Doctors often prescribe drugs to treat people who are at risk of heart attacks or strokes. But as every patient is slightly different, which drugs are likely to work best?

Platelets under the microscope

It’s an important question. Now researchers need your help – and a small sample of your blood – to help provide an answer.

Can you help us to investigate what factors influence platelet function?

We are a group of researchers from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Reading and we are currently recruiting volunteers for a study (METPLAR) funded by the British Heart Foundation. This study is investigating how different levels of metabolic factors within the blood, such as hormones and fats, can affect platelet function.

Find out how you can volunteer…

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By Professor Roger Matthews and Dr Wendy Matthews

Bestansur site in Iraq

The transition of humankind from mobile hunters to settled farmers after the Ice Age is a period in history still shrouded in mystery. Very little evidence exists to shed light on what life was like in the world’s first villages in the Middle East 12,000 to 9,000 years ago.

But our archaeological research, carried out in collaboration with local communities in Iraq and Iran, is uncovering clues that will help us understand how ancient civilisations developed. We will be presenting our findings at a public lecture on Wednesday 22 November, as part of the national Being Human Festival.

Earlier this year, we conducted excavations and interdisciplinary research at the Neolithic site of Bestansur, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is in the eastern Fertile Crescent – one of the areas of the Middle East where farming originated. Our aim is to learn more about how humans first started farming in this region, taking steps towards a more domesticated lifestyle.

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By Professor Keith Shine, Regius Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science

The United Nations Climate Conference

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the principal negotiating forum where countries agree ambitions for limiting greenhouse gas emissions; the aim is to avoid “dangerous human interference with the climate system”.

The UNFCCC meets annually at its “Conference of the Parties” (COPs). Sometimes COPs culminate in headline-grabbing agreements. COP3 led to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997; COP21 resulted in the Paris Agreement in 2015. More often, COPs focus on issues of implementation and preparing the way for future agreements. This year, COP23 (https://cop23.unfccc.int/) is being held in Bonn, Germany (6 – 17 November) and is focusing on implementing the Paris Agreement.

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The School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences is currently recruiting volunteers aged 18-30 (with English as a first language) for a 13 week study investigating the effects of a grape seed extract supplement on cognition.

There is a payment of £100 for successfully completing the study.

Email l.bell@reading.ac.uk  or call Lynne Bell on 0118 378 8313 for further details.

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By Dr Patrick Lewis, Associate Professor of Pharmacy

Theresa May speaking at a reception held at 10 Downing Street.

200 years ago the disorder that we now know as Parkinson’s disease was first described by James Parkinson, a surgeon and apothecary who lived in Hoxton, on the edge of the City of London.

On Monday I was fortunate to be invited to a reception at Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister and Parkinson’s UK to mark this occasion. This brought together people with Parkinson’s, researchers and political leaders to highlight the challenges that are still faced by individuals living with Parkinson’s, their families, friends and carers despite the two centuries of research into this disorder.

Most importantly, there is still no disease modifying therapy – that is, a drug or intervention that either slows down or stops the progress of the brain cell loss that causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

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By Lydia Messling, University of Reading

Is it fair that climate change has the worst effects in areas that contributed to the problem the least?

It isn’t just polar bears being affected by climate change – people all over the world are already being negatively affected by changes to the climate, from droughts, flooding, and ruined harvests.

That’s not fair. Particularly as these communities had no role in making the problem in the first place. Fast forward a few years, and the environmental situation for our children’s children is not looking too peachy either… but could it look green?

If we changed the way we thought about climate change instead of it being ‘just a problem for science to solve’ to a problem about social justice, could we come up with a solution that addresses injustice that would help these communities and climate change at the same time? Can fairness create a green future?

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Researchers from the University of Reading’s Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition are looking for volunteers aged between 18 and 65 to take part in a study assessing diet and health risk. They will provide a £20 Love-to-Shop voucher to all volunteers who complete the study.

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A series of Brazilian films, showing at the Tate Modern, London from 9-12 November, explores the role of cinema in the Brazilian Tropicália cultural movement, and will bring together a range of key filmmakers and scholars in the field.

Image credit: Arthur Omar, Triste Trópico (Sad Tropics, 1974), film still. Courtesy the artist

The films, curated by Dr Stefan Solomon from the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading, will be shown over four days at the Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema as part of Tate Film’s ‘Counter-Histories’ series.

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By Professor Rosa Freedman, Professor of Law, Conflict and Global Development, University of Reading

United Nations flag

The vast majority of the over 100,000 UN uniformed peacekeeping personnel perform their jobs with courage, dedication and professionalism. Yet those who do commit sexual offences bring shame on the entire UN system and betray the trust of those that they have been sent to protect.

There is a need for system-wide reform to ensure that such abuses cannot again occur with widespread impunity. University of Reading researchers and Keeping Children Safe are forming a proposal for such reform (details on our website) and the project will be showcased during our ESRC Festival of Social Science events next week.

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