University of Reading Research Blog

How can we minimise side effects but keep the benefits of drugs?

Since the field of pharmaceutical sciences emerged in the 19th century, it has been necessary to develop new medications to treat diseases effectively with few or even no side effects. Some of the side effects of drugs are related to the fact that drug molecules can reach and accumulate within tissues and organs that are not their targets. A well-known example of this is the drowsiness associated with the administration of some antihistamines used to treat allergies.


Female CFOs, leverage and the moderating role of board diversity and CEO power

Do female managers take on less risk in the firms they manage and under which conditions does gender affect corporate financing choices? These are two of the questions that I and my co-authors set out to address in our study on the impact of the gender of the chief financial officer (CFOs) on firms’ corporate leverage decisions, one of the most important corporate policies. In our study, we were particularly interested under which decision-making environment female CFOs can affect corporate leverage and what this can tell us about female managers’ risk-taking preferences and their relative influence in corporate decision-making.


Sharp and Unsharp measurement in Quantum Mechanics

In the classical formulation of Quantum Mechanics, called Quantum Sharp Measurement, it is assumed that physical measurements are always sharp. In other words, we assume that our apparatus used in the experiment gives us accurate readings of the measurements, for instance, of a particle’s position or momentum. However in the real world, experiments involve inaccurate measurements by nature, therefore we often need to work in the more general framework called Quantum Unsharp Measurement. In this unsharp setting, the notion of a quantum event has to be extended.


Third How It Is Samuel Beckett Symposium

Gare St. Lazare Ireland (GSLI) and The Samuel Beckett Centre at University of Reading teamed up to present a third How It Is Symposium on the 5 March 2021. The symposium, which took place entirely online, welcomed colleagues from around the world, including speakers from New Zealand, Spain, France, Mexico and the UK. The digital format of this symposium embraced the international reach of Samuel Beckett’s work with GSLI stating that “in some respects it is fitting that it is taking place, not at any one place, but in every place that can connect digitally. As we strive for a global participation, we have also worked to hear the voices of scholars, artists, writers and practitioners” (GSLI 2021).


Alzheimer’s: mouse study may have uncovered drug that can prevent the disease

Although around one in 14 people over 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, there’s still no cure, and no way to prevent the disease from progressing. But a recent study may bring us one step closer to preventing Alzheimer’s. The trial, which was conducted on animals, has found a specific molecule can prevent the buildup of a toxic protein known to cause Alzheimer’s in the brain.

Since 1906, researchers have known that amyloid plaques are one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques are stubborn and sticky deposits that build up in our brains and contain a protein called beta-amyloid. This protein has been the focus of many studies, and we have learned a lot about what it does and how it causes nerve cells to die.


International Women’s Day 2021

International Women’s Day originated over 100 years ago in the labour movement in the US and Europe. It was adopted by second-wave feminists in the late 1970s and by the United Nations in its International Women’s Year, 1975. Since then it has been celebrated around the world; it is a national holiday in many countries, though sadly not this one. Initially intended to draw attention to the feminist struggle for rights and justice for women, like so much else in the 21st century it has been co-opted by commercial and lifestyle interests that distract attention from its original goal.


When in doubt, kick it!

How do scientists understand highly complex and intricate systems such as the atomic structure of materials, stars in a remote region of our galaxy, or even our planet Earth itself?

They just kick them and observe the reaction.

It might sound very naive at first glance, but this approach actually stems from a solid and well developed mathematical framework, called Linear Response Theory.


A tale told in timecodes

On Friday 5 March, the Stephen Dwoskin Project, led by Rachel Garfield, head of the School of Art, will mount the first in a series of screening and discussion events, Dwoskin, Disability and… Accessibility: Face of Our Fear.

Dwoskin was an experimental filmmaker who came to London from New York in 1964. He had contracted polio in childhood and walked with crutches; later he would use a wheelchair. Dwoskin was wary of being seen as a ‘disabled filmmaker’, but disablement became a subject of his always very personal films during the 1970s, from a variety of perspectives.



COVID stamp duty holiday reveals big problems in the housing market

The UK housing market has been affected by the pandemic, but in ways that were not anticipated at the outset. Initially, forecasters thought that the sharp reduction in economic activity could lead to a housing market crash. That didn’t happen. Parts of the market have instead been buoyant while others languish. Forecasting is tricky, but the result of the government’s temporary stamp duty cut raises some perennial issues about market efficiency and fairness.

Looking at some basics first, the Bank of England’s interest rate cuts have led to some of the lowest mortgage interest rates on record. Mortgage lenders are more than happy to approve loans for those who own homes and have good incomes. And those in regular “good office jobs” and millions of owner-retirees have seen their savings grow considerably through spending less on discretionary items such as holidays and eating out.


LGBT+ History Month: Broken Futures project

LGBT+ History Month is a time to look back through history and to highlight queer identities. This often brings with it a sense of belonging that many queer people believe is not only desirable but essential for their own sense of identity and place within society. But what if the lives of people who defied heteronormative society have been hidden, either by those people themselves or by a state that didn’t record their existence?

Volunteer researchers at the Broken Futures project have been working to reconstruct the lives of men who encountered the local criminal justice system as a result of their sex with other men. This is no easy task; state archives were not designed to be used in this way and are not organised in neat categories for present-day researchers. So-called ‘homosexual’ offences are lumped together with sex with animals, as well as with women. It can be difficult to work out exactly what happened in any given instance from the court records alone, so Broken Futures volunteers have been scouring newspaper archives (over 163 hours over the past year) for any snippet of information that can give us a clue.