Reporter 463, 12 March 2001

Funding towards virtual reality heart

Biomedical research at the University has been given a significant boost with two awards.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is providing more than £1 million for two projects under its Joint Research Equipment Initiative (JREI).

A project headed by Professor Arun Holden, of biomedical sciences, involving the engineering of virtual tissues, is to receive £495,910.

Cash award – Professor Arun Holden with computer-generated images of electrical activity in the heart

Professor Holden’s project concerns the development of a major supercomputer facility to detail mathematical models of the human heart – or virtual reality heart – which will be used for further research.

The JREI award makes up about 48 per cent of the funding with the rest coming from sponsorship.

A sum of £573,399 has been granted for the establishment of a proteomics facility led by Professor John Findlay, of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Professor Findlay, who regards the work as an important interface between medical science and biological science, said: "This is one of the major new approaches to understanding cellular behaviour and as such represents one of the keys to unlock the molecular basis of disease and dysfunction."

The proteomics facility concerns the examination of proteins and their effects on tissue and cell changes, with the aim of developing a health strategy to restore affected cells and tissues.

Another £150,000 from the University plus further cash from sponsorship brings the total funding for the facility to more than £820,000.

Sir Brian Fender, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: "JREI is a great success, and we are pleased with its results. The initiative has provided a very valuable source of research funding for UK science, and will continue to do so through the work of the Research Councils. It has also been instrumental in fostering valuable partnerships between higher education and industry. In the future, however, we will be funding larger projects through the SRIF, which represents a much bigger pot of money."

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