News and eventsĀ in the Centre for Research in Biosciences


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CRIB Annual Meeting 2020

The CRIB Annual Meeting, held on 16 January 2020, attracted over 70 delegates. CRIB achievements were represented from all of the Centre's research areas. A vibrant poster discussion session was held with the objective of the presenter presenting their research work in the form of four slides in four minutes, which was very well received. View the abstract book of all presentations (PDF) from the event.

The keynote speaker, Professor Gary Foster (University of Bristol), presented 'Everything is connected; pathology, terrorism and drugs', which gave an insight into the range of his research areas and the stories from along the way.

CRIB members featured on the Addressing Global Challenges programme

Members of CRIB, Associate Professor Dr Farnon Ellwood, Professor Dawn Arnold, Dr Debbie Lewis and PhD student Josie Phillips, talk about combatting threats to biodiversity and destructive bacterial diseases by taking their research into classrooms to inspire the next generation of biologists in the Addressing Global Challenges programme, a special news and current affairs-style collaboration between the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and ITN Productions.

The Addressing Global Challenges programme features reports from organisations and people across the country who are driving development across all areas of biosciences, thus giving recognition and highlighting impact across the bioscience sector.

CRIB Professor featured in ResearchFeatures online magazine

Professor Neil Willey's article in the online magazine, ResearchFeatures (page 42), Chernobyl: The disaster zone becomes a laboratory, explains why we should monitor the responses of plants under conditions similar to those at the infamous Chernobyl site. Read the full article further for more information.

Plants grown from seeds that orbited earth to go on show at national event

Tomato and rocket plants grown at UWE Bristol from seeds that were taken into space in a rocket and orbited the earth, featured as part of a research event in London in January 2018 that brought together leading experts on radiation. Find out more from the news release.

BoxED (Education in a box) Genomics teaching kits launched in local schools

The Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences' Outreach Team (BoxED) has had a busy spring/summer term developing and promoting the 100,000 Genomes Project, both in local schools (for students aged 12-14 years old) and at a wide range of community summer events. The hands-on activity headed north of the country in autumn to be showcased by regional STEM ambassadors beginning at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in September. Read more about the genomes project in the West of England area.

Congratulations to CRIB PhD Graduates

CRIB would like to congratulate our PhD students who graduated at the UWE Bristol Awards ceremony on 18 July 2017:
Simon Andrews, Niamh Brannelly, John Joseph Dempsey, Louis Dwomoh, Tom Forshaw, Matthew Harris, Christopher Lee and Nagala Shibani.

CRIB winners at UWE Bristol Postgraduate Research Conference

Congratulations to CRIB members Josie Phillips and Julian Donald, who won awards at the recent Postgraduate Research Conference held at UWE Bristol on 19 June 2017. Josie was awarded best poster prize with her poster, titled Using stable isotopes to predict the fate of biodiversity under climate change, and Julian won best oral presentation for The relative importance of invertebrate and microbial decomposition in rainforest canopy soils.

Guest speaker, Professor Simon Hiscock, Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, Oxford University, was very impressed with the level of research and presentations.

CRIB new researcher lands awards

CRIB newcomer, Gabrielle Wheway, has made an excellent start in her first few months at the university. She has been awarded a highly competitive Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science worth £96,294 for two years to undertake a project entitled Cellular mutation modelling of pre-mRNA splicing factors to elucidate their function at the primary cilium and their contribution to human disease.

Gabrielle was also recently awarded a small grant from the National Eye Research Council worth £10,000 for 12 months for her project entitled Extending the study of splicing factors at the base of the cilium and their role in RP pathogenesis - are PRPF3, PRPF4, SNRNP200, RP9 and DHX38 cilia proteins?

In June 2016, Gabrielle was also awarded the John Marshall Award for RP Scientist of the Year 2016, from RP Fighting Blindness.

'Living fossil' discovery by CRIB member in collaboration with an international team of researchers in Equatorial Guinea

CRIB member, Dr David Fernández, in collaboration with an international team of researchers has just published the first phylogenetic study of the obscure flightless scaly-tailed squirrel, Zenkerella insiginis. using DNA extracted from three specimens that David acquired in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, in 2015. Despite having being described more than 100 years ago, Z. insignis has never been seen alive by scientist, and virtually nothing is known about the species' biology or ecology. Moreover, until these three specimens were found, the only available material for study were incomplete skeletal remains of 11 individuals.

The research that David and his team has completed showed that Z. insiginis has been evolving independently in Africa for over 40 million years, and that it has remained mostly unchanged during this time. These results led the authors conclude that Z. insignis is a “living fossil”. David plans to continue studying this elusive animal to try to understand how Z. insignis has been able to survive for so long while many of its relatives went extinct, as well as to evaluate its conservation status.

Read further from the news release.

Welcome to the jungle

CRIB researchers are heading to the heart of the Borneo rainforest to investigate the environmental and ecological consequence of oil palm expansion.

CRIB member, Dr Farnon Ellwood, and his research group have received funding from the Royal Geographical Society, RGS (with Institute of British Geographers, IBG) -The Gilchrist Fieldwork Award and The Slawson Award- to support their research on the environmental consequences of converting tropical rainforest to oil palm.

The team will investigate how the link between biodiversity and ecosystem function changes during habitat conversion, striving to develop management practices that conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem function in oil palm plantations. The RGS funding will be used to support the UWE Bristol team while they conduct fieldwork in Danum Valley, one of the most highly protected expanses of pristine lowland forest remaining in Southeast Asia.

Read more information about the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) or Danum Valley.

Archive News from CRIB

CRIB Annual Meeting 2015

Over 100 CRIB members attended CRIB Annual Meeting held on 16 January 2015. The meeting demonstrated excellence in the main Centre research themes: Biomedical, Bio-Sensing and Agri-Foods, Plants and Environment. CRIB's multi-disciplinary research and close relations with teaching and stakeholders ensured this years' meeting was very diverse, with a record number of students attending.

As a part of the meeting, CRIB held a poster competition. This year's winners were:

Biomedical theme: Arwa Flemban for a poster entitled “The investigation of epithelial mesenchymal transition in triple negative breast cancer and basal like breast cancer”.

Bio-sensing theme: Scott Lake for the poster entitled “Development of an in-house sandwich ELISA assay for the detection of IL-6”.

Agri-food, Plants and Environment theme: Kelly Westmacott for a poster entitled “Analysis of vitamins using screen printed carbon electrodes”.

Presenting at EU workshop in Italy

Professor Olena Doran, Centre Director of CRIB, presented at the international workshop, “Genomics, welfare and new technologies for pork quality” which was held on 23 January 2015 in Bologna, Italy. This workshop was a part of EU-funded Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme which aims to develop a network and collaborations in the area of food quality. Centre for Research in Biosciences has been leading a work package on novel technologies in this scheme. The workshop brought together 12 project partners and stakeholders from seven countries to discuss the recent progress in research on pig genetics, animal welfare and new technologies as well as to develop a strategy for future collaborative bidding.

CRIB researchers begin ground breaking collaboration with the Eden Project, to explore the ecological patterns and biogeochemical processes linking tropical biodiversity and ecosystem function

The Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) launched a ground breaking new research program to explore how extinctions brought about by climate change and habitat destruction will impact on the functioning of ecosystems. Investigations into the importance of biodiversity to the survival of tropical rainforests involved UWE Bristol researchers working in collaboration with the Eden Project in Cornwall.

This collaboration involved Dr Farnon Ellwood, Dr Pete Maxfield, Dr Sam Bonnett and Dr Neil Willey, together with a team at the Eden Project led by Don Murray, and with Dr Chey Vun Khen of the Sabah Forestry Department (Borneo). Through shared expertise in tropical ecology and biogeochemistry, they revealed the importance of insect and microbial communities for decomposition and nutrient cycling within the suspended soils of the rainforest canopy. Work was started within the tropical biomes of the Eden Project, where PhD student, Julian Donald, conducted preliminary experiments in the world's largest indoor rainforest, before taking the work outdoors into the rainforests of deepest darkest Borneo.

CRIB members take part in Bristol Bright Night Event

This event was part of the EU Researchers' Night programme held on 26 September 2014. The general public were invited to engage in interactive science activities to discover, explore and challenge Bristol's cutting edge research. CRIB Members Professors Vyv Salisbury and Professor Aniko Varadi headed their teams of researchers to take part in this successful showcase of research conducted in the city. Over 50 researchers from UWE Bristol took part alongside researchers from University of Bristol.

The video highlighting this event can be viewed below:

CRIB welcomes visitors from the Ukraine

The Center for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) is hosting visitors from Poltava Institute for Pig Breeding and Agroindustrial Production of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine, as a part of EU Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange grant led by Professor Olena Doran.

The visitors, Dr Viktor Balatskyi (Head of Genetics Laboratory), Dr Sergii Korinnyi (Senior Research Fellow), and Ms Halina Rudoman (PhD student), will be gaining practical experience in the area of protein metabolism, high performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, novel bio-sensing technologies including magnetic immunoassay, cell culturing, real-time PCR and other. The colleagues from Ukraine also plan to deliver a research seminar, identify areas for long-term collaboration, and discuss opportunities for staff and students exchange.

It is anticipated that one of outcomes of this visit will be a bidding plan for research and knowledge exchange grants from the UK and international funding bodies, including Horizon 2020 calls. The Poltava Institute for Pig Breeding is one of the leading research institutes in Ukraine which has strong expertise in farm animal genetics and unique traditional pig breeds. Collaboration with Dr Balatskyi's laboratory opens new opportunities in the area of genetic regulation of meat quality traits which strongly aligns with CRIB agri-food research strand.

CRIB members awarded 'Highly Cited Researcher' status

The work of Professor Steven Neill and Dr John Hancock has been recognised by Thomson Reuters who list them amongst the top 1% of influential scientists in the world.

Dr Hancock and Professor Neill have had a long term interest in how cellular mechanisms underpin the responses of organisms to stress. In particular they have been investigating the role of small reactive compounds in organisms, such as hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Much of the focus of this work has been on the study of the way plants respond to drought, a subject which is of vital importance to the growth of healthy crops and food security in large areas of the world. On becoming stressed by a variety of means, organisms often over-produce hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide, and this leads to a situation commonly referred to as oxidative stress.

Antioxidants, both from the diet and produced by cells, normally counteract this, but it has become apparent more recently that molecules such as hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide are also instrumental in the control of vital cellular functions. Neill and Hancock have been investigating the roles of such compounds, with the view to their future manipulation, enabling organisms to better survive stress such as that encountered under drought conditions or during a pathogen attack.

CRIB member asked to speak at two International events

CRIB member and Associate Head of Department (Research and Knowledge Exchange), Dr John Hancock, was a speaker at two events in Germany over Spring and Summer of 2014.

In April, Dr Hancock gave a keynote talk at the 9th International Workshop on Sulfur metabolism in Plants: Molecular Physiology and Ecophysiology of Sulfur, in Freiburg, Germany. His talk was entitled "Hydrogen sulfide: its influence in signalling events."

In July, Dr Hancock gave a plenary lecture at the 3rd International Congress of Respiratory Science, in Bad Honnef, Germany. His talk was entitled "Three players with the same goal: hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide as part of the same team". See the conference website for further details.

CRIB member is panellist at Voice of the Future 2014

In March this year, CRIB member, Dr Emmanuel Adukwu was a panellist at the Voice of the Future 2014 hosted by the Science and Technology Committee in co-operation with the Society of Biology. The event took place during National Science and Engineering Week and involved young scientists and engineers from all over the UK. It was an opportunity for young scientists to question leading politicians face-to-face on science and research. MPs in attendance included the Science Minister, David Willetts, Labour Shadow Minister, Liam Byrne, the parliamentary scientific committee and the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, Sir Mark Walport.

Centre Annual Meeting 2014

The Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) held its Annual Meeting on 10 January 2014. This event highlighted the outstanding quality of CRIB research in the three main areas: Bio-medical, Bio-sensing and Agri-food, Plants and Environment.

CRIB Director, Professor Olena Doran commented: “The Annual Meeting demonstrated that CRIB has a unique blend of fundamental and applied research which allows us to attract highly competitive funding external funding bodies, including BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, charities, European Commission and industry, and develop extensive cross-disciplinary collaborative links and partnerships across the UK and internationally”. The event included three sessions with oral presentations, poster exhibition and showcasing of new technologies developed in CRIB.

A Scientific Poster competition was held as a part of CRIB annual meeting. Chair of the Poster Competition, Dr Neil Willey said "There were 25 excellent posters which showcased CRIB's research across a range of significant topics and from which chose three with the best combination of content and presentation for the award of prizes.” The winners of poster competition were:

  • First prize - Jonathan Winfield, Lily Chambers, Jonathan Rossiter and Ioannis Ieropoulos for the poster “Biodegradable microbial fuel cells for decomposing robots”.
  • Second prize - Termeh Ahmadraji, Laura Gonzalez-Macia and Tony Killard for the poster “Development of an electrochemical sensor for high density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol using modified silver screen printed electrodes”.
  • Third prize - Louis Dwomoh, Professor Aniko Varadi, Richard Luxton, Elek Molnar, Garry Whitehead and Alexandra Spittle for the poster “Expression and function of kainate receptor subunits in pancreatic endocrine cells".

CRIB members awarded 2013 Group prize from the Institute of Physics

Professor Tony Killard and Laura Gonzalez-Macia have been recently awarded with the 2013 Group prize from the Institute of Physics Printing and Graphic Sciences Group for the work presented at the Science of Inkjet and Printed Drops 2013 meeting. Each year, this group award a Group Prize for papers presented at their conferences through the year.

The conference took place at the Institute of Physics in London on 6 November 2013. Laura Gonzalez Macia gave an oral presentation entitled “Inkjet printing at the heart of sensors and diagnostics” authored by herself and Professor Tony Killard.

CRIB members secure Bio-E grant award funding

Bio-E is a collaboration between local universities. The participating universities were University of Bristol, University of Cardiff, University of Swansea and UWE Bristol. The initiative is designed to create new collaborations between institutions to integrate life sciences and engineering. In round three of the call in October 2013, UWE Bristol was successful in three grants with CRIB members, Dr Jason Mansell and Dr Adrian Crew (UWE Bristol lead) leading two of the projects.

Alzheimer's Research UK - 'Do you want to know more about Dementia?' public event - 5 September 2013

In conjunction with UWE Bristol and the Universities of Bristol and Bath, Alzheimer's Research UK will be giving free short talks to all members of the public to find out more about dementia. Please see the programme (PDF) for further details of this event.

CRIB Member wins UKEMS Young Scientist Poster Award

CRIB member, Keith Page, attended the 36th Annual United Kingdom Environmental Mutagen Society Conference (UKEMS) that was hosted by UWE Bristol.

This year, the theme for the meeting was “Real World Applications in Genetic Toxicology”. It brought together researchers from both industry and academia with a wide range of disciplines. Talks ranged from the involvement of bone marrow stroma in the development of leukaemia, to miRNA and genetic changes for cancer and the profile of volatile chemicals as markers for different diseases.

At the evening reception on board the SS Great Britain, Keith was awarded winner of the UKEMS Young Scientist Poster Award Bristol 2013, for his poster titled 'Effects of bone marrow stromal cells on sensitivity of leukaemic cells to chemotherapy'.

CRIB researchers recent visit to Norway

CRIB members, Dr Jenni May, Dr Gareth Robinson and Dr Liz Anderson recently visited Norway to discuss collaborations with Bergeen University.

Jenni May quoted:

"We were fortunate to be supported by the Faculty to travel to Bergen University in Norway to visit a contact made at a recent conference to discuss future collaboration. Building on current work within CRIB using bioluminescent bacterial biosensors to determine patient sensitivity to chemotherapy, we plan to extend this work using this new link to widen the types of chemotherapy we are able to study and the patient groups of interest, as well as accessing equipment and facilities that are not currently available at UWE Bristol.

Following successful meetings with Dr Emmet McCormack and Prof Bjorn Gjertsen, we have identified a number of areas where we plan to initiate a collaboration and are very grateful to the department for supporting us in this way. This will hopefully lead to joint publication of existing work, and a future pilot study for a joint grant application."

Sniffing out Bladder Cancer - new diagnostic test

Researchers from UWE Bristol, the University of Liverpool and the Bristol Urological Institute have developed a device using sensor technology that may help diagnose patients with early signs of bladder cancer. The Odoreader® smells urine and detects differences in the odour from people who have bladder cancer. For further information, please view the recent press release.

CRIB Research presented at the Bolland Lecture

The Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) presented its research at the on Annual Bolland Lecture 25 June 2013 at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

The event was organised in partnership with Business West and the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. The lecture, given by Sir Ian Carruthers OBE, Chancellor of UWE Bristol, focused on the challenges for healthcare and its leadership.

Professor Olena Doran, Director of CRIB, said:
“This event was a great opportunity to showcase CRIB research and make new links with industry, healthcare organisations, academic partners and general public. It was encouraging to see that our research attracted a lot of interest from stakeholders and the general public, which is critical for knowledge transfer and maximising impact of our research on the society.”

One of the exhibitors, Dr Liz Anderson added:
“The Bolland Lecture this year provided an excellent opportunity for me to network with the public and with NHS employees, and as a researcher within the Centre for Research in Biosciences this was particularly pertinent. I work on an MRC-funded project for personalised medicine in Adult Leukaemia, and this event allowed me to disseminate my research to NHS pharmacists, nurses and medics as well as patent specialists and charity representatives.

“This type of event is very important for continued collaborations between the Department of Applied Sciences here at UWE Bristol and the NHS in Bristol and beyond. These collaborations will hopefully benefit patient care and raise the profile of research in Bristol.”

CRIB funding congratulations

The Centre has recently been successful in securing a number of bids which support both research activities and research-based CPD (Continuous Professional Development) , this will provide opportunities for students to gain research experience via vacation and summer bursaries.

  • Professor Darren Reynolds has been awarded NERC CASE PhD studentship "Development of fluorescence sensing for monitoring microbial processes of freshwater systems", also
    Bioscience Knowledge Transfer Partnership SPARK award for collaboration with industry.
  • Dr Saliha Saad has secured a Colgate-Palmolive project on delivering Odour Judgement Training (research-based CPD).
  • Dr Mike Ladomery has received a vacation bursary "The effect of hypoxia on alternative splicing" from the Biochemical Society.
  • Dr Ruth Morse and Dr Jenni May have received a travel grant from the EU Environmental Mutagens Society.

Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarships:

  • Professor Aniko Varadi "Role of the glutamatergic pathway in the white matter brain injury in preterm infants".
  • Dr Ruth Morse "The role of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression in the aetiology of spontaneous pneumothorax"
  • Professor Myra Conway "Autophagy, mTOR signalling and the role of overexpressed hBCAT proteins in Alzheimer's disease.

CRIB Director, Professor Olena Doran, wished to congratulate all CRIB colleagues with their successes.

CRIB Annual Meeting 2013

The Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB) held its Annual Meeting on 11 January 2013. This was attended by over 100 members of the Centre, students and invited guests.

The meeting was a multidisciplinary event which focused on CRIB research achievements for the last year in the four main research directions (biomedical, bio-sensing, plants and the environment), future plans and opportunities, and CRIB's links with external partners and collaborators.

A rich diversity of oral presentations were delivered throughout the day highlighting international quality research undertaken by CRIB members and their collaborators.

A Scientific Poster competition was held as a part of CRIB annual meeting with over 35 posters being presented:

Chair of the Poster Competition, Dr Darren Reynolds commented:

‘There were a high number of excellent posters on display and discovering the best three posters proved difficult for the judging team. The eventual winning posters displayed excellent science, good graphics and a high level of thought and design. Topics such as Alzheimer's disease, resistant bacteria through to unconventional computing illustrated the excellence and diversity of the research activities that CRIB members are engaged in. Well done to you all’.

Professor Olena Doran, CRIB Director, commented:

“CRIB is a vibrant and dynamic Research Centre, and this annual meeting demonstrated outstanding achievement and international quality research of CRIB members. We are proud of our strong links with national and international collaborators across Europe, China, Malaysia, USA, and other countries. Our collaborations with healthcare organisations, industry and other end-users ensure that our research has real impact and has been effectively translated into practice to benefit the national and international community.

One of CRIB priorities is to develop further links between research and teaching and to enhance students' experience. We are delighted that the CRIB annual meeting attracted extensive attention of our undergraduate and postgraduate students who actively contributed to the event.

Our future plans include building on CRIB's unique combination of fundamental and applied research and on our multidisciplinary and collaborative culture to address scientific challenges and enhance impact of or research on a scientific community and wider society.”

Poster award at Bath Great Western Electrochemistry meeting

Congratulations to Laura Gonzalez-Macia, a research fellow in Professor Tony Killard's group who attended the Great Western Electrochemistry meeting at the University of Bath and won one of the three best poster awards presented by Metrohm Autolab. The poster, authored by herself and Tony Killard was titled, A Printed Electrocatalyst for the Measurement of H2O2 Formed via Enzymatic Oxidation.

Bristol Microbiology Forum

Around 60 delegates attended the Bristol Microbiology Forum from UWE Bristol, Bristol University and the University of Bath for an exciting and diverse selection of talks, highlighting some of the microbiology research currently being undertaken in each University.

The event was sponsored by the South West Biomedical iNet and UWE Bristol's Centre for Research in Biomedicine and provided both young and established researchers with a forum to present and discuss science.

Research highlights included batteries that are powered by bacteria fed with biological waste, deriving fungal medicines by understanding biochemical pathways, and public engagement in science (check out the online journal club for new students).

Please email Dr Victoria Davenport at for further information.

Prostate cancer research pivotal to UWE Bristol's CASE Europe matched funding success

Fantastic news for UWE Bristol as it has been named one of the outstanding fundraising universities in 2010-11 in the recent CASE Europe Matched Funding Awards with UWE Bristol's prostate cancer research being identified as central to this success.

New funding for hydrophilic interaction chromatography research

Professor David McCalley has recently received additional funding from the EPSRC for his research into faster and more efficient ways of analysing clinical and pharmaceutical samples. The project, Investigation of the separation mechanism in hydrophilic interaction chromatography, is a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage.

Contact Professor David McCalley at for further information.

Medicines for the future and today – from bench to bedside

The first of the UWe-books, promoting UWE Bristol's excellent work in health and wellbeing, has been launched. Working with a wide range of partners in the health services, industry and other universities, UWE Bristol's research has resulted in real scientific, social and economic benefits and the UWe-books show just a sample of how our researchers are striving to make a real difference to people's lives.

The UWe-book: Number One 'Medicines for the future and today – from bench to bedside' (PDF), features research from the Centre for Research in Biosciences:

  • Lighting up cancer cells - Professor Vyv Salisbury
  • Better treatment for diabetes - Professor Aniko Varadi
  • Fighting prostate cancer - Professor Anthony Rhodes
  • Preventing the progression of Alzheimer's Disease - Professor Myra Conway

UWE Bristol's Centre for Research in Biosciences shaping our future

Three CRIB research themes were identified amongst the top 100 pieces of research that that will shape our future in the Research Council UK report, Big ideas for the future (2011).

  • Rapid screening test for prediction of patient responses to cancer chemotherapy
  • Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's
  • Biomarkers for food quality and safety.

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