Monday, 25 January 2016

€2.4 million ERC Consolidator Research Grant

Professor Melissa Mather, ERC Consolidator Grant Fellow

Professor Melissa Mather, Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, has won a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Research Grant worth €2.4 million (£1.6 million). This award will provide five years of funding for her project entitled "TransPhorm - Single molecule imaging of transmembrane protein structure and function in their native state". 
This project aims to pioneer new technology to enable the proteins found in the membrane of cells responsible for the regulation of cell function and communication to be studied in their natural environment with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. An understanding of these proteins, called ion channels, is of immense importance to obtain new insight into numerous physiological processes including electrical signalling in the heart and nervous system, hormone secretion, the role of nutrient transporters in cancer growth, endocytosis and gene expression. This work will help to reveal how the dysfunction of these proteins leads to disease and downstream will accelerate drug discovery as ion channel modulators represent an extremely important class of pharmaceuticals.
Selection for the ERC Consolidator Grant Mel has been awarded involves an interview at the ERC headquarters in Brussels and is highly competitive, with only a small percentage of the 2051 applications received being granted. This scheme offers mid-career researchers funding to develop their most innovative ideas, autonomy and prestige and was established by the ERC with the overall aim of developing a new generation of top researchers in Europe, who are competitive at a global level. 
Mel, pictured above with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Trevor McMillan and Professor David Amigoni, Pro VC for Research and Enterprise, is Keele's Professor of Biomedical Imaging and will also now use the title "ERC Consolidator Grant Fellow". She moved to Keele in August 2015 from Nottingham University where she was the Faculty of Engineering lead and Deputy Director at Nottingham's Institute of Biophysics. She brought with her the remaining year of her EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship which started in 2011 and has been extended to March 2017. That EPSRC fellowship aims to develop a new class of ultrasonic transducer based on self-assembling liposomes, capable for use as a new medical imaging modality.

Professor Alicia El Haj, Director of ISTM, said: "Melissa's appointment to Keele and her successful award of an ERC fellowship places Keele among the major international research centres in this field. This programme will expand our efforts within ISTM to translate cutting edge science into novel medical technologies that will benefit the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the next decade."

Mel pictured with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Trevor McMillan (left)
& Professor David Amigoni, Pro VC for Research and Enterprise (right),

Monday, 18 January 2016

ISTM's 2016 Professorial Promotions

ISTM is proud to announce that the University's Professorial and Readership Promotions Committee has made the following professorial promotions...

Josep Sulé-Suso graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Barcelona before training in Clinical Oncology in North Staffordshire. After a spell at the National Cancer Institute in Milan working on cancer immunotherapy and gene therapy, he returned in 1995 to work as a clinical oncologist at UHNM in parallel with carrying out basic and translational research in ISTM, for which he we awarded a PhD. Josep is currently the Theme Lead for Diagnostic Engineering and Proteomics in ISTM.

His research combines patient-based and fundamental laboratory research with a particular focus on early diagnosis of cancer using spectrometry and spectroscopy techniques. He was involved in the development of one of the beamlines at Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire (one of the major research facilities in the UK) and is a founding member of the International Society for Clinical Spectroscopy. Josep is presently working on the early diagnosis of lung cancer through the analysis of volatiles in human breath. He has also recently been involved in the creation of a Masters in Medical Science Course in Oncology aimed at integrating clinical activities with basic research in oncology.

Ying Yang obtained a PhD from Manchester University and received her postdoctoral training at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Her core interest is in using biomaterials and culture environments as tools to understand and explore mechanisms of cell differentiation and tissue formation in regenerative medicine. Her major contributions have been in the field of design and construction of novel materials and coatings for use in engineering and 3D tissue models.

Ying's background in materials science and engineering underpin her ability to facilitate cross-disciplinary research in a range of disease-orientated projects with clinicians and bio-imaging projects with physicists. She has an enviable record having been awarded over £2 million in external funding from research councils, charities and the EU commission during her time at Keele and publishing in excess of 100 peer-reviewed papers (h-index 23) together with numerous book chapters and reviews. Ying has also made a significant contribution to postgraduate training within ISTM including development of a unique Masters programme. She was instrumental in implementing the 3+1+1 joint education programme with Guangzhou University. 

Rosemary Fricker was appointed at Keele in 2005 as a Research Scientist in ISTM and Lecturer in the new Medical School. Her research focuses on developing stem cell therapies for the treatment of the neurodegenerative disorders Parkinson's (PD) and Huntington's diseases (HD). Her team work in two key areas (i) role of vitamins in the conversion of stem cells to neurons and their survival and (ii) engineering functional brain circuitry in vitro to model PD and HD.

Nick Forsyth joined Keele in 2007 as a Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology following postdoctoral research studies at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre at Dallas, USA and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Originally trained as a cancer biologist at the CRUK Beatson Institute of Cancer Research, Nick became interested in the mechanisms of cell mortality and aging, which led to work in stem cell biology and the accompanying fields of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

He has an acknowledged international standing in the field and an identifiable niche as a global expert in hypoxic stem cell biology, including the design and engineering of innovative systems to facilitate controlled hypoxic experimentation. Within Keele, Nick acts as Associate Director, Research Theme Lead (Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine), and Internationalisation Director for ISTM, sits on Senate and serves as Biological Safety Officer. He has a highly cited research portfolio and a funding portfolio that amounts to £2 million as PI as well as levering a further £15 million of associated funding through multi-centre collaborations.