Archives for posts with tag: Aston University

Dr. Ian Maidment of Aston University has co-authored a significant piece of medical research published recently in the British Medical Journal: Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study

It found that routine medicines, including common antidepressants, bladder drugs and anti-Parkinson’s medication (others noted on BBC report), taken by hundreds of thousands of people, increase their risk of dementia by up to a third.

These medicines account for tens of thousands of cases of dementia and doctors need to use them more sparingly.

This comprehensive study adds weight to the 2014 research findings, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, that cumulative anticholinergic use is associated with an increased risk for dementia.

Dr. Maidment said: “In the last 20 years the number of older individuals taking five or more medicines has quadrupled. Many of these medicines will have some anticholinergic activity and, in the light of today’s findings, we have to consider whether the risks of dementia outweigh the benefits from taking a cocktail of prescribed drugs.”

He added that the focus should be on “de-prescribing”, adding: “Doctors, nurses and pharmacists need to work with older people and their carers to ensure that they take medication only if the benefits clearly outweigh the harms.”

See the BBC News reports here.

Note also years of research findings on the effects of anticholinergic insecticides/pesticides on human health. See a free report in Toxicological Sciences, Volume 94 (OUP).






Exol Lubricants, based in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, won an Award of Excellence from the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) for its commitment to the waterways. It was presented to Exol sales director and IAAF CV Committee chairman Steve Dunn at the Freight Transport Association Multimodal awards in front of more than 600 guests.

Exol has become a recognised user of the waterways, investing in this environmentally-friendly alternative to transport large loads. There is a practical advantage to using one barge rather than 25 lorries: as they have to test the arriving oil before it is unloaded, one barge load is easier to test than 25 lorry loads.  

Waterways transport is part of the company’s larger strategy to reduce its carbon footprint: something it is keen to promote to students on Aston University’s career and placements programme in which Exol is a partner.

The CBOA said it recognises Exol’s vision, commitment and good business sense in introducing a new barge, Exol Pride, to the North East waterways to transport raw materials from the port of Hull to its bulk-blending plant at Rotherham, Yorkshire. David Lowe, CBOA chairman, said: “The Award of Excellence – CBOA’s highest honour – acknowledges Exol’s significant contribution towards developing inland waterway transport in the UK and promoting this means of shipping within its industry. Many congratulations to the company.”

Left to right: David Gower (host, former English cricket captain), Steve Dunn Exol Sales Director, Dr David Quarmby CBE (CBOA  ), and Mark Field, Marketing Manager

Steve Dunn, Exol Lubricants sales director, said: “This continued investment in the waterways is part of our larger strategy of reducing our carbon footprint and exploring ways to protect the environment. We’re delighted to receive such prestigious recognition from CBOA and will continue to develop our contribution to barge transport.”

Exol is the largest independent lubricants company in the UK, manufacturing and supplying a range of lubricants and associated products to the automotive, commercial vehicle, agricultural, industrial, off highway and railway sectors from its bulk-blending plant in Rotherham.






Could Aston University engineers transform this award-winning building into another ‘state of the art building utilising 21st century technology for its energy and heating and cooling systems’?

In eight Birmingham wards over a quarter of adults are unemployed. Birmingham Chamber of Commerce president Steve Brittan is reported to have said: “These figures again represent the skills deficit which is affecting the region. Businesses need a simplified route into the multitude of initiatives to help them gain access to a skilled workforce.”

Brittan’s comment shows a lamentable lack of insight. In a recent post Cllr John Clancy recognised the need for investment to enable MSME ‘startups’ and expansion and outlined policies to achieve this.

But many of Birmingham’s most experienced teachers and social workers will go further and seek the means to break the cycle of deprivation which renders a significant proportion of our young people unemployable due to lack of skills and/or motivation. A colleague, who set up a successful employment project in the city which took referrals only from social services, said that the first hurdle was for the youngsters to actually get up and get to the centre on time.

Aston’s J8 Precision tried to bridge the skills gap by training two apprentice engineers, but they both left before completing their training.

aston engineering academy logo

Professor David Bailey directs attention to the Aston University Engineering Academy for 14-19 years olds, which was established due to the belief that the development of young people with the right skills and knowledge in engineering at all levels, is essential for the future economic prosperity of the UK.

At AUEA all students learn core engineering knowledge, skills and understanding, including practical skills essential for progression. Mathematics and science are applied to the engineering curriculum making the learning ‘real’ and relevant. All students complete work placements in engineering.

Industry partners host a variety of experiences and activities including visits to industrial premises, industrial placements, shadowing an employee, setting up industry days at AUEA, simulations and problem solving tasks. Learn more at the open evening on Wednesday 20th November 2013.

But could youngsters born into dysfunctional families ever hope to be accepted for entry into this academy?

broken youth

The vicious cycle – largely a result of intergenerational unemployment – will only be broken by substantial investment in greatly enhanced and extended modification of programmes like Sure Start which has had a positive effect but caters only for children under five years of age.

As the most deeply inadequate parents would be unlikely to attend the centres, children in need of extra support and guidance would have to be referred from and assisted in primary & secondary schools.

This investment would be socially and economically beneficial. To politicians who say it would be too expensive to contemplate, and skilled workers can be imported, we reply that the initial outlay would be paid back with interest as the costs of coping with crime, mental illness and addiction fell and tax revenues rose in line with increased employment.

greenhouse header

In a generally dismal period for public services, and indeed for the very idea of the public sphere, the opening in September of the new Library of Birmingham has been one bright spot – according to the Green House think tank.

Dr John Blewitt FRSA, Aston University, is the organiser & chair of an event to be held on the 14 November 2013. As part of the opening series events celebrating the opening of the Library of Birmingham, the independent think tank The Green House will be presenting its far reaching ideas on public policy as expressed in its latest discussion paper Smaller But Better? Post Growth Public Services. Green House presenters will include Dr Andrew Pearmain, Mr Brian Heatley (paper author, former senior civil servant) and Professor Andrew Dobson.

There will then be a discussion with Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts, and representatives of Birmingham City Council, UNISON and Aston University. Click for further details.

aston business school event venueThe venue is the dark building on the left

Studio Theatre, Library of BirminghamBook Here