News

A review of the Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference 2017: Conference draws together Sêr Cymru PhD Students to present their research.

The Life Sciences Research Network, on behalf of the 3 National Research Networks, EngineeringLife Sciences and Low Carbon and Environment, hosted the second Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff on 11th September 2017.

The conference provided PhD students from the 3 Networks an opportunity to showcase their research across the breadth of EngineeringLife Sciences and Low Carbon and Environment. This was achieved via PhD poster and oral presentations and the inclusion of a peer-judged competition leading to shotgun presentations for the winners at the end of the day.

The conference included key presentations by external speakers from industry and academia, who spoke about their careers and development opportunities within different sectors.

Vaughan Gething AM delivered an inspirational closing speech, highlighting the value of the Sêr Cymru Programme and the contribution made by the NRN PhD students to the scientific research community in Wales.

The conference provided participants the opportunity to explore cross-theme opportunities as part of the wider NRN community and to build new collaborations for the future. The social aspect of the day was consolidated with a cheese and wine reception marking the end of the event.

The third PhD Conference will be hosted by the Low Carbon Energy & Environment NRN in North Wales in 2018.

Due to funding provided by Sêr Cymru programme through the Welsh Government and HEFCW, there was no fee for attending the conference.

Testimonials from PhD students:

“It was very good to have the chance to introduce my work to others. And also I can get some good information from other students”.

“Being able to communicate with students from other universities on similar projects”.

“Just nice to be with other scientists outside of my field”.

“Research updates from other students, chance to network”.

“Meeting again members of NRN was a pleasure and gave us the chance to update each other on a more personal level”

Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, commented:

“It is the collaborative and inspirational approach that Sêr Cymru provides that will help drive forward the next generation of talented researchers”.


2nd Annual Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference 2017

Monday 11th September 2017, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff

The second Sêr Cymru Postgraduate Conference brings together and presents the research of the PhD students within the 3 Sêr Cymru National Research Networks (NRNs). The NRN PhD students are vital to the future of Science and Engineering in Wales –  among them will be future leaders who drive Welsh research forward with major impacts for society and business.

Supported by Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and currently in the penultimate year of funding, the Networks are generating significant outputs across the breadth of their programmes, building on pockets of World class expertise in Wales and providing a sound base for future, successful endeavours.

The organisers are delighted to welcome 4 external speakers to the conference this year -Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Welsh Government; David Veryard, Microsoft’s lead in Wales; Dr Helen Swygart, Capability Employment Manager at Qioptiq Ltd and Professor Tiina Roose, Professor of Biological and Environmental Modelling at the University of Southampton.

Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, commented:

“It is the collaborative and inspirational approach that Sêr Cymru provides that will help drive forward the next generation of talented researchers”.

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales

 

 


Celtic Connection – A snapshot of Irish and Welsh Life Sciences, 20th June

Celtic Connection brings together life sciences experience from Wales and Ireland, as well as leading experts, academics, investors and advisors. It will enable businesses from across Wales and Ireland to learn more about trading in these two regions and explore potential for increasing trade, growth and routes to market.

For more information about the event on 20th June at the Life Sciences Hub, please visit:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celtic-connection-a-snapshot-of-irish-and-welsh-life-sciences-tickets-34723235131


Urdd National Eisteddfod

The Life Sciences Research Network coordinated an active science exhibition at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in Bridgend, from 29th May to 3rd June.

Researchers, PhD and undergraduate students from Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities shared their science with the public of all ages, at the GwyddonLe Science Pavilion on the Eisteddfod field.

Professor Arywn Jones, Cardiff University said,

“The Urdd has announced that close to 90,000 people attended this year, highlighting this event as a major opportunity to showcase science performed at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities and funded by the Life Science Research Network Wales.”

Highlighted was the super complex human brain, healing damaged kidneys, computer modelling for drug discovery and interactive parasite displays.

Picture10Picture3A Giant Brain Dome proved a popular draw for younger children who bounced inside the giant brain.

Professor Arwyn Jones, Cardiff University said,

This was a great opportunity to raise public awareness of the support the Life Science Research Network Wales is giving to Science in Wales in attempting to improve treatments for conditions such as cancer, dementia, microbial infections and kidney disease”.

Dr Andrea Brancale, Scientific Director, Life Sciences Research Network Wales said,

We were delighted to be attending this year’s Urdd Eisteddfod to showcase a cross-section of some of the excellent research being undertaken in drug discovery across Wales”.


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LSRNW at the Urdd 2017

The Life Science Research Network Wales supports science across Wales and is coordinating an active science exhibition at this year’s Urdd National Eisteddfod in Bridgend, from 29th May to 3rd June (www.urdd.cymru/en/eisteddfod/eisteddfod-2017/)

Researchers from Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities will be sharing their science with the public of all ages, at the GwyddonLe Science Pavilion on the Eisteddfod field.

Highlighted will be the super complex human brain, healing damaged kidneys, computer modelling for drug discovery and interactive parasite displays.

The Giant Brain Dome that was such a hit at the 2016 National Eisteddfod of Wales in Abergavenny, will feature again… where else on earth can you bounce inside a giant brain?!

Cardiff University stand at Eisteddfod festival 2016 © WALES NEWS SERVICE

Cardiff University stand at Eisteddfod festival 2016
© WALES NEWS SERVICE


Public Appointments – Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd – Chair and Board Members

The Welsh Government on behalf of Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd (the Hub) is seeking applicants with an interest and knowledge of the life science sector, in particular in industrial and clinical/NHS management roles, with a commitment to generating and developing opportunities for achieving economic growth and developing the Industry-NHS interface.  Consideration will also be given to candidates from outside the life sciences sector who can demonstrate similar skills and experience.
 
The Hub has been established by Welsh Government to connect, inspire and accelerate growth of companies in this sector, placing Wales on the international map as a preferred location to establish and grow successful life science companies.
 
Over the next 12 months a new vision and mission for the Hub will be established to ensure the ongoing development of the life sciences sector in Wales, to deliver significant economic impact and develop opportunities for creating value from NHS-industry engagement.
 
Closing date: 24 May 2017
 
Further details and application information can be found at:

BioWales 2017

BioWales 2017

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales and the Life Sciences Bridging Fund have team up to sponsor the Innovation Zone at this years BioWales Conference on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th March.

Come and visit the Innovation Zone in Bar Fresh at BioWales and see our platform technology showcase, book a one 2 one session with our platform holders and check out some research presentations from Principal Investigators funded by the Life Sciences Bridging Fund and the Life Sciences Research Network.  Please view the flyer below to see the full schedule of events in the Innovation Zone.

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Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery Researchers

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Sêr Cymru programme aimed at building research capacity within Wales.

 

As part of this initiative, the Welsh Government established three research Networks addressing the Grand Challenges of:

  • Life sciences and health
  • Advanced engineering and materials
  • Low carbon, energy and environment

The Life Science Research Network Wales is based in Cardiff University and led by Dr Andrea Brancale. This initiative was supported by a grant of £7.3m from the Sêr Cymru programme and HEFCW and aims to discover and develop new drugs in areas of unmet medical and veterinary need.

The Network brings together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor Cardiff, and Swansea Universities and has supported over 125 new research projects.  The Network works closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies and has a strong focus on its links to other funders, such as the Life Sciences Bridging Fund who support a pathway to potential commercialisation of the outputs of academic research for ultimate patient benefit.

In its third year, the Network has supported a range of activities including PhD students, individual research projects and platform technologies at universities across Wales.  This Scientific Drug Discovery Congress is an opportunity for students and leading academics from across Wales to highlight their research and discuss the challenges faced in developing the next generation of therapeutics. The event will be attended by a number of leading researchers whose work has successfully led to commercialisation, as well industry representatives with substantial experience in the journey through the drug development pathway.

Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, will be attending the congress to give an address on the growth of the Life Sciences sector in Wales.

Speaking ahead of the event the Minister said:

“The Welsh Government recognises the importance bio-medical research can have for the Welsh economy, for Wales’ reputation as well as for the health of its people suffering from acute or chronic medical conditions. Over the last few years we have invested millions in supporting Life Sciences in Wales and as one of our key priority sectors, we are keen to see this important area grow even more.

“I am encouraged by the great work and results that the Life Sciences Research Network Wales is already producing and as a government we remain committed to working with industry and academia to further build on the existing excellence in our research base.”

Professor Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales will also be attending to speak about the development of the Sêr Cymru programme and its vision going forward.

The Network is committed to developing the next generation of scientists and has supported 56 PhD students across Wales and 70 postdoctoral researchers.  These researchers are developing the next generation of drugs to tackle major societal health issues such as:

 

  • Cancer
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

 

Commercialised Research

The Network has already had success in commercialising the outcomes of the academic research and is supporting research with a biotechnology company to develop a technology originally patented by Cardiff University. The technology aims to inhibit the spread of breast cancer and is an excellent example of the World Class research developed within Wales potentially leading to new therapies. The company is already listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of around £100m and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials in 2017.

Dr Brancale, the Scientific Director of the Network said: “the level of engagement with the Network, from academics has been immense so far. We have seen over 400 new drug discovery projects being submitted to us for review – and we have supported over 125 of them. The Network is making a real difference by focusing funding on potentially high impact research and supporting the discovery of novel potential therapeutics.

 

International Industry Collaboration

The Network has supported a PhD project which is also part funded by an international industry partner, Qbiotics Ltd. This project has been developing compounds for human wound healing and has filed several patents to protect the intellectual property being generated from this research. Due to the early positive outcomes, this project has secured follow on funding from the industrial partner. Due to their successful collaboration with academics based in Cardiff, Qbiotics hope that further developments from this project will lead to clinical trials in the near future.

Dr Ryan Moseley, Principal Investigator on the human wound healing project said: “Our collaborative research with Qbiotics is addressing the current lack of effective treatments for abnormal wound healing and excessive scarring in skin.  Given our very promising results from laboratory studies, we are confident that such anti-scarring responses will be replicated during future human based studies, leading the successful development of these compounds as novel anti-scarring pharmaceuticals, thereby addressing the inadequacies of existing therapies for the benefit of patients and clinicians alike.”

 

 


Green light for life science innovation network

A new €11.96m project will see world-leading universities from Wales and Ireland working together with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative medical products that could revolutionise how we treat disease.

The Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network (CALIN) collaborative programme  aims to connect Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)  with world leading Higher Educational Institutions including  Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities in Wales, and University College Dublin, The National University of Ireland Galway and Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork in Ireland.

Focusing on Precision Medicine (diagnostics, devices & therapeutics), Regenerative Medicine, and Bio-Compatibility & Safety Evaluation, CALIN will engage with businesses to support advanced life science product development through collaborative R&D.

The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “Life science is a key sector in Wales and Ireland and this funding will support research and development, which is vital to the creation of new products, technology and jobs.

To read more on this story please see the following links:

http://www.swansea.ac.uk/media-centre/latest-news/calinnewlifescienceinnovationnetworkforwelshandirishbusinesseslaunched.php

and

http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/view/514886-green-light-for-life-science-innovation-network


Recently funded Studentships, Research Projects, Impact Awards and Platforms

The Network has funded the following in its latest call:

Round 4 Funded Studentships

The network recently funded 13 Studentships in the 4th Round. Funded studentships include (PI and project title):

Prof Morgan, Targeting the terminal pathway in complement-driven disease

Dr Davies, Investigating novel small molecule enzyme inhibitors for treating cognitive decline and dementia

Dr Wang, Inhibiting IL-17 production by blocking endogenous RORγt agonists for the treatment of autoimmune diseases

Dr Tsai, Design and in vitro characterisation of a novel multimodular targeting platform for cancer treatment

Dr Tai, Smart Multifunctional Nanocarriers with Biodegradable and Dual Responsive (pH and temperature) Properties from Hyperbranched Polymers for Targeted Cancer Drug Delivery

Dr Johnson, Multiplexed in vitro assay for genetic toxicity screening

Dr Taylor, Targeting zinc signalling to prevent cell division in cancer

Dr Rozanowska, Novel Drug Therapy For Mitochondrial Optic Neuropathy and other Mitochondrial Diseases

Dr McBride, Developing an ovine model of Alzheimer’s disease

Dr Prokopovich, Nanotechnology induced prolonged antimicrobial activity of antibiotic loaded PMMA bone cements

Prof Sewell, Development of artificially enhanced T cells for targeting cancer

Prof Kanamarlapudi, Targeting of interleukin‐13 receptor (IL‐13R)2 expressing pancreatic cancer by a novel hybrid lytic peptide drug

Dr Lloyd-Evans, Developing new small molecule therapies for lysosomal diseases

Round 4 Funded Projects

The Network has recently awarded 15 round 4 research project grants. These include (PI and title):

Prof Sheldon, Countering the unrestrained inflammation of sepsis by targeting the JAK-STAT pathway in human macrophages

Prof Riccardi, Addressing an unmet medical need: developing inhaled calcilytics for steroid-resistant asthma

Dr Fallis, Long Life Imaging Probes for Dementia Patient Stratification

Dr Fallis18F-Gemcitabine as Diagnostic Tool in Personalised Chemotherapy

Prof Brambilla, Validation in rodent models of a novel approach to treat mood disorders based on ERK signalling stimulation

Prof Aeschlimann, A new angle to diagnosis and treatment of gluten related disorders

Dr Peall, Development of a Drosophila melanogaster model for SGCE mutation positive Myoclonus Dystonia

Dr Westwell, Chimeric phosphoramidate ProTides as anticancer and antiviral agents with fluorescent probes.

Dr Staples, Targeting Homologous Recombination to sensitise cancer cells to DNA-damaging agents

Prof Gumbleton, Development of Novel BMA-sulfobetaine Nanoparticle Delivery system to treat chronic wound infections

Dr Gwenin, The first preclinical analysis for a novel magnetically directed cancer treatment

Dr Loveridge, Novel antibacterial and antifungal natural products from Pseudomonas mesoacidophila

Prof Casini, Targeting G-quadruplex nucleic acid structures with caffeine gold compounds for cancer treatment

Dr Westwell, Developing Bcl3 inhibitors as anti-metastatic drug candidates

Dr Brancale, Development of a safer method for corneal stromal photo-crosslinking to stop the progression of keratoconus or to treat bacterial corneal infections

Round 2 Funded Impact Awards

The Network has recently funded 4 Research Impact Awards. These include (PI and title):

Dr Gonzalez, ADC targets from in-silico high-throughput screening identification into target validation

Dr Parker, Evaluation of folate receptor α (FRα) binding oligopeptides for targeted gene and drug delivery

Dr Patel, Evaluation of Novel CD200:CD200R Blockade Cancer Immunotherapy

Dr Francis, Targeted metabolic inhibition of T-lymphocytes: directing immunity during human disease

Round 2 Funded Platform Grant

The Network has recently funded one Platform Grant (PI and title):

Dr Piggott, Development of a PDX platform for Drug Discovery and Studies of Disease Biology in Wales


Equipping the cancer researchers of Wales

Earlier this month, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, Cancer Research Wales held in association with the Life Sciences Research Network Wales (LSRNW), the first of several specialised workshops planned for Drug Discovery Workshop-Lecture Theatre2016. These workshops are designed to equip the scientists of Wales with a working knowledge of some of the very latest advances in cancer research to help support their own work.  The workshop which was kindly organised by Drs Andrea Brancale and Salvatore Ferla of the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, focused on Anticancer Computer Aided Drug Design. The school has a great track record in this area with several candidate compounds that have been designed using this approach already heading towards the clinic.

For the full story please click on the following link:

https://www.cancerresearchwales.co.uk/blog/equipping-the-cancer-researchers-of-wales/

 


Life Sciences Hub Wales: Appointment of Chair and Board Members

Life Sciences Hub Wales (the Hub) has been established by Welsh Government to ensure ongoing development of the life sciences sector in Wales that delivers significant (>£1bn) economic impact by 2022.

The Hub’s mission is to connect, inspire and accelerate growth of companies in this sector, placing Wales on the international map as a preferred location to establish and grow successful life science companies.

The Hub is the nerve centre of a vibrant and prosperous Welsh life sciences eco-system and brings together academic, business, clinical and professional services, funding organisations and Government to provide a commercially-driven melting pot of talent.

Officially opened in July 2014 by Welsh Government the Hub has become a very successful focal point for public and private sector specialists and strategic partners, covering all sector activities ranging from funding to business support to international development and promotion.

Vacancies

The Welsh Government on behalf of Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd is seeking applicants with an interest in, experience and knowledge of the life science sector, in particular in academia, clinical or industrial roles, with a commitment to generating and developing opportunities for achieving economic growth. Consideration will also be given to candidates from outside the life sciences sector who can demonstrate similar skills and experience.

For further details please refer to the following website:

http://www.lifescienceshubwales.com/news/life-sciences-hub-wales-appointment-of-chair-and-board-members/


Life Sciences Research Network Wales 2nd Annual Congress

The Life Sciences Research Network Wales held its 2nd Annual Congress on the 2nd and 3rd December 2015.

Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services attended the evening poster exhibition and drinks reception then presented awards for the PhD presentations and posters.

LIFESCIENCES NRN CONGRESS, CARDIFF, 02/12/2015

Professor Mark Drakeford AM, speaking at the Life Sciences Research Network Wales 2nd Annual Congress Dinner.

Group photo of Congress delegates

Group photo of Congress delegates


Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery Researchers

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The Life Sciences Research Network Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Ser Cymru programme aimed at building research capacity within Wales that addresses the Grand Challenges of:

  • Life sciences and health
  • Advanced engineering and materials
  • Low carbon, energy and environment

The Life Science Research Network Wales is based in Cardiff University and led by Professors Chris McGuigan and John Chester. This £15M initiative was supported by a grant of £7.3M from the Ser Cymru programme and HEFCW and aims to discover and develop new drugs in areas of unmet medical and veterinary need.

The Network brings together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor Cardiff, and Swansea Universities and aims to support over 100 new research projects. The Network works closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies and has a strong focus on commercialising the outputs of academic research for ultimate patient benefit.

In its first year, the Network has supported a range of activities including PhD students, individual research projects and platform technologies at universities across Wales. Almost 90 projects have been supported in the first 2 years.

 

The Network is hosting its 2nd Annual Drug Discovery Congress on 2nd and 3rd December 2015 and the event will be attended by a number of leading international researchers as well representatives of the private sector such as multi-billion pound Bio-Technology entrepreneur and Chair of the Welsh Life Sciences Fund, Professor Sir Chris Evans.

Professor Mark Drakeford (Minister for Health and Social Services) will also attending and will be awarding prizes for best presentations and posters to PhD students and young researchers.

 

Next Generation of Researchers

The Network is committed to developing the next generation of scientists and has supported 43 PhD students across Wales. These students are working on developing the next generation of drugs to tackle major societal health issues such as:

  • Cancer
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

 

Commercial Success

The Network has already had success in commercialising the outcomes of the academic research and is supporting a PhD student to work with a new biotechnology company to develop a technology originally patented by Cardiff University. The technology aims to inhibit the spread of breast cancer and is an early example of the World Class research developed within Wales potentially leading to new therapies. The company is already listed this year on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of around £100M and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials within 12-18 months.

Development of novel treatment for solid tumors

Scientists at Swansea University (Prof Paul Dyson and Dr Claire Morgan) were recently awarded a major award by Cancer Research UK to develop novel therapies for the treatment of prostrate cancer. This £180k award will support collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Alan Clarke) in developing a new therapy to target any solid tumor, including late stage metastatic tumors. This patented technology delegate’s production and delivery of therapeutic molecules to tumour-targeting bacteria that are otherwise harmless to healthy tissue and has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for a wide range of cancers.

 

Potential Breast Cancer Treatment

Scientists at Cardiff University (Dr Jun Cai) are working on a novel strategy for treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is one of the worst, forms of breast cancer for younger age patients (<40-year-old) and currently lack an effective therapy.  Following collaboration between Cardiff University’s Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, scientists have now identified two lead compounds, which have the potential to become new therapeutic drugs.  Further tests are ongoing but initial results look very promising.

 

Prof Chris McGuigan, Director of the Network said: “We are delighted to welcome the Health Minister to our 2nd Annual Congress where will celebrate the early success of the almost 90 drug discovery projects we have supported across Wales. The Network is a vital part of the flourishing life sciences ecosystem in Wales which has arisen from a unique partnership between Government, Academia, NHS and business”