The Faculty of Life Sciences is predominantly based on the Chester Campus, with sports-related and computer-related courses also delivered at Warrington. A number of specialist courses are also delivered at our partner associate college at Reaseheath in Cheshire, as well as some delivery outside the UK. The Faculty also supports several research centres.

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  • Sleep disruption and depression, stress and anxiety levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) during the lockdown measures for COVID-19 in the UK

    Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; McGregor, Gordon; Clark, Cain C T; Brown, James E; Kyrou, Ioannis; Randeva, Harpal S; University of Chester; Aston University; University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire National Health Service (NHS) Trust; Coventry University; University of Warwick (Frontiers Media, 2021-06-04)
    Background: Lockdown measures have been enforced globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the comorbidity burden in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), these lockdown measures may have a particularly negative impact on sleep health, quality of life (QoL), and depression/stress levels in this population. The aim of this study was to explore whether such potential problems were present in women with PCOS during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Methods: UK women with PCOS were recruited through social media into a cross-sectional study during the COVID-19 lockdown. The study survey was delivered online, and included demographic and COVID-19 relevant questions, as well as validated questionnaires/scales, namely the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), and PCOSQOL questionnaire. Results: Three hundred and thirty-three women with PCOS [median age: 30.0 (9.0) years] were recruited. Participants were dichotomized based on responses regarding the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their sleep [negative (N = 242) vs. no/positive (N = 91) impact]. No differences were noted between groups regarding age, time since PCOS diagnosis, body mass index, or number of comorbidities. Based on the ISI, 44.2% of participants reporting a negative impact on sleep exhibited at least moderately severe clinical insomnia. Compared to those who reported no/positive effect on sleep, the participants reporting a negative impact on sleep also reported poorer QoL, based on the total PCOSQOL score, with a greater impact of PCOS and poorer mood in the corresponding PCOSQOL domains. Based on the DASS-21, the latter also had statistically higher depression and stress levels compared to the former. Finally, for this cohort significant inverse correlations were noted between the ISI and PCOSQOL scores (total and domain scores), whilst the DASS-21 and ISI scores were positively correlated (all p-values <0.001). Conclusion: The majority of recruited UK women with PCOS reported that the COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their sleep, which was also associated with impaired QoL and higher depression/stress levels. Whilst further research is required, women with PCOS should be considered a vulnerable population that may experience an adverse impact on sleep, QoL and mental health well-being due to lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to enforced covid-19-related lockdown and movement restrictions: A protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Kite, Chris; Lagojda, Lukasz; Clark, Cain C T; Uthman, Olalekan; Denton, Francesca; McGregor, Gordon; Harwood, Amy E; Atkinson, Lou; Broom, David R; Kyrou, Ioannis; et al. (MDPI, 2021-05-14)
    Prolonged lockdown/restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly impacted opportunities to be physically active for a large proportion of the population in affected countries globally. The exact changes to physical activity and sedentary behaviours due to these measures have not been fully studied. Accordingly, the objective of this PROSPERO-registered systematic review is to evaluate the available evidence on physical activity and sedentary behaviours in the general population during COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures, compared to prior to restrictions being in place. Defined searches to identify eligible studies published in English, from November 2019 up to the date of submission, will be conducted using the following databases: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PSYCinfo, Coronavirus Research Database, Public Health Database, Publicly Available Content Database, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. The applied inclusion criteria were selected to identify observational studies with no restrictions placed on participants, with outcomes regarding physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour during lockdown/restriction measures, and with comparisons for these outcomes to a time when no such measures were in place. Where appropriate, results from included studies will be pooled and effect estimates will be presented in random effects meta-analyses. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first systematic review to evaluate one complete year of published data on the impact of COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis will constitute the most up-to-date synthesis of published evidence on any such documented changes, and so will comprehensively inform clinical practitioners, public health agencies, researchers, policymakers and the general public regarding the effects of lockdown/restriction measures on both physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • A single dose of ChAdOx1 Chik vaccine induces neutralising antibodies against four chikungunya virus lineages in a phase 1 clinical trial

    Folegatti, Pedro M.; Harrison, Kate; Preciado-Llanes, Lorena; Ramos Lopez, Fernando; Bittaye, Mustapha; Kim, Young Chan; Flaxman, Amy; Bellamy, Duncan; Makinson, Rebecca; Sheridan, Jonathan; et al. (Nature Research, 2021-07-30)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne virus that causes swift outbreaks. Major concerns are the persistent and disabling polyarthralgia in infected individuals. Here we present the results from a first-in-human trial of the candidate simian adenovirus vectored vaccine ChAdOx1 Chik, expressing the CHIKV full-length structural polyprotein (Capsid, E3, E2, 6k and E1). 24 adult healthy volunteers aged 18–50 years, were recruited in a dose escalation, open-label, nonrandomized and uncontrolled phase 1 trial (registry NCT03590392). Participants received a single intramuscular injection of ChAdOx1 Chik at one of the three preestablished dosages and were followed-up for 6 months. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability of ChAdOx1 Chik. The secondary objective was to assess the humoral and cellular immunogenicity. ChAdOx1 Chik was safe at all doses tested with no serious adverse reactions reported. The vast majority of solicited adverse events were mild or moderate, and self-limiting in nature. A single dose induced IgG and Tcell responses against the CHIKV structural antigens. Broadly neutralizing antibodies against the four CHIKV lineages were found in all participants and as early as 2 weeks after vaccination. In summary, ChAdOx1 Chik showed excellent safety, tolerability and 100% PRNT50 seroconversion after a single dose.
  • Perspectives on Adolescents’ Obesity Amidst the Nutrition Transition in Lebanon

    Fallows, Stephen; Kennedy, Lynne; Bou Kheir, Miriam (University of Chester, 2020)
    Adolescent obesity is a major public health concern, increasingly affecting low and middle-income countries (LMICs) undergoing the nutrition transition. In developed countries, governments had the time to adjust to this rise in the consequent non-communicable diseases (NCDs), whereas the developing world is facing a triple burden of nutrition-related disease simultaneously. However, amidst the nutrition transition, drivers to obesity may differ within the same country especially between the urban and rural areas, depending on the context and environmental factors. In order to unravel how the nutrition transition process unfolds in both urban and rural areas, an exploration of the factors affecting adolescents’ lifestyle and eating behaviours, in the current context was deemed appropriate. Additionally, exploring stakeholders’ views on adolescents’ obesity including facilitators and barriers to obesity prevention is key in intervention and policy drawing. This study thus aimed to explore in-depth, whether, how, and to what extent is the nutrition transition currently affecting adolescents’ environments in Lebanon, focusing on both adolescents’ and stakeholders’ perspectives, awareness, and barriers to the prevention of adolescents’ obesity. The study used a sequential multi-method approach along a bricolage methodology. The first phase of the study adopted a qualitative approach, involving focus groups with adolescents (n = 78) to explore their perceptions regarding their eating behaviours as well as the role of the environment surrounding them in both urban and rural areas. A number of direct (availability of Western foods, peer pressure, parental control, eating location, body image) and indirect (adolescence autonomy, role modeling, cultural beliefs, peer surveillance) factors seemed to influence adolescents’ eating behaviours. Almost similar behaviours were perceived between the urban and rural area, showcasing the impact of the nutrition transition in both areas although different underlying factors were stated. The factors identified in this study were grouped and discussed based on the socioecological model (SEM) highlighting the importance of the social and environmental influences on adolescents’ eating behaviours. The second phase of the study adopted a qualitative approach; using one-to-one interviews to investigate stakeholders’ opinions on adolescents’ obesity. The study highlighted the barriers and facilitators in preventing adolescents’ obesity in relation to adolescents’ eating behaviours and the surrounding environment. Key stakeholders interviewed in this phase included different sectors such as the Ministry of Education, Municipalities, Transportation NGOs, with a special emphasis on the school setting including school directors, manager of school cafeteria, sports teacher, school nurse and head teacher. Interviews revealed the lack of awareness concerning the obesity problem and the importance of the environmental influences, a lack of intersectoral cooperation between stakeholders in Lebanon and a greater emphasis on the individual responsibility in the prevention of adolescents’ obesity. This study has revealed and engaged with the varied conceptualisations of obesity causation amongst adolescents, in both urban and rural areas, amid the nutrition transition in Lebanon. Acknowledging that the causes of obesity are complex this study collects insights of both adolescents and key stakeholders’ perceptions; to date, no study has engaged with both in Lebanon, justifying the need for the present study. Clearly, in keeping with the literature on the different rate of nutrition transition between rural and urban environments further justifies the consideration of both context. Given the findings of this study in regards to the dramatic changes affecting both urban and rural areas regarding the number of meals consumed away from home, the increase in fast-food consumption and the increase in sedentary lifestyles, new challenges in relation to adolescent obesity prevention in LMICs are created. The creation of supportive local environments, in both urban and rural areas, represents an important avenue where eating behaviours concerns, and thus adolescents’ obesity can be addressed.
  • Deteriorations in physical qualities during a 10-week unsupervised off-season period in academy rugby union players

    Twist, Craig; Williams, Jack; Dobbin, Nick; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University
    Purpose: To determine the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players over a 10-week unsupervised off-season period. Methods: Body mass, jump height, sprint performance, and intermittent running (30:15 IFT) of 64 academy rugby union players (age = 17.2 ± 0.4 y) were recorded before and after the off-season. Results: Changes in body mass (+1.4 ± 1.3 kg), countermovement jump (-2.2 ± 1.2 cm), squat jump (-1.5 ± 1.8 cm), 10 m sprint (+0.06 ± 0.05 s), 40 m sprint (+0.13 ± 0.11 s) and 30:15 IFT (-0.8 ± 0.8 kmh-1) were observed (P < 0.001, d = -1.77 to 0.47). Only changes in body mass were greater in forwards than backs (P = 0.036, d = 0.46). Players with higher end-of-season body mass, squat jump and 30:15 IFT had greater off-season changes (P = < 0.001 to 0.044; d = 0.63 to 0.94), whilst the pre-post difference in body mass influenced CMJ (P = 0.005, d = 0.75) and 10 m momentum change (P <0.001, d = 1.61). Conclusion: Understanding the individuality of the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players during the off-season is important to ensure players return safely to pre-season training loads.
  • Assessment of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay commutability of Standard Reference Materials and College of American Pathologists Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) Scheme and Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) materials: Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) Commutability Study 2

    Mushtaq, Sohail; Camara, Johanna E.; Wise, Stephen A.; Sempos, Christopher T.; University of Chester; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Vitamin D Standardization Program LLC (Springer, 2021-06-28)
    An interlaboratory study was conducted through the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) to assess commutability of Standard Reference Materials® (SRMs) and proficiency testing/external quality assessment (PT/EQA) samples for determination of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using ligand binding assays and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). A set of 50 single-donor serum samples were assigned target values for 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2] and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] using reference measurement procedures (RMPs). SRM and PT/EQA samples evaluated included SRM 972a (four levels), SRM 2973, six College of American Pathologists (CAP) Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) samples, and nine Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) samples. Results were received from 28 different laboratories using 20 ligand binding assays and 14 LC-MS/MS methods. Using the test assay results for total serum 25(OH)D (i.e., the sum of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3) determined for the single-donor samples and the RMP target values, the linear regression and 95% prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated. Using a subset of 42 samples that had concentrations of 25(OH)D2 below 30 nmol/L, one or more of the SRM and PT/EQA samples with high concentrations of 25(OH)D2 were deemed non-commutable using 5 of 11 unique ligand binding assays. SRM 972a (level 4), which has high exogenous concentration of 3-epi-25(OH)D3, was deemed non-commutable for 50% of the LC-MS/MS assays.
  • Non-territorial GPS-tagged golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos at two Scottish wind farms: avoidance influenced by preferred habitat distribution, wind speed and blade motion status

    Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Philip; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Public Library of Science, 2021-08-05)
    Wind farms can have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. These effects may not be mutually exclusive. Using detailed data from 99 turbines at two wind farms in central Scotland and thousands of GPS-telemetry data from dispersing golden eagles, we tested three hypotheses. Before-and-after-operation analyses supported the hypothesis of avoidance: displacement was reduced at turbine locations in more preferred habitat and with more preferred habitat nearby. After-operation analyses (i.e. from the period when turbines were operational) showed that at higher wind speeds and in highly preferred habitat eagles were less wary of turbines with motionless blades: rejecting our second hypothesis. Our third hypothesis was supported, since at higher wind speeds eagles flew closer to operational turbines; especially – once more – turbines in more preferred habitat. After operation, eagles effectively abandoned inner turbine locations, and flight line records close to rotor blades were rare. While our study indicated that whole-wind farm functional habitat loss through avoidance was the substantial adverse impact, we make recommendations on future wind farm design to minimise collision risk further. These largely entail developers avoiding outer turbine locations which are in and surrounded by swathes of preferred habitat. Our study illustrates the insights which detailed case studies of large raptors at wind farms can bring and emphasises that the balance between avoidance and collision can have several influences.
  • Responses of dispersing GPS-tagged Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to multiple wind farms across Scotland

    Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Geary, Matthew; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Phil; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-07-20)
    Wind farms may have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. Large raptors are often shown or presumed to be vulnerable to collision and are demographically sensitive to additional mortality, as exemplified by several studies of the Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Previous findings from Scottish Eagles, however, have suggested avoidance as the primary response. Our study used data from 59 GPS-tagged Golden Eagles with 28 284 records during natal dispersal before and after turbine operation < 1 km of 569 turbines at 80 wind farms across Scotland. We tested three hypotheses using measurements of tag records’ distance from the hub of turbine locations: (1) avoidance should be evident; (2) older birds should show less avoidance (i.e. habituate to turbines); and (3) rotor diameter should have no influence (smaller diameters are correlated with a turbine’s age, in examining possible habituation). Four generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) were constructed with intrinsic habitat preference of a turbine location using Golden Eagle Topography (GET) model, turbine operation status (before/after), bird age and rotor diameter as fixed factors. The best GLMM was subsequently verified by k-fold cross-validation and involved only GET habitat preference and presence of an operational turbine. Eagles were eight times less likely to be within a rotor diameter’s distance of a hub location after turbine operation, and modelled displacement distance was 70 m. Our first hypothesis expecting avoidance was supported. Eagles were closer to turbine locations in preferred habitat but at greater distances after turbine operation. Results on bird age (no influence to 5+ years) rejected hypothesis 2, implying no habituation. Support for hypothesis 3 (no influence of rotor diameter) also tentatively inferred no habituation, but data indicated birds went slightly closer to longer rotor blades although not to the turbine tower. We proffer that understanding why avoidance or collision in large raptors may occur can be conceptually envisaged via variation in fear of humans as the ‘super predator’ with turbines as cues to this life-threatening agent.
  • Evaluation of the Feasibility, Reliability, and Repeatability of Welfare Indicators in Free-Roaming Horses: A Pilot Study.

    Harley, Jessica; Stack, J.D.; Braid, H; McLennan, Krista M.; Stanley, Christina; University of Chester; University of Liverpool
    Validated assessment protocols have been developed to quantify welfare states for intensively managed sport, pleasure, and working horses. There are few protocols for extensively managed or free-roaming populations. Here, we trialed welfare indicators to ascertain their feasibility, reliability, and repeatability using free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies as an example population. The project involved (1) the identification of animal and resource-based measures of welfare from both the literature and discussion with an expert group; (2) testing the feasibility and repeatability of a modified body condition score and mobility score on 34 free-roaming and conservation grazing Carneddau Mountain ponies; and (3) testing a prototype welfare assessment template comprising 12 animal-based and 6 resource-based welfare indicators, with a total of 20 questions, on 35 free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies to quantify inter-assessor reliability and repeatability. This pilot study revealed that many of the indicators were successfully repeatable and had good levels of inter-assessor reliability. Some of the indicators could not be verified for reliability due to low/absent occurrence. The results indicated that many animal and resource-based indicators commonly used in intensively managed equine settings could be measured in-range with minor modifications. This study is an initial step toward validating a much-needed tool for the welfare assessment of free-roaming and conservation grazing ponies.
  • Public Policy for Obesity Prevention in Lebanon

    Fallows, Stephen; Kennedy, Lynne; Al Kattan, Malika (University of Chester, 2020-12)
    Background: In Lebanon, the population is experiencing nutrition transition and a high prevalence of obesity. Studies have shown that the Lebanese people are shifting their dietary behaviours from the traditional Lebanese diet, a variation of the Mediterranean diet, towards a westernised diet and are being physically inactive. To achieve a population behaviour change and address the obesity epidemic, the root causes of these behaviours and food choices should be explored and addressed. This approach requires joint efforts from different sectors such as the government, healthcare, and civil society to develop action plans and enact policies. In Lebanon, the factors that influence eating behaviours and physical activity are still not explored, national level policies are still lacking, and researchers have called for an urgent need to implement policies to halt the rise of obesity prevalence. Aims and objectives: The general aim of this thesis is to explore the perceived factors that influence adults’ eating behaviours and physical activity using the socio-ecological model as the conceptual framework. In addition, this PhD research explores the relevant contribution and the position of different stakeholders towards obesity prevention in Lebanon. Finally, this thesis draws on lessons learned from countries worldwide that help in developing guidelines for obesity prevention in Lebanon. Methods: Two studies were conducted for this PhD research. In the first study, the Photovoice method was used to engage Lebanese adults from the North Governorate to explore different factors that influence their eating behaviours and physical activity and to identify their perceptions towards the actions needed to address obesity. The second study involved a series of one-to-one face-to-face semi-structured interviews which were conducted with key stakeholders from different public and private sectors (government, civil society, education, and healthcare). These interviews aimed to explore the key stakeholders’ perceptions towards obesity and its causes, their relevant contribution towards obesity prevention, their priority of action to address obesity, and finally the barriers to effective action to reduce obesity in Lebanon. Results: The findings of the two qualitative studies show that obesity is commonly perceived as a body image issue rather than a health issue. Some of the main factors that were perceived to influence Lebanese adults’ eating behaviours and physical activity were: females’ (wives’ and mothers’) employment, social gatherings, and social norms (e.g. food and meal sharing), safety concerns, the availability of countless unhealthy food options that are relatively cheaper than healthy food, the lack of a physical environment that encourages physical activity, and food marketing and advertisements. The results of the stakeholder’s interviews show that the key stakeholders are aware of the nutrition transition and some of the underlying environmental factors that caused these behaviour changes. Yet, most of the key stakeholders framed obesity in an “individualistic approach” by focusing on unhealthy dietary behaviours, the physical inactivity and placed the responsibility on individuals for their lifestyle. Due to their approach, most of them focused their actions on raising awareness such as the role of education. Some of the barriers to effective policy action to address obesity in Lebanon are the political instability, lack of public demand for action, and lack of coordinated multi-sectoral actions. Implications: The recognition of obesity as a disease as well as strengthening the public, stakeholders’, and policymakers’ support towards obesity prevention strategies are essential to overcome the “policy inertia” in Lebanon. The key areas that need to be addressed for obesity prevention are raising awareness on obesity health consequences, increasing access to healthy food in public and private settings, limiting unhealthy food advertisements, and fiscal measures such as taxing unhealthy food and subsidising healthy food. To facilitate the implementation of policies that aim to prevent obesity, a systematic plan of action should be developed. To engage stakeholders from different sectors and establish a national multi-sectoral collaboration, national strategies and policies that follow a Health in all Policies Approach (HiPA) are recommended. This requires strong leadership from the government. Conclusions: There is an urgent need to shift the actions beyond targeting the individual by implementing public policies to address the obesogenic environment in Lebanon. Recommendations for research, policy actions, and practice are provided to guide the action towards establishing an appropriate public policy that recognises the need to adopt a socioecological model of implementation.
  • Attitudes of Female Warders towards inmate who self-harm: A pilot Exploratory Study from an Inner-city Prison in South India

    Jones, Steven; Kumar, Pradeep; Eost-Telling, Charlotte; Kirshna, Murali; University of Chester (The Indian Society of Criminology; National Law University Delhi, 07-2020)
    Self-harm is a global public health challenge. The management and treatment of those who self-harm is emotionally challenging, and can sometimes manifest in negative attitudes amongst staff who provide care. Health professional’s attitudes towards deliberate self-harm have been studied globally, however, evidence regarding prison staff attitudes is sparse, and particularly lacking in India. The primary aim of this study was to explore the attitudes of female prison warders towards prison inmates who self-harm in an Indian setting. A cross-sectional survey using a questionnaire to measure knowledge and attitudes was administered to prison warders from one city prison in South India. Out of the 210 approached to participate, 170 female warders completed the survey questionnaire. In general, sociodemographic factors of the prison warders were unrelated to their attitudes towards self-harm, and a negligible few had received any training specific to self-harm. A series of educational and skills recommendations have been developed from the study, which can be used to inform intervention initiatives and further, provide a basis for cross-cultural professional comparison studies. Current resources, cultures, practice and context must be considered in any future interventions aimed at progressing the evidence base further. In addition, training and education for staff should include information on knowledge and attitudes about causes, reasons, motivations, forms and purpose of self-harm. Records of staff responses to those who self-harm, irrespective of setting, should include assessment, management, interventions undertaken and incorporated daily practice. Importantly, this work may influence prisoner treatment outcomes and is worthy of further study.
  • Physiological characteristics of female soccer players and health and performance considerations: A narrative review

    Randell, Rebecca; Clifford, Thomas; Drust, Barry; Moss, Samantha; Unnithan, Viswanath; De Ste Croix, Mark; Datson, Naomi; Martin, Daniel; Mayho, Hannah; Carter, James; et al.
    Female soccer has seen a substantial rise in participation, as well as increased financial support from governing bodies over the last decade. Thus, there is an onus on researchers and medical departments to develop a better understanding of the physical characteristics and demands, and the health and performance needs of female soccer players. In this review we discuss the current research, as well as the knowledge gaps, of six major topics: physical demands, talent identification, body composition, injury risk and prevention, health, and nutrition. Data on female talent identification are scarce, and future studies need to elucidate the influence of relative age and maturation selection across age groups. Regarding the physical demands, more research is needed on the pattern of high-intensity sprinting during matches and the contribution of soccer-specific movements. Injuries are not uncommon in female soccer players, but targeting intrinsically modifiable factors with injury prevention programmes can reduce injury rates. The anthropometric and physical characteristics of female players are heterogenous and setting specific targets should be discouraged in youth and sub-elite players. Menstrual cycle phase may influence performance and injury risk; however, there are few studies in soccer players. Nutrition plays a critical role for health and performance and ensuring adequate energy intake remains a priority. Despite recent progress, there is considerably less research in female than male soccer players. Many gaps in our understanding of how best to develop and manage the health and performance of female soccer players remain.
  • Physical health impairment, disability and suicidal intent among self-harm survivors in South India

    Jones, Steven; Somashekar, R; Bharath, D.U; Maiji, Sumanth M; Taylor, Lou; Nagaraj, Santhosh; Krishna, Murali; Mysore Medical College and Research Institute; University of Chester; CSI Holdsworth Memorial Hospital; FRAMe; Viveka Hospital
    Background: Suicide is major public health concern in India. There are limited data examining the relationship between health impairment, disability and severity of suicidal intent. The aim of the study was to examine the associations of health impairment and disability with severity of suicidal intent among survivors following an act of self-harm. Methods: A pilot exploratory study of 453 self-harm survivors from a specialist hospital in South India. Sociodemographics, physical health impairment, disability (WHO Disability Schedule-II), suicidal intent, (Pierce suicide intent scale) and mental disorders were studied. Results: Arthritis was the most common physical impairment among self-harm survivors followed by gastrointestinal, sensory impairment and difficulty with mobilization. Nearly 10% of participants had some degree of functional impairment, with 38% experiencing severe physical pain in the week prior to self-harm. Past history of depression treatment, age, education and occupation influenced positively PSIS scores. There were significant associations between suicidal intent and disability. Conclusions: Indian self-harm survivors indicated complex relationships between physical health, disability and suicidal intent. Understanding these associations may help to develop suicide prevention strategies. Our findings suggest a need for integrating a comprehensive of physical health assessment in self harm survivors.
  • Assessing the behaviour, welfare and husbandry of mouse deer (Tragulus spp.) in European zoos

    Lemos de Figueiredo, Ricardo; Hartley, Matthew; Fletcher, Alison W; University of Chester; Yorkshire Wildlife Park
    Mouse deer are primitive, forest ungulates found in Asia and Africa. Both the lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus) and the Philippine mouse deer (T. nigricans) are managed in European zoos, but inconsistent breeding success between institutions, high neonatal mortality and a general lack of research on their husbandry and behaviour were identified by the coordinators of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the European Studbook (ESB) for each species, respectively. This study is the first to provide a behavioural description for the Philippine mouse deer and to compile a detailed behavioural repertoire for both species. Our aim was to identify the effects of current husbandry and management practices on the reproduction, behaviour and welfare of zoo-housed mouse deer. Questionnaires on husbandry and management practices were sent to all institutions in the EEP and ESB for the lesser and Philippine mouse deer, respectively, and behavioural data were collected in 15 of these zoos. For the lesser mouse deer, results show a positive effect of vegetation cover on breeding success, foraging and moving behaviours. The provision of enrichment and presence of water ponds also positively affected these behaviours. The time that pairs spent in close proximity had a negative effect on breeding success, but animals in more vegetated enclosures spent less time in close proximity to each other. Results could be partially explained by the natural habitat of this usually solitary species being tropical forest, which provides local water sources and undergrowth for cover from predators. For the Philippine mouse deer there were differences in activity measures recorded between zoos, but the sample size was small with differences in training, enrichment and vegetation cover likely to have been important. In conclusion, since mouse deer inhabit overlapping male and female territories, the usual practice of housing breeding pairs together may be appropriate, but we suggest that they should be provided with opportunities to avoid each other in complex enclosures with ample vegetation cover to maximise their natural behavioural repertoire and breeding success.
  • Street-level green spaces support a key urban population of the threatened Hispaniolan Parakeet Psittacara chloropterus

    Geary, Matthew; Celia, Brailsford; Laura, Hough; Fraser, Baker; Simon, Guerrero; Yolanda, Leon; Nigel, Collar; Stuart, Marsden; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University; Autonomous University of Santo Domingo; Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo; BirdLife International
    While urbanisation remains a major threat to biodiversity, urban areas can sometimes play an important role in protecting threatened species, especially exploited taxa such as parrots. The Hispaniolan Parakeet Psittacara chloropterus has been extirpated across much of Hispaniola, including from most protected areas, yet Santo Domingo (capital city of the Dominican Republic) has recently been found to support the island’s densest remaining population. In 2019, we used repeated transects and point-counts across 60 1 km2 squares of Santo Domingo to examine the distribution of parakeets, identify factors that might drive local presence and abundance, and investigate breeding ecology. Occupancy models indicate that parakeet presence was positively related to tree species richness across the city. N-Mixture models show parakeet encounter rates were correlated positively with species richness of trees and number of discrete ‘green’ patches (> 100 m2) within the survey squares. Hispaniolan Woodpecker Melanerpes striatus, the main tree-cavity-producing species on Hispaniola, occurs throughout the city, but few parakeet nests are known to involve the secondary use of its or other cavities in trees/palms. Most parakeet breeding (perhaps 50‒100 pairs) appears to occur at two colonies in old buildings, and possibly only a small proportion of the city’s 1,500+ parakeets that occupy a single roost in street trees breed in any year. Our models emphasise the importance of parks and gardens in providing feeding resources for this IUCN Vulnerable species. Hispaniola’s urban centres may be strongholds for populations of parakeets and may even represent sources for birds to recolonise formerly occupied areas on the island.
  • Differences in the vertical and horizontal force-velocity profile between academy and senior professional rugby league players, and the implications for strength and speed training.

    Dobbin, N; Cushman, S; Clarke, J; Batsford, J; Twist, C; Manchester Metropolitan University; Reasheath College; England RFU; Salford Red Devils Rugby League Football Club; University of Chester
    BACKGROUND: This study compared the vertical and horizontal force-velocity (FV) profile of academy and senior rugby league players. METHODS: Nineteen senior and twenty academy players from one professional club participated in this study. The vertical FV profile was determined using a series of loaded squat jumps (0.4 to 80 kg) with jump height recorded. The horizontal FV profile involved a 30-m over-ground sprint with split times recorded at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 m. Theoretical maximal force (F0), velocity (V0) and power (Pmax), optimal F0 and V0, and activity specific variables (e.g. vertical FV imbalance) were determined. RESULTS: Absolute F0 and Pmax from the vertical and horizontal profile were moderately different between groups (standardised mean difference (SMD) = 0.64-1.20, P <0.001-0.026), whilst for V0, differences were small (SMD = 0.33-0.41, P = 0.149-0.283). Differences in relative F0, Pmax and optimal F0 during both assessments were trivial to moderate (SMD = 0.03-0.82, P = 0.021-0.907). CONCLUSION: These results highlight senior and academy players present with different FV profiles and highlight some potential developmental opportunities for senior and academy rugby league players that sport scientists, strength and conditioning and rugby coaches can implement when designing programmes and considering long-term athlete development.
  • What is PE and who should teach it? Undergraduate PE students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK

    McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester
    This paper investigates beginning BSc Physical Education (PE) students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK. Outsourcing involves the provision of PE by external providers such as sports coaches. PE in the UK (and other neoliberal Western contexts) is a site in which outsourcing has become increasingly normalised. I anticipated that, as first year undergraduates, the participants would have relatively recent experience of outsourcing as pupils/students (i.e. experience of receiving outsourced PE provision). Data were generated through written narratives (n = 16), completed on the participants’ first day at university, and follow-up semi-structured interviews (n = 10). Drawing on a Foucaultian theoretical framework, I employed a poststructural type of discourse analysis concerned with analysing patterns in language. Referring to PE, the participants drew heavily on a sport discourse, often conflating PE and sport and emphasising the necessity of teachers having knowledge and experience of sports content and skills, as well as a pedagogical discourse (and, to a lesser extent, a ‘healthy lifestyles’ discourse). The participants had a range of experiences of outsourcing in PE, particularly at primary level. They were in favour of primary PE being taught by either specialist PE teachers, or sports coaches (rather than generalist teachers alone). They spoke positively about their experiences of external provision at both primary and secondary school. While few critical comments were provided, participants raised concerns about external providers’ pedagogical knowledge, and some questioned if teachers might feel devalued by external providers being brought in to teach aspects of their curriculum. In general, while the participants recognised teachers’ pedagogical expertise, they also valued external providers’ perceived content knowledge and sporting experience. As such, by conflating PE and sport, they considered that PE should be taught by sport ‘experts’ and that external providers could enhance schools’ internal capabilities.
  • Social Network Analysis of small social groups: application of a hurdle GLMM approach in the Alpine marmot (Marmota marmota)

    Stanley, Christina; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Panaccio, Matteo; Ferrari, Caterina; Bassano, Bruno; University of Chester; University of Turin; Alpine Wildlife Research Centre, Gran Paradiso National Park
    Social Network Analysis (SNA) has recently emerged as a fundamental tool to study animal behavior. While many studies have analyzed the relationship between environmental factors and behavior across large, complex animal populations, few have focused on species living in small groups due to limitations of the statistical methods currently employed. Some of the difficulties are often in comparing social structure across different sized groups and accounting for zero-inflation generated by analyzing small social units. Here we use a case study to highlight how Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMMs) and hurdle models can overcome the issues inherent to study of social network metrics of groups that are small and variable in size. We applied this approach to study aggressive behavior in the Alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) using an eight-year long dataset of behavioral interactions across 17 small family groups (7.4 ± 3.3 individuals). We analyzed the effect of individual and group-level factors on aggression, including predictors frequently inferred in species with larger groups, as the closely related yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris). Our approach included the use of hurdle GLMMs to analyze the zero-inflated metrics that are typical of aggressive networks of small social groups. Additionally, our results confirmed previously reported effects of dominance and social status on aggression levels, thus supporting the efficacy of our approach. We found differences between males and females in terms of levels of aggression and on the roles occupied by each in agonistic networks that were not predicted in a socially monogamous species. Finally, we provide some perspectives on social network analysis as applied to small social groups to inform subsequent studies.
  • Comment on PP2A inhibition sensitizes cancer stem cells to ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors in BCR-ABL human leukemia

    Perrotti, D; Agarwal, A; Lucas, Claire; Narla, g; Nevanini, p; Odero, m; Ruvolo, p; Verrills, n; University of Maryland; Imperial College London; Oregon Health and Science University; University of Chester; University of Michigan; University of Southern California; University of Navarra; MD Anderson Cancer Center; University of Newcastle (AAAS, 2019-07-17)
    LB100 does not sensitize CML stem cells to tyrosine kinase inhibitor–induced apoptosis.
  • Discovery of a Novel CIP2A Variant (NOCIVA) with clinical relevance in predicting TKI resistance in myeloid leukemias

    Makela, Eleonora; Pavic, Karolina; Varila, Taru M; Salmenniemi, Urpu; Löyttyniemi, Eliisa; Nagelli, Srikar G; Ammunét, Tea; Kähäri, Veli-Matti; Clark, Richard E; Elo, Laura L; et al.
    Purpose: Cancerous inhibitor of PP2A (CIP2A) is an oncoprotein that inhibits the tumor suppressor PP2A-B56a. However, CIP2A mRNA variants remain uncharacterized. Here, we report the discovery of a CIP2Asplicing variant, NOCIVA (NOvel CIp2a VAriant). Experimental Design: Characterization of CIP2A variants was performed by both 3' and 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends from cancer cells. The function of NOCIVA was assessed by structural and molecular biology approaches. Its clinical relevance was studied in an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patient cohort and two independent chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cohorts. Results: NOCIVA contains CIP2A exons 1-13 fused to 349 nucleotides from CIP2A intron 13. Intriguingly, the first 39 nucleotides of the NOCIVA-specific sequence are in the coding frame with exon 13 of CIP2A and code for a 13 amino acid peptide tail nonhomologous to any known human protein sequence. Therefore, NOCIVA translates to a unique human protein. NOCIVA retains the capacity to bind to B56a, but whereas CIP2A is predominantly a cytoplasmic protein, NOCIVA translocates to the nucleus. Indicative of prevalent alternative splicing from CIP2A to NOCIVA in myeloid malignancies, AML and CML patient samples overexpress NOCIVA but not CIP2A mRNA. In AML, a high NOCIVA/CIP2A mRNA expression ratio is a marker for adverse overall survival. In CML, high NOCIVA expression is associated with inferior event-free survival among imatinib-treated patients, but not among patients treated with dasatinib or nilotinib. Conclusions: We discovered novel variant of the oncoprotein CIP2A and its clinical relevance in predicting tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy resistance in myeloid leukemias.

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