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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Our impact

The University of Southampton is one of the UK’s top research universities, ranking 11th for the volume of its high quality research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Our researchers are at the cutting-edge of knowledge, working on solutions to some of today's toughest challenges. While much of our research begins with concepts at a fundamental level, we are passionate about using the findings to make a real impact on the world around us.

Transforming research into answers to real world problems produces business opportunities, enhances quality of life, creates jobs, boosts the economy and helps make our world safer and more rewarding. Our REF success demonstrates that our research has a significant impact on society, industry, Government, and public service.

Biological Sciences ranked 15th in the UK in terms of our impact on society.

Find out more about our REF 2014 results

Images courtesy of Joanne Bailey, Prof Vincent O' Connor and Prof John Chad
Neuronal networks in a Hi-Spot culture

Advancing Drug Discovery through the Development of 3D Mini-Organs

Research by biological scientists at the University of Southampton has led to the development of an innovative method of testing new drugs without using animals. Tissue from human volunteers is used in the laboratory to develop a variant of versatile stem cells. These can be induced to group together to form human ‘mini-organs’ such as the pancreas, liver or heart, a few millimetres in size. Researchers can use these human ‘mini-organs’ to test and analyse the results of targeting diseases with new drugs accurately, quickly and safely.

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Guy Poppy
Professor Guy Poppy

Exosect: an innovative electrostatic technology providing environmentally friendly pest control

In the 1990s, University of Southampton biological scientist Professor Philip Howse invented an eco-friendly and effective way to control pests using innovative electrostatic wax particle technology. Since 2001, spin-out company Exosect® has been developing his work pioneering more sustainable pest and disease control solutions to tackle a wide range of problems throughout the food supply chain.

As the world needs to produce more food, amid political, regulatory and macro-economic pressures, Exosect provides a range of sustainable tools to control damaging pests which will help ensure greater agricultural efficiency without recourse to potentially harmful agro-chemicals.

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Developing wildlife corridors for large mammals
Protecting Belize's jaguars

Preserving the integrity of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in Belize

Research by biological scientists at the University of Southampton has helped secure Belize’s first wildlife corridor for jaguars and other endangered cats. The corridor protects a unique link at this latitude of continuous natural habitats connecting south and north Belize, within the Mesoamerican corridor stretching between South and North America.

Fieldwork led by Patrick Doncaster and two of his previous PhD students helped to make the case for the land to be included in the country’s National Protected Areas Plan. The work was funded by a Darwin Initiative grant from the UK Government to Patrick at the University, and by funding from the charity Panthera. The project led to the establishment of a conservation training framework at Belize University.

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Image of Caenorhabditis elegans
Caenorhabditis elegans

The fight against parasitic worms: understanding a new resistance-breaking anthelmintic drug

A 15 year collaboration between biological scientists at the University of Southampton and Bayer AnimalHealth has broken new ground in the battle against parasitic worms (nematodes). Researchers have demonstrated that a new class of compounds, the cyclooctadepsipeptides, paralyses them through a completely new mechanism.

This knowledge has underpinned the registration and marketing of three new veterinary medicines starting with the award winning Profender Spot-on for cats in 2005. They have improved veterinary care for dogs and cats around the world, and enabled a world-leading animal health company to develop a new range of valuable drugs. It may also help the development of drugs to tackle human diseases caused by parasitic worms.

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