Project title: Bioengineering Robust Mitochondrial Membranes to combat Neurodegenerative Disorders
Degenerative diseases of the brain, like Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), afflict tens of millions of people around the world. With increased life expectancy, the number of cases are rising rapidly worldwide, meaning that such maladies pose major health and economic burdens on societies. Yet, no therapies are available that are able to prevent, or slow down, the inexorable decline in brain function. Both AD and PD are widely thought to be driven by the clumping together of cellular building blocks called proteins, into toxic ‘amyloid’ aggregates which wreak havoc in the brain. In this research project, we will address the question of whether the aggregates selectively target mitochondria, the energy-generating powerhouses of brain cells. We will explore precisely how mitochondria are rendered vulnerable to insult by amyloid aggregates. Further, we aim to identify a new class of compounds that can recharge mitochondria and prevent neurodegeneration. The proposed research project will hopefully bring relief to patients suffering from these devastating diseases a step closer to reality.
Dr Marie Briguglio, Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy
In recent years the rate of environmental degradation in terms of land exploitation, waste generation, water depletion, climate change and air pollution has accelerated at unprecedented levels. This is particularly salient in a small island state like Malta, whose limited stock of natural resources and high population density renders it particularly susceptible to environmental problems. Economists consider this to be mainly the result of a failure of free-markets to reflect the true costs of consumption and production. This, in turn, leads to economic losses in the longer term. As such, government intervention is required to readdress consumption and production decisions. The key question is how to do so effectively. The aim of this project is to analyse the various drivers and barriers of pro-environmental behaviours in domestic and business contexts in Malta. This makes it possible to build an integrated framework of the key determinants of environmental choices and, in turn, to design interventions that are effective in encouraging better environmental quality, informed by behavioural economics.
Recent advances in power electronics applied to commercial aircraft technology has brought about an increase in aircraft electrical systems (actuation, wing ice protection, environmental control and fuel pumping). The study in this project shall focus on the simulation of a More Electric Aircraft (MEA) power system to determine the optimal configuration in power generation, distribution (energy management) and end use. The research shall be concerned with both the generation systems and the electrical loads (power converters and electrical machines) and shall look into AC and/or DC distributed power systems or a hybrid combination allowing for flexible system reconfiguration aimed at achieving efficient operation. The study shall analyse the aircraft's electrical power operation for different flight mission scenarios with the aim to achieve stable and efficient operation whilst meeting the relevant power quality standards. The project duration is that of 24 months.
Co-applicants: Dr. Ing. Maurice Apap and Dr. Ing. Christopher Micallef