2023 in the news from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Our world leading research stories have been seen right across the world so here’s a taste of  some of our most popular and interesting stories from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health in 2023. Enjoy!

2023 Year in review

In December, we published the heartwarming news of a very special graduation. Mother of three Eliza Varga was the first recipient of the Sally Bradley Memorial Prize, given to high achieving students studying public health. She  came to the UK from Hungary in 2005 to graduate with a Master in Public Health at the University, receiving a distinction.

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Our study from November,  linked deprivation with risk of dying from sepsis. The most socioeconomically deprived groups in society are nearly twice as likely to die from sepsis within 30 days,. The study of NHS data analysed 248,767 cases of non-COVID-19 sepsis from January 2019, to June, 2022 matched with 1,346,166 controls.


In October we reported how our scientists discovered widespread differences in metal levels in the brains of patients with Huntington’s Disease, a type of dementia, compared to a control group with healthy tissue. In a study published in eBioMedicine, the elements, including selenium (a metalloid), sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, were studied in 11 parts of the brain.


In September, you heard how Manchester researchers developed the first reliable test for dementia in people with hearing loss.  One in 11 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK, and more than 75% of people over 75 have hearing problems. This means hearing loss commonly occurs alongside dementia.


At The University of Manchester, scientists have developed new models to investigate brain haemorrhages that would replace the use of mammals in early studies. In August, we reported how from  a fish to a dish, animal alternatives are advancing stroke research.

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In July, we learned how  to improve the  accuracy of predictive breast cancer genetic test for Ashkenazi Jewish women. New forms of genetic tests can tell women their personal risk of developing breast cancer. However, previous research has shown they are not accurate for many Black, Asian or Ashkenazi Jewish women, or women with a mixed ethnic background.

breast cancer

The story of how women in Victorian match factories fought against the brutal use of white phosphorus, was instrumental in shaping today’s workers’ rights featured in June. Phossy jaw, which resulted in horrific facial injuries, was directly caused by the chemical to make ‘strike-anywhere’ or ‘Lucifer matches’ in the late nineteenth century by companies including Bryant and May.


Patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions are vulnerable to long term opioid use we reported in May. Up to 1 in 3 with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia starting an opioid for the first time may be at risk, our researchers warned


The worrying news that burnout in GPs has been linked to higher antibiotic and strong opioid prescribing, especially in the more deprived areas of the North of England, our researchers was published in April. The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice linked the prescribing behaviour of GPs to signs of burnout such as emotional exhaustion, feeling detached from colleagues and patients, lower job dissatisfaction, working longer hours and intentions to leave your job.


Schoolchildren in March from across Greater Manchester flocked to Manchester Museum to see what was on offer for the annual British Science week from 10 – 19 of March. One highlight was the stall organised by The University of Manchester’s Biological Services Facility (BSF) – otherwise known as the animal research unit.

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In February, we learned how people living in urban areas report significantly worse hay fever symptoms according to the first study to compare pollution levels with the severity and duration of real-time symptoms. The University of Manchester led team studied 36,145 symptom reports submitted over 5 years – from 2016 to 2020 - by over 700 Britons using a citizen science application called Britain Breathing.


And in January, we reported how A new study by University of Manchester researchers revealed the stark impact that high turnover of GPs has on patients’ health outcomes and the service they receive in England. The analysis found that ‘persistent high turnover’, defined by the researchers as when more than 10% of GPs changed in a practice in at least 3 consecutive years - was not uncommon.


Happy Christmas!