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University of Surrey news

The latest study and research news from the University of Surrey

August 2011

January 2011

Does a change in main meal time shift biological rhythms?

Researchers at the University of Surrey are undertaking a study into the effects of meal times on the body’s biological rhythms.

The aim of the study is to discover whether eating a main meal at different times of day will alter the body’s internal daily (circadian) clock. The results may provide evidence supporting the use of simple dietary interventions to minimise many of the problems associated with, for example, shift work and jet lag.

42 healthy, non-smoking and moderately active men between 20 and 30 years of age are required to take part in two sessions, each of which consists of a seven-day run-in period at home followed by a six-day laboratory session at the Surrey Clinical Research Centre (SCRC). The two sessions are separated by a two-week break. All participants will be compensated for their time spent on the study.

During the home study periods participants will need to maintain a regular sleep and meal routine. While staying at the SCRC saliva, blood and fat samples will be taken at regular intervals, with blood sugar levels and skin temperature being constantly monitored.

The study is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and has received a favourable ethical opinion from the University of Surrey Ethics Committee.

Jonathan Johnston, Senior Lecturer and lead investigator comments: ‘This is an extremely exciting study that builds upon our recent advances in human biological rhythm research. We anticipate that the study will help develop a dietary solution to minimise health problems due to shift work and jet lag. The work therefore has the potential to benefit a large section of the population.’

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University of Surrey manages world-class social science training centre

The Universities of Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway, and Surrey have come together to form the South East Doctoral Training Consortium (SE DTC). The consortium, managed by Surrey, will fund cutting-edge doctoral research in the social sciences by world-class research students across the South East region.

Fields include interdisciplinary research in Environment, Energy and Resilience as well as a comprehensive range of nine social science disciplines. The advanced training element of the consortium’s activities will also be linked to the Universities of Essex and Sussex. The first intake of research students holding studentships under the DTC system will be in autumn 2011.

Accreditation was a highly competitive process, with only 21 such consortia securing accreditation nationally. Professor Nigel Fielding, Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, commented: ‘Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) accreditation marks the excellence of doctoral supervision in the partner institutions and the innovative, high impact research our PhD students conduct. The partners have forged a strong working relationship and are looking forward with great enthusiasm to playing a vigorous part in the national Postgraduate Framework that ESRC is creating.’

ESRC is the UK’s leading agency for research funding and training in economic and social sciences. The SE DTC will be part of a national network to be launched in October 2011 that will train a new generation of social scientists.

Doctoral studentship opportunities will be posted on the SE DTC website as soon as possible.

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