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An intellectual legacy

The University’s research profile has grown significantly in prominence. Our independent thinkers bring the power of enquiry, experimentation and vision to bear on a breathtaking range of subjects. We’re creating an intellectual legacy that not only contributes to the advancement of knowledge, but has genuine relevance and application in the real world.

Targeted response to brain tumours

The launch of a new scientific research centre in 2010 has allowed the University to advance its research into brain tumours and the search for new forms of therapy to attack them. The new laboratory has enabled the University, which has amassed considerable expertise in adult brain cancers, to join forces with a team from the Institute of Neurology in London, who specialise in cancerous childhood and so-called ‘low grade’ adult brain tumours. Collaboration between the two groups will bring together complementary skills in cell biology and molecular genetics and a shared interest in experimental therapeutics.

The creation of a dedicated Brain Tumour UK Neuro-Oncology Research Centre at the University will allow both teams to accelerate their work on identifying smart forms of chemotherapy to target certain types of tumours. Funded through the charity Brain Tumour UK, the Centre’s activities will focus on finding genes that trigger the toughest childhood and adult brain tumours and developing new forms of chemotherapy to attack them.

Top performing research

The University is growing as a destination for first-rate research in the field of dance medicine and science. The Arts and Humanities Research Council are the latest official body to acknowledge the excellent level of research within the School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure. Completed last year, a research project looking into the importance of physical fitness in ballet and contemporary dancers was rated as outstanding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Continuing our high profile activities in this area, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the University co-hosted the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science Conference (IADMS) during October 2010. Researchers from around the world attended the event, which attracted leading experts in dance science and medicine. The University showcased its innovative research into dance related injuries, which it conducted with Birmingham Royal Ballet. The research has already yielded impressive results, helping this world famous dance company to reduce injury rates amongst its dancers by 50%.

Well-timed research

Last year, a University forensic scientist discovered a new method for determining a person’s time of death in suspicious cases. The research examined how cartilage could be used to identify the time that has elapsed since a person has died. Very little research has been conducted in the deterioration of cartilage post-mortem, and these latest research findings provide another useful forensic tool for pinpointing time of death.

Better beginnings

Last year, University researchers commenced a significant new study examining the role and impact of people who work with young children. The Centre for Development and Applied Research in Education has been commissioned to undertake a three-year national evaluation of early years professionals. The study will contribute to the growing evidence of the role of early years professionals in improving outcomes for children and help inform the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) about practitioners’ needs and future professional development.

Putting energy into research

The University is assisting bioenergy producers to meet UK targets for green power generation. In 2010, a University research project began to examine the financial viability of using sources of bioenergy in the West Midlands. The project, which has been awarded £51,000 by the John Oldacre Foundation, aims to help enterprising people in rural areas look at sources of energy, such as wind power, biomass and the growth of crops to generate energy.

Closing the attainment gap

The University is highly regarded as an institution that places inclusivity and equality of opportunity at the top of its agenda. In 2010, a major University research project commenced which will help us to maintain and build upon our success in enabling students to reach their potential.

The University secured a £190,000 grant from the Higher Education Academy to carry out research into the attainment levels of students from different backgrounds. The study will be conducted jointly with Coventry University and explores the gap between Black Minority Ethnic (BME) and white students across the two universities. Researchers aim to identify characteristics of successful attainment and curriculum design principles which are inclusive. It will produce BME student experience case studies and a website.

Seminars with global appeal

Global citizenship, the personal and professional values that help graduates take a leading role in their local, national and international community is an attribute that the University passionately promotes amongst its students. Last year, the University launched a seminar series to investigate the importance of global citizenship.

The University’s Institute for Learning Enhancement secured a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to lead the two-year seminar series. Seminars will bring together prominent social scientists, academic teachers from a variety of disciplines and colleagues working in International Offices and Centres. Partners in the project include the Institute of Education London, the University of the Arts, University College London and Thames Valley University.