Fishery guidance and brain repair: News from Imperial

Credit: Shafina Vohtra
Credit: Shafina Vohtra
Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From new guidance to help sustainable fishery management, to research that suggests our circadian ’biological’ clock may help brain growth and repair, here is some quick-read news from across Imperial.

Fisheries guide

Small-scale fisheries account for 40% of global fish catch and employ more than 90% of the world’s fishers, defining the livelihoods, nutrition, and culture of a substantial and diverse segment of humankind. In recent decades collaborative forms of fisheries management, including co-management with national governments, have gained popularity as the most appropriate, fair, and effective form of governance for small-scale fisheries.

Yet co-management can succeed or fail, and implementation does not mean positive impacts for food security, nutrition, livelihoods, or biodiversity. Nor does it imply programmes will respect human rights, gender equality, or principles of justice and equity. Fewer management programs implemented well might achieve far more than many implemented poorly, and poorly implemented co-management can be worse than no management.

To this end, researchers have created a guide designed to assist practitioners in understanding the latest research on what constitutes successful fisheries co-management, and how to reach this objective. The Fisheries Co-Management Guidebook was led by WorldFish and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and includes work by Imperial’s Dr Morena Mills , in the Centre for Environmental Policy.

Axonal regeneration clocks in

Scientists from the Department of Brain Sciences have discovered that the circadian clock regulates axonal regeneration and repair.

The authors found that DRG sensory neurons have an endogenous molecular clock which optimises axonal regeneration in a mouse model of sciatic nerve injury. The researchers also demonstrated that axonal regeneration can be promoted using chrono-active drugs, such as lithium, which is currently used in the clinics for treating neurological disorders.

These findings pave the way for the use of clock-associated therapies and timed neurorehabilitation for people with Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) injuries.

Dr Francesco De Virgiliis, University of Geneva and Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Brain Sciences said: "Our study shows that the circadian clock regulates axonal regeneration, and we were able to exploit this mechanism by repurposing lithium, a chrono-active drug used for neurological disorders, to promote regeneration. Importantly, our findings put forth the concept of timed therapies and neurorehabilitation to improve nerve repair."

Read the full paper in Cell Metabolism.

Global teacher prize

Shafina Vohra, a PhD candidate in the Dyson School of Engineering, reached the top ten in the Global Teacher Prize 2023 . The prize - awarded annually by the Varkey Foundation and in collaboration with Dubai Cares and UNESCO - aims to acknowledge the impact of the best teachers on their students and the communities around them.

This year saw over 7,000 nominations from 130 countries, and Shafina was declared within the top ten at the prize ceremony in Paris. Her work incorporates Lego as a learning aid in the classroom and she has also developed a free programme for primary schools to foster innovation, as well as tutoring students in the Dyson School of Engineering. She will be part of the Varkey global team to drive future innovation and change within the teaching industry.

Shafina said: "I still can’t believe that I was standing on the UNESCO stage facing a global audience of education ministers and delegates from all over the world. Being a top ten finalist still hasn’t sunk in, but I have been approached by many to work alongside them in shaping education on many fronts."

UNESCO have published a first-of-its-kind report on teaching ’ Global report on teachers: addressing teacher shortages. ’