu University in January 2011.
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