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UOA 12A - Allied Health Professions and Studies: Biomedical and Vision Sciences
Glasgow Caledonian University
RA5a: Research environment and esteem
1. RESEARCH STRUCTURE
1.1 Background to Submission
Following the success of the Departments of Biological & Biomedical Sciences(BIO) and Vision Sciences(VIS) in RAE 2001 (both units were awarded a 4 grade), the University made the strategic decision to form the School of Life Sciences (SLS) in 2002, aligning BIO and VIS in a single area of governance designed to enable both Departments to meet challenging research targets and to create a sustainable research culture. SLS identified several key targets for this RAE cycle, specifically: to increase international research impact through improved quality of research publications and increased international collaboration; to develop sustainable research mass through increased external research grant capture, increased numbers of postdoctoral research fellows/research assistants and of PhD studentships; and to develop outward facing commercial/KT activities within both disciplines.
1.2 Achievements since RAE2001
These targets have been exceeded by BIO and VIS, in a sustainable environment within SLS demonstrating a continually developing research future. The key research outputs and achievements of the BIO and VIS are summarised below.
The current submission includes 34.2 FTE Category A staff, an increase of 1.2 from the combined total of the two RAE2001 returns. Of the 137 submitted outputs, 31% rank in the Top 10% of journals in their subject area and 88% in the Top 40%(JCR2006).
In BIO 21 Category A staff are submitted, with 35% of the outputs in the Top 10% of journals in their subject area and 94% in the Top 40%. The Mean Impact Factor(IF) of outputs submitted is 4.348.
In VIS 13.2 FTE Category A staff are submitted (76% of staff), with 24% of the outputs in the Top 10% of journals in subject area and 78% in the Top 40%. The mean IF of outputs submitted is 2.882
Eligible research expenditure was £4.3 since 2001, an increase of 90% from the last RAE cycle.
Postgraduate research student numbers expanded by 20% to >43 FTE annually, providing critical mass for a successful research culture within both disciplines.
65 PhD and 5 MPhil degrees were awarded, an increase of 59% in PhD completions from the last RAE cycle. Submission of PhD within 4 years reached 85% in 2006/2007 and is >75% over the last 4 years.
49 Post-Doctoral Research Fellows, 11.4 Research Assistants and 14 Research Technicians supported research activities during the period.
Knowledge Transfer(KT) achievements include two spin out SMEs (Biopta, Glycologic) and six KT Partnerships.
Research infrastructure expenditure exceeded £4M.
1.3 Research Strategy
The University strategically allocated QR income as the means to meet the key targets outlined in 1.1. In particular new appointments were directed specifically to areas that support and sustain the SLS’s research strengths.
In BIO the 3 core research groups have been significantly strengthened by 9 new appointments of research lecturers and senior lecturers with associated PhD studentships (10) and postdoctoral fellowships (10). Cell and Molecular Biomedicine: Graham (UCL, 2004) and Martin (Cardiff, 2004) (early career researcher, ECR), Gow (Glasgow, 2006), Scobie (Glasgow, 2007). Pharmacological and Physiological Bioscience: Dolan (Glasgow Vet School, 2004, ECR), Widmer (Glasgow, 2004, ECR). Microbial and Food Science: Lang (Aston, 2004, ECR), Ramage (Calgary, 2004, ECR), Williams (Hannah, 2006)
In VIS 2 new professorial appointments 1 senior and 2 research lecturers, together with 3 postdoctoral fellows and 3 research studentships, have strengthened the 4 established research groupings. The appointment of Professor Dutton (Glasgow, 2004) brought considerable clinical medical expertise to the research profile of the Department, working with the Visual Development, Oculomotor Function and Visual Psychophysics Research Groups and enhancing cross-group collaborations. The appointments of Loffler (York University, Toronto, 2001) and Professor Logvinenko (Queen’s Belfast, 2004) provide sustainability to the Visual Psychophysics Research Group. The appointment of Seidel (Glasgow, 2003) and the senior appointment of Strang (Bradford, 2003) ensures a sustainable future for the Oculomotor Function Research Group.
An additional £350K of externally-generated income is being invested annually in 10 Research & Knowledge Transfer Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, targeted specifically to lever further funding from international and commercial partners. External partners funding >30% of costs include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Integrated DNA Technologies (USA), Zealand Pharma (Denmark), Promega (USA), Diabetes UK and the University of Southern California. Further strategic investments, generated from external income, have been made to stimulate and support our research culture, including competitive sabbaticals, international travel grants, an innovation fund for new ideas, and selective support to assist research output production. The international travel grant fund allowed 10 research students, for example, to present papers at international conferences in 2006-2007: e.g. DALM (XVI International Symposium on Drugs Affecting Lipid Metabolism), New York; ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology), Fort Lauderdale.
Substantial investment in research infrastructure (>£4 M, including £2.2 M from SRIF), has increased the overall area dedicated to research in SLS BIO & VIS by 50%, housing new developments and expanding facilities including: GCU imaging facility, genomics & proteomics, pharmacology & physiology recording, transgenic & knock out mice breeding facility, visual electrophysiology and psychophysics laboratories, anterior surface laboratory digital ocular fundus camera and networked digital monitoring system for clinical research, near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for optical topography of the brain, infra red refraction, eye tracking and virtual reality systems for ocular motor laboratory.
2. RESEARCH GROUPINGS & ACHIEVEMENTS
2.1 BIOLOGICAL & BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
BIO research is focussed into 3 core research groups: Cell & Molecular Biomedicine; Pharmacological and Physiological Bioscience; Microbial & Food Science, designed to have critical mass and led by key international researchers (Profs Craft, Finbow; Prof Hillier, Dr MacDonald; Profs Aidoo, Logan, Tester). These groups have been significantly strengthened by the new appointments described in 1.3. The groupings are mutually supportive and inter-group collaborations are encouraged, as shown by co-memberships, stimulating a multidisciplinary approach to biomedically-relevant research.
a. Cell and Molecular Biomedicine Group
Category A- Profs Craft, Finbow, Drs Bartholomew, Graham, Gow, Martin, Scobie, Woodall: Category B- Dr Conner; Category C- Prof Hodgins
Supported by: 10 (19) PostDoctoral Research Fellows, 12.5 (28) Research Students and 1 (2) Research Technicians (current and (total cycle) numbers).
There are three contributing themes – Cell Biomedicine, Cancer & Environmental Molecular Biology and Molecular Virology. Graham and Martin have developed vibrant externally-funded research teams since arrival and this is reflected in the promotion of both to Reader. The Departmental workload scheme ensures that both have a low teaching load, allowing development of high quality research outputs and external funding.
The theme is led by Finbow (HoDepartment2001-05), Graham & Martin. Graham has investigated factors relating to atherosclerosis, establishing the pro-atherogenic role of the novel adipokine, resistin, in macrophage foam cell formation, and investigating the relationship between circulating CC and CXC chemokines and the development of atheroma(AG1-4). Graham’s research links with an overarching interest of all three research themes in vascular biology and this led to the establishment of an inter-disciplinary Vascular Biology grouping(Graham, Martin, Shaw, MacDonald, Hillier, Lang and Ramage).
Cell-cell interactions through connexin-based gap junction networks have been the interest of Martin and Finbow joined by Hodgins (Honorary Chair, Cat C, Glasgow). Martin characterised the trafficking and assembly of connexins(PM1) and their re-distribution in ischaemic tissues(PM2). She collaborates with Zealand Pharma(Denmark), assessing the therapeutic potential of a novel range of mimetic peptides that enhance(PM3) or inhibit(PM4) connexin activity in wound repair where connexin network remodelling occurs. Finbow has shown that polyamines increase connexin-based cell-cell communication and this correlated with increased levels of connexins in early tumourigenesis(MF1). Martin and Hodgins, a long term collaborator with Finbow in inherited skin connexin disorders, have developed a novel in vitro skin model for future exploitation as a wound healing test-bed(PM4) and the model is being adapted to the vascular system in collaboration with Graham. Finbow has also studied the structure of the Vacuolar H+ATPase(proton pump) and demonstrated novel features of the membrane sector in its composition and role as a fusion pore(MF2-4).
Cancer and Environmental Molecular Biology
This theme is led by Bartholomew and Craft, bridging with Martin’s and Finbow’s research in cancer cell biology. Bartholomew discovered a region of human chromosome 10 that was mutated in head and neck tumours, suggesting a novel tumour suppressor gene (CB1). He has also pursued earlier work on the transcriptional repressor protein Evi1 in leukaemia (CB2-4). Craft has identified indications that clonal expansion of breast tumours is not clear cut and, in some instances, may be polyclonal indicating macro-heterogeneity of the founding tumour cells(JC1). Craft has exploited his molecular biology expertise (highlighted in RAE2001) to develop a new area of environmental toxicology in a large multi-national collaboration with Japan and the UK as the primary leaders(JC2-4).
Three researchers- Gow, Scobie & Woodall have established virology expertise. Scobie’s background in retro and papilloma viruses links with cancer biology of Bartholomew, Craft and Finbow. She had established her own independent group(alongside Onions and Neil) at Glasgow Vet School examining latent retroviruses in pigs to screen potentially harmful human trophic viruses from organ xenotransplantation (LS1,2,4) before moving her research team to GCU. Scobie has also shown that insertional mutagenesis is a powerful tool to study tumour progression and raises the issue of whether integrating retroviral vectors should be used in gene therapy due to their mutagenic potential (LS3). Woodall investigated transmission of human noroviruses, improving understanding of lung infections by lentiviruses(CW1) and lentivirus diagnostics(CW2). Woodall showed enteroviruses may be implicated in Motor Neurone Disease and Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis(CW4). Woodall has developed his expertise to establish BluScientific Test Data in researching the efficacy of biocides and determination of microbial contamination - notably human pathogenic viruses - in environmental samples. This lab has been identified by the OECD as one of only 11 global laboratories to participate in biocide ring trials. Woodall’s environmental analysis bridges with Craft. Woodall’s expertise has been complemented by the appointment of Gow(2006,ex-Glasgow) who complements Woodall’s expertise, examining chronic fatigue syndrome and the role of latent viruses(JG1-3).
Graham is funded by BHF (£80K + £174K), Diabetes UK (£123K + £10K joint with Martin), Heart Research UK (£84K) and holds a joint studentship from the British Skin Foundation (£65K) with Martin. Martin is funded by Medical Research Scotland(₤80K), BBSRC, Royal Society and British Heart Foundation and is Editorial Adviser for the Biochemical Journal. She was invited to give a platform presentation at the International Gap Junction Conference 2007, in Sweden. Finbow was funded by an EU Framework 5 Programme Grant(₤70K), BBSRC(₤280K) and Cancer Research UK. Finbow was a Medical Research Advisory Panel member(2002-5).
Bartholomew received funding from the Association for International Cancer Research and the Leukaemia Research Fund (₤212K). Craft has been funded by NERC(₤467K), SEPA, DEFRA(₤144K), DETR and MAFF, is a NERC Peer Review College member and Ecology Panel reserve chair, has given invited lectures at several international conferences( eg Japan, USA, Brazil, Italy and Portugal). He has recently been awarded a NERC KT grant of £105,650 to work with SEPA on Translating Environmental Genomics Outputs into Practical Use.
Scobie is funded by Xenome, the 12-nation EU Xenotransplantation and Genomics programme examining potential and challenges associated with therapeutic use of porcine organs, by DEFRA and US consortia. She was an invited speaker at several international conferences e.g. XIIth International Congress of Virology, Paris , 2002. Woodall is funded by the Norman Salvesen Emphysema ResearchTrust (₤150K), Medical Research Scotland (£76K) is a member of British Standards Institute Committee CH216 (London) and Comite Europeen de Normalisation Committees TC216 WG2(London); TC216Virus Task Group(Rome); TC216Sporicidal Task Group(Chairman, Paris). BluScientific has achieved in excess of £330K in external earnings during this period. Gow was awarded the Melvin Ramsay Society Medal for chronic fatigue studies(2007), is a member of the ME Association Scientific Advisory Panel and Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Editorial Board, gave invited presentations in Japan, the Netherlands and was external PhD examiner to Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. He is collaborating with groups in USA, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Japan. Gow’s DNA profiling expertise established the spin-out venture Crucial Genetics, (www.crucialgenetics.com) being one of only five UKAS ISO17025 accredited UK companies. Gow was awarded the Nexxus, West of Scotland Bioscience prize for the Most Promising Life Science Company (2005) and has strong KT links with Nationwide Expert Witness Services. He recently presented novel human identification DNA profiling data in Arcachon and Copenhagen.
b. Pharmacological and Physiological Bioscience Group
Category A- Prof Hillier, Drs Bovell, Corbett, Dolan, MacDonald, Shaw, Widmer
Supported by: 1 (7) Postdoctoral Research Fellows, 0.8 (3.4) Research Assistants, 9.5 (19) Research Students and 0.2 (5) Research Technicians (current and (total) numbers).
The group has been strengthened in chronic neurological/muscle disease by appointing Dolan with expertise in the molecular pharmacology of pain, whilst Widmer adds further electrophysiological and pharmacological expertise.
This theme is led by Hillier, MacDonald (Associate Dean Research, 2005-) and Shaw and integrates aspects of research from all BIO groups. Hillier demonstrated vascular properties of EDHF(CH1), urotensin(CH2), relaxin(CH3) and a non-ACE pathway for synthesis of AII(CH4) in human resistance arteries before his secondment(2004) to BIOPTA. Hillier’s interest integrates with MacDonald whose work on adrenoceptors has increased understanding of alpha1-adrenoceptor subtype roles in human resistance arteries both in healthy vessels(AM1,2) and chronic limb ischaemia(AM3,4). These advances are important since resistance artery alpha1-adrenoceptors play a crucial role in determining the systemic vascular resistance and blood pressure whilst alpha1-adrenoceptor antagonists are used clinically for hypertension and benign prostatic hypertrophy. MacDonald also collaborates with Shaw (AS1-4), whose work in pulmonary blood vessels and pulmonary hypertension includes the first demonstration of endothelium-dependent relaxation of pulmonary supernumerary arteries being mediated by two independent but fully compensatory pathways, nitric oxide and EDHF(AS1). The EDHF-mediated relaxation is transmitted through the vascular smooth muscle via gap junctions (AS2), linking his work with the Martin team.
Cellular Physiology and Pharmacology
This theme is led by Bovell, Corbett, Dolan and Widmer. Bovell investigated structural and stimulus-secretion coupling mechanisms in human (DB1,4) and equine (DB2) sweat glands, showing that in hyperhydrosis (excess uncontrolled fluid production), secretory mechanisms and not gland hypertrophy were implicated in the excess secretion (DB1). Bovell is currently the only researcher globally investigating the cellular physiology of human glands, developing unique cell lines to study them (DB2,3). He links with Martin on connexin hemichannel function and ATP release in skin cells and Finbow’s enhanced understanding of V-ATPase (MF2-4). Bovell’s secretion interests are shared by Corbett, with collaborative studies on enteric nervous system control mechanisms for secretion/absorption and motility in gut disorders, demonstrating the potential role of the enteric nervous system in the aetiology of gut disorders(AC1). Corbett continued his long-standing interest in opioids and pain perception with a commissioned review on landmarks in opioid research (AC2) and in collaboration with Dolan demonstrated analgesic properties of the medicinal herb Gingko biloba(AC4). Corbett’s expertise in intestinal pathophysiology and pharmacology led to a collaboration with Tester developing 5-aminosalycilic acid-dextran conjugates with applications for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in the distal ileum and proximal colon (AC3). Dolan is interested in the neuronal mechanisms of pain processing and analgesia, specifically in identifying genes responsible for mediating pathological pain in the CNS, enhancing understanding of individual mGlu receptor subtype functions in pain processing (SD1-4). Along with Corbett, Dolan examined the therapeutic effects of medicinal herbs on pain and inflammation (AC4). Widmer strengthens the neuroscience theme bringing particular expertise in electro-physiology and -pharmacology, concentrating on freshly dispersed native neurones and neurones in brain slices. Recently she demonstrated a differential regulation by phosphorylation in two distinct subpopulations of voltage-gated channels in Purkinje neurones from the cerebellum (HW2), investigated the developmentally regulated actions of neurosteroids on peptide release in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial tract (HW3), and illustrated the diversity of muscarinic ACh receptor-mediated responses evoked by cholinergic fibres stimulation in hippocampal interneurones (HW1).
Hillier was awarded a Scottish Enterprise/Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellowship, a UNISYS John Logie Baird Innovation Award, undertook an invited one year Visiting Professorship with Integrated DNA Technology in Iowa, developing proprietary aspects of RNAi technology (2006-7) and has received funding from Wellcome Trust; British Heart Foundation(₤48K); Chief Scientists Office(₤45K), Scottish Enterprise(₤123K), National Heart Research Fund, Tenovus, Chest, Heart & Stroke(Scotland), Novartis(₤24K), Solvay, Bristol Myers Squibb and Novo Nordisk. MacDonald is an Editorial Board member for British Journal of Pharmacology and Autonomic & Autacoid Pharmacology and previously Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Bovell is supported by Unilever plc(₤113K), and has spent two sabbatical periods with Prof Wing hung Ko, Chinese University Hong Kong, investigating equine systems. Corbett is on the advisory committee for the biennial European Opioid Conference and was a Visiting Professor at the Salamanca University, collaborating with Dr Raquel Rodrigues. Dolan received £293K BBSRC pain studies funding, collaborates with Dr Shyam Chatterjee(Germany), a world renowned expert on Gingko biloba and is supported by Schwabe Pharmaceuticals, Germany.
c. Microbial & Food Science Group
Category A- Profs Aidoo, Logan, Tester, Williams, Dr Lang, Ms Armstrong. Category B – Dr Ramage (left for SL position Glasgow, 2007).
Supported by: 3 (7) PostDoctoral Research Fellows, 1 (1) Research Assistant, 12.5 (32.5) Research Students and 4(7) Research Technicians (current and (total) numbers).
This group has been strengthened by three appointments, two junior (Lang and Ramage) and one senior (Williams). The principal research areas are in clinical and food microbiology, carbohydrate structure in staple crop foods and environmental analysis.
Food and Fungal Science
This theme, led by Aidoo, Tester, Williams, has seen a major development of commercially relevant research since RAE2001. Aidoo’s investigations on the role of micronutrients and vitamin supplements orally administered in relation to microflora complements the work in Vision Sciences on oral antioxidant therapy for marginal dry eye (KA1). His studies on fermentation showed formation of novel products from atoxigenic fungal species, Tremella (KA2). Aidoo’s research on food safety demonstrated that synthesis of mycotoxins was due to inherent toxigenic fungal spores which proliferated during food fermentation (KA3) and reported on the occurrence of mycotoxigenic fungi in yeast-fermented Asian products including ethnic foods found in the UK (KA4). Aidoo’s work also complements Williams’ work focussing on food safety issues, particularly during cheese ripening. Williams has examined enterotoxin formation (AW2), effectiveness of pasteurisation (AW3), flavour and aroma development (AW1,4). Tester has extended his work on the biosynthesis, structure and properties of plant carbohydrates including collaborative work on pectin-starch systems (RT1), industrially-funded work on starches (RT2), work on Chinese plant polymers on food rheology (RT3) and effects of environmental variation on structure and properties of starches (RT4). His spin-out, Glycologic, is based on carbohydrates for drug delivery. With Corbett, Tester has investigated dextran structure with particular reference to chronic bowel disease (AC3). The molecular biology expertise of Craft has led to a joint venture with Tester to develop diagnostic tests for the traceability and origin of economically important food crop cultivars. A recent Proof of Concept Award(£138K) to Tester on cellulose chemistry will lead potentially to a new commercial venture. The “food” theme is complemented by Armstrong’s nutritional work, investigating early growth and lifestyle of pre-school children in relation to development of obesity (BMJ – JA4). Her work also importantly demonstrated a protective effect of breastfeeding against obesity in pre-school children(Lancet-JA2). Further research showed socio-economic differences in under-nutrition and obesity in pre-school children(JA3) and she has contributed to developing new research methodologies for assessing the diets of children(JA1), linking with the Scottish Nutrition & Dietetics Research Initiative, within BIO.
Within the group there is a core of bacteriology research led by Logan and Lang. Logan demonstrated the importance of identifying Brevibacillus species in medical, food and other industries(NL1). He also demonstrated that an endospore-forming species originally discovered in Antarctic geothermal soils is also present in gelatin production plants in Europe and the USA suggesting that spores of these organisms can travel around the globe in air currents (NL2). Pathogenic micro-organisms form persistent infections as a result of biofilm formation and two new junior appointments - Lang and Ramage - developed biofilm expertise. Lang investigates infective endocarditis demonstrating the challenges of identifying causative infectious agents because of a wide variety of patient-based and methodological parameters(SL1), developing improved methods of detection using serological and molecular (SL2,4) approaches. Lang’s interests in endothelial immune response during staphylococcal endocarditis involves collaborations with Martin’s connexin re-modelling group and the vascular biologists. Lang is currently extending Ramage’s examination of biofilm formation by pathogenic fungi and bacteria(Candida albicans & Pseudomonas) in the buccal cavity of immuno-suppressed patients.
Aidoo has an international reputation in food safety and in 2000 he was appointed on the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Expert Committee of Microbiological Risk Assessment. He is the coordinator for an EU ‘Intensive Programme’ on Food Safety and Risk Assessment across 10 European universities. He has recently accepted prestigious invitations to join the Expert Committee for Food Additives and Contaminants (JEFCA) of the FAO/WHO of the UN for a 5-year term and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Food Examination Performance Assessment Scheme (FEPAS), Central Science Laboratory, York, which is under the auspices of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Williams is funded by Scottish Government (₤675K) to develop understanding of dairy food safety issues. Tester has been supported by research councils such as EPSRC, MAFF, EU, Cadbury Schweppes, numerous food and pharmaceutical companies, Proof of Concept Fund (£138K) is an Editorial Board Member for Food Hydrocolloids, Food Research International, Starch/Stärke and The Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture. Aidoo and Tester have developed 6 KT Partnerships (₤650K) since 2001 in the areas of food safety, diagnostics and carbohydrate biochemistry. Armstrong was seconded to lead development of National Nutritional Guidance for Early Years(1-5), a national policy document, served on numerous working groups with Food Standards Agency, NHS Health Scotland, Scottish Government, and has co-authored several nutrition FSA scientific reports and Health Improvement papers. receiving funding from Chief Scientist Office, NHS Health Scotland and in April 2007 £100K from FSA to derive and interpret dietary patterns.
Logan is funded by bioMerieux (France & USA ₤75K), is Chairman of the International Union of Microbiological Societies International Committee on the Systematics of Prokaryotes (IUMS ICSP) subcommittee on Taxonomy of the Genus Bacillus and Related Organisms, and a member of the International Judicial Commission on Prokaryote Nomenclature, giving invited keynotes at numerous international conferences, e.g. the keynote address at the Bacillus 2003 meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia.. Lang was invited speaker at 8th International Symposium on Modern Concepts in Endocarditis and Cardiovascular Infections (South Carolina, 2005) and is funded by the Royal Society, Chief Scientist’s Office and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. She is currently collaborating with Scottish MRSA Reference Laboratory along with Prof Curtis Gemmell(Glasgow).
2.2 VISION SCIENCES
Four research groupings established since RAE1992 form the basis for research investment in VIS. This strategy has contributed strongly to the substantial improvements in the quality of the research outputs reported.
Reportable income is in excess of £900K, an increase of >300% from RAE 2001 and the sustainable nature of these increases is demonstrated by the fact that over 60% of this income is from Research Council or UK Charitable sources. Total research income from all sources in the period of the RAE is in excess of £1.4M.
The four research groups are led by established researchers. Importantly, sustainable research development has been ensured by new staff appointments to these groups which, combined with the considerable overlap of interests between the groups, creates cross group synergies which are a key strength in VIS.
Following RAE 2001, research strategy in VIS has focussed upon increasing international impact and collaboration, increasing external income generation and developing outward facing applied research with significant impact upon clinical practice and health policy. Strategic appointments described in 1.3 have proven successful in extending the scope of the established research groups, which now have 18 ongoing collaborations with international scientists, and in developing novel research themes, particularly, the establishment of a system for cortical Near Infrared Spectroscopy(NIRS), one of only 6 systems worldwide. Increased clinical research activity through Dutton, with the additional support of 3 clinically qualified PhD studentships, has led to 17 papers in highly ranking journals and >£250K external funding since his appointment in 2004. Logvinenko has obtained >£300K funding from BBSRC and EPSRC since arrival, supporting 3 PostDoctoral Fellows.
a. Anterior Segment Group
Cat A staff (primary interests) – Professors Tomlinson and Doughty, Dr Pearce
Supported by: 1.7 (2) Postdoctoral Research Fellows, 3 (7) Research Students, (4) Research Assistants and 1 (1) Research Technician (current and (total) numbers).
The group has increased external research income by 100% since RAE2001, while simultaneously increasing the quality of outputs.
Anterior Segment research is led by Tomlinson (HODepartment), Doughty and Pearce. Tomlinson has helped to shape the international dry eye and tear physiology research agenda. This has allowed Pearce to develop and successfully acquire >£140K industrial funding. Further increases are anticipated through expanded industrial partnerships. Tomlinson has a body of work in tear physiology(AT4, EP1), contact lenses(AT1, AT2, AT3) and dry eye disease(EP3, EP4). Recent developments have targeted improving the effectiveness of dry eye diagnosis, differential diagnosis of subtypes and targeted therapies for the condition(AT4, EP4). Dry eye research funding is > £210K since 2001. Doughty’s research into the ultrastructure of the cornea has lead to breakthroughs in understanding how these tissues interact (MD4) and substantially to our understanding of corneal thickness and the corneal endothelium (MD1-3), leading to international collaborations(MD1,MD2). This corneal work is also linked to ongoing studies on the role of the conjunctiva, eye blinking and the tear film in this interaction. Pearce’s interests include investigating and validating dry-eye diagnostic tests(EP2, EP3). Pearce was first to elucidate the mechanism underlying the tear ferning test(EP2) and has worked with Tomlinson to define what the Phenol Red Thread tear test actually measures(EP3), being particularly interested in the impact of environment on dry eye(EP1). Recent funding(£44k) has provided a controlled adverse environment chamber allowing rapid advances in this field of research. Investigations by Tomlinson & Pearce on a number of therapeutic regimens for dry eye funded have yielded the first report of a tear evaporation rate reducing tear supplement, and have led to a successful commercial product(EP4, Allergan Refresh Endura).
Tomlinson is a leading contributor and steering committee member of two anterior eye research organisations, the International Society for Contact Lens Research and the National Eye Institute (USA) International Dry Eye Workshop. Pearce’s work has resulted in membership of the latter. Tomlinson and Pearce continue to work with numerous international industrial collaborators (Allergan(USA), Pfizer(USA), SIFI(Italy), Renaissance Healthcare(UK/Belgium), Clinact(France). Doughty has international collaborations with USA and Ireland (MD4).
b. Visual Development Group
Cat A staff (primary interests) – Professors McCulloch and Dutton.
Supported by: 0.4 (7) postdoctoral research fellows, 2 (6) research students and (3) research assistants (current and (total) numbers).
Ongoing maturation of the group includes the promotion of McCulloch (Associate Dean Research 2002-05) to Professor and the appointment of Dutton, bringing considerable clinical medical expertise. The group has cross group interaction with Gray (Oculomotor Function), Orbach and Manahilov (Visual Psychophysics). Visual development research has shown profile enhancement through outputs in leading journals(DM1-4,GD1-4) and through the international reputation of McCulloch and Dutton.
A major new theme being developed by McCulloch and Manahilov(Visual Psychophysics) utilises the emerging technology of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for brain optical topography, a non-invasive tool for measuring dynamic changes in oxy- and deoxygenated haemoglobin levels during mental activity. VIS is committed to sustainable development of new approaches investigating visual function and development, with SLS recognising this potential by funding a Postdoctoral Researcher dedicated to optical topography. McCulloch has recently obtained £50K of external funding from the College of Optometrists to support a new research studentship in this area.
McCulloch was instrumental in forming the multidisciplinary collaborative research group with Queen Mother’s Maternity and Yorkhill Sick Childrens Hospitals to investigate prenatal and early postnatal effects on the visual system(DM2, DM4). She has evaluated prognostic tests for visual pathway function in infants born prematurely and in those with neurological disorders, studying the influence of maternal lipid nutrition on neonate retinal health(DM2, DM3). Together with collaborators from ophthalmology, medical physics, biochemistry and neonatology, a Scottish Government sponsored prospective clinical trial is underway investigating the impact of vitamin A supplementation on retinal health in infants born prematurely, alongside additional research into visual deficits in children exposed in utero to drugs of misuse, including novel techniques developed with German collaborators. McCulloch has been awarded >£100K externally over the cycle. Dutton has an established international reputation in cerebral visual impairment and visual dysfunction in children, publishing in highly ranked medical(BMJGD1, GD2) and neurological(GD4) journals. He has generated >£250K externally since appointment in 2004. Dutton’s work on the clinical management of children with cerebral visual impairment has lead to the development of examination protocols being employed internationally, and these protocols have been translated into Danish, German and Dutch and Swedish. Gray’s work in the area of clinical measurement of visual function in amblyopia has developed a new battery of simple visual tests to identify specific aspects of visual dysfunction through £50K funding from the College of Optometrists.
McCulloch is currently the Secretary General of the International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision(ISCEV); organised the XLIV Annual ISCEV International Symposium at GCU(August 2005); served on the Organising, Editorial and Programme Committees of subsequent ISCEV Symposia in France(2006) and India(2007). Dutton has given invited keynote presentations at numerous international conferences including Nordic Ophthalmology Congress(2002) and the Asia Pacific Ophthalmology Congress(2004), was recently awarded the Keshmahinder Singh Medal and Oration for clinical ophthalmic research.
c. Oculomotor Function Group
Cat A staff (primary interests) – Professor Heron, Drs Gray, Seidel and Strang
Supported by: 7 (12) research students (current and (total) numbers).
This group, led by Heron, has significant cross-group interaction with Dutton (Visual Development) and Manahilov (Visual Psychophysics). Numbers and quality of research outputs have increased substantially since 2001, particularly external income up by 100%.
The sustainability of the group, and the strong research development culture in VIS is demonstrated both by strategic appointments and internal development of good researchers within the unit. Thus, Strang, after gaining his PhD from GCU, gained research experience as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Queensland University of Technology and held a Lectureship at Bradford before returning as a Senior Lecturer in VIS with a mature research profile. The promotion of Heron to Professor further illustrates group maturation. Seidel, formerly a VIS postgraduate student (supervisors Heron and Gray) has competitively progressed to become a successful researcher with high ranking outputs, including IOVS, the highest impact international vision sciences journal (DS1).
Gray’s work has identified specific deficits of accommodation function in dyslexia(LG1) and myopia(DS1-3) previously unrecognised. Gray’s work has been supported by >£120K from the College of Optometrists and Carnegie Trust, including a recent award from The College of Optometrists (£50K) for an innovative project to examine in detail the structure of the hyperopic eye. Heron’s work has described in detail changes in accommodation function with increasing age and was among the earliest work published internationally in this field. (GH1, GH3, LG3). Heron and Gray (LG4) have developed a novel clinical test to examine perceptual interocular brightness differences, which is internationally unique and builds upon Heron’s internationally recognised expertise in the visual effects of cerebral injury (GH2 GH4). Strang’s work examining visual performance(NS1, NS4) and accommodation (NS2, NS3) has involved significant international collaboration (Atchison, Australia NS1-3; Artal, Spain NS1; Stark, USA NS2,3). A combination of optical and psychophysical measurement techniques were used to investigate the role of the Stiles-Crawford Effect in improving visual performance (NS1) and a novel pyschophysical approach was adopted to assess the pattern of retinal stretching produced by myopic eye growth (NS4). The accommodation work (NS2, 3) has highlighted the inaccuracies that can occur in the accommodation response in real life situations. Strang has gained >£45K EPSRC funding in this cycle to investigate the levels of defocus perceived in myopic eyes. Gray and Strang are currently developing a Myopia Research Forum with colleagues from Aston.
Staff in this group have been promoted to senior research management positions, including development of Gray from PhD student in 1994 to Senior Lecturer. Gray is Postgraduate Tutor, VIS Research Committee Chair, and sits on SLS Research Committee, University Graduate Centre Board and Higher Degrees Committee.
Heron is a member of the American Academy of Optometry Academic Committee and collaborates with internationally-respected researchers (CM Schor GH1,GH2), Gray has given an invited presentation on oculomotor function to a meeting of National Institutes of Health (USA). Strang collaborates with internationally-respected researchers in optics (D Atchison & L Stark NS1,2) and was an organising committee member for the European Conference on Physiological Optics(2006), and an invited myopia session chair at the international Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Conference(USA).
d. Visual Psychophysics Group
Cat A staff (primary interests) – Professors Logvinenko and Manahilov, Drs Calvert, Loffler and Orbach
Supported by 3 (7) PostDoctoral Research Fellows and 4 (9) Research Students (current and (total) numbers).
The group has increased external income substantially since RAE2001 (from c£15K to >£500K), while developing international output quality and consolidating its position particularly via international linkages (AL1-4, GL1-4). 7 Research Fellows have contributed substantially to the portfolio, with 2 taking up permanent appointments elsewhere. The promotions of Orbach and Loffler to Reader, Manahilov to Professor and the appointment of Logvinenko provide this group with a sustainable core. The group has significant interactions with McCulloch and Dutton (Visual Development), and Strang (Oculomotor Function). Logvinenko has developed new methods to measure colour appearance of objects(AL4) avoiding several previously inherent fundamental limitations, with direct clinical implications facilitating diagnosis of colour deficiencies. Logvinenko has received>£300K from EPSRC and BBSRC to develop these themes supporting 3 Postdoctoral Fellows. Manahilov has addressed the question of where and how different aspects of object perception are processed (VM1-4), enhancing understanding of how humans perceive objects, gaining £150K from EPSRC and BBSRC, funding 2 Postdoctoral Fellows. His studies lead to a granted patent "Systems and Apparatus for Assessment of Visual Field Functions" (US 7 278 742 B2 Oct 9 2007) which can be used for objective assessment of visual field defects of glaucoma patients. Orbach has investigated the nature of the visual percept, including peripheral pattern perception, change blindness and inattentional blindness (HO1-4), gaining £63K from EPSRC, supporting 1 Postdoctoral Fellow. In addition to psychophysical and theoretical investigations into face (GL2), motion (GL1) and shape perception (GL3), Loffler has also utilised fMRI to study the neural representation of faces in human cortex, published in Nature:Neuroscience(GL4), and has gained >£120K from EPSRC to support 2 Postdoctoral Fellows.
Logvinenko has received >£300K from BBSRC, EPSRC and Wellcome has collaborative links to USA (Maloney, NYU; Adelson, MIT) and Russia (Levin and Chernavskij, Moscow) resulting in joint publications. He was an invited keynote speaker at University of Moscow(2006). Manahilov was co-organiser European Conference on Visual Perception(ECVP2002)), a member of the organising committee for the 2005ISCEV Meeting, and is an Editorial Board member of Open Cybernetics & Systemics Journal. He has received >£130K from BBSRC, EPSRC, Wellcome and Royal Society, has international collaborations with Dr. Mihaylova, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Mueller, Leipzig University and Odom, West Virginia. Loffler has gained £126K from the EPSRC, has significant international collaboration with Wilson & Wilkinson (York University, Canada; GL2-4) and was an expert advisor for the BBC (e.g. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4058367.stm). Orbach has gained £60K from EPSRC, Nuffield and Carnegie funding one Postdoctoral post.
3. RESEARCH GOVERNANCE
The University Research Committee strategically develops and sustains a successful research culture and performance, chaired by the PVC Research with membership from senior staff who, whether through strategic function or background, have extensive knowledge of research at national and international levels. The School Research Committee comprising Dean, Associate Dean Research (Chair), chairs of Departmental Research Committees, postgraduate research student tutors, student representation and School Technical Manager, has oversight of all research in the School and advises the Dean on planning. Departmental Research Committees provide day-to-day governance and includes representatives of all research groups and students.
Ethical issues are overseen by the University Ethics Committee. Operational aspects of use of human subjects comes under the auspices of the School Ethical Committee. Animal use is overseen by the Animal Ethics Committee.
4. MANAGEMENT OF POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS
The University Higher Degrees Committee advises Senate on all matters relating to higher degree programmes and is responsible for registration, supervision and monitoring of progress of research students. It is also responsible for approval of examination arrangements. Membership of the Higher Degrees Committee includes the Associate Dean Research from each School. The Higher Degrees Committee is advised by the Graduate Centre Board whose role is to enhance the experience of research students by the provision of generic skills training, following the Roberts agenda. At School level, applications for registration and research student monitoring etc. are carried out by the School Research Committee.
Postgraduate research students register initially for MPhil with the possibility of transfer to PhD. Each student is assigned an experienced Director of Studies and a Second Supervisor, with a Third Supervisor optional. Inexperienced supervisors are required to be mentored by an experienced supervisor and also attend a training course. The suitability of the supervisory team is examined by the School Research Committee and the Higher Degrees Committee. Application to transfer registration from MPhil/PhD to PhD normally takes place 9-15 months after registration and after the submission of a transfer report of 3000-6000 words for approval by the School Research Committee and Higher Degrees Committee. Great emphasis has been placed on training of research students, including generic skills training. Since 2004 the focus of this training has been Caledonian Graduate Centre, established to enhance the experience of research students, supervisors and researchers throughout the university. The Graduate Centre works in partnership with external collaborators such as other Universities, UKGRAD, SURTAWest (West of Scotland Universities Research Training Alliance) and HealthQWest Graduate School to provide personal, professional and research methods skills training workshops, seminars, lectures and events on themes of relevance to the general academic and cultural development of postgraduate research students and staff, including networking, paper writing and career development skills. Training workshops for staff engaged in higher degree supervision and research leadership, social and intellectual events to facilitate the interaction of research students and staff are also provided. In addition to events run by the Graduate Centre, Departments run induction courses for new research students. Students are required to give a talk to the whole Department towards the end of their first year and they are expected to make regular presentations to their research groups. At the end of second year students write a progress report which forms the basis for a mock-viva examination. Research students are expected to attend all Departmental research seminars and they are encouraged to attend SLS seminars, typically totalling more than 40 per annum and the extensive research seminar programme throughout Scotland. They are expected to present their work at scientific meetings both national and international, e.g. in 2006-2007, ten research students presented papers at international meetings (see 1.3 for further details). SLS research students and newly appointed staff are encouraged to take advantage of NEXXUS training and networking events for Life Scientists across Scotland.
5. STAFFING POLICY
A transparent workload management policy is employed in both BIO and VIS to ensure that each academic member of staff has a balanced load with sufficient time for research, postgraduate supervision and grant writing. Contact hours and administration are reduced pro rata for designated researchers so that those with the highest research activity measured by external income and supervision, have the fewest contact hours. Workloads are adjusted downwards for newly appointed research Lecturers to encourage development of independent research income generating capacity. However, scholarly staff are integral to the research environment, contributing by carrying greater loads in teaching and administration. School and departmental funds have been available for teaching relief/sabbaticals and 10 submitted staff have benefited from sabbaticals/secondments for the development of their research or commercial activities. £70k pa funding is also available for all staff and Research Fellows to attend international meetings, being tied into research outputs, grant awards and journal article production.
There is a mentoring policy in place to team each new member to experienced staff for grant writing and PhD supervision. To date one new lecturer has left (Ramage) and then to a senior position at Glasgow University and three (Graham, Loffler, Martin) have been promoted to Readerships. As a result of active mentoring by senior researchers, mid-career staff Bovell and Corbett have been promoted to SL, Orbach to Reader and, Aidoo, Heron, Hillier, Logan, Manahilov and McCulloch to Professor.
6. KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER ACTIVITIES AND ENGAGEMENT WITH USERS
A major target for BIO in this cycle was to drive forward knowledge transfer (KT) and business developments. This has been achieved and the Department has had an excellent success rate, punching well above its weight for its size with 5 research income generating ventures, notably in the food sector. The two commercial-relevant ventures highlighted in the last RAE have spun out into separate trading companies- Glycologic (http://www.glycologic.co.uk/) (Tester) and BIOPTA (http://www.biopta.com/ ) (formerly Vascan Biotech, Hillier). Glycologic (a private limited company) is entering its 5th trading year and remains on site within a facility created by the University and Scottish Enterprise (incubator facility, £0.25 million refurbishment). Glycologic’s (turnover £0.5M) uses carbohydrate technology for the packaging and delivery of drugs. BIOPTA has moved to the West of Scotland Science Park developing globally unique human tissue test bed equipment using myography with the first instrument to market. Both companies have been highlighted as major successes in the very competitive Scottish biomedical science start-up market. A third University based activity –BluScientific (http://www.bluscientific.com/) (Woodall), started 2 years ago, developing innovative tissue culture-based assays for detecting human viral pathogens (SARS, Winter Vomiting Virus etc) in the environment with the NHS and private sector contracts generating £0.5 million in 2006/7, for international research and development including collaboration with Californian investors. This area adds to the School’s increasing portfolio in fine analytical techniques including for the past 5 years UKAS accreditation of Aidoo’s laboratories for the analysis of food, captures earnings of £~50K annually. These analytical techniques complement DNA technology under Gow, with development of new lab facilities to UKAS standards (£100K University funded), associated with the award winning DNA Profiling SME Crucial Genetics, of which Gow is a Director, for the next thrust of KT activity.
The KT activity has also been highly successful with the award of 6 KT Partnerships for Aidoo and Tester with local SMEs and multinational food companies since 2001. These have provided direct links between BIO expertise and the food industry. A second KT area has been a joint venture with NHS Scotland and BIO (Finbow and Armstrong), establishing the Scottish Nutrition and Diet Resources Initiative (SNDRi, income of £0.6M) for development of innovative dietary solutions for healthcare providers including dietitians, nutritionists and the public.
In VIS, the focus is primarily on knowledge transfer to the clinical ophthalmic community, although there have been several commercial outputs. Tomlinson and Pearce funded by Allergan have developed a successful commercial product (Refresh Endura) to reduce tear evaporation rate for dry eye patients. Gray has also developed a new battery of visual tests to identify specific aspects of visual dysfunction in the amblyopic eye and is seeking funding to develop these tests as a commercial product. The appointments of Dutton and Logvinenko have also enabled enhanced KT activities to the ophthalmic community and created the possibility of developing postgraduate medical courses for the training at fellowship level of UK and overseas ophthalmologists.
7. FUTURE TARGETS
Over the next 5 years BIO will incrementally increase research-active staff and external income with the focus on the diseased state (including atherosclerosis, obesity, hypertension, bacterial and viral infection, cancer, food poisoning by microbial toxins) and strategies promoting health (pharmacological agents, nutrition). Alongside this, strategic investments will be made in areas such as bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics and molecular biology so that the maximum return on our investments in high quality labs and facilities will be obtained. Increases in research income will be targeted towards (a) charity and research council funding building from current levels in all three research groups but particularly Cell & Biomolecular Medicine and Pharmacological & Physiological Boisciences, enhancing current successes in charity and research council funding (b) increase in KTPs, particularly in the area of food biosciences, with 6 successful KTPs in the current RAE cycle (c) achievement of 2 new spin-out SMEs with funding flowing back into SLS, building on the successful spin-out of 2 SMEs in the current RAE cycle and the development of a successful research consultancy arm.
Research strategy in VIS for the next 5 years will be directed towards sustainable increases in research active staff and external income generation, maintaining the focus within the 4 areas of research, which have proven highly successful to date. Research strategy will be aimed particularly at increasing international collaboration and recognition in key areas of both clinical and applied vision research. A key strategic research area will be the development of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for brain optical topography. The applications of this emerging technology are multifaceted and collaborations across research groups and internationally will lead to significant increases in external grant funding particularly from the Research Councils and UK charities. The aim is to fund externally 3 Postdoctoral Research Fellows and through this work to lead and inform the international research agenda in this area.
Critical to these developments will be strategic succession planning whereby new highly research active staff are appointed to work alongside staff approaching retirement, ensuring that research momentum is sustained. PhD studentships will be targeted to early career, highly active research staff. The excellent record of >75% PhD completions within 4 years will be maintained and improved further by emphasis on generic skills training for students, use of science sandpits to develop and explore novel experimental approaches, mentoring for inexperienced supervisors, investment in early stage international collaborations and careful monitoring of research student progress. Successful grant income and reputation will encourage the growth of highly focussed collaborations with European and North American centres of excellence leading to the target of increasing high impact publications. Extensive use will be made of the Glasgow Clinical Research Facility currently under development with NHS partners, to access clinical settings and ensure that BIO and VIS research will continue to be highly applied in nature and directed towards end users.
Overall, targets for SLS over the next five years are to:
- Increase external research income to >£7.5M
- Ensure PhD completions within 4 years exceed 75% annually
- Grow Postdoctoral Research Fellow population by 20%
- Achieve a further 2 spin-out SMEs
- Establish further 7 KTPs, including a KTP in clinical and applied vision research.
- Increase international collaborative research projects by 50%
- Grow academic researcher population by 20%
SLS’ research profile has matured significantly since 2001, developing a sustainable, outward-facing research base providing further opportunities for engagement with a wide range of end users and will continuously inform and lead applied health sciences progress.