Three Brookes academics gain New Investigator Awards

Thursday, 03 March 2011


Three Brookes academics have succeeded in gaining highly competitive new investigator grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Three Brookes academics have succeeded in gaining highly competitive new investigator grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The total awards are likely to exceed £1.2 million. Dr Imogen Sparkes, Research Fellow in the School of Life Sciences, is the latest success story. Her project aims to gain an understanding of the role of motor proteins inside plant cells, similar to those found in muscle, in relation to controlling the movement of compartments within the cell. The long term goal is to enhance crop productivity by increasing the efficiency of the cell.

While final details are yet to be agreed, the award includes substantial funding for a researcher and all necessary support to initiate an independent research group. Imogen’s success follows closely behind that of Dr Susan Vaughan, whose project for work on trypanosomes, the parasite that causes sleeping sickness, will start this spring. First of the three to win funding was Dr John Runions (now a Senior Lecturer) for his work on highlighting the way in which proteins in the plant cell membrane interact. All three staff work in the new Department of Biological and Medical Sciences and the three projects centre on the Bioimaging facility in Life Sciences using the high-resolution live-cell imaging and recently installed electron microscopes.

Professor David Evans, Head of the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences, said: "All three projects provide fundamental knowledge addressing important real-world problems; about 50,000 people die annually from trypanosomiasis and the two plant projects will yield information relevant to crop protection and food security, a government research priority area."