Warwicks iGEM students take on E.coli
Warwick’s 2017 iGEM team, Blueprint 361, is determined to make E.coli work in their favour. The team is made up of 5 engineering undergraduates, 4 students from the School of Life Sciences and a chemist, and are supervised by Dr Alfonso Jaramillo.
Their project is going to use E.coli to produce a biopolymer, which will then in turn be used as the bio-ink for their 3D printer. Over the course of the summer months, the team have been relentlessly working away in many labs around the campus to use this system for the creation of surface coatings with improved biocompatibility and osseointegration. If successful, the team could see revolutionary increase in both the strength and versatility of artificial joints and dental implants.
Excitingly, further development could even see this technology lead to the 3D printing of biological structures, such as trachea frameworks or even organ scaffolds.
The Blueprint 361 team will be taking their project to Boston in November 2017 to compete in the iGEM Jamboree against over 300 other teams from around the world. The team are urgently seeking additional funds in order to allow them to further develop their project. Can you help them? If so, please email
iGEM is an international synthetic biology competition, which was established by MIT in 2003. Each iGEM team works over the summer to produce a new genetically engineered biological system, and competes in the following categories: the environment, manufacturing, diagnostics, therapeutics and food.
Keep up to date with the team here:
Asian hornet to colonise UK within two decades without action
The yellow legged or Asian hornet – a voracious predator of honey bees and other beneficial insects – could rapidly colonise the UK unless its spread is combatted, according to new research by the Universities of Warwick and Newcastle, working with the National Bee Unit.
Professor Matt Keeling, from Warwick’s Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER), predicts that if Asian hornet nests are left to thrive in the UK, there could be hundreds of thousands of them in just over two decades – putting a critical strain on British populations of honey bees and other beneficial insects.
GP-based testing for HIV is cost-effective and should be rolled out in 74 local authorities
That’s according to a study, published in The Lancet HIV, involving over 86,000 people from 40 GP surgeries.
Using a mathematical model which was co-developed by Professor Deirdre Hollingsworth at the University of Warwick that includes all the costs associated with HIV testing and treatment, the team show that primary care HIV screening in high prevalence settings becomes cost-effective in 33 years (according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] criteria).
The International Biology Olympiad (IBO), which takes place every year in different locations across the globe, sees pre-university students compete in a series of practical experiments and theoretical exams in what is the biggest biology competition in the world.
The competition, which spans a week in duration, takes place from 23 - 30 July, and - after a successful bid back in 2012 - will be taking place this year in the United Kingdom at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences.
Multi-million-pound investment in a regional cryo-electron microscopy facility
A state-of-the-art Midlands regional cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) facility has been established, following a successful bid by the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham and Birmingham, led by the University of Leicester.
The total investment exceeds £6M, with £3.7M from the Medical Research Council. The four partner Universities will provide the remaining funds, with the University of Warwick contributing £460,000.
The co-applicants of the project from Warwick were Dr Corinne Smith from the School of Life Sciences, with Professors Mohan Balasubramanian and Rob Cross from Warwick Medical School.
As part of the investment, a new 200KV cryo transmission electron microscope will be placed in the Advanced Bioimaging Research Technology Platform, located within Warwick’s School of Life Sciences.
SLS Researchers on Television
Two of our researchers recently featured on television programmes showcasing their expertise:
On 12 June, Virologist Professor Andrew Easton appeared on Channel 4’s ‘How to Stay Well’ programme, ‘Sneezes, Mobiles & Lyme Disease’, investigating how far a sneeze travels.
On 19 June, Experiment Manager Andy Jukes, from Warwick Crop Centre, was on BBC One’s ‘Supermarket Secrets’ discussing the testing of chilli heat with Greg Wallace.
Bacteria collaborate to propel the ocean engine
Dr Joseph Christie-Oleza and Professor David Scanlan from the School of Life Sciences have discovered that two of the most abundant types of microorganism in the oceans – phototrophic and heterotrophic bacteria – collaborate to cycle nutrients, consequently, drawing carbon from the atmosphere and feeding the ecosystem.
Read Press Release
Professor Laura Green awarded OBE
Congratulations to Professor Laura Green, Head of the School of Life Sciences at Warwick, who has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2017.
The award is in recognition of services to the health and welfare of farmed livestock.
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Warwick Graduates in top ten for highest earnings in Life Sciences
The Government’s latest Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset published this week, on Tuesday 13 June 2017, shows that in over a dozen subjects, including Life Sciences, University of Warwick graduates are ranked in top 10 in the UK for high earnings five years after their graduation.
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How far from a sneeze can you catch a disease?
On Monday 12 June, Virologist Professor Andrew Easton spoke about sneezing on the new Channel 4 documentary 'How To Stay Well'.
Watch the programme at http://www.channel4.com/programmes/how-to-stay-well
Demonstrating Food Security Research at the Kenilworth Show - Saturday 10 June
A team of academics and students, supported by the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust and British Society of Plant Pathology, are taking part in the Kenilworth Show on Saturday 10 June with a stand demonstrating aspects of their research related to food security, plant pathogens and soil health.
The QS World University Rankings 2018 have named the University of Warwick as one of the world’s top 100 universities and one of the UK’s top 10 universities.
On Tuesday 4 July 2017 (10:00 - 18:30), the School of Life Sciences is proud to host a national Athena SWAN event on the topic of 'Supporting Women's Careers in Science'. This event will take place in the Medical Teaching Centre at the Gibbet Hill Campus of the University of Warwick. The event is free and all are welcome to attend. Registration is now open.
University of Warwick study to help understanding of childhood epilepsy
A University of Warwick study to understand a form of epilepsy that affects children has received a grant from the charity Epilepsy Research UK. The research focuses on absence epilepsy which is largely a childhood condition which is characterised by sudden, brief interruptions of consciousness.
In severe cases there may be more than 200 of these episodes each day, and these can be accompanied by or develop into convulsive seizures. Many children with absence seizures don’t respond to existing antiepileptic medication, which can present numerous difficulties in daily life, particularly with schooling.
Dr Mark Wall, Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences, is leading the research. He said: “Our work will hopefully identify a new therapeutic target to treat absence epilepsy and increase understanding of the disease. The findings from this project will give important new information about how absence seizures arise, and may reveal new targets for the development of more promising treatments. The methods used will also be useful for the screening process of anti-absence seizure drugs in the future.”
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University of Warwick ranked eighth in the UK by the Guardian University Guide with Life Sciences listed in top 5 departments for biosciences
The University of Warwick has once again been ranked top ten in the latest UK university league table with Biosciences (Life Sciences) listed in the top five in the UK.
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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.
26 May 2017: Inaugural Elizabeth Creak Distinguished Guest Lecture on Food Security
On Friday 26 May Professor John A Pickett, from Rothamsted Research, will be coming to the School of Life Sciences to give the Inaugural Elizabeth Creak Distinguished Guest Lecture on Food Security. The title of his presentation is 'Global food security: removing production constraints with GM but learning from nature'.
The lecture will be in GLT1 13:00-14:00
For any queries, please contact the host Professor Murray Grant
Head of Life Sciences shortlisted for BBSRC Innovation Award
Professor 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.
Free event: Monday 8 May 2017 - Fixing houses to fight Chagas disease
Public talk by Professor Caryn Bern of University of California, San Francisco 'Fixing houses to fight Chagas disease'.
Please register to attend this free event. Spaces are limited on a first come first served basis.
Chagas disease is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by a large bloodsucking insect called a triatomine, which lives in the walls and roofs of rural mudbrick houses in Latin America. In the southern Bolivian villages where we work, more than half the people are infected and about a third develop potentially fatal Chagas heart disease. Come and learn about the disease and our project to improve houses using local materials to reduce places for the insects to hide and prevent children from becoming infected in the first place.
Please note: This event will take place in the Oculus Building, OC0.03 from 6-8pm. Refreshments and a selection of sandwiches and wraps will be available on arrival.
This presentation will be led by Professor Caryn Bern, University California, San Fransico, in collaboration with the University of Warwick School of Life Sciences.
Further Information: Caryn is currently visiting the SLS and Mathematics departments on an Institute of Advanced Study International Visiting Fellowship. Caryn is an expert on neglected tropical diseases (NTD), particularly Visceral Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, and has a wealth of experience in field research from working at the Centers for Disease Control in the US for 20 years. For more information about the research that the University of Warwick is carrying out on NTD, please visit the NTD Modelling Consortium webpages.
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