Topic: Environmental applications

ReNEW: GCRF project on diagnostics in urban water

📥  Environmental applications, Healthcare applications

ReNEW aims to develop real-time community-wide diagnostics and a tuneable multi-hazard public health early warning system (EWS) with the ultimate goal of strengthening community resilience. This will be done through a focus on water from urban dwellings, which reflects the health status of a population and surrounding environment as it pools the endo- & exogenous products of that population. Real-time measurement of these specific hazard biomarkers in urban water from different communities allows for rapid evaluation of public health status, prediction of future crises, and thus enables mitigation strategies to be developed for either rapid or slow onset hazards, even before they manifest themselves with characteristic endpoints (e.g. mortality in the event of pandemics). Thus morbidity and mortality can be reduced and resilience and sustainability within the surveyed urban system significantly increased. In this cutting-edge project we will develop innovative tools for public health diagnostics and undertake a scoping study in the city of Stellenbosch to understand the requirements for the development and implementation of a multi-hazard EWS in South Africa and beyond.

This £1.35M project is funded by the EPSRC Global Challenges Challenge Fund and will run for 3 years from May 2017. The project is led by Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern (Chemistry) and involves Prof Chris Frost (Chemistry), Dr Pedro Estrela (Electronic & Electrical Engineering), Dr Thomas Kjeldsen (Architecture & Civil Engineering), Prof Ed Feil (Biology & Biochemistry), Prof Julie Barnett (Psychology), Prof Danae Stanton Fraser (Psychology), as well as researchers from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.


Pedro Estrela edits book on biosensors

📥  Environmental applications, Healthcare applications, Security applications

Dr Pedro Estrela from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering is the guest editor of the book "Biosensor Technologies for Detection of Biomolecules" published by the Biochemical Society and Portland Press as a volume of the journal Essays in Biochemistry.

This peer-reviewed series of themed volumes, published in print and online, is aimed at final-year undergraduates, their teachers and starting postgraduates, rather than the research community. The volume is not intended to be a textbook or to be comprehensive, rather a collection of 13 short, punchy chapters, each summarizing some of the current areas of interest, pointing to future developments and conveying the excitement of the field for the relatively inexperienced, but interested, reader.

In vitro molecular biosensors are nowadays ubiquitous in biomedical diagnosis as well as a wide range of other areas such as point-of-care monitoring of treatment and disease progression, environmental monitoring, food control, drug discovery, forensics and biomedical research. Biosensor devices require the interaction of different disciplines and rely on very distinct aspects such as study of interactions of biorecognition elements with biomolecular analytes, immobilisation of biomolecules onto solid surfaces, development of anti-fouling surface chemistries, device design and fabrication, integration of biology with the devices, microfluidics, on-chip electronics, packaging, sampling techniques, etc.

Developments in the area of biosensors rely deeply on interactions between life sciences and physical/engineering sciences, which is not always easy to achieve, in particular due to "language barriers" and the compartmentalisation of disciplines in traditional undergraduate curricula. This interaction needs to be promoted at the undergraduate and early postgraduate levels so that a common language can be learnt by the student, which will in the short and medium term lead to novel bio-(nano)technologies and devices. This volume therefore will be useful not only for biochemistry and biomedical students and their teachers but also for engineering and physics/chemistry students (and their teachers).



1st GW4 Biosensor Network Workshop

📥  Environmental applications, Healthcare applications, Security applications

The 1st GW4 Biosensor Network Workshop took place at the University of Bath on the 24th March. Around 40 researchers from the 4 GW4 Universities took part with a range of interesting talks and posters. There were several networking sessions which enabled the participants to know each other, discuss ideas and possible future collaborations.

Overall a very enjoyable and productive day!



GW4 Biosensor Network

📥  Environmental applications, Healthcare applications, Security applications

We are pleased to announce that we have received a GW4 Initiator Fund award to create a GW4 Biosensor Network.

The GW4 Biosensor Network will bring together researchers from different disciplines with an interest on biosensors. Biosensors measure chemical or biological molecules in complex samples (e.g. blood, water, air) for a wide range of applications including medical diagnosis, monitoring of therapies, personalised medicine, drug discovery and water quality control.

Inherently, biosensor research is highly interdisciplinary with integration of knowledge between engineers, physical scientists, life scientists, clinicians and other end users to accelerate innovations that are informed and fit for purpose.

We aim to push forward biosensor research with biomedical, pharmaceutical, environmental monitoring and defence applications. Through collaboration, cooperation and integration there is an opportunity to make improvements in our level of commercial and clinical interaction, the quality of published outputs, and funding success rates.

The GW4 Biosensor Network expands our Bath Biosensor Network to the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. We hope that this will enable establishing stronger links with our GW4 partners. A new website for the GW4 Biosensor Network will be created soon.


For details on the GW4 Biosensor Network, please contact:

University of Bath: Dr Pedro Estrela (
University of Bristol: Prof Mervyn Miles (
Cardiff University: Dr Niklaas Buurma (
University of Exeter: Prof Peter Winlove (


Biosensor research projects receive Marie Curie funding

📥  Environmental applications, Healthcare applications

During the latest round of funding made available through the Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITNs), three bids led by Bath researchers were successful, two of which are biosensor projects.

Marie Curie ITNs are highly prestigious funding awards, focused on the training of a large number of PhD students and Postdoc students across several European institutions, working towards a common high impact scientific goal.

Each of the three awards is worth around €4 million, with around €1 million allocated to Bath as overall coordinator.

The three successful bids are:

PROSENSE: This project is being led by Dr Pedro Estrela from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, and aims to increase current understanding of the clinical relevance of prostate cancer biomarkers. Prostate cancer kills 10,000 men each year in the UK, and through this project the research team hopes to improve the sensitivity, selectivity, robustness and speed of biosensing technologies for the testing for this disease.

SEWPROF: Led by Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, from the Department of Chemistry, this project explores ‘sewage epidemiology’ - the testing of sewage to improve public health monitoring at a community level. The research will be applying innovative sewage epidemiology techniques to deliver the real-time profiling of community-wide health and lifestyle through the analysis of human biomarkers in sewage. This conceptually simple but highly sophisticated research could become an early warning system for outbreaks of disease and a unique tool for the identification of hot-spots for pandemics.

DESTINY: This project, led by Professor Alison Walker from the Department of Physics, will tackle major challenges in the development of stable dye-sensitized solar cells. These cells offer exciting possibilities for applications in building solar power into consumer electronics, but they possess complex structures which cause the cells to degrade. This project will explore why this degradation takes place, and explore methods for enhancing cell life without sacrificing performance and scalability.

All three projects will benefit from new PhD and Postdoc roles, with the ITNs offering these early stage researchers the opportunity to improve their skills, join established research teams and enhance their career prospects through high-impact socially significant research.

Professor Jane Millar, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “This is a significant achievement for the University of Bath. Marie Curie ITN funding is highly prestigious, with ITN proposals selected through an open competition based on excellence as determined through peer review. The award of funding for three ITNs at Bath is therefore a vote of confidence from the academic community towards the research we are undertaking.”

For more information about all of the University of Bath Marie Curie ITN projects please see the Europa website.