Leicester scientists shortlisted to showcase their research to the House of Commons

Researchers from the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology will have the opportunity to present their research to policy makers after being shortlisted for the STEM for Britain 2017 awards at the House of Commons.

STEM for BRITAIN (formerly SET for Britain), is an annual poster competition in the House of Commons, introduced in 1997 by Dr Eric Wharton.

The overall aim is to encourage, support and promote Britain's early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians who are an essential part of continuing progress and development of UK research and R&D.

The researchers are pleased to be given the opportunity to present and discuss their work with potential policy makers and recognise the increasing importance of sharing their research widely through various forms of public engagement.

In order to encourage maximum participation by early-career researchers and Members of Parliament the competition is divided into five subject areas: Biological and Biomedical Science; Chemistry; Physics; Engineering; Mathematics. The finalists are also encouraged to invite their local MP to attend the event.

Luke Martinson, from the Department of Cancer Studies, will be presenting his poster entitled “Getting the diagnosis right: Using sequencing to uncover cancer ‘fingerprints’’.

His research aims to utilise cutting-edge sequencing technology to help diagnose newly-found tumours in patients previously treated for cancer. It is sometimes difficult to characterise these as cancer that has spread from their primary disease (metastasis), or whether it is a brand new tumour that has developed – a conundrum that can have a radical impact upon treatment options.

Neal Rimmer, from the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, will be presenting his poster entitled “A non-mammalian model for neurofunctional studies of vertebrate dopamine signalling”.

His work focuses on developing zebrafish as an ethical alternative model animal for studying the function of dopamine neurons. Typical methods used to understand ‘how’ function can be invasive and harmful. This presents ethical concerns when researching how neurons work, especially when using a mammalian system. Understanding dopamine neurons activity is important as they are associated with diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and addiction.

Dr Liam Heaney, from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, will be presenting his poster entitled “Investigating the gut microbiota in cardiovascular disease”.

His research studies circulating by-products produced by gut bacterial metabolism of dietary nutrients. The gut microbiota is essential for normal functioning but when disturbed can lead to the excessive production of chemicals that impact the severity of certain diseases. His focus is on prognosis in acute hospitalisations of heart failure and myocardial infarction (heart attacks), which are most prevalent in the male population.

They are joined by Georgina Girt for this category, along with Jodie Coulston and Charlotte Pughe in other categories; all from the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science and Engineering.

There were over 500 posters submitted for this year’s event and the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology are thrilled to have three successful applicants that have been shortlisted for the Biological and Biomedical Science session which takes place from 3pm – 5.30pm on 13th March at the House of Commons.

STEM for BRITAIN poster presentations are judged based on the best research and its results, together with the ability of the researcher to communicate their work effectively to a lay audience. The awards are gold, silver and bronze medals along with cash prizes in each of the subject areas.  The overall winner is picked by members of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee from the gold medal winners in each of the subject areas and receives the prestigious Westminster Medal.