Addressing Scotland’s skills gap in Advanced Therapies with a second upskilling course this May

After identifying a shortage of skills in advanced therapy and vaccine manufacturing in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier’s School of Applied Sciences teamed up with Charles Rover Laboratories last January and ran a short course for students and recent graduates interested in the topic.

The five-day programme – which formed part of the UK’s Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) – was highly successful, with three of the graduates already being offered full-time employment in the Lifesciences industry. And the good news, the course is returning this May to train another cohort of interested participants.

Dr Claire Garden, Associate Professor in the School of Applied Sciences, says: “Advanced Therapies offer enormous potential and promise to protect our society from current and future diseases, but when the UK government conducted research with companies in 2019, 83% were concerned about their ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities because skills anticipated to be essential were – at that time – missing. With our industry skills focus and partnership with key employers, recognised in our recent reaccreditation by the Royal Society of Biology, we have the track record to continue bringing this training to a wide audience.”

On the course, students learn about Good Laboratory Practice and are supplied with theoretical knowledge, including sterile manufacturing and the development and production of Advanced Therapies. In addition, they gain practical skills that allow for entering the Advanced Therapies workforce, such as cell culture and immunoassay techniques, and lab auditing; and learn about the quality and regulatory environment as well as the Good Manufacturing Practice within an industrial setting.

Carmen Martel – a student from the first cohort shared her experiences with us, stating, “Through the ATSTN advanced therapies course I got to experience how an industry laboratory operates and it helped me decide whether that was the industry I wanted to work in. It also put me in contact with valuable people in the field and helped me secure a job even before graduating.”

ATSTN was launched in 2020 and operates through three centres, two in England and one in Scotland. Edinburgh Napier is the only university in Scotland to be a member of ATSTN. This week, the School of Applied Sciences will partner once again with RoslinCT, SULSA (the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance), the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and Ayrshire College to deliver this bespoke and highly targeted training programme.

Edinburgh Napier launch new PGDE English

Teacher Education at Napier University is undergoing an exciting development. After three hugely successful years of teacher education for Science and Mathematics teachers, it is expanding to include an English PGDE from August of this year.

This dynamic one-year course will empower new teachers with the knowledge to teach English in Scottish schools. If you have a passion for the subject of English and an enjoyment of working with young people, then this course would be the first step into the wonderful career that is teaching.

At the core of teacher training at Napier is equipping teachers with both practical classroom skills and engagement with a wide range of research. A range of thought-provoking modules on education will balance the subject-specific seminars on English teaching, leaving trainee teachers ready for the various demands of the modern-day classroom.

Module leader, Jamie Thom, is excited to share his passion with English and teaching and learning with new teachers. He has written and published three books on teaching, run a range of educational podcasts, and qualified as an educational coach.  He has taught in various schools across the UK, and the fact he only left the classroom in April of this year means he well-informed about the reality of how to be successful as an English teacher.

This drive to make sure new teachers are both enthused and equipped with practical knowledge about teaching English, and working with young people will be at the heart of the new programme.

Education in Scotland is at an exciting cross-roads, with an increasing demand for dynamic and creative teachers. New English teachers are always in demand in secondary schools and it is a career that can open up a range of exciting opportunities.  The potential to inspire and engage young people in the subject of English, and to build life-changing relationships in the process, is too good an opportunity to miss.

Find out more>>> PGDE Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (English) Postgraduate Full-time (napier.ac.uk)

ENU researchers design prehab service to revolutionise pre-surgery patient care

The waiting time for hip and knee replacement increased from 12 weeks to 18 months because of Covid and the backlog it created for the NHS.

Such a long period can considerably decrease the quality of life and the chance of quick post-surgery recovery for the patient. The good news: a group of ENU researchers may have just found the perfect solution.

Patients waiting for hip or knee replacements live with severe pain symptoms caused by damaged joint surfaces. The constant soreness and discomfort reduce people’s mobility and fitness, increasing their chances for gaining weight and extending the likely time of post-surgery recovery.

According to Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Anna Campbell, “Evidence is emerging that providing virtual exercise, nutritional and emotional support to people waiting for operations – or during treatment – has the potential to significantly improve their physical and psychological wellbeing and quality of life.”

The hip and knee (HAK) prehab intervention is a pilot service designed by ENU lecturers and researchers – Dr Kostas Kaliarntas, Professor Anna Campbell, and Dr Amanda Pitkethly from the School of Applied Sciences; and Dr David Hamilton, Dr Coral Hanson and Professor Lis Neubeck from the School of Health and Social Care. They worked in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nick Clement and anaesthetist Dr Elizabeth Brun Lacey, from NHS Lothian.

The service is now being funded by NHS Lothian for approximately 18 months. Its function is to provide virtual lifestyle behaviour change programmes that will increase the fitness and wellbeing of patients waiting for hip and knee replacement. These include individual online exercise sessions, dietary advice, and emotional support; all provided by clinical exercise physiologists.

Similar services developed by ENU researchers have been successfully delivered to cancer and cardiac patients, such as the ongoing Safefit trial led by Professor Anna Campbell and her team.

The new HAK prehab intervention follows the Safefit protocol and researchers aim to recruit 126 hip and knee replacement patients, supplying each of them with a 6-month virtual prehabilitation service.

The clinical exercise physiologists will monitor behavioural changes and measure outcomes by conducting interviews and exploring service users’ experiences. If the pilot proves beneficial for patients, and feasible for the NHS, it could revolutionise pre-surgery healthcare.

Dr Kostas Kaliarntas added, “This project gives us exciting opportunities for further collaborations with NHS, placement opportunities for our MSc Clinical Exercise Science and Physical Activity & Health undergraduate students, and potential follow up external funding applications.”

To find out more about becoming a clinical exercise physiologist by studying BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health or MSc Clinical Exercise Science at Edinburgh Napier University, click the links.

BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health Undergraduate Full-time

MSc Clinical Exercise Science Postgraduate Full-time

Growing the cycling industry in Scotland

In 2023, Scotland is to host the Cycling World Championships, a two-week extravaganza that will bring together 13 international competitions in one country for the first time.

This inaugural mega event will provide an outstanding opportunity to showcase the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCOS) research group and a new Innovation Centre at Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders.

Edinburgh Napier University’s Professor Geraint Florida-James is playing a key role in establishing the new innovation centre – which marks an important milestone for the sport of cycling at home and worldwide. An applied researcher who is passionate about sports science and cycling, Professor Florida-James has been involved with the biking industry for nearly twenty years, also coaching athletes for the Downhill and the Cross-Country World Cups, as well as Professional Enduro Racers.

The MTBCOS is a project that started in 2014, with Edinburgh Napier University working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Cycling. Its role has been to help grow a Scottish cycling industry, with relevant research and help businesses take advantage of one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. The group provides support with market research, developing, testing, and launching new products.

The success of the project caught the attention of the Scottish and UK Governments and raised the profile of the sector internationally. As a result, with an additional partner, the South of Scotland Enterprise, the Centre has been fundamental in securing £19M of Borderlands Regional Growth Deal Funding to purchase the Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen, an old textile mill that has been out of use since 2013. Professor Florida-James emphasises that partnerships such as these are key for the Centre’s continued success.

Also included in the Borderlands Project is the first mechanical lift-assisted Bike Park in the Northern Hemisphere, which will be with a short ride of the Mill. Once renovated, the Mill and the surrounding world-class bike tracks will serve as an innovation site for the cycling industry ­- led by Edinburgh Napier – where new products can be developed and tested. In addition, the Hub will also explore supply chain issues and can connect local entrepreneurs with international audiences.

Professor Florida-James says, “we expect huge international interest around the 2023 Championships, which will help more companies become aware of the research and development potential here, and the potential to reshore some of the cycling industry to Scotland”.

The Centre has equally been supporting internal partners within Edinburgh Napier who are involved with mental health and wellbeing research, to identify ways cycling can boost these issues in Scotland and beyond. Various schools within the University will combine their research with the Centre through the new Innovation Hub, recognising the opportunities cycling presents for future health, wellbeing and economic development.

New report examines ways to support people with disabilities in Ukraine

There are currently almost 3 million persons registered as having a disability in Ukraine; however, numbers are likely to be higher as there is a lack of reliable and detailed statistics. The COVID-19 pandemic created many new barriers for people with disabilities while equally amplifying existing ones. Nevertheless, the war with Russia presents new and more complex challenges, and the need for support is great and urgent.

The devastating situation in Ukraine has become increasingly difficult for people living in the war-torn country and for those who have been displaced because of the conflict. Persons with disabilities are particularly affected since such conditions exacerbate existing challenges.

Kiril Sharapov, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University has been researching the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities in Ukraine in partnership with local universities and organisations. Originally, the group was motivated by a concerning lack of research projects that explored the point of view of persons with disabilities. They aimed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them by providing guidance and practical recommendations to organisations that wanted to help.

The participatory research project worked with organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in Ukraine that collected data by interviewing people with disabilities and their households, exploring the pandemic’s effects on their everyday lives. The findings released today focus on the perspectives of the OPDs; after surveying 108 of them, the findings were presented to disability experts and activists who were asked to comment and create a set of recommendations.

The recommendations urge international donors to prioritise organisations ‘of’ persons with disabilities over organisations ‘for’, in these dark times, and allocate funding to cover organisational costs in addition to supporting short-term events and projects.

Going forward, the researchers strongly suggest that public authorities in Ukraine at all levels of governance recognise and support OPDs as key actors in ensuring and protecting the rights of persons they are taking care of. Additionally, it is advised that OPDs are regularly approached and consulted by decision-making bodies, when planning and sustaining the continuity of basic life support services in the event of future public emergencies.

Lastly, it is recommended that the government works in close cooperation with OPDs once peace is restored. The two parties should develop a rapid response protocol to establish a mechanism for rapid translation, interpretation, and dissemination of time-critical information in the event of any future public emergencies. The OPDs should receive allocated funding and tax exemptions, and civic participation should be encouraged among local communities to facilitate support and partnership between OPDs and volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders.

To read  The Impact Of COVID-19 On People With Disabilities In Ukraine: Perspectives Of Organisations Of People With Disabilities (Working Paper) in English, please visit: https://doi.org/10.17869/enu.2022.2849863. To read it in Ukrainian, please visit: https://doi.org/10.17869/enu.2022.2849877.

Researchers call for compulsory training for all Police Scotland officers

Police officers across Scotland should carry naloxone, an emergency treatment for drug overdoses, a new report has recommended.

An Edinburgh Napier University-led study backed the use of the nasal spray, which counters the effects of overdose from opioids such as heroin, following an independent evaluation of a pilot carried out between March and October last year.

The researchers also called for naloxone training to be made compulsory for all Police Scotland officers and staff.

Supporters believe naloxone is an important tool in tackling Scotland’s drug-related deaths crisis, by providing immediate first aid while waiting for the ambulance service to arrive and take over emergency medical treatment.

In response to the increasing drugs death toll, and the recommendation of the country’s Drug Deaths Taskforce, Police Scotland began a pilot project to test the carriage and administration of the treatment by officers.

Last year’s trial was initially launched in Falkirk, Dundee and Glasgow East before being extended to include Caithness and Glasgow custody and Stirling community police officers.

Naloxone packs were used 51 times in the course of the pilot, and by the end 808 officers had been trained in their use, representing 87 per cent of the workforce in the pilot areas.

A team led by Dr Peter Hillen and advised by Dr Andrew McAuley of Glasgow Caledonian University assessed the attitudes and experiences of police officers, the effectiveness of their naloxone training and responses from people who use drugs and support services.

A total of 346 police officers completed questionnaires, with 41 taking part in interviews or focus groups, and further interviews were carried out with people who use drugs, family members, support workers and key stakeholders.

A majority of officers who participated in an interview or focus group were supportive of the pilot and its roll out across Scotland. Thirteen interviewees had personally administered naloxone, some on several occasions, and officers reported very positive experiences of naloxone being used effectively to save people’s lives.

While some officers considered carrying naloxone would lead to greater reliance on police by ambulance services, police overwhelmingly said that preserving life was the top priority.

Community stakeholders who were interviewed were supportive of the pilot as part of a range of initiatives to tackle the drug deaths crisis.

The study recommended that police carrying naloxone should be rolled out Scotland-wide, and that it should also be placed within police cars and custody suites to widen access.

As well as compulsory naloxone training for all police staff, the report urged consideration be given to measures to further address stigmatising attitudes towards people who use drugs.

It also recommended that officers be given ‘unambiguous information’ about their legal position if they administer the emergency treatment.

Professor Nadine Dougall, pictured, one of the team’s co-investigators, said: “Our evaluation has shown that there is significant potential benefit in training and equipping police officers with naloxone nasal spray as part of emergency first aid until ambulance support arrives.

“Many police officers told us they are often the first to attend people who have overdosed, and they greatly valued the potential to save lives in this way. People with personal experience of overdose also agreed naloxone should be carried by police officers but were keen to stress that naloxone was only a part of a solution to address drug-related deaths.”

Newly Recruited Research Fellow – Estelle Clayton – Completes the INTERACT Team

The team of INTERACT is now complete. And the researchers are very excited to start working on the project that will lay down the foundation for policy and best practice in ‘technologically-mediated’ policing, creating a safer and fairer future for all of us.

INTERACT – Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response And Contact Technology – is a large Economic and Social Research Council funded collaborative project nested at Edinburgh Napier University. Using mixed methods research, this holistic study aims to explore the perspectives of police senior leadership and staff, police officers, and members of the public to gain an in-depth understanding of stakeholders’ experiences and views on using technology when interacting with one another. The data will allow the group to make valuable recommendations for policy to impact future best practices.

The research began last year when Dr Liz Aston, Associate Professor of Criminology at Edinburgh Napier University and Director of the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) was appointed as Principal Investigator of the project. ENU partnered with the University of Dundee from Scotland as well as Keele University and University College London from England.

The first six months were spent establishing partnerships with police forces, where the research could be conducted, and recruiting the ideal candidates for the team from all four institutions. Recent PhD candidate, Estelle Clayton, from the University of Dundee completed the group in December.

Born in Manchester, Estelle moved to Scotland in 2008 to study Philosophy as an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. She continued her studies at the University of Edinburgh with a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Estelle then proceeded to do a PhD, her research entitled, Stop and Search Scotland: An Analysis of Police Practice and Culture in a Time of Change.

Estelle is immensely interested in how policing works – what officers do, how they perceive their role and how that influences their behaviour. She is curious about the ways such insights can be used for policymaking to improve the experiences of the Police and the public when interacting with each other. Naturally, she is very excited to be part of the INTERACT team and to have the opportunity to work with Dr Liz Aston among other experts from the field.

Now that the team is complete, and the research is entering its second phase, Estelle will spend the next six months interviewing members of the senior leadership of Police Scotland to understand how decisions about the use of technology are made, and what aims and objectives they have. She will equally interview staff members who use technology daily, investigating how they deal with it and what they would improve on it. The same research will be simultaneously undertaken in England by the Research Fellow from Keele University, Dr Will Andrews.

Following this period, as the research enters its third phase, Estelle will join police officers in the field to observe real-time interactions with the public mediated by technology. She will conduct follow-up interviews and focus groups with officers and civilians, as well as two communities of interest, to explore their views and experiences as well.

The study, which is scheduled to finish in September 2024, will have the research team working on the publication in its last phase. The group will present recommendations based on the findings to support policymakers in establishing guidelines around the use of technology to benefit all stakeholders involved in Police-public interactions.

To find out more about studying Criminology and the various careers that can follow, please click here.

Helping Elite Athletes Become Entrepreneurs

The Athletes as Entrepreneurs (AtLAS) training programme is a fantastic opportunity for high-level athletes who want to learn about starting a business in just five weeks. And it’s free!

The online course taught via MOOC starts on the 17th of January and will finish on the 20th of February. Attendees will learn about entrepreneurship through five modules and be supported by business experts and athlete entrepreneurs who will act as mentors. ENU lecturer, Dr Tom Campbell expressed his enthusiasm about the programme: “We are very excited to be able to offer this innovative new course to elite athletes considering a future in entrepreneurship. The training programme will be delivered in collaboration with experts from across Europe and is underpinned by research led by the team here at ENU”.

AtLAS is a flexible and hands-on course that is tailored to the specific needs of elite athletes with the single aim of upgrading their entrepreneurial skills, enabling them to develop viable business ideas. According to Dr Susan Brown from the School of Applied Sciences, the programme gives sportspeople the chance to acquire the competencies necessary for a business career: “The course provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop skills for the future while simultaneously building an entrepreneurial network”.

The programme is open to all athletes who are current or former national or international level competitors. Click here for more information and to sign up for the course.

The five modules will cover theory and practice in the following areas: the entrepreneurial individual, basic skills for entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial thinking & mindset, entrepreneurial process, founding a company. Upon completion, participants will receive an AtLAS training certificate that is worth 1 ECTS credit.

Solving single-use plastic waste with a dynamic duo

Science plays a vital part in all our lives. But what if Science were to suddenly be seen as, not a solver of climate change but as one of the significant polluters of planet Earth? Single-use plastic is the dilemma that faces every student and scientist working in labs today.

Even a small lab can get through vast stocks of single-use plastics. Gloves, pipettes, tubes, Petri dishes and vials are disposed of because they are contaminated and considered unrecyclable.

In 2018 lab technician Lisa McMillan and Technical Assistant Jo Brown decided they had to try to make the SAS labs’ plastic recyclable.

Like many groundbreaking ideas, Lisa and Jo’s research and development started in their own time; they began to formulate their approach on days off and after work.

At the start of 2019, they were ready to present to the University’s Staff Sustainability Network Group.

From this initial in-house presentation, Lisa and Jo moved on to share their work with colleagues from other universities across the UK. They started by presenting At the HeATED Regional Network Event held in Belfast. Some of the universities present included St Andrew’s, QUB, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Ulster.

Many more presentations and networking events are continuing to provide momentum for Lisa and Jo’s work. Their influence continues to grow, and in 2021 another impressive array of UK universities and institutes were present to hear about Lisa and Jo’s protocol at the EAUC Zoomscot share. The interest in their method had begun to widen to include the labs of Kings College London, the Institute for Cancer Research and the National Oceanography Centre. And the duo has also recently contributed an article on their work to Microbiologist magazine.

Back at their homes in Scotland, Lisa and Jo continue to fine-tune their protocol and work on new ideas. Every day in the labs of Napier University, they put into practice their first-ever safe recycling method.

Since they introduced the system in the SAS labs, they have sent an impressive 1500KG of single-use plastic that would otherwise have been sent to landfills to be recycled instead. If you have trouble visualising exactly how much plastic 1500Kkg represents, just think of 40 large external dumpsters.

Every year, a new cohort of students join Napier University. Every year, those students become increasingly aware and angry about the damage that plastics are doing to the planet. But one thing Napier students can be reassured about is that somewhere in the labs of the University a dedicated Lisa and Jo will continue to build upon their success and work towards creating more methods to make single-use plastics recyclable and ultimately to work towards reducing Science’s impact on the environment.

Contact

l.mcmillan@napier.ac.uk

j.brown5@napier.ac.uk

Pitch perfect. Falkirk’s visit to Sport Exercise Science Labs

In line with the Edinburgh Napier’s commitment to students gaining valuable first-hand experience, two postgraduate Sports & Exercise Sciences students were recently scheduled to work with Falkirk FC’s squad, to produce a pre-season assessment.

The Club’s players assembled at the state-of-the-art laboratories at Sighthill in June, to take part in a series of tests designed to record everything from their percentage body fat to their counter movement jump height.

The session was run by Laboratory Technician, Russell Wilson, and two Sport Performance Enhancement MSc students, Kieran McManus and Jack Brennan. They soon had the squad working hard:

  • Using the School’s new SECA portable body composition analysers to measure variables such as overall body fat percentage, resting energy expenditure, sectional skeletal muscle mass measurements and visceral adipose tissue.
  • Performing counter movement jumps and squat analysis using Kistler force plates. These provide information on jump height, relative maximal power and time spent in each phase of the jump/squat.
  • The club’s physio also requested hamstring force measurements, to establish pre-season baseline hamstring strength.

Falkirk players in ENU Sports labs

The following day, Kieran and Jack attended Falkirk’s stadium to assist with some additional testing. There, the students ran the players through some speed and agility drills, including straight sprint speed testing and the 5-0-5 agility test, using Witty timing gates to provide accurate velocity information.

Graeme Henderson, Head of Performance at Falkirk FC, was delighted with the sessions, which were also attended by Falkirk’s head coach, Paul Sheerin, and the club’s head physiotherapist, Rachel Gillen.

“The data will prove invaluable over the course of the season,” said Graeme. “It gives us an ability to provide a comparison throughout the season in relation to the physical levels we expect of our squad. It also helps with return to play protocols, should any player unfortunately suffer from injury, as we can compare to the baseline scores we now have.

“Throughout the process, the support we received from Edinburgh Napier has been excellent and highlights their ability to assist elite level athletes. The Master’s students provided insight in interpreting data, further underlining the world class level of academic learning provided at Edinburgh Napier.”

These interactions underline the University’s commitment to strengthening its existing relationship with the Scottish FA, who accredited a new undergraduate degree in Football Coaching, launched in 2019.