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 Ser 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 Professors Chris McGuigan and Malcolm Mason. 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 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. This Scientific 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 also 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.


Mrs Edwina Hart OBE (Minister for Economy, Science and Transport) and Professor Mark Drakeford (Minister for Health and Social Services) are also attending and will be awarding prizes for best presentations and posters to PhD students and young researchers.  The event will also include a presentation by Professor Julie Williams, the Welsh Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, on the Ser Cymru vision.


Although early days, the Network has already had considerable success of 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 and hopes to be ready to go into human clinical trials within 12-18 months. Other projects have been started in infectious diseases and dementure. Prof McGuigan, the Network director said: “the interest shown in the Network across Wales has been remarkable, with over 220 new drug discovery projects being submitted to us for review in our first year – and we have supported over 50 of them. This Network is set to make a real difference to the health and wealth of Wales.”

EU Funding Awareness event

The aim of the meeting is for academics (especially early stage researchers) to gain an increased awareness and interest in EU  funding.

Rather than provide a detailed breakdown of the various funding schemes, the session will involve the personal perspectives of academics which have had success with EU funding. 

For more information see our events page or click on the following link to register:

Events page

Round 2 Funded Projects

In July 2014 the Network launched the 2nd Postdoctoral project grant (fellowship) round and has confirmed funding to 11 research projects. These include (PI and title):

Prof McGuigan, The design, Synthesis and evaluation of novel agents acting in the CNS

Dr Francis, Optimisation of T-cell metabolism for anti-cancer vaccination

Dr Parker, Developing targeted virotherapies for advanced, platinum resistant ovarian cancer.

Prof Allemann, Anti-inflammatory calpain inhibitor leads

Dr Brancale, Discovery and development of a novel therapeutic for the treatment of inflammatory lung disorders

Dr Gonzalez, Rational design of antibody drug conjugate targets – unlocking a goldmine and war chest.

Dr Nishio-Ayre, Delivery of osteogenic molecules from acrylic bone cement to encourage regenerative bone repair around cemented joint replacements.

Dr Loveridge, Lytic transglycosylases – a potential Achilles’ heel for antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

Dr Westwell, Discovery of novel site-specific FAK inhibitors for potential treatment of metastatic breast cancer

Dr Wang, Modelling motor neuron disease using patient derived iPS cells for novel theraputic discovery

Dr Patel, Development of novel CD200:CD200R Blockade cancer immunotherapy

Research Projects and Platform Call Closure

The current 2 rounds for Research Projects and Platforms grants have now closed. We have received 45 applications for funding and will acknowledge all applications for funding within 24 hours.

Please contact us if you have not received an acknowledgement of your submission within 24 hours.

The board are meeting on 2nd October to discuss the applications and awards will be made shortly after.


1st Annual Scientific Congress 2014


Hosted by the Life Sciences Research Network Wales, this will be the largest and most stimulating of events we have held since we opened in September 2013.

The Congress will begin at 9am on Monday 24th & Tuesday 25th November 2014, held at theSt Davids Hotel & Spa, Cardiff Bay.

We are inviting all those funded through the network to attend the full 2-day event. Whether you are a funded Research Associate or a PhD students from Cardiff University or one of our partner institutions, you will have the opportunity to showcase the progress made on your research activity to date.

All newly recruited PhD students due to start with us in October 2014 will also be invited to show their research plans in a poster session.

As well as Post Doctoral presentations and student presentations and a poster session, we will also be hosting a selection of guest speakers from the private sector and higher education.

If you have any queries about this event, please contact or telephone 02920 876501.






8th Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium, Friday 12th December, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge

Registration now open – go to

Closing date for abstract submission is 10th October 2014

The Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) of the RSC will be hosting its eighth postgraduate symposium for PhD students and postdoctoral workers researching in biological or medicinal chemistry and related areas. The event will be held in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge on Friday 12th December 2014. Researchers working in these areas are invited to participate. Registration will start at 9:00am with talks beginning at 10:00 am. The day will consist of 11 oral presentations (8 student and 3 keynote plus a Flash Poster section). Each 20-minute student talk will be followed by 10 minutes for questions. Throughout the day there will be keynote talks from industrial and academic chemists. A buffet lunch will be provided to accompany the poster session.


The BMCS judges will be awarding prizes to participants. There will be prizes of £300 for the best oral presentation and of £150 for the best poster. These will be celebrated at the end of the day. If you are interested in presenting your relevant PhD or post-doctoral work please submit a half-page abstract by 10th October 2014 along with your registration form. Those selected by the BMCS committee to give oral presentations will be notified by 14th November. Travel expenses will be reimbursed to speakers.


This event is FREE but all attendees should register as soon as possible and no later than by Friday 5th December


For queries and abstract submission contact Dave Alker at or


Online registration form:

The Minister for Economy, Science & Transport, Mrs Hart opens the Life Sciences Hub.

Representatives from the Life Sciences Research Network Wales attended the launch of the Life Science Hub on the 17th of July. 

The Hub is based in Cardiff Bay and aims to bring together academics, businesses, clinicians, professional services and funding organisations to drive economic growth within the Welsh life science sector.  Along with the £100m Life Sciences Investment Fund, the Hub aims to attract inward investment as well as nurture and accelerate the growth of life science businesses within Wales.

Pictured above is Dr Andrea Brancale from Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy demonstrating an advanced modeling technology to the Minister for Economy, Science & Transport, Mrs Edwina Hart that can be used in development of the next generation of drugs.