Interdisciplinary blog

IfLS EPSRC Summer Bursaries 2014

July 1, 2014
by Rachel Greenhill

Rachel Greenhill – ‘Optimising the analysis of biomarkers to indicate metabolic changes in loaded soft tissues’

I’m a Chemistry student moving into the 3rd year of my Masters. I’ll be working with both Prof. Dan Bader and Dr. John Langley to optimise the analysis of metabolites in sweat obtained from both loaded and unloaded tissues using various separation sciences and mass spectrometry. I specifically wanted to work on an analytical research project, as I have a keen interest in this area, so I’m looking forward to gaining invaluable experience in analytical science.


Pressure ulcers (PU) result from sustained mechanical pressure on soft tissues, leading to ischemia, and the potential breakdown of the tissue. PUs often occur in many clinical conditions, e.g in bedridden or chair confined patients, and in addition to being a disabling chronic condition, greatly affecting a patients quality of life, the UK spends £4 billion per year in associated treatment. 

 Prevention of pressure ulcers requires early detection of changes in the soft tissue to be effective. This project looks to develop a non-invasive approach to examining loaded skin tissues, via the analysis of biomarkers in sweat, such as lactate, urate and purines, which have previously been shown to be elevated in loading and reperfusion periods. We intend to optimise the conditions in ultra high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS) to determine the limits of detection for the metabolites with the aim of creating a standard operating procedure for purine detection.

Rachel Greenhill blog image

This work will support the EPSRC/NIHR HTC Partnership Award: “Medical devices and vulnerable skin: Optimising safety in design”, and will hopefully go on to provide a starting reference for a preventative biosensor for soft tissues damage. On a personal level, next year I’ll be undertaking a practical project for the duration of the year, and in my final year I’ll be conducting research as a guest in another university abroad during a 6 month placement, so the knowledge and skills obtained over this summer will be highly beneficial and I believe will help me make the most of these future opportunities.

Categories: Blog. Tags: DAN BADER, epsrc, idr, IFLS, interdisciplinary, interdisciplinary research, JOHN LANGLEY, rachel greenhill, research, University of Southampton, and vacation bursaries.