Research

Latest research news

Read our latest news to discover how research at Edinburgh is making an impact on the wider world.

Test centre to bring tidal technology on stream

FASTBLADE - Test centre to bring tidal technology stream
A £2.4 million engineering research facility will seek to speed the development of materials and structures for tidal energy, transport and other industries.

Supercomputer sheds light on how droplets merge

Scientists have revealed the precise molecular mechanisms that cause drops of liquid to combine, in a discovery that could have a range of applications.

Male fish can thank genes for colourful looks

Striking traits seen only in males of some species – such as colourful peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are partly explained by gene behaviour, research suggests.

Philosophy hub is good for thought, experts say

Key life skills that pupils can learn from philosophy are available from a new online hub.

Centres spread word on bilingualism benefits

More people in the US are to be supported and encouraged to speak more than one language thanks to the expansion of an Edinburgh initiative.

Scientists shed light on make-up of Earth’s core

Experiments conducted at extreme conditions are giving scientists new insights into the chemical make-up of the Earth’s core.

Records prompt rethink of evolution milestone

Scientists are rethinking a major milestone in animal evolution, after gaining fresh insights into how life on Earth diversified millions of years ago.

£79m supercomputer set to boost UK capability

The University is to host a £79 million national supercomputer that will be five times quicker than the UK’s current capabilities.

Arts and PE help pupils to thrive at school

Pupils who enjoy physical education and the arts take part in school life more fully than those who do not, a study suggests.

Women’s rights more likely to feature in peace deals

Women’s rights are increasingly being incorporated into peace processes despite being historically overlooked in agreements, research says.

Immigration proposals may cut Scots workforce

The number of workers in Scotland could fall by up to five per cent over the next two decades, a study suggests.

Believing your partner cares is good for health

Having an attentive partner can significantly improve your long-term health and even life expectancy, research suggests.

Land use delays could hamper climate efforts

Global climate change targets are unlikely to be met because of delays in changes to land use, Edinburgh researchers say.

Aquaculture consortium tackles industry challenges

A major research collaboration between academic and industry scientists aims to boost selective breeding of stocks of vital UK aquaculture species.

Films portray migrants’ memories in new light

Stories of Jewish immigrants who made Scotland their home have been brought to life in a series of short films.

Researchers join prestigious leadership scheme

Three Edinburgh academics have been selected to take part in a new programme for emerging leaders in the field of medical sciences.

Physicists play key role in nuclear project

A study of the Universe involving Edinburgh physicists could help to improve global security.

Iron-rich planet formed after worlds collided

A head-on collision between distant worlds led to the formation of an iron-rich planet nearly ten times as heavy as Earth, a study shows.

Most Scots children face early life adversity

Two thirds of children in Scotland experience an adverse life event – such as domestic violence or parental drug misuse – before the age of eight, research suggests.

Sea salt could help beat a cold, study suggests

A simple sea salt water solution could help reduce the symptoms of a cold, research suggests.

Couples sought for male contraception trial

Couples in Edinburgh and Manchester are being invited to take part in trials of a new form of male contraception.

Digital career advisor boosts prospects for jobless

A new online search tool could improve job seekers’ prospects by offering them career advice as well as a list of vacancies.

Hen eggs set to crack future drug production

Chickens that are genetically modified to produce human proteins in their eggs can offer a cost-effective method of producing certain types of drugs, research suggests.

Brain cell changes in people with MS revealed

Fresh insights into the types of cells found in the brains of people with multiple sclerosis could help develop improved therapies, research has found.

Long-read DNA analysis can give rise to errors

Advanced technologies that read long strings of DNA can produce flawed data that could affect genetic studies, research suggests.

North Sea rocks could act as energy stores

Rocks in the seabed off the UK coast could provide long-term storage locations for renewable energy production, new research suggests.

Gene changes may predict breast cancer relapse

Scientists have identified genetic changes that may predict the likelihood of breast cancer relapse in women taking a common type of hormone therapy.

DNA may predict potential lifespan, study finds

Scientists say they can predict whether a person can expect to live longer or die sooner than average, by looking at their DNA.

Immune cells linked to high blood pressure

Scientists have pinpointed cells in the immune system that could be key to tackling high blood pressure.

City gardens help pollinating insects thrive

Gardens and allotments in towns and cities are a haven for insects that help plants to flourish, research has shown.

Scans reveal how world’s first dogs caught prey

Analysis of the skulls of lions, wolves and hyenas has helped scientists uncover how prehistoric dogs hunted 40 million years ago.

Love for animals linked to genetic difference

Scientists have uncovered a genetic difference in people who show greater compassion for animals.

Edinburgh celebrates saltire success

​​​​​​​A book written by an English Literature and Book History scholar has won a prestigious Saltire Society Award.  

AI scientists team up with Japanese experts

University scientists are to collaborate with three major Japanese research institutes on artificial intelligence and robotics.

Study sheds light on how people form memories

People could be helped to recall information more readily by a new study that reveals the various ways that we remember things.

Rare disorder insight may aid therapy search

Fresh discoveries about a rare genetic disorder that affects mainly boys may inform the development of therapies to treat the condition.

Stroke trial finds drug does not aid recovery

Stroke patients prescribed a common antidepressant show no improvement compared with those given a dummy drug, a study has found.

Books on wealth creation tap into aspirations

Books that offer financial advice have enduring appeal because they speak to readers’ emotions in a way that get-rich-quick schemes cannot, research suggests.

Stem cell bid set to tackle osteoarthritis

Patients with osteoarthritis could be set to benefit from an inventive stem cell technique being tested by doctors.

Cave paintings reveal use of complex astronomy

Some of the world’s oldest cave paintings have revealed how ancient people had relatively advanced knowledge of astronomy.

Astronomers discover new binary star system

A new type of star system has been discovered by an international team of scientists.

Antarctica’s hidden landscape shaped by rivers

Antarctica’s mountainous landscape was shaped by rivers rather than carved by glaciers as previously thought, a study has revealed.

Parasite study could aid efforts to treat malaria

Malaria parasites know good times from bad and plan their offspring accordingly, scientists have found, in a development that could inform new treatments.

Tobacco availability raises smoking in pregnancy

Women are more likely to smoke during pregnancy if they live in areas with lots of shops selling cigarettes, a study shows.

Nano-scale process may usher in cheaper products

An inexpensive way to make products incorporating nanoparticles – such as high-performance energy devices or sophisticated diagnostic tests – has been developed by researchers.

Intense tests reveal elusive form of element

An unusually complex form of one of the most abundant chemical elements on Earth has been revealed in the lab for the first time.

Fish immune cells lend clues to spinal repair

Fresh insights into how zebrafish repair their damaged nerve connections could aid the development of therapies for people with spinal cord injuries.

Gene find could pave way for disease-resistant crops

Discovery of a gene that helps plants control their response to disease could aid efforts to develop crops that are resistant to infection, research suggests.

Baby names reveal quest for individuality

Choosing a baby’s name that is distinctive is becoming harder, research reveals. 

Cancer drug insight could lead to new therapies

A new way of identifying potential cancer drugs could streamline the development of therapies, following a discovery by scientists.

Lung imaging probe is safe for patient use

Imaging technology that detects deadly pneumonia infections in under 60 seconds is safe and practical for clinical use, a study has found.

Codebreaker’s legacy could speed diagnosis

Unpublished work by Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing could aid development of better tests for early diagnosis of cancer and emerging diseases.

Royal visit gives Bayes Centre seal of approval

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has officially opened a world-leading centre of expertise in data science and artificial intelligence (AI).

Vaccine shows promise against chicken disease

A new vaccine strategy could offer protection to millions of chickens threatened by a serious respiratory disease, research shows. 

Smart systems give edge to battlefield decisions

Technology that can process vast streams of information from military intelligence sources is being developed by scientists and engineers.

Ovarian cancer drug delays relapse

Women with a type of ovarian cancer caused by mutations in their DNA could be helped by a drug that slows progression of the disease.

Alcohol-related liver disease patients need more care

​​​​​​​Patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) tend to have worse outcomes than others following a stay in intensive care, research shows.

Clues that suggest lying may be deceptive

The verbal and physical signs of lying are harder to detect than people believe, a study suggests.

Affable apes live longer, study shows

​​​​​​​Male chimps that are less aggressive and form strong social bonds tend to live longer, research suggests.

Statins show little promise for conditions other than heart disease

​​​​​​​Medicines commonly prescribed to reduce people’s risk of heart attack may have limited use for treating other diseases, research suggests.

Projects in running for innovation prize

Two Edinburgh research projects are in contention for a leading prize that focuses on challenges faced by the developing world.

Malaria parasites adapt to mosquito meal times

Malaria parasites have evolved to be most infectious at the time of day when mosquitoes feed, to maximise the chance of being spread, research shows.

Rugby star’s pledge aids bid to find new MND therapies

Scientists are to use lab tests to investigate whether drugs that already treat a range of conditions could help people with motor neurone disease.

Centre of expertise to tackle forest challenges

Experts are joining forces to address issues facing the world’s forests, which are under increasing pressure from changing climates and growing demand for resources.

Industry partnership to boost engine research

Scientists at the University are to benefit from an initiative that seeks to build links between industry and researchers.

Arctic plants grow taller amid warming climate

Plants in the Arctic are growing taller because of climate change, according to research from a global scientific collaboration.

Outdoor study lends insight into flower timing

Research on plants grown outdoors has revealed new activity of a key gene that controls when flowers appear.

Data Lab benefits from £13.5m funding boost

Scotland’s data innovation centre, hosted at the University, has secured up to £13.5 million in Scottish Government funding.

Risk of veering off-topic in chat rises with age

People are more likely to deviate off topic during conversation, the older they become, research suggests.

Breast milk may help babies’ brain development

Babies born before their due date show better brain development when fed breast milk rather than formula, a study has found.

Archive lifts lid on Victorian ragged schools

They became a byword for Victorian education’s worst excesses, now newly discovered pupils’ accounts suggest so-called ragged schools were not all doom and gloom.

Strength-based exercises could help child obesity fight

​​​​​​​Encouraging young people to do strength-based exercises – such as squats, push ups and lunges – could play a key role in tackling child obesity, research suggests.

Blood test could aid cattle health and productivity

​​​​​​​A simple blood test could be used in the future to predict the health and productivity of dairy cows, research shows.

Findings could help manage lupus in Africans

Two variants of a disease that affects thousands but is hard to diagnose are relatively common among black Africans, research shows.

Award gives Edinburgh creative edge

​​​​​​​An initiative that seeks to make Edinburgh a world-class centre for the creative industries has received a multi-million pound boost.

MND affects thinking in up to 80 per cent of patients, study finds

Four out of five people with motor neuron disease are likely to experience changes in their brain function, as well as impaired movement, research suggests.

Power of vibrations could inspire novel devices

Ultra-fast vibrations can be used to heat tiny amounts of liquid, experts have found, in a discovery that could have a range of engineering applications.

Fossil teeth show how reptiles adapted to change

Marine predators that lived in deep waters during the Jurassic Period thrived as sea levels rose, while species that dwelled in the shallows died out, research suggests.

Depression may raise risk of heart attack and stroke

People with symptoms of anxiety and depression may have a greater risk of heart attack and stroke, a study has found.

Stem cell liver implants show promise

Liver tissue grown from stem cells could one day replace the need for transplants, research suggests.

Imaging advance to speed quest for cell therapies

Cancer treatments that involve transplanting cells into patients could move forward faster thanks to a new imaging system.

Scans cut heart attack rates and save lives

Heart scans for patients with chest pains could save thousands of lives in the UK, research suggests.

Emissions in savannas triple previous estimates

Widespread tree felling in African savannas is producing at least three times as many carbon emissions as was previously thought, research suggests.

A third of fruit and veg crop too ugly to sell

More than one-third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reaches supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, research suggests.

Oil and gas rigs could help at-risk corals thrive

Man-made structures such as oil platforms can help protect sea creatures threatened by climate change and habitat loss, a study suggests.

World’s largest laser lends insight into giant planets

Experiments with the world’s biggest laser are giving scientists fresh insights into the giant planets of our solar system and beyond.

Liver failure could be eased by anti-cancer drug

People suffering sudden liver failure could one day benefit from a treatment that may reduce the need for transplants.

Action could halt breast cancer rise in Africa

Breast cancer cases in Africa could double in the next decade unless action is taken, a study has found.

App spreads kindness on city's streets

A digital experiment is hoping to tackle large social issues by using an app to inspire an outbreak of small good deeds.

Baby talk words build language skills

The more baby talk words that infants are exposed to the quicker they grasp language, a study suggests.

Like it or not, holiday snaps make us blue

Seeing other people’s holiday snaps online makes us sad, research suggests.

Superbug study spots link between people and animals

Scientists have shed light on how a major cause of human and animal disease can jump between species, by studying its genes.

Curbs on legal highs cut need for hospital care

Fewer people sought hospital treatment for the toxic effects of so-called legal highs following temporary restrictions, a study based at an Edinburgh hospital suggests.

HIV doubles heart disease risk, global study finds

People infected with HIV are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease, research has found.

Life on Earth in the dark for much of history

Tiny creatures that lived in the dark – either underground or below the sea floor – were the dominant life forms on Earth for much of the planet’s history, a study suggests.

Greenland’s glaciers aid sea level forecasts

Research into Greenland’s glaciers will help forecasts of sea level rise – which are key to preparing for the impact of climate change.

Navigation in insects inspires robot design

Research into the complexities of how insects navigate is enabling the design of robots that mimic their behaviour.

Laser experiments shed light on Earth’s core

Scientists have discovered fresh insights into the metallic core at the centre of our planet.

Drug hope for dementia and stroke

Scientists have uncovered a potential approach to treat one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke in older people.

Erupting volcano to shed light on earthquake link

Scientists are monitoring one of the world’s most active volcanoes to study the link between earthquakes and eruptions.