World Food Safety Day focus on Tanzania with IDS

Over 60% of human diseases and 75% of newly emerging diseases are estimated to be transmitted from animals to man, known as zoonoses, writes Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier, who will host the session on 7 June.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has firmly placed the term zoonosis in the public mindset the majority of known zoonoses are endemic diseases. These infections have negative impacts upon the health, wellbeing and in many cases livelihoods of people throughout the world on a daily basis.

On World Food Safety Day (7th June) from 12pm-12.45 we are delighted to introduce speakers from the Institute of Development Studies (https://www.ids.ac.uk/) based near Brighton to talk about some of their work on food safety in Tanzania.

‘Rendering visible the hidden dynamics of meat safety amongst inspectors’ & slaughter workers’ in Northern Tanzania.’

The external speakers come from the Institute of Development Studies, which aims to deliver world-class research, learning and teaching that transforms the knowledge, action and leadership needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Linda Waldman, Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies

Linda Waldman is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Institute of Development Studies, and a research Fellow in the Health and Nutrition Cluster. As a social anthropologist, her research has focused on gender, civil society, ethnicity and identity in relation to poverty, pollution and health. She has published research on indigenous hunter-gatherer identities, farm workers and adolescence, environmental policy processes and sustainability, asbestos and social housing, digital health and accountability with research experience in Africa, India and the UK. Her most current research focuses on environmental health, zoonotic disease, and gender with a particular focus on bringing social science to bear on medical and policy processes.

Tabitha Hrynick is a Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies where she has previously worked for the Hazards Associated with Zoonotic enteric pathogens in Emerging Livestock – or HAZEL – project studying risk perceptions of meat safety and meat safety management in Tanzania. She currently works for the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) on disease epidemics and humanitarian crises, with a current focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19 vaccine confidence. Other areas of focus have included the governance of epidemics, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Tabitha is particularly interested in how political, social and cultural contexts shape health.

We are also delighted to have Dr Justine Alphonce Assenga join us from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in Tanzania to join in the discussion on some of the issues which will be discussed during the seminar.

Dr Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University

To join us at 12pm-12.45 on 7 June please email n.wheelhouse@napier.ac.uk

School joins new UK Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network

A new national training centre in Scotland is to help drive development of opportunities emerging in vaccine manufacturing, as well as cell and gene therapy.

It is one of new three UK training centres that together form The Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

All partners in the Network will now work collaboratively to address a skills gap first identified two years ago. In 2019, The Skills Demand Survey conducted by the UK government’s Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult found rising concern among vaccine manufacturers and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) companies about their ability to recruit and retain skilled talent in the UK.

In fact, 83% of companies were concerned about their ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities, because skills anticipated to be essential were – at that time – missing.

Created as a direct response, ATSTN is being backed by £4.7m from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK (IUK). Activity across all the UK partners will be coordinated by the CGT Catapult.

In Scotland, the Network’s delivery is being led by RoslinCT –  a cell and gene therapy/ATMP Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) – via the RoslinCT Training Academy and The School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University. Other delivery partners are North Ayrshire College, IBioIC, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance and Scottish Enterprise.

“The ATSTN is a truly collaborative initiative, developed by industry in partnership with academia, and the expertise from all three centres will create a wealth of learning resources,” said Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “Development and delivery of our own courses for the National Training Centre is testament to the work we have been doing here at Edinburgh Napier over the last decade; delivering graduates who are work-ready and have the expertise and skills to enable the therapies of the future, including new vaccines.”

Professor Gary Hutchison.

The Training Centre now aims to have its first ‘blended-learning’ courses available for delivery in Scotland by the end of 2021. Face-to-face content will be delivered at RoslinCT’s Edinburgh campus at their newly built state of the art facility.,

“We are delighted to lead the Scottish training centre,” said Janet Downie, Chief Executive at RoslinCT. “With the tremendous growth opportunities in both ATMP and vaccine manufacturing, we are all looking forward to working with The National Horizons Centre and the University of Birmingham  to deliver this UK-wide training service.”

With their complementary capabilities and vast wealth of experience across GMP/GxP, manufacturing and bioprocessing, all three centres will deliver a range of specialist courses to upskill industry professionals. Further information can be obtained by contacting Nathan Barnett, Project Co-ordinator, Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN).

ENDS

Meeting the demands of a changing world

Dr Janis MacCallum and Dr Graham Wright, Programme Leaders for the School’s Biomolecular MSc suite, outline why this is a good time to become an applied biologist.

Whilst it’s clear the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous, we’ve been spending some time trying to understand what the ongoing response by the industry and academia will mean for our graduates. And the answer is resounding, it’s a good time to be an applied biologist. The need for scientists has been brought into sharp focus. Every day we are reading in the popular press about immunology, in the shape of vaccines and antibody tests; molecular biology in shape of diagnostic tests run from nose swabs; pharmacology in the shape of repurposing old drugs and designing new ones… I could go on.

In reviewing our MSc programmes to ensure they were training graduates able to contribute to the global response to COVID-19, we found that without exception our programmes were already doing this. Our suite of programmes already have a strong practical element with a focus on employability skills and all are supported by research academics, with strong links across the bio-medical and pharmaceutical industries and research institutes as well as within the NHS. This, combined with module and lecture topics that are designed to react to emerging research and demands to reflect the field, means that our programmes are already aligned to challenges created by COVID-19 and will be ready for whatever comes after it.

Our Biomedical Science programme, covers fundamental and emerging topics in immunology, toxicology, pharmacology and disease biology and how these disciplines are applied in biomedical science, allowing our students to gain unique insights into the challenges currently facing biomedical science (pandemic anyone?). One example of how COVID-19 will be reflected in our BMS programme comes from Prof. Peter Barlow, Professor of Infection and Immunology, module leader on our MSc programmes and Head of Research:

“I’ve given lectures and tutorials on the potential of host defence peptides for treating viral infections and related topics and covered emerging vaccination technologies that can be rapidly deployed that I’ve published on previously. I’ve also run tutorials where I’ve had MSc students critically review prior funding applications and could incorporate these into my modules now that we are starting to apply for SARS-CoV-2 related funding.”

Dr Peter Barlow

Or there is Drug Design and Biomedical Science, a unique programme which combines biomedicine and pharmaceutical science, focussing on the development and creation of effective drugs, from concept to clinic, including the theories and practical applications of chemical drug design and immunology, pharmacology and molecular biology. Our Head of Synthetic Chemistry, Dr David Mincher highlighted just one of the many areas these programmes that will reflect important aspects in the pharmaceutical response to COVID-19:

“A major topic taught in the Drug Design and Chemotherapy module is the design of drugs to treat viral infections, focussed on clinically successful drugs, exemplified by oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to treat influenza, and SARS. Parallel mechanism-based analysis, using our molecular modelling and computational biology facilities are extendable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, causing the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Chemotherapeutic approaches are critically important to the treatment of viral disease in the scenario that vaccines are of no use to persons already infected with the virus.”

We also offer programmes in Medical Biotechnology (January 2020 intake) and a 2 year MSc programme in Pharmaceutical and Analytical Science (January intake only). All are designed to support you in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to take on exciting employment opportunities in the pharmaceutical, biomedical and biotechnology fields. Perhaps now is the time for you to explore these opportunities further…

If you are interested in learning more, sign up for our next Postgraduate Open evening being held online on the 21st May via this link: https://www.napier.ac.uk/about-us/events/online-pg-open-evening-may-2020#Form .