Queen's University Belfast
Country: United Kingdom
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1,588 Projects, page 1 of 318
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: G1100051
    Funder Contribution: 385,894 GBP
    Partners: QUB

    Where there?s life, there is energy. In our body energy is generated by mitochondria often referred as power stations of the cell. Most of the oxygen from the air we breathe is consumed by mitochondria to produce energy during the process called cellular respiration. This energy is used for many needs of the body such as heart beating, brain activity, kidney functioning as well as synthesis of proteins and DNA inside all our cells. Hypoxia is a lack of oxygen in the body or any organ and can damage cells and tissues. Hypoxia can be caused by many factors, including disease, pathology or trauma and it also occurs during heart surgery. Usually, hypoxia is followed by restoration of oxygen supply (reoxygenation), which makes the damage greater and in some cases irreversible. Mitochondria are responsible for that damage, when they form toxic agents known as free radicals. Enzyme called Complex I is the most important and least understood key component of the mitochondria and it initiates the processes of energy production during respiration of the cell. We have recently found that Complex I is very important in hypoxia/reoxygenation and can be damaged in that process. Its damage results in lack of energy in a cell, generation of harmful free radicals, oxidative stress and eventually lead to tissue injury. We are going to investigate the involvement of mitochondria in the processes of hypoxia/reoxygenation by our novel biochemical approach and by advanced non-invasive cellular respirometry techniques for measuring how cells consume oxygen. Also we will be using fluorescent confocal microscopy, special technique to look directly at the different parameters in a single alive cell. Our project will help to develop drugs that can selectively modulate the activity of Complex I in order to lessen tissue damage in brain and heart disorders. In addition it would help us to develop a strategy for early diagnostic and prevention therapy for initial stages of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson?s and specific heritable diseases. Our research will help to develop new drugs that may stop or slow down the death of nerve cells. In addition, knowledge on how hypoxic signals are carried out inside the cell will allow clinicians to suppress growth and invasion of cancer which is often associated with lack of oxygen in the tumour.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 1780647
    Partners: QUB

    This project explores new opportunities for creative practitioners (creative carers/professional artists) in the ageing economy in the UK. It responds to the rising demand for dementia care, finding itself on the crossroads of art, healthcare and the humanities. Taking an ethnographic approach, it investigates how concrete processes of creative practice in the dementia care industry in Northern Ireland have (or have not) expanded job opportunities/enriched the experience of creative carers and artists. It further explores how such practices have increased the well-being of patients, arguing that a study of their joint activities of 'making' can lead to new understandings of personhood, sociality and the creative process. One of the greatest challenges the UK is facing is the increasing number of people with dementia. It is estimated that in Northern Ireland 19,000 people are living with dementia; the number is expected to rise. Most research on dementia care focuses entirely on diagnosis and disability, discrediting the strengths/skills of patients and ignoring the significance of creativity to personhood. Previous successful projects in Northern Ireland and elsewhere show the value of creative making (singing, knitting, painting, etc) in the care practice, but the evidence is often anecdotal which emphasises the need for serious research. This project has two main objectives. The first is to consider the opportunities that creative practitioners have in the care industry. At a time that the arts sector has been facing enormous cuts, the potential to employ creative practitioners in the care sector must be critically explored. Including creative practices in the care sector could generate job opportunities for creative carers and artists, including craftspeople, visual artists, musicians, dancers and actors. The aim is to research the labour conditions of creative care-work, and how this may be enrichening for the careers of creative practitioners. The second objective is to look at how 'creative making' practices can contribute to the well-being of dementia sufferers. My approach is informed by anthropological approaches to 'creativity' and 'making' and a phenomenological understanding of the body. The project explores how the world is actively experienced through bodily engagement, and how ageing/ailing people are situated in the world through creative making. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the research reviews and brings together theories from psychology, anthropology, health care sector and art, as well as various case studies around the world. The project includes an ethnographic fieldwork period, which consists of participant observation and observant participation in dementia care settings in Northern Ireland, along with organising/helping out with creative activities and interviewing the participants. Research questions 1. What opportunities does the dementia care system in Northern Ireland offer to creative carers and professional artists; what are the main challenges? 2. How/why have concrete cases of creative making in care-homes/day-care centres/home care arrangements increased (or failed to increase) the well-being of people with dementia and what are the benefits, challenges and potential risks? 3. How, in specific projects have creative practitioners been able to enrich their creative experiences, raise their artistic profiles, and develop their professional careers? 4. How can a focus on 'making' in the dementia care system theorise personhood, sociality and creativity in new ways? The project is done in collaboration with AgeNI, the leading charity for older people in Northern Ireland

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/I037156/1
    Funder Contribution: 235,459 GBP
    Partners: QUB

    High spectral efficiency is the holy grail of wireless networks due to the well-known scarcity of radio spectrum. While up to recently there seemed to be no way out of the apparent end of the road in spectral efficiency growth, the emerging approach of Network Coding has cast new light in the spectral efficiency prospects of wireless networks [1]. Initial results have demonstrated that the use of network coding increases the spectral efficiency up to 50% [2, 3]. Such a significant performance gain is crucial for many important bandwidth-hungry applications such as broadband cellular systems, wireless sensor networks, underwater communication scenarios, etc. Currently network coding has received a lot of attention from the wireless communication community; however, many existing works focused on the application of network coding to upper layers and the study of its impact on the physical layer (PHY) design only began recently. The aim of this proposal is to systematically study network coding at the physical layer, where we will not only characterize the fundamental limits of physical layer network coding, but also design practical digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms to realize the performance gain promised by those theoretic results. The novelty of the proposed project lies on the fact that this project will be the first UK effort to bridge information-theoretic studies and DSP algorithm design for PHY network coding. This will be done by first deriving the capacity region of network coding, which provides us the upper bound of the system performance. With such a better understanding, we will develop efficient transmission protocols and DSP algorithms to realize such optimal performance in practice. Interference alignment, a technology recently developed to cope with co-channel interference, will be applied to network coding transmissions for further performance improvement. Information-theoretic results, such as outage and symbol error probabilities, will be developed and testbed-based experimental evaluation will be carried out, so a more insightful understanding for our developed schemes can be obtained.

  • Project . 2008 - 2011
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/G001960/1
    Funder Contribution: 312,394 GBP
    Partners: QUB

    In this project, we will develop new techniques for restoring clear speech from noisy recordings. We will focus on two problems: (1) retrieving speech from background noise, and (2) separating speech sentences spoken by different speakers. For convenience, we reference both problems as speech separation.Over the past decades, there have been many techniques developed for speech separation. While appearing in different forms, most techniques can be viewed as a filter, which aims to pass the frequencies of the targeted speech with minimum distortion, and at the same time block the frequencies of the noise. To build the filter, one thus needs knowledge about the frequency structure of the noise. For certain applications in which the noise remains relatively constant, one may obtain an estimate of the noise structure using the data observed at a time without speech, and then use it to predict the noise structure in the data containing mixed speech and noise. Based on the prediction, a filter can be formed to remove the noise and hence restore the speech. Unfortunately, this strategy does not work if the noise changes fast and thus is unpredictable. Examples of fast-varying noises include crosstalk speech, and the background noises in mobile/Internet communications, which are often complex, highly dynamic, and thus difficult to predict.In this research, we will investigate a new method to speech separation, aiming for the capability of handling unpredictable noise. We will use a pre-recorded speech corpus, consisting of clean speech sentences by various speakers, to help remove the requirement for information about the noise. The new method consists of four major components. First, we compare the noisy sentence, containing mixed speech and noise, with each corpus sentence to find all their matching parts. Second, we combine the longest matching parts from the clean corpus sentences to form a new sentence, as a reconstruction of the target speech. Because of the richer and more distinct contexts, longer speech utterances are less confused by noise, and thus can be recognised with fewer errors than shorter utterances. This explains why we synthesise the target speech using longest recognised speech parts, which minimises the effect of noise on the restoration. The third component of our method is a novel technique to reduce the sensitivity to noise for finding the matching speech parts between the noisy and corpus sentences. The last component uses the speakers characteristics, associated with the individual corpus sentences, to help separate mixed sentences spoken by different speakers. Combining these components, the new method offers the capability to separate speech from noise, and separate mixed speech sentences, without having to predict the noise/crosstalk.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/S002669/1
    Funder Contribution: 110,174 GBP
    Partners: QUB

    Unwanted protein adsorption on medical devices can cause numerous problems such as blood coagulation, inflammation, thrombosis, failure of implants, malfunctioning of biosensors and drug delivery systems, and loss of activity of therapeutically formulated protein solutions. Protein fouling on biotechnological equipment can cause reduced flux through membranes, blocking of separating columns and loss of valuable biomaterials. Since unwanted protein adsorption is a global problem faced by many industries, a lot of efforts have been made to find efficient technology for supressing attachment of proteins on various type of surfaces (metal, polymer, ceramic, silicone). Commonly considered approaches to prevent protein adsorption are based on modification of surfaces of interest by applying coatings formed by self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), grafted polymer layers, and polymer brushes. The coatings support specific functional groups (as zwitterion, hydroxyl) which control surface charge, wettability, hydrophobicity, free energy, and interaction with biomolecules. The proposed research will evaluate the potential of zwitterionic salt (ZWS)-functionalised coatings and test their potential to suppress protein attachment. ZWSs are a novel class of molecules that combine properties of inorganic salts, ionic liquids and common two-charge zwitterions. ZWSs offer the possibility of functionalization of cation and anion or for use as functional groups attached on long alkyl chains or polymers, and supported on a substrate. They possess four charge centres in their molecules and increased charged surface area leading to strong hydration, as experimentally confirmed. The fact that key underling phenomenon of surface resistance to non-specific protein adsorption is its strong hydration clearly indicates the potential of ZWSs in the proposed application. The project aims to provide understanding at a fundamental level of the interactions between ZWSs, water and proteins through the a range of analytical techniques and scientific methods. These interactions will be reflected in the performances of zwitterionic salt (ZWS)-functionalised coatings, but they will also guide future research strategies and applications.