Birmingham City University
  • Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Recent publications
Background The long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), MALAT1, plays a key role in the development of different cancers, and its expression is associated with worse prognosis in patients. However, its mechanism of action and its regulation are not well known in prostate cancer (PCa). A general mechanism of action of lncRNAs is their interaction with other epigenetic regulators including microRNAs (miRNAs). Methods Using lentiviral stable miRNA transfection together with cell biology functional assays and gene expression/target analysis, we investigated the interaction between MALAT1 and miR-423-5p, defined as a target with in silico prediction analysis, in PCa. Results Through bioinformatic analysis of data available from TCGA, we have found that MALAT1 expression correlates with high Gleason grade, metastasis occurrence, and reduced survival in PCa patients. These findings were validated on a TMA of PCa showing a significant correlation between MALAT1 expression with both stage and grading. We report that, in PCa cells, MALAT1 expression and activity is regulated by miR-423-5p that binds MALAT1, downregulates its expression and inhibits its activity in promoting proliferation, migration, and invasion. Using NanoString analysis, we unraveled downstream cell pathways that were affected by miR-423-5p expression and MALAT1 downregulation and identified several alterations in genes that are involved in metastatic response and angiogenic pathways. In addition, we showed that the overexpression of miR-423-5p increases survival and decreases metastases formation in a xenograft mouse model. Conclusions We provide evidence on the role of MALAT1 in PCa tumorigenesis and progression. Also, we identify a direct interaction between miR-423-5p and MALAT1, which results in the suppression of MALAT1 action in PCa.
The article explores the comprehensibility of court forms by providing a quantitative overview and a qualitative analysis of such syntactic characteristics as length and structure of sentences and noun phrases. The analysis is viewed in the broader context of genre characteristics of court forms, their role within legal proceedings, and their function for eliciting narratives from court users. The findings show that while the elicitation strategies are not always coherently aligned with the guidance sections, the guidance itself condenses legal and procedural information into overly complex and verbose syntactic constructions. Comprehensibility barriers are thus created through breaks in information flow, ambiguous syntactic constructions, missing information and misalignment between questions and guidance. Such comprehension challenges have a negative impact on the potential of court users to effectively engage with legal proceedings.
Continual exposure to energy dense foods is suggested to promote overeating and obesity. The aim of the present research was to explore whether or not mindfulness could reduce visual attention towards food cues. In two laboratory studies, participants with a normal weight range completed an eye-tracking paradigm, and their eye-movements were recorded. In study 1, participants were exposed to either mindfulness meditation or a control condition, and their eye-movements towards low energy density (LED) vs high energy density (HED) food cues were measured. In study 2, participants were assigned to a mindful eating condition using a Mindful Construal Diary (MCD) or a control condition, and their eye-movements towards LED or HED food vs. non-food cues were recorded. In study 1, participants in the mindfulness meditation condition had greater attention duration towards LED food cues, whilst those in the control condition exhibited greater attention duration towards HED food cues. In study 2, there were no significant differences in the maintenance of attentional biases towards food cues between the two conditions. Mindfulness meditation may be beneficial in increasing attention towards LED food cues. Future research should further explore the effect of mindfulness and mindful eating on visual attention towards food cues with people who suffer from excess weight or have obesity, and also within naturalistic settings.
This Obituary discusses the geographical contributions of Professor J.W.R. Whitehand.
This article presents findings from a small-scale qualitative study of student perceptions of a High Achievers’ Recognition Scheme in a faculty within a UK university. This scheme is unusual in UK higher education in that it provides tailored support and development for students who have been identified as high-achievers. The findings suggest students valued both the recognition and developmental aspects of the scheme and their perceptions of the benefits aligned with the scheme’s aims: enhanced personal and professional development, improved engagement, and raised aspirations. Social and individual factors were perceived to enable high-achievement, whilst some operational factors could hinder engagement with the scheme. The findings are relevant to wider understandings of approaches to support high-achieving students; an area where, currently, there is little published research from the UK. We conclude with reflections on possible ways to build support for high-achieving students through focusing on identity, agency, and community.
This article argues for a new approach to making sense of mass murder, emphasizing the urgency of recognizing the proliferation and significance of misogyny and domestic violence among perpetrators of this type of homicide. It is vital that scholarship recognizes the political economy of neoliberal patriarchy and seeks to better understand how harmful subjectivity develops in this context. We propose a new multilevel framework for the analysis of mass murder and issue a call to action for a global program of independent qualitative research and activism to tackle its drivers, prevent further harm, and save lives.
This work is an effort towards building Neural Speech Recognizers system for Quranic recitations that can be effectively used by anyone regardless of their gender and age. Despite having a lot of recitations available online, most of them are recorded by professional male adult reciters, which means that an ASR system trained on such datasets would not work for female/child reciters. We address this gap by adopting a benchmark dataset of audio records of Quranic recitations that consists of recitations by both genders from different ages. Using this dataset, we build several speaker-independent NSR systems based on the DeepSpeech model and use word error rate (WER) for evaluating them. The goal is to show how an NSR system trained and tuned on a dataset of a certain gender would perform on a test set from the other gender. Unfortunately, the number of female recitations in our dataset is rather small while the number of male recitations is much larger. In the first set of experiments, we avoid the imbalance issue between the two genders and down-sample the male part to match the female part. For this small subset of our dataset, the results are interesting with 0.968 WER when the system is trained on male recitations and tested on female recitations. The same system gives 0.406 WER when tested on male recitations. On the other hand, training the system on female recitations and testing it on male recitation gives 0.966 WER while testing it on female recitations gives 0.608 WER.
Aims To explore how older people's experiences of COVID‐19 restrictions influenced their decision to receive a vaccine and to support nurse–patient vaccination conversations. Design A longitudinal hermeneutic phenomenological study. The application of the COREQ checklist informed the reporting of this study. Methods Data were collected through semi‐structured telephone interviews with older people (age ≥70) during two national restrictions implemented in England due to COVID‐19. Phase one of interviews occurred between April and July 2020 (six interviews), and phase two of interviews between January and April 2021 (four interviews). Data analysis was performed through content analysis. Results Thirteen older people (mean age 78) worked through six stages about their thoughts and beliefs about receiving a vaccine, which encompassed four of the five elements of the 5C model of vaccine hesitancy, confidence, convenience, calculation, collective, but not complacency. Stages included ‘our only hope is a vaccine’; ‘understanding and acceptance of an effective vaccine’; ‘social responsibility to protect others’; ‘organized but left with unanswered questions’; ‘need to feel secure’ and finally ‘vaccination alone is not enough’. Conclusion The experience of COVID‐19 restrictions by older people informed their approach of engaging with scientific information to inform their decisions to be vaccinated but also developed their sense of collective responsibility to younger generations and those at risk, which informed their adherence to restrictions and the vaccination programme. Impact Nurses are optimally placed to support older people to implement and adhere to national government restrictions as appropriate and prevent obsessive routines, and support discussions and the provision of scientific information on COVID‐19 vaccinations, whilst being inclusive of older peoples' sense of collective responsibility.
Much has been written around the meaning and impact of grief and grieving on people's lives following the death of a person, and anticipatory grief/grieving is receiving increased attention in nursing and healthcare. However, the impact of anticipatory grief on an autistic male adult has received far less research exposure than that of neurotypical (non-autistic) adults. This article, ‘written’ in the form of a letter by the author to community nurses, seeks to address this. The intention is to initiate reflective discussions around anticipatory grief and grieving, as current and future support will be stimulated on the part of community nurses through dialogue between those on the autistic spectrum and community nurses. Ultimately, the aim of this article is to help improve the support provided by community nurses to autistic individuals.
This study proposes a smart long-range (LoRa) sensing node to timely collect the air quality information and update it on the cloud. The developed long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN)-based Internet of Things (IoT) air quality monitoring system (AQMS), hereafter called LoRaWAN-IoT-AQMS, was deployed in an outdoor environment to validate its reliability and effectiveness. The system is composed of multiple sensors (NO2, SO2, CO2, CO, PM2.5, temperature, and humidity), Arduino microcontroller, LoRa shield, LoRaWAN gateway, and The Thing Network (TTN) IoT platform. The LoRaWAN-IoT-AQMS is a standalone system powered continuously by a rechargeable battery with a photovoltaic solar panel via a solar charger shield for sustainable operation. Our system simultaneously gathers the considered air quality information by using the smart sensing unit. Then, the system transmits the information through the gateway to the TTN platform, which is integrated with the ThingSpeak IoT server. This action updates the collected data and displays these data on a developed Web-based dashboard and a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that uses the Virtuino mobile application. Thus, the displayed information can be easily accessed by users via their smartphones. The results obtained by the developed LoRaWAN-IoT-AQMS are validated by comparing them with experimental results based on the high-technology Aeroqual air quality monitoring devices. Our system can reliably monitor various air quality indicators and efficiently transmit the information in real time over the Internet.
This study aimed to identify predictors of single word spelling performance in children using a novel test containing regular words, irregular words and pseudowords. We assessed reading ability, letter-sound knowledge, phonological awareness (PA) and rapid automatised naming (RAN) in children aged 4–12 years (N = 641). Mixed model analyses with hierarchical nested data were conducted with Year_group (Yr R to Yr 6) included as a factor, PA and RAN as predictors, and reading and letter-sound knowledge as covariates. For irregular word spelling, PA and RAN were significant predictors, but the associations were dependent upon the year the children attended. Interestingly, for regular words and pseudowords PA was not significantly related. For pseudowords, only RAN was a significant predictor and only in Yr 2. We argue that a better understanding of spelling development can be achieved using tools that distinguish between regular and irregular words and pseudowords, as different processes seem to be associated with the different types of letter string across the variable levels of spelling experience.
Introduction: Lack of time, management support, insufficient facilitates, workload balance, and culture are often reported as common barriers to physical activity (PA) participation in the workplace. In comparison, identifying facilitators of PA in the workplace are scarce. A 'one-size-fits-all' approach to overcoming the barriers may also be unsuccessful within university settings where multidisciplinary workforce exists due to the heterogeneity nature of job roles. Thus, the aim of this study was to understand the perceived barriers and facilitators of PA of university employees who were classified as active or inactive based on their job roles. Methods: Forty-one employees (female = 17; male = 24) participated in focus groups to discuss their perceived barriers and facilitators to PA in the workplace. Participants were categorised based on their PA levels as active and inactive prior analysing the semi-structured focus groups data via using thematic analysis. Results and discussion: The results showed that a lack of time was reported by 80% of the participants as a barrier to PA, including 63% inactive and 17% of the active participants. This included 27% administrators' staff, 23% academics, 19% senior management, and 11% professional service staff. Over 75% participants reported a lack of management support as one of the perceived barriers to their PA engagement in the workplace. Approximately 58% also reported workplace culture as a barrier to PA participation. Open access to a gym on campus was perceived to be the main facilitator to engaging in PA in the future. Similarly, increased management support for engaging in PA and having flexibility during working days were perceived as facilitators for PA engagement and a way to reduced sedentary behaviour in the workplace. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the limited literature in terms of evaluating obstacles and facilitators of university employees to encourage engagement with PA in the workplace. These findings can be applied to form PA, health, and wellbeing-related interventions specifically targeting these identified barriers that are experienced in the workplace and thereby potentially reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.
This paper presents findings from an evaluation of a social prescribing service, undertaken between January 2019 and December 2020. Data was collected through interviews and focus groups with a range of groups including social prescribing managers, link workers (LWs), referrers (GPs and social work practitioners), clients, Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) agencies and groups. Thematic analysis of data was undertaken, and findings were presented in respect of clients' journeys into social prescribing; the support received from LWs; their onward journeys to VCS support. The findings highlight the challenges for individuals in contacting new agencies/groups and the importance of practitioner referral into and onwards from social prescribing, as well as buddying to support clients on initial agency visits. The depth of the LW role is highlighted, as well as the complexity of client circumstances, highlighting a need for ‘more than signposting’, and challenging the notion of self‐referral as an indicator of motivation. Social prescribing has been positioned as amongst the solutions to the challenges of primary care. However, referrals from GPs were low and significantly outnumbered by those from social workers; this suggests a need to explore in greater depth the use of social prescribing by social workers, who have, to date, been absent from social prescribing research.
An advanced persistent threatAdvanced persistent threat, (APTAPT), is an attack that uses multiple attack behavior to penetrate a system, achieve specifically targeted and highly valuable goals within a system. This type of attack has presented an increasing concern for cyber-security and business continuity. The resource availability, integrity, and confidentiality of the operational cyber-physical systems’ (CPS) state and control are highly impacted by the safety and security measures adopted. In this study, we propose a framework based on deep APT steps analysis and correlation, of APTs approach abbreviated as “APT-DASACAPT-DASAC”, for securing industrial control systems (ICSs) against APTs. This approach takes into consideration the distributed and multi-level nature of ICS architecture and reflects on multi-step APT attack lifecycle. We validated the framework with three case studies: (i) network transactions between a remote terminal unit (RTU)Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) and a master control unit (MTU)Master Control Unit (MTU) within a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADASCADA) gas pipeline control system, (ii) a case study of command and response injection attacks, and (iii) a scenario based on network traffic containing hybrid of the real modern normal and the contemporary synthesized attack activities of the network traffic. Based on the achieved result, we show that the proposed approach achieves a significant attack detection capability and demonstrates that attack detection techniques that performed very well in one application domain may not yield the same result in another. Hence, robustness and resilience of operational CPS state or any system and performance are determined by the security measures in place, which is specific to the application system and domain.
With the discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine, what has always been worrying the decision-makers is related to the distribution management, the vaccination centers' location, and the inventory control of all types of vaccines. As the COVID-19 vaccine is highly demanded, planning for its fair distribution is a must. University is one of the most densely populated areas in a city, so it is critical to vaccinate university students so that the spread of this virus is curbed. As a result, in the present study, a new stochastic multi-objective, multi-period, and multi-commodity simulation-optimization model has been developed for the COVID-19 vaccine's production, distribution, location, allocation, and inventory control decisions. In this study, the proposed supply chain network includes four echelons of manufacturers, hospitals, vaccination centers, and volunteer vaccine students. Vaccine manufacturers send the vaccines to the vaccination centers and hospitals after production. The students with a history of special diseases such as heart disease, corticosteroids, blood clots, etc. are vaccinated in hospitals because of accessing more medical care, and the rest of the students are vaccinated in the vaccination centers. Then, a system dynamic structure of the prevalence of COVID -19 in universities is developed and the vaccine demand is estimated using simulation, in which the demand enters the mathematical model as a given stochastic parameter. Thus, the model pursues some goals, namely, to minimize supply chain costs, maximize student desirability for vaccination, and maximize justice in vaccine distribution. To solve the proposed model, Variable Neighborhood Search (VNS) and Whale Optimization Algorithm (WOA) algorithms are used. In terms of novelties, the most important novelties in the simulation model are considering the virtual education and exerted quarantine effect on estimating the number of the vaccines. In terms of the mathematical model, one of the remarkable contributions is paying attention to social distancing while receiving the injection and the possibility of the injection during working and non-working hours, and regarding the novelties in the solution methodology, a new heuristic method based on a meta-heuristic algorithm called Modified WOA with VNS (MVWOA) is developed. In terms of the performance metrics and the CPU time, the MOWOA is discovered with a superior performance than other given algorithms. Moreover, regarding the data, a case study related to the COVID-19 pandemic period in Tehran/Iran is provided to validate the proposed algorithm. The outcomes indicate that with the demand increase, the costs increase sharply while the vaccination desirability for students decreases with a slight slope.
The following review focuses upon the book Robbery in the illegal drugs trade: Violence and Vengeance by Robert McLean and James Densley. A full version of the text is available to view via this link:
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14,764 members
Silvio Aldrovandi
  • Department of Psychology
Monica Mateo-Garcia
  • Birmingham School of the Built Environment
Eugene Nulman
  • Department of Criminology and Sociology
Andrew Dennis Powell
  • Department of Health Sciences
John Mellor-Clark
  • Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CHSCR)
Curzon Street, B4 7XG, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Head of institution
Philip Plowden
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