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CITER Undergraduate Summer Student Bursaries 2017

17 November 2017

CITER offers its members financial support though their bursaries; one of which is the Undergraduate Summer Student Bursary. This bursary is available to CITER members to support undergraduate students' research projects which takes place over a maximum of eight weeks during the summer months.

For the 2017 Summer Student Bursaries, six bursaries (£1520 per student) were attributed. Below is a summary of a selection of student's projects highlighting the impact of CITER funding contribution to research.

Melissa Thomas spent eight weeks at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences investigating the expression of mitochondrial proteins in brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Comparing human brain tissue from an ageing range of human male and female brains with brains from male and female Alzheimer’s disease patients was innovative since very little research previously has examined the inter-relationship between ageing and gender for the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of this research was to pursue the possibility of developing novel anti-oxidants for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Melissa's supervisor, Dr Emma Kidd reported this bursary "allowed us to obtain preliminary data on how the expression of mitochondrial electron transport chain proteins in the human brain is affected by age and gender, two of the most important risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These data are essential for an upcoming manuscript and we would not have been able to obtain them without the CITER funding for Melissa.”

This opportunity is invaluable for undergraduates as it gives them an opportunity to work in a laboratory environment as part of an active research team which is otherwise not possible during their studies. Melissa reported "I was able to expand on my laboratory skills, which increased my confidence experience has definitely encouraged me to pursue post graduate education".

Undergraduate final year Pharmacy students are currently continuing with Melissa’s work as part of their research projects. The data which Melissa obtained is also being used as part of a future grant application. A detailed report on Melissa's placement can be found here.

Polina Ingulova's project was split between the School of Dentistry and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and "was an amazing experience". Her project focused on the development of drug-loaded mucoadhesive films as a potential treatment for periodontal disease and gingivitis, which occur in presence of bacteria and provoke classic inflammatory symptoms. It's aim was to analyse both the anti-bacterial and the anti-inflammatory properties of the films, loaded with an anti-bacterial drug in a combination with a choice of anti-inflammatory drug. This project aims to develop novel treatment option for patients as currently there is a lack of over the counter medication in the market to treat gingivitis, with mainly mouthwashes available.

Polina's supervisor Dr Emma Board-Davies reported the CITER bursary "has allowed us to pursue further investigations into this project that would have other wise not been completed....going forward this project will continue to investigate and improve the anti-inflammatory properties of the films, in addition to ensuring the lack of toxicity to the patient".

This experience proved to very beneficial for Polina and she reported "I would highly recommend applying for a CITER Summer Project to anyone who is interested in obtaining a unique laboratory experience and enjoys self-directed learning and independent work",

Four detectors used in the research.

Polly Blaikie spent her placement in the School of Engineering’s Cardiff University Structural Performance (CUSP) team. This project built on the knowledge she gained from the previous summer when Polly completed a Cardiff University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) project. It aimed at applying past findings to the use of Acoustic Emission (AE) to detect a damage event through skin phantoms whereby soft material is used which simulates the ultra-sonic properties of soft tissue. This project is part of a wider research programme aiming to develop a Smart Patch for Early Detection of Osteoarthritis. This involved using four sensors to detect a generated signal through a set of skin phantoms, which ranged from 1mm - 20mm in thickness.

Polly’s supervisor Dr Crivelli reported "the work has been key in establishing the type of sensors, how best to bond them, and the effect of different skin thicknesses in our measurements...and has given us a starting point for developing the sensor patch, which is going to be trialled on healthy volunteers by one of my undergraduate project students next year. Going forward this has allowed the research team to move on early stage osteoarthritis and see if it can be detected reliably enough to develop the patch as a diagnostic device.

If you are a CITER early career researcher or established researcher and interested in being part of the 2018 CITER Summer Student Bursaries, please note the call is now open! The deadline for applications is 17:00 Friday 15 December 2017.

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