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Faculty research

Research

The University of Reading is one of the leading research-intensive Universities in the UK and we have an established world reputation in the sciences.  Life Sciences at the University of Reading was ranked 67th in the world by Times Higher Education World University rankings, putting us in 11th place in the UK (November 2015). Similarly, Agriculture & Forestry at the University of Reading was ranked 19th in the world by QS World University Rankings by Subject (October 2015), top of only 2 UK institutions listed in their global top 50.   

Research in Life Sciences covers a broad spectrum, from agriculture and agricultural economics, through biological sciences, horticulture, chemistry, to food and nutritional sciences, pharmacy, psychology and clinical language sciences.

Research areas in Life Sciences

To find-out more about research in specific areas of life sciences and research facilities at Reading, please follow the links below.

The Faculty also has strong research links with the Faculty of Science.

Graduate training in Life Sciences

Generic research and transferable skills training for postgraduate research students in Life Sciences is provided by the University's Graduate School, which offers a series of workshops and on-line courses, to supplement training provided by Schools and Departments.

Best research outputs in Life Sciences: 2007 - 2011

Each year, Schools within the Faculty of Life Sciences select their best research output, in order to highlight particular achievements in research over the previous two years. For calendar years 2010 and 2011, these are as follows:

  • *Venditti, C., Meade, A. and Pagel, M. 2010. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen. Nature, 463, 349-352. School of Biological Sciences. Email m.pagel@reading.ac.uk.
  • Lewis, F.W., Harwood, L.M., Hudson, M.J., Drew, M.G.B., Desreux, J.F., Vidick, G., Bouslimani, N., Modolo, G., Wilden, A., Sypula, M., Vu, T-H., and Simonin, J-P. 2011. Highly efficient separation of actinides from lanthanides by a phenanthroline-derived bis-triazine ligand. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 133, 13093-13102. School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. Email l.m.harwood@reading.ac.uk.
  • Murray, L., Arteche, A., Fearon, P., Halligan, S., Goodyer, I. and Cooper, P. 2011. Maternal postnatal depression and the development of depression of offspring up to 16 years of age. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50, 460-470. School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. Email p.j.cooper@reading.ac.uk.
  • Rymer, C., Hartnell, G.F. and Givens, D.I. 2011. The effect of feeding modifed soyabean oil enriched with C18: 4n-3 to broilers on the deposition of n-3 fatty acids in chicken meat. British Journal of Nutrition, 105, 866-878. School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. Email d.i.givens@reading.ac.uk.

And for calendar years 2009 and 2010:

  • *Zhu, Z., Cardin, C.J., Gan, Y. and Colquhoun, H.M. 2010. Sequence-selective assembly of tweezer molecules on linear templates enables frameshift-reading of sequence information. Nature Chemistry, 2, 653-660. School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. Email h.m.colquhoun@reading.ac.uk.
  • Cooper, P.J., Tomlinson, M., Swartz, L., Landman, M., Molteno, C., Stein, A., McPherson, K. and Murray, L. 2009. Improving quality of mother-infant relationship and infant attachment in socioeconomically deprived community in South Africa: randomised control trial. British Medical Journal, 338, 974-981. School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. Email p.j.cooper@reading.ac.uk.
  • Khasnatinov, M.A., Ustanikova, K., Frolova, T.V., Pogodina, V.V., Bochkova, N.G., Levina, L.S., Slovak, M., Kazimirova, M., Labuda, M., Klempa, B., Eleckova, E., Gould, E.A. and Gritsun, T.S. 2009. Non-hemagglutinating flaviviruses: molecular mechanisms for the emergence of new strains via adaptation to european ticks. PLoS One, 4, e7295. School of Biological Sciences. Email t.s.gritsun@reading.ac.uk.

And for calendar years 2008 and 2009:

  • *Nodes, W.J., Nutt, D.R., Chippindale, A.M., and Cobb, A.J.A. 2009. Enantioselective intramolecular Michael addition of nitronates onto conjugated esters: access to cyclic y-amino acids with up to three stereocenters. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 131, 16016-16017. School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. Email a.j.a.cobb@reading.ac.uk
  • Chakrabarti, B., Dudbridge, F., Kent, L., Wheelwright, S., Hill-Cawthorne, G., Allison, C., Banerjee-Basu, S., and Baron-Cohen, S. 2009. Genes related to sex steroids, neural growth, and social-emotional behaviour are associated with autistic traits, empathy, and asperger syndrome. Autism Research, 2, 157-177. School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. Email b.chakrabarti@reading.ac.uk
  • Dunn, D.W., Segar, S.T., Ridley, J., Chan, R., Crozier, R.H., Yu, D.W., and Cook, J.M. 2008. A role for parasites in stabilising the fig-pollinator mutualism. PLOS Biology, 6, 490-496. School of Biological Sciences. Email james.cook@reading.ac.uk
  • Litten, J.C., Mostyn, A., Laws, J., Corson, A.M., Symonds, M.E., and Clarke, L. 2008. Effect of acute administration of recombinant human leptin during the neonatal period on body temperature and endocrine profile of the piglet. Neonatology, 9, 171-177. School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. Email j.c.litten-brown@reading.ac.uk

And for calendar years 2007 and 2008:

  • Wen, Y. & Leake, D.S. 2007. Low density lipoprotein undergoes oxidation within lysosomes in cells*. Circulation Research, 100, 1337-1343. Cardiovascular Research Group, School of Biological Sciences. Email d.s.leake@reading.ac.uk
  • Osborne, T.M., Lawrence, D.M., Challinor, A.J., Slingo, J.M. and Wheeler, T.R. 2007. Development and assessment of a coupled crop-climate model. Global Change Biology, 13, 169-183. Walker Institute for Climate Systems, Departments of Agriculture and Meteorology. Email t.r.wheeler@reading.ac.uk
  • Fweja, L.W.T., Lewis, M.J. and Grandison, A.S. 2008. Challenge testing the lactoperoxidase system against a range of bacteria using different activation agents. Journal of Dairy Science, 91, 2566-2574. School of Chemistry, Food Biosciences and Pharmacy. Email a.s.grandison@reading.ac.uk
  • Field, D.T., Wilkie, R.M. and Wann, J.P. 2007. Neural Systems in the visual control of steering. The Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 8002-8010. School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. Email d.t.field@reading.ac.uk

*Selected as the best outputs within the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Recent research awards

The Faculty of Life Sciences has a strong reputation in securing research grant funding. Awards made since January 2011 include:

  • Professor Simon Andrews (School of Biological Sciences): BBSRC, 'Molecular-genetic analysis of iron transport in Escherichia coli'
  • Dr Alex Arnall (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): British Academy, 'Involuntary resettlement and livelihoods restoration in flood-affected communities in Mozambique'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): DEFRA, 'The potential for extending economic farm-level benchmarking to environmental and other aspects of farm performance'
  • Professor Kelvin Balcombe (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): James Hutton Institute, 'Scales dependence of stocks and flows in the valuation of ecosystem services'
  • Dr Nick Bardsley (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): ESRC, 'Who emits most? An analysis of UK households' CO2 emissions and their association with socio-economic factors'
  • Professor Nick Battey (School of Biological Sciences): National Association of Cider Makers, 'Study in the field of sustainable orchard management'; Biosciences KTN, 'Replacement of cider orchard herbicide strips with a mat-forming perennial'; and AHRC, 'The value of the literary and historical study of biology to biologists'
  • Professor Richard Bennett (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Tubney Charitable Trust, 'Investigating the financial effects of providing an open water source for farmed ducks'; and 'Feather-pecking project: Reducing injurious pecking amongst laying hens by implementing existing knowledge'; and DEFRA, 'Study to evaluate the effectiveness of the new meat chicken welfare regulations in England and Wales'
  • Dr Sam Boateng (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): British Heart Foundation, 'Stress-induced post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression by the Exon Junction Complex in cardiac myocytes'
  • Dr John Brazier (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Royal Society, 'Terahertz spectroscopy of DNA quadruplexes'
  • Simon Butler (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Stichting Birdlife Europe (SBE), 'Sensitivity assessment of European forest birds as biodiversity indicators'
  • Dr Sarah Cardey (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): British Academy, 'Gender in HIV / AIDS communication policy and practice in Nairobi, Kenya'
  • Dr Bhismadev Chakrabarti (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): MRC, 'Reward and empathy in autism'
  • Dr Anastasia Christakou (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): Human Frontier Science Programme, 'The striatal cholinergic system and attention for learning: From neurotransmission to personality'
  • Dr Simon Clarke (School of Biological Sciences): British Heart Foundation, 'Inhibition of platelet activation by Staphylococcus aureus lipoteichoic acid'
  •  (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): BBSRC, 'Bioprosthetic cornea: Using polymeric templates for directed stem cell growth'
  • Professor James Cook (School of Biological Sciences): NERC, 'Rampant karyotype evolution in jack jumper ants'; and NERC, 'Genomic approaches to inference of population history and multi species community assembly'
  • Dr Cathy Creswell (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, 'Berkshire Child Anxiety Clinic: Improving outcomes and efficiency of treatment of childhood anxiety disorders'; and NHS Oxfordshire, 'The treatment of child anxiety in primary care via guided CBT self-help: A randomised control trial'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): DEFRA, 'Data mining: Improvements to National Inventory'
  • Dr Alastair Culham (School of Biological Sciences): European Commission, 'Indexing for life'
  • Professor Philippa Darbre (School of Biological Sciences): Breast Cancer Research Trust, 'Environmental oestrogenic chemicals and breast cancer'
  • Dr Fred Davis (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): European Commission, 'The development of very high performance bio-derived composite of cellulose nanofibres and polysaccharides (NanoCelluComp)'
  • Dr Peter Dorward (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Nuffield Foundation, 'Mainstreaming climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe's agricultural extension system'
  •  (School of Biological Sciences): European Commission, 'Fruit Breedomics'
  • Dr Alexander Edwards (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Royal Society, 'Rapid in-vitro screening of novel vaccine adjuvant formulations combining biodegradeable polymers with synthetic immune stimulatory molecules that activate dendritic cells'
  • Dr Stephen Elmore (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): European Commission, 'HST Food Train'
  • Professor Paul Hadley (School of Biological Sciences): Cocoa Research UK Ltd., 'International Cocoa Germplasm Database project'
  • Professor Ian Hamley (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Royal Society, 'Peptide-based biomaterials: From self-assembly towards applications'
  • Professor Wayne Hayes (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): EPSRC, 'Supramolecular polyurethanes and their composites: Properties and engineering performance'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Wellcome Trust, 'Advances in veterinary telemedicine: A mobile phone-based tool to diagnose Mastitis'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): British Academy, 'Edutainment theory and practice in HIV / AIDS communication: A South African / UK perspective'; DEFRA, 'Increasing the uptake of improved animal disease risk measures by animal keepers: Attitudes, behaviours and practical lessons for responsibility and cost-sharing'; and ESRC, 'Innovation systems, agricultural growth and rural livelihoods in East Africa'
  • Professor Jon Gibbins (School of Biological Sciences): MRC, 'Study of the role of secreted platelet thiol isomerases in the regulation of platelet function, haemostasis and thrombosis'; and British Heart Foundation, 'Study of the role of gap junctions and connexin hemichannels in the control of platelet function, haemostasis and thrombosis'
  • Professor Glenn Gibson (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Bustar Alimentos, 'Agave Inulin as a prebiotic'
  •  (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Xie Xie Marketing Ltd., 'Weightloss team intervention study'
  • Dr Francesca Greco (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): SEHTA, 'Testing of novel anti-cancer compounds against drug-resistant breast cancer cells'; and Royal Society, 'Investigating the mechanism of action of novel anti-angiogenic nanotechnologies'
  •  (School of Biological Sciences): Royal Society, 'Molecular engineering of genetically modified viruses'
  • Professor Paul Hadley (School of Biological Sciences): United States Department of Agriculture, 'Development of a cocoa quarantine process 2011-2016'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): British Academy, 'Fair Trade: Challenges and prospects for small-scale miners'; and British Academy, 'Carbon reduction and forest-based livelihoods: A critical overview of the REDD-mining debate in Guyana' 
  • Mr Dave Humphries (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Eli Lilley and Company Ltd., 'A study in fistulated cows to determine the durability of re-engineered control release capsules'; 'Intra-ruminal retention of the modified momensin Controlled Release Capsule (CRC)'
  • Professor Ian Jones (School of Biological Sciences): Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 'Empty poliovirus capsids as candidate vaccines'; MRC, 'Human Enterovirus 71 empty capsids produced by baculovirus expression as vaccines'; DEFRA, 'Production and evaluation of foot-and-mouth disease virus stabilised capsids as potent, rapidly deployable vaccines'; MRC, 'The identification of the disulphide bonds in HIV gp120 whose reduction is required for cell entry and their manipulation for immunogen design'
  • Philip Jones (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): European Commission, 'Study on the downscaling of the European landscape indicator'; and European Commission, 'EU wide data availability survey and testing of low-carbon farming practices assessment tool'
  • Dr Darren Juniper (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Diamond V Mills Inc., 'Tolerance of growing broilers to SelenoSource AF 2000'
  • Dr Gunter Kuhnle (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Royal Society, 'Development of new nutritional biomarkers in hair'
  • Dr Wing-Man Lau (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Pharmacy Practice Research Trust: 'Examining pharmacists' advice in relation to topical administration of corticosteroids: Is the fingertip unit a helpful concept in all instances?'
  • Professor Julie Lovegrove (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Sugar Bureau, 'Impact of reformulated sugar-reduced product consumption on energy and nutrient intake, weight and plasma lipid and glucose concentrations'; and Technology Strategy Board, 'Validating heart health benefits of new and improved broccoli variety'
  • Dr Dean Madden (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): European Commission, 'Synthetic biology resources for universities: Research, development and implementation of resources for teaching synthetic biology'
  •  (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): British Academy, 'Behavioural science for public policy'
  • Dr Alister McNeish (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): British Heart Foundation, 'The role of thromboxane receptors and Rho mediated signalling in regulation of endothelial cell calcium activated potassium channels and endothelium dependent hyperpolarisation'; and Royal Society, 'Can ubiquitination and SUMOylation regulate endothelial cee calcium-activated potassium channel function?'
  • Dr Andrew Meade (School of Biological Sciences): BBSRC, 'Comparative methods for second generation sequence analysis'
  • Professor Irene Mueller-Harvey (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): European Commission, 'Unravelling the anthelmintic modes of action of plant tannins to improve animal health'; and 'Optimising plant polyphenols in LEGUMES for ruminant nutrition PLUS health PLUS environmental sustainability (LegumePlus)'
  • Professor Lynne Murray (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): University of Oxford, 'Using MEG to study the effect of craniofacial abnormalities on the early parent-infant relationship'
  • Pamela Myles (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, 'IAPT: Training and clinical outcomes. Do we train in vain?'
  • Professor Keshavan Niranjan (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): British Council, 'Low environmental impact polysaccharide based packaging solutions for fresh cut fruits and vegetables'
  • Professor Mark Pagel (School of Biological Sciences): European Commission, 'Mother Tongue - The evolution of human languages'
  • Professor Julian Park (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): European Commission, 'Assessing and monitoring the impacts of genetically modified plants on agro-ecosystems'
  • Dr Simon Potts (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): BBSRC, 'Urban pollinators: Their ecology and conservation'; 'Sustainable pollination services for UK crops'; 'Linking agriculture and land use change to pollinator populations'; and Friends of the Earth, 'The trends and causes of bees decline, the value of bees and the impact of government policy'
  •  (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): ALS Association, 'Synthesis and pharmacological characterisation of novel riluzole derivatives'
  • Professor Chris Reynolds (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): Marks and Spencer PLC., 'Methane study to determine the effects of supplemental extruded linseed (Lintec) on methane emissions'
  • Dr Caroline Rymer (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): The British Poulty Council, 'A study to determine the difference in B-alanine dipeptide contents of various samples of retail meat'
  • Professor Michael Shaw (School of Biological Sciences): Technology Strategy Board, 'Development of novel spray application technologies to enhance effectiveness of pesticide products and to minimise residues in UK apple production'
  • Dr Gary Stephens (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): UCB Pharma SA., 'Mechanisms of actions of SV2A ligands: Role of SV2A in effects on CA2+ channels and synaptic transmission'
  • Dr Katja Strohfeldt (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Royal Society, 'Biological evaluation of novel metal-based anti-cancer drugs'
  • Nick Taylor (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): DEFRA, 'A study to explore what factors are influencing the spread of the bTB endemic area'
  •  (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): European Commission, 'New dietary strategies addressing the specific needs of the elderly population for healthy ageing in Europe'
  • Mr Richard Tranter (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development): European Commission, 'Practical implementation of coexistence in Europe'
  • Dr Carien van Reekum (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): British Academy, 'Developing an experimental paradigm to quantify the time course of emotional recovery: Implications for health and well-being'; and BBSRC, 'Emotion regulation and well-being as we age: Implications of cognitive decline and prefrontal atrophy for corticolimbic function' 
  •  (School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences): MRC, 'An investigation of parent-child interactions in anxious adolescents and a pilot evaluation of a novel family treatment'
  • Dr Andy Wetten (School of Biological Sciences): Cocoa Research UK Ltd., 'West Africa-wide survey of cocoa swollen shoot virus'
  • Dr Parveen Yaqoob (School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy): Cereal Partners UK, 'Effects of a wholegrain diet on digestive health and markers of immune function in healthy overweight adults'; The Danish Council for Strategic Research, 'Enzymatic production of human milk digosaccharides' 

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