Three extraordinary research projects: which one is your favourite? Cast your vote now!
From the many inspiring research projects across the University, we've selected three that have the potential to change lives. Which one is your favourite? Vote for the project you're passionate about and the University will fundraise for the winner over the next year.
The additional funding will help take your chosen project even further, benefiting more people. Meet the Philanthropic Research Project 2018 finalists and cast your vote below.
Which research project do you want to see us fundraise for?
Engineering new medical systems to fight antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance is predicted to kill more people than cancer by 2050 but there have been no new antibiotics since the 1980s.
Honey contains natural antibiotics called reactive oxygen species, which destroy bacteria and are produced naturally by the body to fight infection. Doctors are currently using the reactive oxygen in honey to treat wounds but it is sticky and difficult to apply the correct dose.
Chemical engineer Sophie Cox and her team are working on creative ways to deliver the product including a spray, a cream, and also a powder which becomes a gel when applied to a wound, creating a protective barrier. These systems enable reactive oxygen to be used more widely across the body and can control how the drug is released for accurate dosage.
Sophie says: 'Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem which already kills one person per minute around the globe. So far we've not seen any development of resistance to the product, which is very exciting.
'We think this is because reactive oxygen agents destroy the DNA of bacteria, as well as oxidising the cell membranes like traditional antibiotics. Species target the bacteria in a number of ways and our systems allow for controlled sustained release to ensure full clearance of the infection.'
Donations could help buy essential lab equipment being used to test and develop the products, and additional researchers to bring these promising systems to clinical trial within the next five years.
'Antimicrobial resistance is probably the biggest healthcare challenge we will face in our lifetimes. With your support this research has the potential to save lives across the globe,' Sophie says.
Changing the lives of children with disabilities in Malawi
In rural areas of Malawi, children with disabilities often have little or no access to early childhood care and education in their communities because of local stigma, a lack of awareness or understanding about the origins or causes of disability. As a result, many of these children remain at home and become isolated and understimulated.
Dr Paul Lynch is lead a team in the School of Education to offer these children a better start in life, through a high quality inclusive training programme for volunteer nursery teachers and families of children aged three to six.
Paul says: 'Simple changes can make a huge difference to children's lives by engaging them through play, using toys made from local materials, creating adaptable resources for teachers to use on making inclusive classrooms and running short training courses for parents who want to know more about how to better support their children.
'Stigma surrounds these children because the community often doesn't understand what disability is. Families, particularly mothers, feel isolated and girls in particular are often left out and not encouraged to develop or go to school.
'The funding would make enormous changes to the lives of children with disabilities and their families. It would provide training, advice and support to encourage parents to include their children in community schools. Children with disabilities would be able learn through play, which is so essential for their development.'
The project addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Target 4.2) into early childhood development for children. Paul hopes the work will impact on national policy in Malawi to ensure all children are included in society and can go to school.
Growing mini tumours to improve cancer treatments
Imagine being able to test cancer treatments like chemotherapy for a particular patient on a mini version of their tumour grown in the lab.
It may sound like science fiction, but a team of cancer researchers led by Dr Andrew Beggs is doing just that using DNA sequencing,to see how treatment with chemotherapy changes the genetic code of a cancer to make it resistant to treatment.
The mini tumours, known as avatars, can be used to develop new and better treatments for several different types of cancer. These could include bowel cancer, stomach cancer and head and neck cancer, and provide options for patients whose cancer has spread throughout their body.
'Instead of giving treatment that may not work we'll be able to target the right treatment for the specific type of cancer. An era of true personalised medicine,' Andrew says.
Funds raised would allow the team to increase the scale of the work and take the model forward to clinical trials. Donations could fund everything from basic lab equipment to a robot to carry out chemotherapy testing. In the future, Andrew hopes the process will be used for NHS cancer treatment every day, and will become as common as a blood test.
To vote, use the poll below, or visit www.birmingham.ac.uk/prp. Voting closes on 11 May at midnight BST. Results will be announced later that month and fundraising for the successful project will begin in the Autumn. And if your chosen project doesn't win, you can still support it personally by contacting Claire O'Sullivan on +44 (0)121 414 7278 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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