Posted: November 9, 2009

Journal of the Royal Society Interface celebrates fifth anniversary with GBP 5000 EPSRC award

(Nanowerk News) To celebrate its fifth year of publication, Journal of the Royal Society Interface in conjunction with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) honoured the best research article published in the journal at an awards ceremony in London on 6th November.
The 'EPSRC Journal of the Royal Society Interface Award' was awarded to Professor M. Edirisinghe, Dr E. Stride and Mr U Farook, of University College London for their article about experimental research into a method of microbubble preparation that is scalable for commercial use. It was judged to be the best research article based on work funded by EPSRC published in the journal over the last five years by a panel of judges including EPSRC Chief Executive Dave Delpy. The authors were presented with a prize of £5,000 plus a student educational travel award of £2,000.
Interface is a collaborative journal developed after consultation with EPSRC and has been instrumental in developing cross-disciplinary relationships between engineering and physical sciences and life sciences. EPSRC Director of Research Base, Lesley Thompson who actively supported the development of Interface, said:
"EPSRC and the Royal Society's Interface Journal have formed a powerful partnership over the past five years to support and celebrate world leading research at the interface between the physical sciences, mathematics and the life sciences. In recognition of this important contribution to cross-disciplinary research within the UK, we are delighted to be funding the first EPSRC Journal of the Royal Society Interface Award."
Sir Martin Taylor, Vice-President of the Royal Society, said:
"Journal of the Royal Society Interface was established to publish and promote high quality research at the interface of the physical and life sciences. In only five years, the journal has seen enormous success. This award celebrates that success and highlights some of the outstanding articles that have appeared in that time."
Two runners up were also selected by the judges and awarded with free journal subscriptions. They were Rhoda Hawkins and Tom McLeish of University of Leeds and Stephen Eichhorn and William Sampson of Manchester University.
Abstracts of winning research articles
U Farook "Preparation of suspensions of phospholipid-coated microbubbles by coaxial electrohydrodynamic atomization
The use of phospholipid-coated microbubbles for medical applications is gaining considerable attention. However, the preparation of lipid-coated microbubble suspensions containing the ideal size and size distribution of bubbles still represents a considerable challenge. The most commonly used preparation methods of sonication and mechanical agitation result in the generation of polydisperse microbubbles with diameters ranging from less than 1 µm to greater than 50 µm. Efforts have been made via distinctly different techniques such as microfluidic and electrohydrodynamic bubbling to prepare lipid-coated microbubbles with diameters less than 10 µm and with a narrow size distribution, and recent results have been highly promising. In this paper, we describe a detailed investigation of the latter method that essentially combines liquid and air flow, and an applied electric field to generate microbubbles. A parametric plot was constructed between the air flow rate (Qg) and the lipid suspension flow rate (Ql) to identify suitable flow rate regimes for the preparation of phospholipid-coated microbubbles with a mean diameter of 6.6 µm and a standard deviation of 2.5 µm. The parametric plot has also helped in developing a scaling equation between the bubble diameter and the ratio Qg/Ql. At ambient temperature (22°C), these bubbles were very stable with their size remaining almost unchanged for 160 min. The influence of higher temperatures such as the human body temperature (37°C) on the size and stability of the microbubbles was also explored. It was found that the mean bubble diameter fell rapidly to begin with but then stabilized at 1 µm after 20 min.
Rhoda J Hawkins "Dynamic allostery of protein alpha helical coiled-coils
Alpha helical coiled-coils appear in many important allosteric proteins such as the dynein molecular motor and bacteria chemotaxis transmembrane receptors. As a mechanism for transmitting the information of ligand binding to a distant site across an allosteric protein, an alternative to conformational changes in the mean static structure is an induced change in the pattern of the internal dynamics of the protein. We explore how ligand binding may change the intramolecular vibrational free energy of a coiler-coil, using parameterized coarse-grained models, treating the case dynein in detail. The models predict that coupling of slide, bend and twist modes of the coiled-coil transmits an allosteric free energy of ~2kBT, consistent with experimental results. A further prediction is a quantitative increase in the effective stiffness of the coiled-coil without any change in inherent flexibility of the individual helices. The model provides a possible and experimentally testable mechanism for transmission of information through the alpha helical coiled-coil of dynein.
Statistical geometry of pores and statistics of porous nanofibrous assemblies
The application of theoretical models to describe the structure of the types of fibrous network produced by the electrospinning of the polymers for use in tissue engineering and a number of other applications is presented. Emphasis is placed on formal analyses of the pore size distribution and porosities that one would encounter with such structures and the nature of their relationships with other structural characteristics likely to be important for the performance of nanofibrous materials. The theoretical structures considered result from interactions between randomly placed straight rods that represent fibres with nanoscale dimensions. The dominant role of fibre diameter in controlling the pore diameter of the networks is shown and we discuss the perhaps counter-increasing fire diameter results in an increase in mean pore radius. Larger pores may be required for ingrowth of cells to nanofibrous networks, hence this study clarifies that simply making the diameters of the fibres smaller might not be the way to improve cell proliferation on such substrates. An extensive review of structural features of the network such as the distribution of mass, inter-fibre contacts and available surface for cell attachment, fibre contact distributions for integrity of the networks and the porosity and pore size distributions is given, with the emphasis placed on nanofibre dimensions for the first time.
Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council