Published on 09/11/2023
Professor Roslyn Bill
  • Professor Roslyn Bill has won a share of £12 million in funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Professor Bill will research the precise molecular details of how the brain clears its waste products
  • 62 projects across the UK aim to radically change the way we think about important biological phenomena.

Professor Roslyn Bill from Aston University is one of 62 researchers who will receive a share of £12 million to pursue visionary bioscience research.

The investment by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) Pioneer Awards enables the pursuit of unique ideas that challenge current thinking or open up entirely novel areas of exploration altogether. These new investigations aim to radically change the way we think about important biological phenomena covering plant, microbial and animal sciences. From lessons in regeneration that can be learned from rejuvenating jellyfish to the effect sleep has on genetic ageing, each of the projects will explore early-stage ideas at the frontiers of bioscience

Professor Bill, from the School of Biosciences at Aston University, leads the Aston Centre for Membrane Proteins and Lipids Research (AMPL). Her project is entitled ‘A novel gliovascular interface on a chip to study the molecular mechanisms of brain waste clearance’. The project will accelerate research into understanding the precise molecular details of how the brain clears waste products. This fundamental knowledge could be used to slow cognitive decline as we age. The project has received £196,648 in funding.

Professor Bill said:

“I am delighted to receive this award, which will enable me to work with Dr Mootaz Salman, University of Oxford, to understand how tiny water channels in our brain cells keep our brains healthy. Our project will use novel technological approaches to study the mechanisms of how the brain uses these water channels to clear waste products.”

All the projects that have won funding from BBSRC focus on exploring and revealing novel insights and theories relating to our fundamental understanding of biological systems, and are early stage and untested, lacking preliminary data and perhaps involving creative or unconventional approaches to the research challenge. The projects may involve a high level of uncertainty without predictable or guaranteed outcomes, and can involve any combination of experimental, analytical and theoretical work, potentially crossing disciplinary boundaries, including non-bioscience fields.

By drawing upon unconventional thinking and approaches, all the investigators hope to make exciting discoveries with the potential to transform human understanding of the fundamental rules of life.

Professor Guy Poppy, Interim Executive Chair at BBSRC, said:

“Understanding the fundamental rules of life, such as the principles governing genetics, evolution and biological processes, is essential for advancing scientific knowledge. It is also imperative to societal progress.

“Many of the challenges faced by today's society, such as global food security, environmental sustainability and healthcare, are deeply rooted in biological processes. 

“BBSRC is committed to understanding the rules of life and by investing in cutting-edge discovery research through schemes such as the Pioneer Awards pilot, we are expanding the horizons of human knowledge while helping to unlock innovative bio-based solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.”

Notes to editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming the Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Helen Tunnicliffe, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7827 090240 or email: h.tunnicliffe@aston.ac.uk.

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