The Newton building at Nottingham Trent University. Photo credit: Michael Callander

‘Revolutionary’ – How people are describing a new method of diagnosing a chronic digestive disorder, courtesy of Nottingham Trent University research.

Nottingham Trent University has teamed up with the University of Nottingham and City, University of London to lead the fight against functional dyspepsia, which affects around 40 per cent of the population.

Diagnosis will involve patients eating a meal filled with small gas-filled bubbles and measure the pressure exerted by the stomach via MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Nottingham in fact played a significant part in the development of MRI technology itself. Sir Peter Mansfield, a professor at University of Nottingham, developed the necessary algorithms and magnetic research. Paul Laterbur at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took the first images of living animals using MRI.

That’s not the only contribution Nottingham has made to science and medicine: Boots was famously founded in Nottingham by John Boot in 1849, and still has its headquarters in Beeston, near the University of Nottingham.

In honour of this breakthrough, we’re looking at some of the most influential pieces of university research and what they’ve given the world.

  1. Electron microscope: In 1938, two University of Toronto graduates, Albert Prebus and James Hillier, adapted a plan by two German scientists and constructed the first North American electron microscope, which has aided invaluable medical and scientific research since.
  2. Richter scale: The Richter scale, a method of measuring the strength of earthquakes and other seismic activity, was developed in 1935 at the California Institute of Technology.
  3. Mass production of Penicillin: Though penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain at the University of Oxford were the first to mass-produce it in 1939. The antibiotic was subsequently used to treat injured soldiers after D-Day and has become hugely important in world medicine.
  4. Ultrasound: Karl Theodore Dussik at the University of Vienna made the first step towards the use of ultrasound, but Ian Donald at Glasgow University enabled it to be used for imaging bone structure, unborn babies and tumours in 1958.
  5. LEDs: Alberto Barbieri at Cardiff University Laboratory investigated LEDs’ reliability and efficiency in 1995, allowing them to come into mainstream use in the 21st century.

UK university research was found to provide higher-quality research for its cost than anywhere else in the world by the Independent in 2016. The same article noted that England’s funding council gives universities £1.6 billion collectively for research.