Research collaborations at Heriot-Watt-Moredun Exchange Symposium

Research leaders at the Heriot-Watt-Moredun Exchange Symposium

Nearly 40 research leaders from a wide range of biological, engineering and mathematical sciences attended a special Research Futures symposium at Heriot-Watt University last week to discuss the early outcomes of their joint research collaborations and propose new ideas for even closer research cooperation between the two institutions in the future.

At the event co-chaired by Heriot-Watt University's Prof. Alan Miller, Deputy Principal for Research & KT, and Prof. Lee Innes, Principal Scientist, Moredun Research Institute, delegates learned that in just one year since the inaugural "Heriot-Watt-Moredun Exchange Event", productive collaborations between researchers at the two institutions are already flourishing. New research projects have been undertaken, joint funding proposals submitted and high impact journal papers published through emerging interdisciplinary research partnerships. Reflecting on the synergistic nature of the research co-operation, Prof. Innes said: "We are very excited about the new research opportunities that are developing between scientists at Moredun and Heriot-Watt University. There is a real multiplier effect of bringing together people from different disciplines and different perspectives to create something that is truly innovative and offering a new way forward for both organisations."

New collaborative projects

Collaborative projects are currently being explored around topics such as novel diagnostics to promote animal health and enhanced detection of micro-organisms in water. For example, Heriot-Watt University engineers, Prof. Marc Desmulliez, Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas, Dr Will Shu and Dr Farad Amalou have designed and manufactured new multi-sensor systems and microfluidic devices for animal welfare research projects in collaboration with Dr Stewart Burgess, Dr Karen Stevenson and Dr Fiona Kenyon at the Moredun Research Institute. Similarly, the Moredun's Prof. Lee Innes and Dr Frank Katzer have joined Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh University colleagues to publish a major review on the detection of Cryptosporidium in miniaturised systems for the Journal of Water Research. The same team are currently awaiting the outcome of their €9 million research grant proposal to the European Union aimed at developing new platform technologies to monitor the quality of drinking water.

Future inter-institutional research collaborations are likely to exploit sharing facilities and the complementarity of different research strengths, such as proteomics and bioinformatics at the Moredun Research Institute and 3-D imaging and nanotechnology at Heriot-Watt University. They will also build on the establishment of new research clusters at Heriot-Watt University such as the recently established Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering. Of the growing potential for further research collaboration, Head of Institute, Prof. Rory Duncan said: "Heriot-Watt's internationally recognised strengths in the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences are ripe for exploitation at the 'interfaces' with the Life Sciences. The new collaborations and a growing collegiate attitude between Heriot-Watt University and the Moredun Research Institute are an extremely positive development and I am sure that novel cross-disciplinary interactions will continue to form."

Outcomes

At the end of the Symposium, Head of the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Prof. David Hopkins announced the establishment of a new "Heriot-Watt- Moredun Exchange PhD studentship scheme" as a further practical way to enable research collaborations to take place. He said: "There are many areas of potential collaboration between the Moredun Research Institute and Heriot-Watt University and we are now developing concrete plans for sharing facilities and preparing joint applications. We will be using this jointly-funded PhD studentship scheme to strengthen those links and help us explore new opportunities". The first PhD student funded through the scheme will commence their research in the Autumn 2012.

Congratulating all of those contributing to the Heriot-Watt-Moredun Exchange collaborations, Prof. Alan Miller, Deputy Principal for Research & KT, Heriot-Watt University said: "This symposium illustrates so well how effective it can be to have quite different disciplines from two very different institutions working productively together to solve real world problems."

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