Bridging the Gaps: Nano-Info-Bio

Lead Research Organisation: Manchester Metropolitan University
Department Name: Sch of Computing, Maths and Digital Tech

Abstract

Many of the complex challenges facing 21st century society will require solutions that transcend disciplinary boundaries. The convergence of nanotechnology, information technologies and biotechnology is widely predicted to lie at the heart of the next technological revolution. Nano-info-bio science and technology has the potential to fundamentally transform healthcare, agriculture, energy, security, environmental science and many other areas of pressing concern. MMU is ideally placed to take advantage of and contribute to these developments. We have a strong research presence in each of nanoscience, informatics and biosciences. However, while the relevant groups carry out internationally-renowned work in their own domains, there has been, so far, little cross-fertilization between certain communities.Our programme will stimulate activities at the interfaces of nano-info-bio, initially drawing on members of the Dalton Research Institute (DRI) and the Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health (IRM). The IRM has recently relocated to the main University campus, and the proposed programme will provide an ideal vehicle for creating entirely new institutional partnerships. We therefore seek to build (and strengthen) links between computational scientists/mathematicians/engineers and their counterparts in the natural/life/health sciences. We propose a grass-roots programme of fine-grained project support that will maximise opportunity for involvement and encourage serendipitous contact between different disciplines. By operating within a challenge-driven framework, we will drive the programme to produce tangible outcomes and lay the foundations for long-term sustainability.

Publications

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Darby J (2012) Automated regional analysis of B-mode ultrasound images of skeletal muscle movement. in Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)

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Shukur A (2016) The influence of silica nanoparticles on small mesenteric arterial function. in Nanomedicine (London, England)

 
Description Experience gained on project has influenced development of next Bridging the Gaps proposal (currently in preparation), and has been included in overall BTG Report released by EPSRC.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

 
Description Bridging the Gaps Institutional Sponsorship
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J501608/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2011 
End 11/2012
 
Title FEM model of skin, fat and skeletal muscle 
Description Three layer Finite Element Model of skin, fat and skeletal muscle tissue. The model aims to study the influence of the dielectric properties of the muscle on electromyography signals. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N/A 
URL http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6923823&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2...
 
Title Film contamination detection 
Description Detection of microbial contamination and growth of cinematographic film utilising headspace solid phase micro-extraction coupled with Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Press interest, including appearance on BBC One Show. 
URL http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/ay/c2ay05826j#!divAbstract
 
Title Nanoparticle influence on blood vessels 
Description Attenuation of endothelial-dependent vasodilator responses, induced by dye-encapsulated silica nanoparticles, in aortic vessels. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N/A 
URL http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2217/nnm.12.213
 
Title Skeletal muscle imaging 
Description A novel system of electrodes transparent to ultrasound for simultaneous detection of myoelectric activity and B-mode ultrasound images of skeletal muscles. 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N/A 
URL http://jap.physiology.org/content/115/8/1203
 
Description Manchester DIYbio 
Organisation Manchester Digital Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A Wellcome Trust-funded project, that arose as a result of a NIB-supported event. As a result of attending a NIB-organized event on synthetic biology, we started a collaboration with MadLab in the field of DIYbio (citizen scientists engaging with biology). This resulted in a successful bid to the Wellcome Trust, to support the Manchester DIYbio project. MMU gained the funding and managed the project.
Collaborator Contribution MadLab instigated the collaboration, and delivered the activities of the project.
Impact NIB directly led to the creation of an entirely new organisation. DIYBIO Manchester (DIYBIOMCR) is now an established independent entity, the UK's largest "do it yourself" biology group, and is an active participant in the global DIYbio movement. For a full list of relevant DIYBIOMCR activities, please see http://www.scmdt.mmu.ac.uk/cir/REF/cs2.html . Relevant projects included the Manchester Microbe Map (a bacterial "atlas" of bus stops in Manchester), and the construction of "homebrew" DNA replication equipment. As a result of the project, the turnover of MadLab (the parent organization) has grown significantly,and, since 2011, an average of 80% of MadLab's income has been due to DIYBIOMCR. The MadLab finance manager provided the following figures on 14/11/13: predicted income for 2013-14: £330,000, of which £228,000 (69%) is directly attributable to DIYBIOMCR. A deposition from MadLab Director states that "DIYBIOMCR has brought much positive attention to MadLab, and exposed the organization to a wide range of new audiences. We have become much more outward-facing, as opposed to focusing on community groups and in-house training. At the time, the Wellcome Trust funding was MadLab's largest single block of external money, and represented its most significant external relationship with another organization. This seed-corn money, in turn, gave access to more funding, and allowed MadLab to present itself in a different light to external bodies. To put it bluntly, the Wellcome Trust "seal of approval" gave MadLab a significant "cachet", on which we have since built. MadLab is now in the process of converting into a Community Interest Company, and we have separately raised £160K of the £250K we need to refurbish our space. Much of the money raised has come from local and national sources that have been developed and nurtured as a direct result of DIYBIOMCR." In recent years the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has developed a DIY bio program that aims to share information and make connections between amateur scientists and local law enforcement officers. The objective is to address any concerns (on either side of the regulatory "fence"), and to provide a framework for ongoing discussions. The Bureau's local Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) coordinators are the focal point of such conversations, and ensure that local authorities (e.g., fire and police service, environmental health) are informed of the nature and location of cooperating DIY biology laboratories. The FBI also works closely with the Department of State on biosecurity, and the Department of Health and Human services on biosafety. As a result of our high-profile activities, the FBI invited DIYBIOMCR participants Asa Calow and Rachel Turner to attend a workshop held in San Francisco on 12-14/6/2012; Calow and Turner were the only UK-based participants in attendance, and they were specifically invited as a direct consequence of the outcomes of DIYBIOMCR. The purpose of the workshop was to "educate the FBI about biology" (in the context of the growing DIY biology movement), and to "foster the positive relationship among FBI, DIYbio, amateur biology and local stakeholder communities to ensure safe conduct in science." The FBI explicitly stated that "we want to model this for the international community..." (that is, they want to help to develop policy and practice, both within the US and beyond). Their explicit aim is to help to avoid extra regulation of DIYbio scientists "that hinders their abilities to push scientific progress. Ultimately, it will be up to the communities themselves how they wish to operate, and the FBI will continue to work with them to further their efforts." A subsequent email (27/7/2012) to Calow and Turner from an FBI supervisory special agent with the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate in Washington DC stated that "I wanted to thank you again for agreeing to come and present at the event ... Your perspective on media issues was delivered so well that I believe that a great impact was left [on] the attendees ... It really left a great impression on me that some direction and reinforcement is being given to this community in proactively engaging the media, to their ultimate benefit." A later message (10/6/2013) to Prof. Amos from the FBI Special Agent (about the DIYBIOMCR contribution) stated that "their insight, engagement within their community and energy makes them, in my eyes, a leader in being a proactive member of the amateur biology community... These steps take a long time to climb, but it seems as if they have been very successful in developing a working model that serves their community. Additionally, Rachel's input regarding interactions with the media have kept this issue in high standing for our future events with this community." The total immediate (in-person) audience reached was around 700 for DIYBIOMCR. Results were disseminated widely, and though high-profile channels such as pieces (both 28/3/2012) on the main BBC Ten-o-clock News (estimated viewing figure: 4.75M) and Radio 4's Today programme (average weekly audience of around 7M). Amos, M., Calow, A., Jacobs, N., Jung, H.Y., Linton, T. & Verran, J. (2012) Manchester DIYbio. In Bowater, L. & Yeoman, K., Science Communication: A Practical Guide for Scientists, p.p. 250- 251, Wiley-Blackwell. Final Evaluation Report, Sally Fort. Available at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3105497/DIYBioMcrEvaluationReport.pdf Nature SpotOn blog article on DIYBIOMCR at http://www.nature.com/spoton/2012/12/spoton-nyc- diy-science-manchester-digital-laboratory-madlab/ 28/3/2012: DIYBIOMCR featured on BBC Ten O'Clock News; write-up available at BBC Online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17511710 28/3/2012: DIYBIOMCR featured on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme. Recording available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9709000/9709494.stm
Start Year 2011
 
Description Artificial Life: Promises and Pitfalls 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Leading experts in the field of synthetic biology were invited to give their thoughts on the future of the field, and answer questions from the audience. The sold-out event, with over 130 people in attendance, gave a fascinating insight into an often controversial subject.

An attendee at the talk approached the NIB PI with a proposal, which led to the creation of the DIYBIOMCR project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.nanoinfobio.org/events.html
 
Description Film deterioration: article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article about fungal deterioration work on BBC News website.

Requests for more information on project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11202019
 
Description Hands on Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On March 19th the second large Public Engagement event as part of the NanoInfoBio project took place. Working with the Faculty of Science and Engineering at MMU, and supported by HE STEM, an open day of participatory science events, called 'Hands on Science', was hosted as part of National Science and Engineering Week. Events included nanocoated 'magic sand', a range of experiments in body and motion (hosted by the IRM), a 'Turing Test' and many other activities. Over 250 members of the public (mostly families) attended the event, and feedback received was excellent.

Increase in number of requests for information about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Ian Stewart talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof. Stewart gave a talk based on his new book, answered questions, and attended reception afterwards.

Several people requested information about NIB.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.nanoinfobio.org/images/Stewart.jpg
 
Description Manchester Girl Geek Dinner 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On the 28th September Lindsey J. Munro and Naomi Jacobs were invited to speak at a meeting of the 'Manchester Girl Geek Dinners'. This is a regular monthly event where female 'geeks' with an interest in science, technology and engineering get together to hear a talk on a topic of interest. Naomi Jacobs started by relating the aims and achievements of the NIB project, and giving an overview of some of the re- search being done in the Early Adopter and large projects. Lindsey Munro then gave a fascinating talk explaining the nature of computational chemistry, and work being done as an Early Adopter project designing novel nanodevices.

Tweet: "@nanoinfobio yesterday was awesome :) the science and the project are fascinating, You made my 1st @mancgg dinner a good un"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Microbiology and Art 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Raised profile of project.

N/A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description One Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with Jo Verran on BBC One Show, about the fungal deterioration of film work.

Requests for information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Sheffield Hallam Research Cafe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Questions, and informal networking.

Follow-up enquiries about possible future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011