Research news – 2019 highlights

Devastating effects of ‘temporary’ hotels for homeless families revealed

New research published by the Geographical Journal in June revealed the daily disruption that homeless families face while living in temporary hotel accommodation.

The study, carried out by Oxford Brookes’ Dr Mel Nowicki in collaboration with colleagues from Royal Holloway and Goldsmiths, conducted research with 16 formerly homeless families. Each had spent significant periods of time living in hotels in Dublin whilst awaiting permanent accommodation.

Dr Nowicki said: “Whilst councils can speak to hotels about improving staff’s attitude to homeless residents, the long term solution lies in investing in affordable social housing and most importantly regulating the private rented sector”.

Pioneering smart energy system launched

In April 2019 it was announced that Professor Rajat Gupta, Director of the Low Carbon Building Research Group and the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development, is working with a range of partners on a new research initiative.

Focusing on smart local energy systems, it is called Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire). The initiative, which is expected to run for three years, has received an award of £13.8m from the UK Government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund through Innovate UK.

In an industry first, Project LEO will explore how the growth in local renewables, electric vehicles, battery storage, vehicle- to-grid technology and energy demand management can be supported by a local, flexible, and responsive electricity grid.

Could hot chocolate ease symptoms of MS?

Dr Shelly Coe, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition, led a ground-breaking study into how hot chocolate could be effective in tackling fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The team of researchers found that people given a cocoa drink rich in flavonoids reported less fatigue and pain than those given another drink. Researchers concluded that flavonoids could be fruitful in managing symptoms by helping to reduce inflammation.

Dr Coe commented: “With more data we very much hope to find a dietary approach that could help people with MS manage their symptoms, cheaply and safely, in the future.”

Survey highlights unmet needs of cancer patients

Physical and psychological support needs for patients are not being met according to the first ever UK survey into the experiences of people with pancreatic cancer. The research published in April was conducted by Oxford Brookes researchers in conjunction with the Picker Institute and Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Eila Watson, Professor in Supportive Cancer Care, said: “This survey highlights the unmet information and support needs that pancreatic cancer patients have across the cancer trajectory. Needs should be assessed from the point of diagnosis and monitored regularly, with supportive care interventions implemented to help patients live as good a quality of life as possible.”

Professor Helen Dawes’ research into the benefits of exercise led her to monitor Robin Buttery, who has Parkinson’s, as he rowed 3,600 miles across the Indian Ocean – find out more

Read how studying an Oxford Brookes degree at Solihull College was a life-changer for Leah Lansdown

Read healthcare hero, Siobhan Hall’s story