Tag Archives: University Of Sheffield

Innovative Digital Health Hub For South Yorkshire

A new £4 million digital healthcare hub to tackle healthcare inequalities is set to transform how patients are treated in South Yorkshire.

The South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, led by the University of Sheffield, will drive the development of innovative digital technologies to improve the way diseases are treated and diagnosed by using cutting-edge research using data from smartphones, wearables, new sensors, combining this with NHS data and using artificial intelligence to develop new clinical tools.

The hub will bring together a range of partners, including the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, GPs, mental health services, the Sheffield Integrated Care System in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, businesses and patient and public groups, to share knowledge, skills and build upon the existing regional strength in developing innovative digital health technologies.

Sheffield is one of five hubs across the UK to be awarded part of £16.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Health Ageing and Wellbeing and Tackling Infections UKRI Strategic Themes.

The hubs will focus on four key healthcare challenges:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Health and care outside hospital and disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention
  • Tackling health inequalities by developing digital healthcare technologies to the point of use in the NHS
  • Addressing the health needs of underserved communities

    The South Yorkshire Digital Hub will cover a region of 1.4 million people affected by high levels of disease and health inequalities. The hub will respond to unmet needs of urban and rural populations which are shaped by significant health and social inequalities.

    It will also offer new opportunities for improving health and economic growth in the region through digital skills training and sharing, networking and knowledge exchange, connecting diverse stakeholders in digital health from academia, healthcare, industry, public and private organisations, and the wider public.

    The hub will offer specialist health training for researchers, clinicians, patients and the public, made freely available online.

    Professor Tim Chico, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine from the University of Sheffield and Director of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, said: “People in South Yorkshire are affected by widening health inequality and high levels of disease, including heart and lung disease, cancer and mental health issues. This investment in cutting-edge health technology research aims to tackle the issue by developing digital healthcare to use in the NHS and benefit patients in our region and beyond.”

    “The hub will allow colleagues from healthcare, academia, business and patients to come together to drive pioneering digital health which will transform the way we treat and diagnose diseases and most critically improve health.”

    Professor Steve Haake is the Deputy Director of the Digital Health Hub, which will be based at Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre. He said: “The establishment of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub is a fantastic opportunity for the region.”

    “Our vision is to develop digital health tools that incorporate information from daily life to help patients and healthcare professionals make the right decisions at the right time. The hub will support patients, clinicians, companies and the general public to design their own apps and tools and help them to be used successfully in the NHS.”

    Oliver Coppard, Mayor of the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “The Digital Health Hub will help advance our plans to address the health inequalities holding our region back. South Yorkshire being at the forefront of this work is a testament to the ever-increasing collaboration between the NHS, our Universities and our business community, and yet more evidence of the strength of our cutting-edge health and wellbeing sector.”

    “As ever, South Yorkshire is rising to the challenges facing our region in a way that is truly world-leading.”

    The Digital Healthcare Hubs are part of a wider £36.5 million investment in healthcare technology from EPSRC.

    Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director of Cross-Council Programmes of EPSRC, said: “The projects and hubs announced today will deliver a variety of innovative approaches to improve healthcare outcomes for patients.”

    “This investment will support scientists and engineers who are transforming the way we treat and diagnose diseases by using the latest developments in robotics, computer modelling and imaging.”

Halifax Flies The Purple Flag For A Great Night Out

Halifax is again flying the Purple Flag, as the town has been awarded the prestigious accreditation for the thirteenth year running.

Purple Flag is the gold standard for town centres, like Green Flag for parks and Blue Flag for beaches. The award scheme recognises excellence in the management of the evening and night time economy.

Areas awarded the Purple Flag are recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.

Halifax was the first town in West Yorkshire to be awarded a Purple Flag and is one of only six places in the country to receive the accolade every year since the scheme began in 2010.

Retaining the Purple Flag status year-on-year has been a priority for Calderdale’s Community Safety Partnership. The partnership is made up of representatives from Calderdale Council, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Calderdale NHS, Together Housing and other public and voluntary sector organisations.

The partnership works to help people in Calderdale feel safe and be safe. External assessors for the Purple Flag accreditation recognised the work being done to attract investment through the safer streets fund, as well as efforts to improve communications for both day and night time economy businesses, with the purchasing of new radio equipment.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Councillor Jenny Lynn, said: “We’re proud of our Purple Flag status, and as part of the Community Safety Partnership we work hard to continuously improve and identify ways in which we can make our towns and communities safe and welcoming places to visit in the evening and at night.”

“Halifax has so much to offer, with great restaurants, bars, venues like the Victoria Theatre and other evening attractions. Retaining the Purple Flag demonstrates further commitment to the night time economy and is part of our priority work to support thriving towns across the borough.”

Chief Inspector Gary Panther of Calderdale District Police said: “We are delighted that once again, Halifax has retained its Purple Flag status, being identified as one of the safest places for revellers to visit on a night out in West Yorkshire.”

“The ability for us to have gained but also maintained this status highlights the ongoing commitment and success of all the partner agencies across the district, who continue to work closely together.”

“We remain committed, along with partners, to doing all we can to keep those enjoying the night-time economy safe.”

AI Could Speed Up Delivery Of New Medicines

Artificial intelligence that could reduce the cost and speed-up the discovery of new medicines has been developed as part of a collaboration between researchers at the University of Sheffield and AstraZeneca.

  • University of Sheffield researchers in collaboration with AstraZeneca have developed artificial intelligence (AI) that could reduce the cost and speed up the discovery of new drugs
  • Technology improves drug-target prediction – the measurement of whether a new candidate medicine can interact with important protein molecules in the human body to fight disease
  • AI has the potential to inform whether a drug will successfully engage an intended cancer-related protein, or whether a candidate drug will bind to unintended targets in the body and lead to undesirable side-effects for patients

The new technology, developed by Professor Haiping Lu and his PhD student Peizhen Bai from Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, with Dr Filip Miljković and Dr Bino John from AstraZeneca, is described in a new study published in Nature Machine Intelligence.

The study demonstrates that the AI, called DrugBAN, can predict whether a candidate drug will interact with its intended target protein molecules inside the human body.

AI that can predict whether drugs will reach their intended targets already exists, but the technology developed by the researchers at Sheffield and AstraZeneca can do this with greater accuracy and also provide useful insights to help scientists understand how drugs engage with their protein partners at a molecular level, according to the paper published today (2 February 2023).

AI has the potential to inform whether a drug will successfully engage an intended cancer-related protein, or whether a candidate drug will bind to unintended targets in the body and lead to undesirable side-effects for patients.

The AI is trained to learn the substructures of proteins in the human body as well those of drug compounds. The technology then learns how these substructures can interact with each other, which it draws on to make predictions on how new medicines will likely behave.

Haiping Lu, Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Sheffield, said: “We designed the AI with two primary objectives. Firstly, we want the AI to capture how drugs interact with their targets at a finer scale, as this could provide useful biological insights to help researchers understand these interactions on a molecular level. Secondly, we want the tool to be able to predict what these interactions will be with new drugs or targets to help accelerate the overall prediction process. The study we’ve published today shows our AI model does both of these.”

Key to the AI’s design is how the model learns pairwise substructure interactions – the multiple interactions that can take place between substructures of drug compounds and proteins in the body. Whereas most existing drug prediction AI on the market learn from whole representations of drugs and proteins, which don’t capture their substructures and so provide less useful insights.

In the next stage of the AI’s development, the team plans to use more in-depth data on the structure of compounds and proteins to make the AI even more accurate.

Dr Bino John, Director of Data Science, Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Sciences (CPSS), at AstraZeneca, said: “A key novelty of DrugBAN is its reliance on a bilinear attention network that allows it to learn interactions from substructures of both drugs and their targets simultaneously. We have also made the source code freely available to the public, which hopefully will support more AI approaches that will continue to accelerate drug discovery.”

Drug discovery and development using traditional methods can be incredibly difficult, with lengthy development times and huge sums of money in expenditure. However, drug discovery processes have the potential to be significantly accelerated; with advances in AI and digital technology, researchers are finding new ways to pinpoint which proteins a drug may interact with in our body.

Nick Brown, Head of Imaging and Data Analytics, CPSS, AstraZeneca, said “I am really excited to see this paper, particularly because unlike other approaches, DrugBAN simultaneously learns from candidate drugs and their targets using a bilinear attention network, and is explicitly designed to generalise the problem.”

Professor Guy Brown, Head of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, added: “Our research at Sheffield is strongly motivated by a desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives, and we see interaction with industry leaders such as AstraZeneca as crucial to that mission.”

“This is exciting research which will hopefully allow significant advances in the design of therapeutics. The approach is also distinctive for its focus on interpretability, enabling human experts to benefit from insights generated by the AI system.”

University Of Sheffield Named Within The Top 50 Internationally

The University of Sheffield has been named as one of the ‘most international universities in the world,’ according to Times Higher Education.

Ranked 46th in the world – a rise of two places from last year – and 15th in the UK, this is the fourth year the University has been recognised in the listing, which celebrates universities with an outstanding international reputation.

Using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023, the listing demonstrates Sheffield’s high proportion of international students and staff, work to collaborate on research with scholars from across the world, and its strong global reputation.

The University of Sheffield has a longstanding reputation for being an international university, providing outstanding support for international students. In 2013 it founded the #WeAreInternational campaign, which highlighted the crucial value of international students to the UK. The campaign, which is now led by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), is supported by more than 160 UK universities and colleges, the British Council and the Home Office.

When it comes to research, the University is engaged in a wide range of projects with international impact. These involve successful research partnerships with leading universities around the world, to address pressing global issues and contribute towards a greener future. It has also forged strong overseas partnerships in industry, leading to opportunities for staff and student exchange, research links and inward investment into the local economy.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “At Sheffield we are a truly global institution, where students and academics from across the world work together to tackle some of the most important challenges through their research. Our international partnerships are very important to us and help to create a global network of talent.”

“Our diverse community also plays a vital role in enriching our teaching and learning experience and preparing our students to become better world citizens. Celebrating the positive impact of international students is the reason we founded the #WeAreInternational campaign ten years ago and a message we continue to highlight.”

University Of Sheffield Affirms Open Research & Scholarship Culture

The University of Sheffield has affirmed its commitment to an open research and scholarship culture, by approving new policies that will ensure its research is accessible to as many people as possible, and encouraging the use and creation of open educational resources throughout its teaching programmes.

The University’s aspiration is to embrace an open research culture, which is fundamental in order for its research to be of maximum benefit to society, and to enable students to engage effectively with educational resources.

This aspiration is a vital pillar of University’s Vision and governs how the University’s distinctive and innovative research will continue to drive intellectual advances and address global challenges.

The new policies for intellectual policy, research publications and copyright, and open educational resources (OER) have now been approved by the University of Sheffield’s Senate and solidify those commitments, setting out plans for how the Vision will be implemented. They apply to results of research conducted on the University’s campus.

Professor Sue Hartley, the University of Sheffield’s Vice-President for Research, said: “This new policy is a real step change in ensuring that the excellent research we do here at the University of Sheffield can be accessed and used by anyone for the benefit of all.”

“As well as supporting authors to retain their rights and comply with funder policies, immediate and inclusive access to research outputs is of critical importance to deriving societal benefits from the findings. Open access is significant in driving innovation across all disciplines, something that is of great importance to us here at Sheffield.”

Professor Mary Vincent, the University of Sheffield’s Vice-President for Education, added: “Open educational resources play an increasingly important role in the inclusive and engaging learning environment we provide at Sheffield, and I am delighted that our new OER policy has been approved, signalling our continued commitment to open education and scholarship.”

The University of Sheffield was one of the many global institutions which prioritised the quick sharing of research data free of many of the restrictions that academic papers are usually subjected to, which can restrict who can access data, and where.

The University was one of the first UK research centres to publish fully sequenced genomes of the Covid-19 virus, by sharing its findings with the international data bank GISAID. This enabled researchers around the world to track the spread and evolution of the virus, without which scientists and health researchers globally would not have been able to effectively, and rapidly develop much-needed life-saving treatments.

The new policies are based on principles set out in national, and international research funding frameworks, which support researchers to promote their findings to the biggest audience possible for the benefit of everyone immediately upon publication of their academic papers, providing opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

As well as fostering more equitable access to research, they also support the use and creation of openly accessible educational resources, aligning Sheffield with the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Anna Clements, Director of Library Services and University Librarian at the University of Sheffield, said: “I am delighted that the University has adopted these policies. The Library is committed to supporting the University’s digital education goals and the aim of developing an equitable and open environment for research and education. These policies mean that our researchers can be confident that those wishing to access our research results can do so irrespective of their ability to pay, and that our students have access to high quality digital resources to support their learning.”

Over 33,000 Volunteer Hours From University Of Sheffield Students

Students from the University of Sheffield have raised over £85,000 and volunteered more than 33,000 hours in the local community over the past 12 months.

More than 1,800 students volunteered at charities and organisations across the city including food banks, community allotments, supporting young people with mental health problems, working with refugees and helping older people and adults with learning difficulties.

Students have clocked up enough volunteering hours to fly around the world 743 times, watch the entire box set of Friends 393 times, or the equivalent of working a 9-5 job for 16 years.

It is the most amount of time that students at the University of Sheffield have ever spent volunteering in a single year.

Dedicated students from the University of Sheffield have spent 33,443 hours volunteering to help the local community over the past 12 months.

At a time when businesses and charities have been getting back on their feet after Covid-19, 1,800 students from the University of Sheffield have raised over £85,000 for local charities and volunteered at food banks, community allotments and worked with refugees, adults with learning disabilities, school children and the elderly.

Food Works – an initiative to combat food waste and create a fair and sustainable food system for everyone in Sheffield – is just one of the organisations where students have volunteered over the past year.

Chris Ley, Community Engagement Officer at Food Works, said: “We have had around 30 student volunteers completing roughly 400 hours cooking healthy meals, sorting through intercepted food, and growing fresh produce at our farm.”

“Students from the University of Sheffield have been fantastic. They have really embraced what we are trying to achieve and got involved in our fight against food waste!”

Concerned about how the pandemic has affected young people’s mental health, volunteers this year set up the Wellbeing Project – an initiative where volunteers went into secondary schools in Sheffield to talk to pupils about their mental health, provide practical guidance, and signpost to local services. In total, the Wellbeing Project worked with almost 400 young people across the city throughout the last academic year.

The biggest volunteering fundraising initiative of the year was Bummit – returning for the first time since the pandemic, it saw 110 students hitchhike from Sheffield to Barcelona over eight days, raising over £30,000 which was split across five charities: Foodcycle; The Sheffield branch of The Sleep Charity; Manor Community Transport; MAG and Sunflower of peace.

Students also launched a new initiative called Clubbing Crew which supports adults with learning difficulties to enjoy club nights at the Students’ Union. The project won a national award at the National Societies & Volunteering Awards 2022 for the impact it has had for people with disabilities.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “Our students are welcomed each year by the city, and it is wonderful to see the time they have given back to the community.”

“We are very proud that they have dedicated more than 30,000 hours to support charities, schools and businesses across our region over the last academic year. I would like to thank our students for the time they have given and for the impact they have had on people’s lives.”

Sheffield students have a long-held tradition of volunteering in the local community and this year have clocked up more volunteering hours than ever before. The volunteering hours are the equivalent of working a 9-5 job for 16 years, flying around the world non-stop 743 times or watching the entire box set of Friends 393 times.

Sheffield Students’ Union President, Liam Hand, said: “Our students have a vast array of different skills they can offer to Sheffield, and it’s amazing to hear about all the ways they’ve helped people over this last year. Giving back over 30,000 hours this year shows the passion they have for helping others and the positive impact they have on our city.”

The Students’ Union have continued their drive to work with local charities by launching their Change Lab programme, which saw 13 charities come and discuss the work students can do with them to help Sheffield thrive.

Environment Data Set To Be Collected by Swarms Of UAV’s

Swarms of advanced unmanned aircraft are set to carry out aerial surveys of Antarctica – gathering crucial data on changes to the region’s environment and wildlife – as part of new research with engineers from the University of Sheffield.

The exciting new project, involving researchers from the University’s Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, will advance swarm aircraft technology to conduct survey missions and mapping of large areas in Antarctica, quickly and with less human resource.

The British Antarctic Survey will test the new technology – using the unmanned aircraft to gather environmental data, such as monitoring wildlife, ice accumulation and weather conditions.

Aside from Antarctica, the aircraft will also be tested in the UK to help detect wildfires. This will build on previous research with the Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service that used unmanned aircraft to detect wildfires as early as possible to limit their devastating impact.

The swarm will be made up of ULTRA UAVs – the largest commercial UAVs in the UK.

The new research will advance the technology onboard the aircraft, to control their sequencing during the flights and to develop the unmanned aircraft’s ability to detect and navigate around obstacles and to dynamically change their flight path.

Lyudmila Mihaylova, Professor of Signal Processing and Control at the University of Sheffield, said about the project: “This is very exciting research that will develop the use of unmanned aircraft vehicles in swarms and to be used in innovative ways to protect our environment.”

“In this project, the consortium partners aim to perform several live demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles for survey missions in Antarctica and fire detection in the UK.”

“Our expertise at the University of Sheffield will be to develop the algorithms to programme the aircraft to move together and to follow the planned flight path to complete the surveys. We will develop computer vision algorithms that will enhance the vehicles’ autonomy, especially during landing, and automatic recognition software for use in unmanned aerial vehicles.”

“We have some of the world’s leading experts in control and systems engineering at the University of Sheffield, so this is a great opportunity to work with innovating companies as well as organisations that protect our precious environment.”

The project is being led by Windracers Limited together with the University of Sheffield, University of Bristol, Helix Technologies and Distributed Avionics.

Honorary Degree For Woman Of Steel Centenarian!

A Sheffield inspiration who sparked a seven-year national campaign to recognise the role of female steelworkers during the war has been made an Honorary Doctor of Engineering by the University of Sheffield.

  • Honorary Doctor of Engineering by the University of Sheffield awarded in recognition of a campaign to get the city’s Women of Steel recognised
  • The only surviving Woman of Steel, Kathleen was part of a strong team of women who fought for the recognition of female steelworkers during the war
  • The national campaign led to official government recognition, raised almost £170,000 and led to the unveiling of a commemorative statue in Sheffield’s Barker’s Pool in 2016
  • At one hundred years old, Kathleen is the oldest recipient of a University of Sheffield honorary degree

At the beginning of World War II, Kathleen Roberts, who is now 100 years old, was called up to work in the steelworks while the men went off to fight, but was dismissed without thanks along with hundreds of her female colleagues when hostilities ended.

Together with the Sheffield Star and three friends, Kathleen campaigned for women to be recognised for the vital role they played during the war and raised almost £170,000 to erect a commemorative statue in Barker’s Pool, Sheffield, and provide medallions for the surviving Women of Steel and their families.

It has been 82 years since Kathleen was called up alongside other women in the city to keep Sheffield’s steelworks industry running during WWII while men were overseas. She was just 18 at the time, and had to work gruelling 72 hour weeks while being paid less than men doing the same job.

The conditions were poor and the air raid shelters were full of rats, so if the air raid siren went off the women would instead put on tin helmets and continue their work. While it is not known exactly how many women worked in the city’s steelworks during the war, it is estimated to have been hundreds, possibly thousands, from all manner of backgrounds, working as everything from heavy machine operators to crane drivers.

Despite their huge contribution to the war effort, when the soldiers came home Kathleen and the others were told that they were surplus to requirements and encouraged not to speak about what they had been through.

For 64 years Kathleen abided by this, but in 2009 she was watching a television documentary about the Women’s Land Army and its wartime role in keeping the country fed and something snapped. Why were others recognised for their efforts whilst Sheffield’s Women of Steel had been overlooked? Encouraged by her family, she called the Sheffield Star and told her story.

Along the way Kathleen, who is the only surviving Woman of Steel, made three friends – Kitty Sollitt, Ruby Gascoigne, and Dorothy Slingsby – who joined her campaign to see the Women of Steel finally recognised.

A monumental fundraising effort commenced, which saw concerts organised, cake sales and coffee mornings put on, and even an invitation from 10 Downing Street for a reception with the Prime Minister. Almost £170,000 was raised in total, and the campaign officially ended in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic statue in Barker’s Pool, Sheffield. The money also paid for hundreds of commemorative medallions to recognise Sheffield’s Women of Steel.

At one hundred years old, Kathleen is the oldest recipient of a University of Sheffield honorary degree, which she received during a small ceremony with family and friends.

Kathleen Roberts said: “It was such a surprise when I first heard I was to be given an Honorary Degree in Engineering, but I feel so honoured and privileged to accept it on behalf of all those Women of Steel who contributed to the war effort.”

“During the Women of Steel campaign I had the pleasure of meeting some female engineering students who will now be well on their way to an engineering career. My advice to students would be to get as much hands-on experience as you can. You can’t learn everything in a book.”

“But most of all, embrace every opportunity that enables you to follow your dreams.”