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Results

Towards an epidemiology of health conspiracy theories. 18 Sep 2015

We plan to develop novel, interdisciplinary approaches to the cultural epidemiology of health conspiracy theories. These include beliefs about secret agendas behind vaccination programs, the side effects of medical treatments, and cover-ups by the government or pharmaceutical industry. Such theories are widespread in many countries around the world and can have highly detrimental and far-reaching effects on the health and wellbeing. The requested funds will be used to develop pilot projects that link micro-level factors, affecting the virulence of these theories (e.g. the psychological properties that make certain beliefs particularly catchy and memorable) and the susceptibility of individuals (e.g. attitudes and prior beliefs), to macro-level, ecological factors that shape the context and vectors of transmission. The projects include designing controlled cultural transmission experiments and a series of ethnographic feasibility studies carried out in five field sites. They will be dir ected by the PI with the support of the CoI, a full-time RA and members of Durham Universitys Special Interest Group on Conspiracy Theories in Health. The goals of the project include establishing proof of concept for the epidemiological approach, a publication setting out future research agendas, and a large grant application.

Amount: £49,957
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

The Qualitative Health Research Writing Group Network. 29 May 2015

The Qualitative Health Research Writing Group Network (QHRWGN) was created to provide a forum which addresses the writing needs of PhD students and ECRs undertaking qualitative health research in Northern England. An inaugural network event was held in October 2014 where attendees received guidance on writing qualitative health research and as a result there are now five writing groups which meet regularly, providing peer support. It is hoped that the support offered to network members can be ex tended and formalised by providing two further training opportunities over this year; a writing retreat and a one day symposium. Fifteen delegates will have the opportunity to attend a three day residential writing retreat, with a focus on producing specific outputs and the chance to receive expert guidance from Prof. Rose Barbour. The one day symposium will allow all network members to receive training on three pertinent areas; academic writing (Prof. Roweena Murray), writing for publication (P rof. Melissa Leach) and writing for policy makers (Jennifer Jeffes). Delegates will have the opportunity to present their own research. These events will develop the skills and confidence of PhD students and ECRs, positively contributing to the development of the next generation of research leaders.

Amount: £4,896
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Improving the efficacy of malaria prevention in an insecticide resistant Africa 08 Dec 2015

Impressive reductions in malaria have occurred throughout sub-Saharan Africa over the past 12 years. However progress has not been geographically uniform and there are some high-burden countries where, despite good coverage with long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), the main preventative measure recommended by WHO, parasite prevalence rates and mortality from malaria remain obstinately high. Burkina Faso falls into this category. Despite two successful national LLIN distribution campaigns 60 % of children are persistently infected with malaria. Increased resistance to the pyrethroid insecticides used in LLINs and extensive transmission by mosquitoes biting outside the home, or at times when people are not protected by LLINs, are likely reducing the impact of LLINs but the relative importance of these poorly characterised vector factors, in relation to other human or health system factors has never been determined. This project will collect extensive empirical data and use models of malaria transmission to quantify the level of protection provided by LLINs in an insecticide resistant Africa. Via a detailed understanding of the factors limiting the efficacy of current tools we will identify the most cost effective, complementary interventions that would drive malaria transmission towards zero.

Amount: £128,667
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Development of the Durham Centre for Medical Humanities 30 Sep 2017

With the support of the Wellcome Trust, the Durham Centre for Medical Humanities will become a nexus for world class medical humanities research. Spanning disciplines and periods, this research seeks to improve human health through an enhanced understanding of human experience. Over the next five years we will extend the significance and impact of existing medical humanities initiatives at Durham, while also fostering new ideas and projects within four distinct strands of work. Our central goals are to develop more effective ways of understanding human experience; to build interdisciplinary research projects that will enable us to influence clinical and health research, practice and policy; to transform views about and approaches to health care research by involving multiple stakeholders; and to promote and champion our approach across disciplinary, institutional and wider research contexts. Key to achieving these ambitious and longer-term goals will be an application for Wellcome Trust Centre status to continue our work beyond the period of this award.

Amount: £1,031,135
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Pesticides and global health: an ethnographic study of agrochemical lives. 30 Jul 2014

The overall aim is to provide a qualitative account of agrochemicals' social, ethical, and political lives as they travel from point of development to point of use, to illuminate the ways they become part of local rhetorics of human health. Instead of simply tracking 'positive' and 'negative' outcomes, the objective is to understand how agrochemicals accrue types of medical, public, and policy knowledge, and thereby provide a more nuanced account of the ways in which health benefits and risks ar e constructed. Ethnographic and interview research will be conducted into the 'life' and 'death' of one product, the herbicide, paraquat, which has attracted particular controversy in academic, public, and activist circles. This also includes in Sri Lanka, where agrochemicals are implicated in three contemporary health crises (suicide, kidney disease, diabetes), extensive regulations have been put in place, and paraquat was recently banned - with varying health and economic consequences. Focusin g on paraquat as a narrative device to explore much broader themes, the research will produce a 'biographical narrative' of agrochemical use, regulations, and bans to identify tensions, frictions, and controversies, and their political, economic, and epistemological roots. Opportunities include advancing theoretical and policy-practice knowledge on agrochemicals, culture, political-economy, and global health.

Amount: £221,824
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Biomedical Vacation Scholarship 25 Jun 2012

Not available

Amount: £1,440
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Biomedical Vacation Scholarship. 20 May 2011

Not available

Amount: £6,840
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Structure and Function of the phospholipase/sphingomyelinase PlcHR from P. aeruginosa. 07 Mar 2011

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes acute infections (sepsis) predominantly in victims with large or burn wounds, chronic infections in immuno-compomised patients such as people in cancer chemotherapy and chronic pulmonary infections and inflammation in cystic fibrosis patients. While a large number of virulent factors expressed and secreted by the pathogen are known, the precise cellular and molecular mechanisms of these remain largely elusive. PlcHR from P. aerugino sa, a complex extracellular toxin represents a major virulence factor that has been shown to be selectively cytotoxic to mammalian endothelial cells that line the interior surface of all blood vessels. They play key roles in thrombosis, inflammation and the formation of new blood vessels. It has therefore been suggested that PlcHR is directly involved in the cellular mechanisms responsible for the vascular lesions and poor wound healing associated with P. aeruginosa septicemia and sepsis. Furth ermore, PlcHR has been shown to exhibit strong anti-angiogenic attributes that could be exploited for example in the treatment of tumors. Deciphering the molecular basis of PlcHR activity is therefore of major medical importance.

Amount: £147,719
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Value in People award. 18 Jul 2007

Not available

Amount: £150,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Pathological Sounds: The History of Music as a Threat to the Nerves. 28 Nov 2008

Conceptions of the nervous system had been central to understandings of music throughout the Enlightenment, but it was only at the end of the eighteenth century that the neuropathological model of disease that was developed by figures such as Haller, Cheyne, Whytt, Cullen and Brown started to be applied to music. By 1800 music was being portrayed not just as a means of refining the nerves, but as a potential pathogen in works of psychiatry, dietetics, aesthetics and etiquette. During the nin eteenth century, this discourse was influenced by such things as the theory of degeneration, the neurasthenia diagnosis and the emerging medical discourse of homosexuality. Krafft-Ebing describes three cases of men who connected their same-sex feelings to love of Wagner. As well as physicians such as Krafft-Ebing and critics such as Hanslick, writers like Thomas Mann and Proust also dealt with the theme. Mixed with anti-Semitism and opportunism, this rhetoric of nervous music formed the basi s of the Nazi concept of degenerate music. My goal is to outline and explain the development of the idea of music as a source of pathological nervous strain by putting it in the context of changes in neurology, psychiatry, aesthetics, cultural and sexual politics.

Amount: £148,880
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Medicine and human flourishing. 11 Jul 2008

It is a commonplace that modern medicine is, in a scientific and technologicalsense, able to do more for us than ever before, yet collectively we do not feel healthier or happier as a result. This implies a gap between the biomedical understanding of human nature, health and well-being, and a non-scientific, personal, understanding of our nature, health and flourishing that is grounded in experience. When we go to the doctor we seek help for experiential problems - concerning how we feel or what we are able to do. Medical solutions are founded on the scientific and technical, but we judge their success in experiential terms because it is experiential problems that these solutions must ultimately address. This divergence, and its implications for medical practice, research and policy, are the prime enquiry for Medical Humanities, especially for a conception of Medical Humanities that recognises and responds to the essentially philosophical character of these questions. No international-class academic centre for such enquiry yet exists in the UK. The present proposal addresses both the establishment of such a Centre, and the undertaking of the necessary programme of sustained intellectual enquiry, beginning by exploring the proper extent of medicine's role in human flourishing.

Amount: £1,919,512
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Early determinants of reproduction function in migrant populations. 27 Feb 2008

Adrenarche represents the gradual maturation of the adrenal gland and is an important stage (at approximately 8-10 years) presaging puberty. Relatively little work has been undertaken examining the process in relation to later reproductive function and in particular to pubertal maturation. A recent migrant study of Bangladeshis showed significant differences between Bangladeshi migrant groups and sedentees in menarcheal age and later adult levels of progesterone. Women who migrated <8 had significantly higher levels of progesterone suggesting a critical developmental window influencing later reproductive function. Further hormonal research among children would lead to a better understanding of adrenarche's role in the reproductive lifecourse.

Amount: £70,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Transacting Reproductive Materials: a South Asian perspective on ethical, legal and social aspects of new reproductive technologies. 02 Jun 2011

Despite the increase in the use of New Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka,there is a significant gap in knowledge about ethical issues and concerns in relation to the reproductive material transaction practices and guidelines that the practitioners adhere to. Therefore, this project aims to study the views of different stakeholders involved in reproductive tissue transactions in Sri Lanka in order to develop policies appropriate to local needs.

Amount: £104,184
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Identity and role of integral membrane proteins of Nuclear Envelope Precursor Vesicles in Membrane Fusion and Nuclear Pore Assembly. 10 Nov 2008

Two distinct Nuclear Envelope Precursor (NEP) vesicles in Xenopus eggs, NEP-A and NEP-B, are essential for Nuclear Envelope (NE) assembly. Recently, we showed that fusion between NEP-A and NEP-B initiates the formation of Nuclear Pore Complexes (NPCs). This might be because essential components of NPCs are segregated between each NEP and can only interact following vesicle fusion. Alternatively, remodelling of membranes during fusion might topologically favour NPC assembly. The proposed investig ations will test these hypothesise. Our first objective is to use a proteomic approach (MudPIT) to identify NEP-A and NEP-B specific proteins. Our second objective is to use a rational bioinformatics approach to identify those proteins in NEP-A that could be involved in NPC assembly (we already know which NEP-B proteins are involved in NPC assembly). Our third objective is to use immunogold E.M, live confocal imaging and protein-protein interaction assays to further refine the list of NEP-A prot eins likely to be involved in NPC assembly (because they are located within NPC assembly intermediates and/or interact with NPC proteins). Our final objective is to use functional assays to determine whether, within a final list of candidate proteins, some or all are necessary for NPC assembly.

Amount: £222,069
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Hearing the Voice. 17 Jan 2014

Hearing the voice of another person in the absence of any speaker is an important feature of human experience, and one which is associated with considerable social, human and economic costs. Comprising the first major interdisciplinary study of the phenomenon, this five-year medical humanities project consists of five interdependent programmes of research in the fields of phenomenology, cognitive neuroscience, hermeneutics, therapeutic practice and medical humanities methodology. Our starting point is a holistic view of voice-hearing which attempts to integrate scientific and humanities approachesto the phenomenon. Building on our demonstrated strengths across these fields,the first aim of the project is to attain a fuller understanding than has previously been possible of the phenomenon of voice-hearing, including how it relates to typical inner experience, how it is underpinned by specific cognitive and neural mechanisms, how it is interpreted personally, culturally and historically, and how it should be managed. Our second aim is to develop atransferrable methodology for interdisciplinary research into human experiencethat can be applied to other topics of inquiry. We will achieve these aims by assembling a world-class research team, capable of addressing research questions from multiple interdisciplinary perspectives.

Amount: £88,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Biomedical Vacation Scholarship 23 Jun 2014

Not available

Amount: £2,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

"'Critical Mass' colloquium to establish an international network to support research and practice in community-based arts in health" to be held at the University of Durham on June 2011 13 Jul 2010

To advance our understanding of how sustainable partnerships of community arts, health promotion and education can expedite human flourishing, the Centre for Medical Humanities (CMH) wishes to convene an international 'critical mass' gathering at Durham over a weekend in June 2011. By means of guided conversation rather than presentations, the aims of this colloquium are: 1) to reflect on the nature of practice in community-based arts in health, 2) to determine the international research agenda that is or should be informing the practice, 3) to pursue practical research collaborations to test questions that are arising in the CMH medical humanities research programme, and 4) to consider the establishment of an International Research and Practice Network for Arts in Health. A framework for the discussions will be provided in the cross-cutting questions that have arisen in CMH's work to address the theme of 'flourishing'. For the overseas visitors there would also be a programme of pre- and post-colloquium events and meetings in the Northern region to introduce them to on-the-ground practice in arts in health, to meet community representatives who are engaged with us in long-term development work, and to determine together a strategy for future collaboration and exchange.

Amount: £5,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

'The shape of the human being as a function of time': Peter Brian Medawar's research on immunological tolerance and senescence, 1935-1959. 18 Jan 2010

Peter Brian Medawar is a highly influential British biomedical scientist. His experiments on immunological tolerance became the basis of his sharing of the Nobel Prize in Medicine with the Australian scientist Frank Macfarlane Burnet in 1960. Afterwards, Medawar's and Burnet's achievements opened new avenues of immunology based on the novel concepts of 'self' and 'tolerance'. Medawar's theoretical study of ageing made another critical contribution to biomedical science. His 1946 paper on the evolution of senescence had a significant impact upon later investigations of ageing process. My project aims at illuminating these two key works from historical perspectives. In particular, I plan to examine how his theoretical and mathematical interest in the changes of living organisms over time, including growth, ageing and evolution, made possible both achievements of Medawar. This historical study is expected to find the place of Medawar's research in the context of his time, including World War II, discourses on ageing population and the works of his colleagues such as R. A. Fisher and D'Arcy Thompson, who analysed life's temporal dimensions using mathematical and theoretical approaches. My research will thus illustrate Medawar's research as a product of the academic and social environment of mid-twentieth century Britain.

Amount: £1,871
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Perceptions of the contribution of psychosocial factors to obesity: Development of a cultural consensus model in the UK general practice setting. 15 Jul 2013

There is strong evidence that socio-economic inequalities are at the root of obesity. It has been hypothesised that the insecurities associated with inequalities cause psychosocial stress, which leads to obesogenic (obese-generating) behaviours. If stress is a driving factor in obesity, how should primary care obesity services should be configured? A meta-ethnography conducted by the applicant indicates general practitioners (GPs) tend to believe patients are to blame for obesity and their own r ole should be limited, despite clinical guidance emphasising their role. Patients, particularly parents, express a need for support, and may feel stigmatised. This study will test the relationship between socio-economic insecurity, psychosocial stress and obesogenic behaviour. It will develop a cultural consensus model, a methodology used to identify commonly held (cultural) views. A questionnaire will be administered to mothers and GPs, and responses will be analysed using exploratory facto r analysis. The aims are to estimate group beliefs held by GPs and mothers about the effects of: 1) factors of insecurity (competition, uncertainty and perceived inequality) on chronic life stress; 2) chronic life stress on obesogenic behaviours. Understanding of psychosocial factors contribution to obesogenic behaviours can inform culturally appropriate, patient-focused obesity services.

Amount: £4,940
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham

Assuring the future of medical humanities in the UK: a post-graduate conference Embodied understandings . 11 Feb 2013

Funding is requested to enable free participation in the first dedicated conference for post-graduates in Medical Humanities: Understanding human flourishing: a postgraduate medical humanities conference. 16-17 May 2013, Durham University. Front page Costs include catering and the expenses of three visiting speakers. Medical Humanities is growing rapidly with several new interdisciplinary university centres across the UK. Ensuring this continued growth and future research excellence in Medi cal Humanities requires recognition and intellectual support for the burgeoning community of postgraduates associated or self-affiliating with these new initiatives. The conference is timely in bringing together these postgraduate researchers to explore and exchange their interdisciplinary perspectives and methods on health, illness and human flourishing and to build networks and collaborative relationships for the future. A panel discussion on academic publishing will provide information and ad vice for those embarking on a career in medical humanities. The keynote speaker is Professor Stuart Murray, director of the new Centre for Medical Humanities at Leeds University. Panellists are Professor Brian Hurwitz from the Wellcome-supported Centre for Humanities and Health at Kings College, London and Dr. Deborah Kirklin, editor of the BMJ Medical Humanities journal, London, who join Professor Martyn Evans, co-director of Wellcome-supported Durham Centre for Medical Humanities

Amount: £4,350
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Durham