The International Relations Office is delighted to announce that three Bath researchers have been successful in securing funding to develop joint research with partners in Brazil.

Co-funded by FAPESP SPRINT, awards have been made across the Faculties of Science, Engineering & Design, and the School of Management, and cover a range of topics that reflect the University's priority research themes and develop strong research links with universities in Brazil. Research topics include material science, healthcare and sustainability.

The joint call builds on our successful partnerships in Latin America and the research connections that our academics have built with colleagues in Brazil. Through the scheme, researchers at Bath can apply for funding of up to £5000 per year, which is matched by FAPESP, for projects running up to two years.

Read about the projects below:

Titanium and niobium: Two important but enigmatic elements in glass science

Bath PI: Prof Philip S Salmon (Department of Physics)

Partner: Prof Hellmut Eckert – Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

The United Nations declared 2022 as the International Year of Glass to celebrate both its heritage and importance. The glass structure is the key to unlocking its material properties, but it is difficult to access because of structural disorder. The proposed system of work will deliver a new capacity for understanding the role of two key but enigmatic elements (Niobium–titanium) in glass science. Brazil hosts the vast majority of the world’s niobium reserves, giving this element national strategic importance. The project aims to respond to the need for rapid identification and management of public and environmental health risks in urban Brazil and gain a fundamental understanding of the role of niobium in glasses with technological applications. The understanding should lead to an enhanced export potential for this element either as the ore or as higher-value optical products.

Enabling evidence-based design: Guidelines for the development of integrated inpatient and building digital twin model

Bath PI: Dr Ricardo Codinhoto (Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering)

Partners: Dr Marcio Minto Fabricio - University of São Paulo, Prof. Sheila Ornstein – University of São Paulo, Prof. Michele Caroline Bueno Ferrari Caixeta - Federal Institute of São Paulo.

Events such as heat waves have caused significant and exponential increases in excess deaths in hospitals when inpatients are exposed to prolonged periods of higher temperatures. Evidence also shows an increase in the number of heat waves globally. This project aims to develop a multidisciplinary network of academics to discuss how digital twin technology can support a more accurate and effective approach to delivering (preventive) care. The main outcome of this network is to develop a larger research grant that will contribute to new research capacities between the UK and Brazil. The narrative in this proposal is informed by a current IAUUSP research project (FAPESP 20/12141-1 and 22/00391-9), exploring the evidence-based design of healthcare facilities in the Covid-19 pandemic control context. The results have demonstrated that although simulation is a compelling approach to understanding various aspects of building performance, there are limitations to the extent that these simulation models accurately incorporate many independent variables related to care provision. Therefore, a multidisciplinary network of academics to explore the feasibility of using digital twins for monitoring patients' responses to changes in building performance is an important next step.

PKR-TRPV1 complex as a potential mediator of pathological pain: integrating modelling, signalling, and therapeutic value.

Bath PI: Professor Carmen Domene (Department of Chemistry)

Partners: Prof Guilherme Lucas - Department of Physiology, University of São Paulo

How do we perceive pain? Our ability to sense heat, cold, touch or pain is essential for survival and underpins our interaction with the world around us. TRPV1 is the sensor that responds to heat and activates nerve cells causing pain sensations. How TRPV1 exerts this function is still an unsolved riddle. This project combines computational chemistry with genetic, molecular and cellular methods as well as pharmacological and behavioural paradigms to uncover the PKR-TRPV1 interactions in the presence of drugs used to treat pathological pain. Interaction of PKR-TRPV1 and opioid analgesic drugs offers a completely new view to the mechanisms of action of these drugs and should lead to a better understanding of the fundamental biology of chronic pain. Most importantly, the overall goal of these studies may reveal novel targets for development of more effective analgesic drugs.

As well as three jointly funded projects with FAPESP, the University of Bath will also be funding two additional projects to ensure Bath academics can facilitate their projects with Brazilian collaborators and contribute to Bath's priority research themes:

Dr Michael Carley and Dr Anna Young of the Department of Mechanical Engineering will work with researchers at São Paulo State University to further research on fluid dynamics and specifically vortical flows. The project aims to develop methods to compute these flows, validate the methods using the latest flow measurements, and combine measurements and predictions to understand the basic mechanisms at work, in order to improve the operation of the basic systems which underpin renewable energy and other technologies.

Prof. Maria Battarra of the School of Management will work with researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos to further research in supporting logistic providers towards greener delivery solutions, minimizing risks and costs by modelling the decision making process of a logistics provider deciding which vehicles to own and hire to perform last-mile deliveries. The modelling will be conducted used Operational Research techniques, with the developed algorithms ultimately supporting decision makers to make more sustainable decisions, both in terms of investments and operational costs, but also in terms of emissions and congestion in city centres.