Current Seed-Corn Grant Winners 2015-2016


Alwena Morgan

Ghrelin, autophagy and Parkinson's disease

Ghrelin is a stomach hormone that is elevated during periods of fasting and protects nerve cells in the brain. This project will investigate and identify the molecular mechanisms involved in ghrelin-induced autophagy (autophagy – the normal healthy process that deals with destruction of unwanted cells in the body) and asses its impact on neuroprotection (neuroprotection - preservation of the structure and/or function of the neurons in the brain) in experimental models of Parkinson’s disease.


Georgina Menzies

Spectroscopy for early lung cancer diagnosis

Lung cancer is the most common cancer type worldwide. Survival time is poor with over 90% of patients dying within five years of diagnosis due to late detection. A simple, cost-effective, non-invasive test at point-of-care (POC) could facilitate early detection of lung cancer. (Point of Care or bedside testing is defined as medical diagnostic testing at or near the point of care – that is, at the time and place of patient care). We are developing handheld infrared spectroscopy (FITR) on sputum to determine if we can distinguish between lung cancer patients and age-matched controls. We will then characterise the differences using Mass Spectrometry.


Tom Wilkinson

Staphylococci: an "immune-commensal code"

The skin commensal Staphylococcus epidermidis has emerged as an important pathogen responsible for medical device related infections. Understanding how the heterogeneity of staphylococci on the skin (different bacterial types in different skin locations) can lead to protective immune responses on one hand and medical device-related infections on the other is the aim of this study. Such knowledge will later be explored in the prevention of staphylococcal infection.


Venkat Kanamarlapudi

Targeting pancreatic cancer using a novel lytic peptide

Prof Kanamarlapudi’s team has developed a novel chemical compound that attaches to a protein expressed only on the surface of pancreatic cancer cells, and causes those cells to burst open and die. In addition, working on the cell’s surface suggests that cancer cells won’t develop resistance to the drug. This project will test how the compound works using human pancreatic cells in the laboratory, with the aim of its future development as a potential treatment against pancreatic cancer.


Nicholas Jones

Fuelling T-lymphocyte function and memory

Understanding of comparative fuel and energy utilization by various T lymphocyte populations has implications in the generation and maintenance of a successful memory T lymphocyte populations and in immunity. Therapeutic possibilities (eg- to manipulate the immunometabolic profile of memory T cell populations) may be valuable in improving immunisation methods and stimulating helpful immunity against cancers.


Alice Hoon

Teaching quality: teacher/student evaluations

Ensuring the best teaching is key to training the very best doctors for the future. This project will bring together both student and teacher evaluation of diverse lectures given. Medical students and teaching staff will watch short videos of a teaching session and then complete a teaching evaluation questionnaire. The feedback from both groups will then be analysed and compared.