Bovine tuberculosis, bTB, is the result of the infection of cattle by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. The bacterium is distributed widely in nature as it also infects many other wildlife species and as a result of this, wildlife infection acts as a reservoir for the bacterium which periodically get across into domestic cattle. The consequence of this is twofold. First, cattle that are bTB positive must be culled with a knock-on effect on the farmer and his ability to maintain a herd. Second, bTB is a threat for human infection, primarily via the consumption of contaminated milk. Today bTB infection of individuals is extremely rare, but the threat remains and for these reasons bTB infection is unwelcome and needs to be controlled or, preferably, eradicated. Since a historical review in the mid-1990s, the badger has been identified as one of the major routes of transmission of bTB to domestic cattle and this, in turn, has led to attempts to break this transmission route via badger culling. These have met with only limited success and immense public concern leaving the physical breaking of the transmission route mostly unaltered. An alternative approach is to accept that bTB circulates widely in the environment but to prevent cattle infection by previous vaccination. At the present time however an effective vaccine for bTB in cattle is not available and new methods to develop such a vaccine are urgently needed. It is generally accepted that vaccines function by generating an antibody response in the target animal which prevents the bacterium from establishing the initial infection. These antibodies, which are a normal product of the immune system of all mammals, generally bind to the outside of the bacterium and so prevent it from binding to cattle cells, usually the epithelial cells of the lung. It follows that the protective components of bTB, that is, the components that will generate the antibody response that is protective, are to be found on the outside of the bacterium surface. Bacteria have many components on their surface and any, or perhaps a combination of many, of these components, proteins encoded by the bacterium genome, could be essential for the development of effective immunity. However exactly which are required is currently unknown. In this research, we propose to produce all of the surface components of bTB and to test them in batches for their ability to induce an effective immune response. We propose to do this work in cattle so that the response measured to our test vaccines is typical of what will be found if an eventual vaccine is used in typical herds. Our work breaks down into three related components. Firstly, we will identify all of those proteins from the M. bovis bacterium that are to be found on the surface of the organism and produce each of them in a safe and efficient manner. Our initial calculations suggest that several hundred such proteins may be required in order to find the few that are necessary for effective immunity. Secondly, we will use our surface proteins as test vaccines in cattle and to make this process efficient we will carry out this work with mixes of proteins so that the least number of cattle has to be used. Following the immunizations we will take blood samples from the cattle and test them for the ability to prevent M. bovis infection. Finally, we will examine the mechanism of protection and how the individual components so we have identified work together to provide the cattle with an effective barrier of immunity. Our approach is exhaustive but it has the potential to draw a line under the vaccine discovery program for bTB and to identify the best mix of candidates for eventual effective vaccine production.
To develop a new product range using digital power techniques in order to embed new capability.
Against a background of increasing chronic disease world wide it is now widely acknowledged that diet has a significant impact on human health. For example reducing intake of saturated fats and increasing intake of long chain n-3 fatty acids can reduce chronic disease incidence and certain compounds such as flavonoids and other polyphenols are bioactive and have antioxidant and other beneficial properties. In the last two decades there has been an increase in consumer demand for food produced using organic farming techniques. This has been driven by concerns over increased use of herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers and growth additives which have lead to largely unsubstantiated perceptions that organically produced food is somehow healthier (as well as better for the environment) than food produced using conventional farming methodologies. In reality there is evidence that in some cases organically produced food may actually be less healthy than that produced using conventional farming techniques. For example, hens kept outdoors as in organic systems can produce eggs with dioxin levels that exceed the EU limit of 3 pg TEQ /g fat and organic crops suffer more damamge from insects and other pests, creating openings through which fungi can enter seeds and fruit leading to increased risks of mycotoxin contamination. A confounding factor to discussions of the health merits of organically produced food versus that produced by conventional methods is environmental effects. Soil properties, temperature and moisture regimes will all impact on food composition. For example soil chemistry will play a role in Se content of foods, weather conditions will impact on amounts of pesticides used, type of forage crops grown will impact on composition of milk and meat. On top of these issues of science are issues of perception. Despite the lack of evidence in peer reviewed journals there is a broad belief, as stated above, that organically produced foods are healthier and / or better. For example a recent review into the provision of school meals has recommended increased use of organic foods despite no real evidence of their benefits. We propose to organise a multidisciplinary workshop to address these issues. Review papers addressing aspects of the impacts of the environment on the health benefits of organic versus conventional food production will be commissioned from international experts drawn from the fields of food science, agriculture, soil science, pyschology and medicine. Stake holder policy organisations such as government departments, public charities and research funders together with members of the media will be invited. The workshop will comprise discussion of the review papers in open forum between a steering group and the invitees. Other interested parties will be free to attend and contribute to the discussions. The main output of the workshop will be a publication for distribution to workshop attendees and other relevant policy organisations and the media containing the review papers together with summaries of the discussions following the papers and a clear statement of current state of knowledge, gaps in that knowledge and research priorities for the future. An additional, and important output will be that we will have begun to foster a multidisciplinary community of researchers concerned with the impact of environment on human health via food production and consumption.
This project analyses the extent of women's involvement in the armed insurgency of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia during the civil war between 1974 and 1991 and their post-conflict experiences. In doing so, it will assess the gendered nature of conflict and insurgency in Ethiopia, and Eastern Africa more broadly. This would deliver the first major historical analysis of women in the TPFL and would make a substantive contribution to knowledge of women's roles in African conflict and in Ethiopian society and post-conflict reconstruction. Official histories and existing academic analysis has marginalized or ignored women's involvement in Ethiopia's civil conflict, as in many other wars, underestimating its impact as a key feature which affects our understanding about populist engagement in social and political violence. Current estimates suggest that Tigrayan women made up a substantial part of the TPFL numbers - they formed 25-30% of TPLF soldiers by 1982 - but their contribution to the movement's success and commitment to its ideological goals have so far been overlooked. This doctoral project will combine archival and oral history research with an interdisciplinary gendered analysis of the conflict to recover the voices and analyse the experiences of Tigrayan female combatants, contributing to wider discussions surrounding Ethiopian women's role in the formation of their state and society.
Low level clouds cover a substantial fraction of the Earth and act to reflect a significant amount of sunlight back to space. Thus they have a profound influence on the planet's overall energy budget. Despite their importance, however, they remain poorly represented in the climate models used to make predictions of future climate change, and it is generally agreed that this failure contributes substantially to the current uncertainties in future levels of global warming. Furthermore, we now know that small particles suspended in the atmosphere, known as aerosols, can affect how efficiently these clouds reflect sunlight, by changing the number and size of cloud droplets. We also know that the droplet number and size affects the cloud's lifetime and its ability to produce rainfall. These processes remain poorlyquantified and cannot be modeled with any degree of certainty, but are critically important for the determining how sensitive the climate will be to increasing greenhouse gases. Certain locations on the planet are particularly conducive to the formation of extensive sheets of low level, stratocumulus cloud. Many of these arise in the subtropics where marine air is cooled by upwelling cold water from the deep ocean. The Southern Equatorial Pacific (SEP) region supports one the largest semi-permanent cloud decks in the world due to the ocean surface temperatures being colder here than at any other equivalent latitude. There is good evidence that these clouds affect not only the local heat budget, but also have a profound effect on the atmosphere and ocean circulation over the wider Pacific region, including El Nino. The SEP region is also interesting because of its conjunction with the Andes and the strong steering of the winds that these mountains exert. Extensive mining activities along the Andes, throughout Peru and Chile, emit considerable amounts of aerosol. These perturb the properties of the marine cloud layer and provide a unique, natural laboratory for investigating aerosol-cloud interactions along a strong pollution gradient extending away from the coast. Recognising the fundamental importance of this region, the international community has developed a programme to study the SEP climate system in unprecedented detail. Called VOCALS (VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study), it is coordinated by the VAMOS (Variability of the American MOnsoon Systems) panel of the World Climate Research Programme. VOCALS is conducting a major field experiment in late 2008 to investigate the interaction between aerosols, clouds and the radiation field off the South American coast, as well as making extensive measurements of air-sea coupling processes using ships and ocean buoys. The UK plans to participate with its research aircraft, making detailed measurements of cloud and aerosol properties in the marine boundary layer. At the same time there will be a concerted effort to examine how well climate models capture the climate of the SEP region and its impact on the wider tropical Pacific. Until recently, these models have not had sufficient spatial resolution to capture in a realistic way the effects of the Andes, of ocean upwelling and eddy mixing on ocean surface temperatures, and thereby the meteorological processes that form and maintain the stratocumulus deck. Recent advances in the UK in computing power and in high resolution coupled climate modeling have meant that this is now possible. This proposal represents a significant UK contribution to VOCALS and brings together leading research groups in the areas of: global climate and weather modeling; airborne measurements of aerosols and clouds and their radiative influence; modeling of aerosol and cloud properties on a range of scales. The outcome of this research will be a greater understanding of the SEP climate, leading to improved representations of clouds, aerosols and ocean processes in climate models and ultimately to more confident predictions of future climate.