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Honour for UK-Japanese research

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have won a prestigious international award for collaborative research with a Japanese university.

Professor Liz Sockett and colleagues at Nottingham, together with Professor Shin-Ichi Aizawa at the Prefectural University of Hiroshima, Japan, have jointly been awarded a Daiwa Adrian Prize for Anglo-Japanese Science in honour of their bacterial research.

Daiwa Adrian Prizes are awarded every three years in recognition of significant scientific collaboration between UK and Japanese research teams in the field of pure science or the application of science. They acknowledge those research teams who have combined excellence in scientific achievement with a long-term contribution to UK-Japan relations.

Professor Sockett’s team is working with the Prefectural University of Hiroshima on the predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio and how it moves towards its prey by swimming using nano-scale propellers called ‘flagella’. They have also recently engineered some of these flagella to use them as nanotubes to which chemical tags can be attached.

The team includes Drs Carey Lambert, Chien-Yi Chang, Richard Woods and Laura Hobley and is scientifically supported by technicians Rob Till, Mike Capeness and Marilyn Whitworth with current graduate students Andrew Fenton and Rowena Fung and former graduate student Dr Katy Evans. Their research is supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust and the Human Frontier Science Programme.

Professor Sockett, of the University’s School of Biology, leads the UK side of this collaboration. She said: “We are very pleased to be honored in this way, Chi Aizawa is a remarkable scientist and a great friend to our laboratory. Our labs enjoy working together and also sharing English and Japanese customs, poetry, food and drink! Combining our genetic techniques with his microscopic skills we have explored bacterial structure and function on a nano-scale and got to understand much more about the predatory functions of our living-antibiotic Bdellovibrio bacteria.”

The prize is worth £15,000 in research funding and is due to be presented at a ceremony at the Royal Society in London, on December 4.

The research was judged by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and by panel of Fellows of The Royal Society on the basis of scientific quality and future potential, and also on its likely long-term contribution to UK-Japan scientific relations.

The prizes are awarded by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, a UK charity established in 1988 with a donation from Daiwa Securities Co Ltd. The Foundation’s purpose is to support closer links between Britain and Japan in all fields of activity by making grants available to individuals, institutions and organisations; by enabling exchanges of students and academics; by awarding Daiwa Scholarships for British graduates to study and work in Japan; and by organising events to increase understanding of Japan in the UK.

Emma Thorne | alfa
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