2017 Archive

Mon 4th December 2017 – Dr Matt Loxham – Particulates and Health

Air pollution is regularly in the news – UK cities breaking air pollution limits, smogs in Asian megacities, estimates about the numbers of people who die prematurely as a result of exposure to pollution, new links to diseases caused by pollution, or novel ways of reducing levels of pollution and our exposure to it.  But what exactly is air pollution, and where does it come from?  How is it measured?  What happens to our lungs and other parts of our body when we inhale air pollution?  And how can we reduce our exposure to pollution?  In my talk I will try to answer these questions, using examples from the latest research, as well as showing how much more there is that we need to understand.

Matthew Loxham graduated from the University of Sheffield with a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology.  After remaining in Sheffield for a period of research studying lung mast cell biology with Dr Peter Peachell, he moved to the University of Southampton, taking a Master of Research degree in Respiratory Biology.  His doctoral research focused on the link between the chemistry and the biological effects of particulate matter found in underground railway stations.  A key finding of his doctoral research was that the smallest particles found in the air in underground systems are much richer in metals than similarly sized particles in the outdoor air, making underground particulate matter potentially more toxic than that found above ground.

A three year period of postdoctoral research focused on airway epithelial responses to a range of exogenous factors, including particulate matter, airborne allergens, and viruses, with a particular focus on epithelial responses leading to airway inflammation and airway remodelling.

In December 2016, Dr Loxham was awarded a BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship, focusing on the health effects of particulate matter from ships and dockside emissions sources.  He is also interested in the effects of ultrafine and nanoparticles at the cellular and molecular level, and the effects of particulate matter on sites other than the lungs.

Mon 6th November 2017 – Prof Robert Read – Deliberate Experimental Infection of Humans for Medical Discovery

Controlled human infection is an experimental technique in which volunteers allow themselves to be infected with an infectious pathogen for the purpose of understanding an infectious disease and devising methods of prevention. It may be counter-intuitive that an infectious disease doctor would wish to give people an infection, but this method is the fastest way to understand pathogenesis and gain proof of principle of putative vaccines and treatments. In this talk I will explain how this is done and the obstacles that need to be overcome, giving examples of successful use of the strategy in influenza, hepatitis, malaria and meningitis.

Professor Robert Read is Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Southampton and a Consultant Physician at University Hospital Southampton. He is Director of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. His research focusses on the prevention of rapidly lethal infectious diseases, especially meningitis, pneumonia, and influenza. He has been closely involved in the development and early clinical trials of a number of important vaccines for meningitis and influenza.

Mon 2nd October 2017 – Prof Roy Weller – Vascular Factors in Dementia

Age is a major risk factor for dementia. This talk will review the effects of age upon the brain and upon arteries that supply the brain. How age-related changes in arteries in the brain may act as a trigger for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia will be discussed as will the possible strategies that could be developed to mitigate the effects of ageing blood vessels on the brain in the management of dementia.
Roy Weller is Emeritus Professor of Neuropathology in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton. For many years he was responsible for the diagnosis of tumours and other diseases of the brain including dementias. In addition to teaching activities he organised an active research programme latterly concentrating on the vascular causes of dementia. Using observations from the pathological study of human brains, he established experimental models to test hypotheses relating to the causes of human dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease. He is still active in the research field in association with an expanding team investigating vascular factors in dementia and the development of possible therapies for dementia.

Mon 4th September – Dr. David Armstrong McKay, Climate Tipping Points: The Point of No Return?

Man-made emissions have been pushing up Earth’s temperature through the Greenhouse Effect, and much more warming is expected during our lifetimes if emissions aren’t reduced. But warming may not be gradual – passing a ‘tipping point’ can cause sudden change. Scientists are now worried that we’re approaching some of these tipping points, beyond which rapid and difficult-to-reverse climate changes may occur. This helps to make climate change more of a so-called “Wicked Problem” to respond to, as it makes future climate change more difficult to predict and comprehend. In this month’s Winchester Science Café join Dr. David Armstrong McKay to find out about what climate tipping points are, how might they affect us, and whether we can predict and avoid them.

Dr. David Armstrong McKay is currently a Research Fellow in the Geography and Environment department of the University of Southampton studying early warning signals of tipping points in lake ecosystems. He completed his PhD at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton in 2015 with a thesis investigating perturbations and tipping points in the carbon-climate system over the last 66 million years, and launched the Climate Tipping Points (www.climatetippingpoints.info) ReCoVER Network-funded outreach project in Autumn 2016. He is fascinated by the co-evolution of the Earth, life, and human societies as complex and dynamic systems Earth, and his research focuses on using numerical modelling and analysis to investigate the resilience of the Earth System.


Mon 7th August – Prof Jessica Teeling – “All eyes on the immune system to fight age-related blindness”

Ever wondered why so many of us you lose our vison when we get old, as a result of age related macular degeneration? Is it our genes or our environment, or both? Do you want to find out how we can use research to tackle this most common form of blindless in eldery?   In this interactive cafe scientifique, professor Jessica Teeling will take you on a journey into the eye, sometimes referred to as the ‘window of the brain’ and discuss the role of our immune system driving the tissue damage to the ageing retina, which ultimately leads to losing our sight.

Jessica Teeling is a Professor in experimental neuroimmunology at the University of Southampton. She studied Medical Biology at the University of Amsterdam, followed by a PhD in immunology and hematology.  In 2004, she left Genmab to become an academic researcher at the University of Southampton and started her own research group in 2008 to study the effect of inflammation in the aging central nervous system. Professor Teeling’s primary research interest is to understand the role of the immune system in the central nervous system (CNS), and in particular the contribution of (systemic) inflammation in the onset and progression of disease of the brain and eye. She uses experimental models and ultimately, aims to use these to gain knowledge on how to prevent or treat common age related diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Age Related Macular degeneration.


Mon 3rd July 2017 – Prof Philip Wilson – “Developments in Hydrodynamics”

The talk will have a trajectory from the first hydrodynamics up to present CFD methodology and will encompass a whole lot of experimental work that I have been involved with.

Professor Philip A Wilson is Professor of Ship Dynamics within Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton. He studied Mathematics for his first degree at the University of Leicester and was subsequently awarded a DSc by the University of Leicester. Following work for Plessey Underwater systems he started in the University in 1973 as a research fellow in the former Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics as part of the fledgling Ship Science group. He is a founder member of the former Department of Ship Science and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. Currently he is editor of the International Journal of Maritime Engineering and the Journal of Royal Institution of Naval Architects. He has published more than 250 academic papers and has appeared in such television programmes as Blue Peter, What Sank the Mary Rose? and as a judge in Scrapheap Challenge.


Mon 5th June 2017 – Jonathan Ridley – “Latest materials and techniques in racing yacht design”

Steam may give way to sail, but for the top racing yacht, foils have replaced sails. Jonathan will be talking about the materials used in the latest racing yachts and the technology behind their design.

After qualifying with a degree in BEng (Hons) Yacht and Powercraft Design from Southampton Institute, Jonathan worked for the United Kingdom’s Defence Evaluation Research Agency (known as DERA) and later QinetiQ at Haslar. In this role he worked with both experimental and computational fluid hydrodynamics ranging from the application of flow simulations for consultancy to research to develop and validate numerical models to simulate fluid flows. As well as this theoretical work, Jonathan worked on small and large scale model testing. He did this on a wide range of projects ranging from submarines and large civil and military vessels to America’s Cup yachts.

Following this Jonathan joined Warsash Maritime Academy as a Senior Lecturer, teaching Naval Architecture and Ship Stability to both officer cadets and senior officers in the Merchant Navy, along with undergraduate students on engineering and maritime operations degrees. In this role Jonathan also undertook consultancy work covering naval architecture, education, training and assessment for the maritime industry. In 2010 Jonathan became a Principal Lecturer with responsibility for the management of Merchant Navy cadets and Student Support.

In 2014, Jonathan co-authored ‘Reeds Volume 13: Ship Stability, Powering and Resistance’, part of the renowned Reeds Marine Engineering and Technology Series, which is now a core text book on many Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering degrees.

Jonathan is now the Head of Engineering at Southampton Solent University, with responsibility for a range of degrees including yacht design.


Mon 1st May 2017 – Dr Dave Christensen – “How to study Blindness in a petri dish – Stemcells and gene editing”

Dr Dave Christensen from the University of Southampton studies Age Related Macular Degeneration and similar inherited retinal diseases using induced pluripotent stem cells and gene editing.  Dave has very kindly stepped up in at short notice to replace the planned speaker.He is also part of the team behind Bright Club Southampton, turning researchers into stand up comedians

Mon 3 April 2017 – Kris Strutt – “The Old Sarum Landscapes Project. Counterpoint Between Old Excavation Archives and New Survey Results”

The Old Sarum Landscapes Project has initiated a programme of archive research and fieldwork at the University of Southampton and the University of Swansea. Part of the project concerns new fieldwork at the site and in the surrounding landscape, and research in the excavation archives from the Society of Antiquaries excavations from 1910-1915, and the work of Musty and Rahtz in the 1950s. To date three seasons of archaeological survey has been conducted in and around the ancient monument of Old Sarum, complementing the ongoing documentary and archive research. This paper will present the latest results of the fieldwork, explaining the methodology that has been applied to date, and looking at some of the findings of the 2014-16 field seasons, including the results of geophysical survey in the outer bailey of Old Sarum, and the results of survey in the fields to the South and east of the monument, pointing to a long period of settlement in the Roman and medieval periods.

Mr Kristian Strutt is an Experimental Officer in Archaeology at the University of Southampton.
He specialises in archaeological mapping and geophysical survey, and is the Director of the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton unit, responsible for carrying out research survey work and applied archaeological geophysics. He previously worked as Camerone Assistant at the British School at Rome.
He has been involved in numerous research projects in Europe and further afield. These have included survey on the Portus Project, and surveys at Ostia Antica, Teano, Vignale, Capena, Vignale, Acilia and the Domus Aurea in Italy, surveys at Valencina de la Concepcion and the Guadiamar valley in Spain, and survey in Flanders, Northern France and Denmark. He has also been involved in research projects at Dura Europos in Syria, and archaeological survey at Schedia, Quesna and Kom el Ahmar in the Nile Delta, Egypt, and North Karnak in Upper Egypt, and directed the survey and excavation at Tidgrove Warren Farm in Hampshire, UK.

Mon 6th February 2017 – Frank Ratcliff & Catherine Mercer – Wessex AHSN – “The 100,000 genomes project; would you have your genome sequenced?”

The 100,000 Genomes Project will sequence 100,000 genomes from around 70,000 people. Participants are NHS patients with a rare disease, plus their families, and patients with cancer.  Significantly, this is currently the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world.

The aim is to create a new Genomic Medicine service for the NHS, transforming the way people are cared for. As a result of the project, genetic diagnoses will be made for some patients where this hadn’t previously been possible.  In time, there is also the potential for new and more effective treatments for diseases with a genetic basis.

The project will also enable new medical research. Combining genomic sequence data with medical records is a ground-breaking resource. Researchers will study how best to use genomics in healthcare and how best to interpret the data to help patients.  Using the 100,000 Genomes Project as a foundation, the aim is also to realise the potential of the UK genomics industry.  This talk will explore the project, and ask the question; “Would you have your genome sequenced?”  wessexahsn.org.uk/ @WessexAHSN

Mon 2nd January 2017 – Helena Lee – University of Southampton – “Targeting abnormal retinal development in early childhood: Can we treat visual impairment before it is a problem?”

In adults, optical coherence tomography (OCT) retinal imaging technology has revolutionised the diagnosis and treatment of degenerative retinal diseases. Infants and young children have been deprived of this technology until the recent development of hand-held OCT (HH-OCT) technology. Using HH-OCT we can monitor in vivo retinal development and investigate the natural history of retinal conditions such as colour blindness and albinism which are known to affect infants and young children, resulting in visual impairment in early childhood. Helena will be discussing her research and the implications for treating sight loss in infants and young children.

Dr Helena Lee is an Academic Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital. She is specialising in paediatric and neuro-ophthalmology, and her research interests lie in the area of normal and abnormal retinal development. She was awarded the 2015 Fight for Sight Award for her work describing normal in vivo foveal development in infants and young children using hand-held OCT. She has also investigated the effects of colour blindness and albinism on foveal development and is continuing to carry out research into retinal developmental disorders with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic targets and translating these into clinical practice.