2020 new lecturer grant winners announced

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Rank Prize new lecturer grant in nutrition. This annual research grant is offered in the areas of human nutrition, animal nutrition and crop science to help postdoctoral scientists establish their careers as independent investigators. This year we made three awards to the following scholars:

Dr Matthew Brook, University of Nottingham for his proposal: ‘A novel integrated muscle protein synthesis approach to understanding nutritional regulation of muscle maintenance in older people: ​do we need an RDA for leucine?’​ Matthew will receive £25,000 to fund his research. “Ageing is associated with a progressive decline of skeletal muscle mass and strength that is linked with increased frailty, morbidity, and significant health care costs,” explains Matthew. “The essential amino acid leucine has shown to have benefits on promoting muscle growth and is found within the dietary proteins that we eat. As such, the recommended dietary protein intake in older adults has been increased, yet many older adults find achieving this intake challenging. Our aim is to investigate whether ingesting a small amount of supplemental leucine alongside our daily meals may promote muscle growth in older age. These results may provide an effective, easily consumed nutritionally strategy to promote healthy muscle mass and function with age.”

The second award was split between two researchers, who will each receive £12,500.

Dr Caspar Chater, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for his proposal: Deconstructing legume leaves for enhanced crop yields under drought and climate change. “The potential public benefit of my research is in the creation of low-input climate-ready legume crops for sustainable farming,” explains Caspar. “By developing beans that grow better using less water and less fertilizer we can improve food production under drought and reduce soil and water pollution.”

Dr Ian Lidbury, University of Sheffield for his proposal: Shedding light on plant-bacteria nutrient exchange at the root-soil interface. “Over the coming decades, producing sufficient quantities of high-quality, nutritious food to meet the demands of a growing global population will be a major challenge facing humanity,” said Ian. “The aim of this project will be to better understand how different groups of microbes are attracted to plant roots at the same time and to develop a method to understand which beneficial functions they are performing and under which environmental conditions they do so. Developing the knowledge to conserve as well as manipulate plant-associated microbial communities will enable farmers to better manage their soils and various practises in order to maximise crop yields whilst reducing their usage of insecticides, pesticides and inorganic fertilisers, which are both expensive and damaging to nature.”