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Internal News - 15 February 2008

Academics receive awards for UK-India initiatives

Dr David Tosh, in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, and Professor Darryl Almond, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have both received collaborative research awards from the UK-India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Cell therapy

Dr Tosh, together with Dr Anandwardhan Hardikar from the National Centre for Cell Science in India, has been awarded funds to develop a cell therapy for treating diabetes.

Cell therapy means treating diseases with the body’s own cells. Diabetes is a global healthcare problem, according to the International Diabetes Federation there are approximately 250 million people worldwide with diabetes. This figure is projected to increase to 380 million by 2020. With more than 60 million sufferers, India is the single country with the largest number of diabetics.

If these predictions are fulfilled, then it would create a major burden on the world’s healthcare budget. Although insulin therapy is very successful, diabetes is associated with complications, in particular blindness, increased risk of heart disease and kidney failure.

In order to achieve better control of blood glucose, one possibility is to transplant insulin-producing beta-cells from donors. However, the number of donors available is severely limited. One way forward is to augment the supply for transplantation by producing beta-cells outside the body. This may become possible but the work is at an early stage.

Dr Tosh said: “Our novel approach is to utilise cells from the lining of the gall bladder and bile duct as a source for the generation of beta-cells for transplantation. This award will enable researchers in India and the UK to focus and complement their efforts in developing a unique therapy for diabetes.”

Thermography

Professor Almond, together with Professor Suneet Tuli from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, has been awarded funds to investigate new ways of detecting dangerous defects in engineering materials.

The project will compare the effectiveness of various forms of thermography, a method which examines the way heat flows across the part being inspected for safety. Cracks that could lead to the failure of the part trap heat and this shows up on infrared camera scans.

Establishing a quick and accurate way of inspecting for cracks and other damage is becoming more important as more aircraft, racing cars and other engineering structures are made from carbon composite material rather than metal to reduce weight. Composite materials consists of layers that are glued together and accidental impacts can make the carbon layers come apart from the glue – creating a potentially dangerous defect beneath the surface that is invisible to the eye.

The project will analyse and compare the effectiveness of the different thermographic inspection methods being studied in the research groups in Bath and Delhi. Professor Almond said: “ This award will enable researchers in India and the UK to share their knowledge and expertise of this rapidly developing non-destructive evaluation technique. Having the opportunity to visit each others laboratories and first hand experience of using different methods on the same test pieces should lead to us to finding the best way to find defects with thermography.”

Notes

UKIERI aims to substantially improve educational links between India and UK. It is a partnership of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Department for Innovation, University & Skills the Department for Children, Schools & Families, The British Council, the Devolved Administrations and the corporate champions: BP, GSK, Shell and BAE Systems. It is currently worth £26 million over five years.