Research Round-up

Undertaking research that has a real impact - whether locally, nationally, or internationally - is a fundamental part of our identity as an academic institution and an area that we continue to build our reputation in. Our researchers are currently involved in a variety of projects that will make a real difference to many parts of our lives. Here are a few examples of what's currently happening at Derby.

Covid-19 research leads to a rise in Times Higher Education World Rankings

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022, the University of Derby improved its position to 601 - 800 of the worldwide universities included. This rise has been directly linked to the Covid-19 focused research carried out by academics at the University over the last year.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers at Derby have worked on a range of projects in response to Coronavirus.

Mark Faghy, Associate Professor in Respiratory Physiology, and colleagues from the University’s Human Science Research Centre, have been involved in numerous projects exploring the physical and mental health implications of Covid-19, including a paper on Integrated sports and respiratory medicine in the aftermath of Covid-19 published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal.

Associate Professor Faghy has also contributed to The Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology's research briefing on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 on NHS staff.

Other projects include studies into technology to improve outcomes in patients, reports on whether face masks can reduce the transmission of Covid-19, and developing a series of nature connectedness resources to support people during the pandemic.

Speaking about the rise in the THE World Rankings, Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “During the pandemic, our researchers have continued to generate distinctive, world-leading, and impactful research as part of our ongoing commitment to becoming a more research-focused institution. Our rise in the THE World University Rankings reflects our commitment to delivering excellence in research at an international level.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor

During the pandemic, our researchers have continued to generate distinctive, world-leading, and impactful research as part of our ongoing commitment to becoming a more research-focused institution.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby

Kidney research aims to prevent serious health conditions associated with dialysis

Academics from the University of Derby and the University of Nottingham’s Medical School, based at the Royal Derby Hospital, are working together to develop a method to predict the development of hypotension (severe reduction in blood pressure) during dialysis, which can lead to associated serious health conditions.

The project, named DIAMONDS (Dialysis Monitoring for Decision Support), has been made possible thanks to a £234,000 grant from Kidney Research UK. It uses patient studies to predict when an individual’s blood pressure levels may start to significantly drop, enabling staff overseeing the dialysis process to respond in a timely manner by adjusting the dialysis machine’s treatment regime.

The team of researchers is using a completely novel continuous, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring technology developed on the University’s ongoing iTrend (Intelligent Technologies for Renal Dialysis) programme, to obtain the measurements required.

The iTrend technology is protected by a global patent and is the first to enable continuous monitoring of blood pressure during dialysis without any extraneous sensors being attached to the patient.

The first of the project’s patient study work programmes has now commenced and will conclude once three-to-four hour monitoring sessions for 50 patients, totalling 600 hours of continuous measurements, are completed.

The DIAMONDS and iTrend programmes are led by Professor Paul Stewart and Professor Jill Stewart at the University of Derby, and Professor Maarten Taal and Dr Nick Selby at the University of Nottingham and Royal Derby Hospital Renal Unit.

Professor Paul Stewart said: “The aim of the project is to establish whether we can enhance the monitoring system we have already developed by using data to accurately predict when changes in blood pressure are likely to occur.

“We can also collect data during treatment for factors other than blood pressure which may help us to make more accurate predictions through a machine learning system.”

Blood being processed through a kidney dialysis machine

Could data science research at Derby help unravel dangerous criminal networks?

With organised criminal groups doing their best to frustrate law enforcement agencies, research at Derby is examining how social network analysis could disrupt some of the world’s most dangerous criminal gangs.

PhD student Lucia Cavallaro is working with her supervisor Dr Ovidiu Bagdasar, Associate Professor in Mathematics at Derby, and fellow PhD students from the Universities of Messina and Palermo in Sicily and Bolzano in Italy, to investigate the topic of Network Features in Complex Networks.

Lucia has used data extracted from Italian court proceedings (in particular, the calls and meetings between members of two Mafia families) and studied the resulting networks by data analysis.

A key finding of the project was that the investigations of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) remain effective even when a considerable percentage of the calls between gang members are missed, confirming that it is more important to know who the gang members are, rather than know all they do.

Lucia said: “By developing new algorithms to analyse the data, we identified that criminals tend to minimise interception risks, preferring to spread their messages within the clan with a balanced number of intermediaries. It is also clear that by identifying and removing key individuals, or ‘nodes’, which are shown on graphs of the networks created by algorithms, we can help the police to effectively disrupt these groups.”

Yellow police tape with the the words 'Police Do Not Cross' in black letters
samples being taken from a fish tank in a lab

Research showcase

From tackling climate change to improving cancer treatment, our researchers are at the forefront of finding solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Explore our research projectsExplore our research projects