Gut bugs and e-politics: News from the College


An illustration of gut flora in the intestines

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

It’s been a busy week of news at Imperial, and it’s not letting up quite yet. From an investigation into the microbiome, to a look of broadband’s impact on politics, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Gut bugs

BacteriaImperial researchers are joining forces with the renowned Quadram Institute to investigate how the naturally-occurring bugs in the gut affect our metabolism.

Our intestines house a vast ecosystem of microorganisms, call the microbiome, which are thought to have a role in many conditions – from obesity to diabetes. The new collaboration will investigate how food interacts with the microbiome – and triggers our gut to send signals that influence metabolism. The collaboration is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Gary Frost, who will lead the collaboration said: “We are very proud to be part of the Quadram Institute’s strategic research programme, and will be working in partnership with the institute over the next four years.”

Engineering solutions

A maser beam deviceResearchers at Imperial are taking theoretical work on quantum physics and using this to develop novel engineering solutions in fields like space exploration, cryptography and computing.

These include highly sensitive vibration sensors, built using quantum technology, which NASA is using to measure earthquakes on Mars. Other examples include cryptography that takes advantage of the fact that measuring quantum data changes it, and random number generators that are genuinely random because they make use of quantum uncertainty.

For an accessible and exciting in-depth look at the range of quantum technology work at Imperial, read the first in our series of long-form features celebrating our cross-disciplinary research and the ways it is being translated into benefits for industry and society.

Rosalind Franklin Institute launch

Rosalind Franklin InstituteThe long-awaited Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) launched this month. The £103m government-backed venture brings together researchers with expertise in engineering, medicine and technology to push the boundaries of UK science.

Among the first wave of projects include advanced real-time video cameras for use in cancer therapy, ‘hands free’ drug discovery and manufacturing lab, as well as efforts to harness the power of AI to speed up drug development.

The institute is funded through the EPSRC and operated by ten UK universities, including Imperial. With a focus on diagnostics, drug discovery, AI and robotics, experts hope the RFI “will revolutionise the way we do biology”.


Professor Tommaso VallettiA team of researchers including the Business School’s Professor Tommaso Valletti have discovered that the spread of broadband internet has reduced voter turnout in UK local elections.

The research shows that, while the internet theoretically offers voters plenty of information on local events, such news tends to be drowned out by less informative content. The result is a decrease in political engagement, particularly among poorer, younger and less educated voters.

As a result, Professor Valletti said: “In areas with greater broadband proliferation, councils are cutting funds to social services and reducing council tax rates.”

Read the full article: The internet is killing voter turnout

Imperial Today email on a tablet deviceWant to be kept up to date on news at Imperial?

Sign up for our free quick-read daily e-newsletter, Imperial Today



Andrew Youngson

Andrew Youngson
Communications Division


Strategy-share-the-wonder, News-in-brief
See more tags