Funding boost for research into epilepsy and hearing loss
Press release issued: 8 February 2008
Two research projects at the University of Bristol have been awarded over £600,000 in total, to help provide greater understanding of epilepsy, the most common serious primary brain disorder in the UK with treatment costs estimated at around £2.5 billion per year, and hearing loss, a condition which affects one in seven people in the UK.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded projects will link researchers in the University’s Department of Engineering Mathematics with neuroscientists and physiologists by using mathematical modelling to develop greater understanding into epileptic activity, and how cells in the ear enable hearing.
Dr John Terry, with colleagues Professor Bernd Krauskopf and Professor Mario diBernardo, secured a £315,000 award from the MRC, through the Milstein Fund award, which aims specifically to support innovative, potentially high payback research projects. The grant will look at the use of deep-brain-stimulation as a means for controlling the onset of epileptic activity, and aims to develop mathematical models that can predict the effects of different types of stimulation on the brain. The interdisciplinary research will involve experimental and clinical epilepsy researchers at University College, London and King's College, London.
Dr Terry said: “The use of deep-brain-stimulation in epilepsy is new and highly exciting and the award from the Milstein fund provides a unique opportunity to link mathematical and clinical researchers to enhance our understanding of a serious neurological condition.”
Dr Martin Homer, with Professor Alan Champneys, have secured an award of £328,000 from the BBSRC that will enable the development of mathematical models to explain how hair cells in the ear enable hearing. The grant will link the Applied Nonlinear Mathematics theory group with state-of-the-art experimental groups based in Bristol and Keele. The research will provide the first steps towards understanding the active processes essential to normal hearing, and, more significantly hearing loss.
Dr Homer said: “This award enables exciting cross-fertilization of ideas between the life and physical sciences, and underpins vital medical research into hearing loss.”
Bristol University’s Department of Engineering Mathematics, which is unique in the UK, is at the forefront of developing and applying advanced mathematical methods and ideas to problems arising in engineering, science and technology. Both grants fall within the remit of the University's recently established research theme in the Predictive Life Sciences. Predictive life sciences is the application of methods from mathematics, statistics, the physical sciences, computing and engineering to biological problems.