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Launch of Science Museum ‘Superbugs’ exhibition sponsored by UEA

A new Science Museum exhibition that puts the spotlight on antibiotic resistance is being sponsored by UEA.

‘Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives’ highlights the urgent need to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which, without action, will lead to advanced medical treatments such as chemotherapy and major surgery all but disappearing.

Part of the Superbugs exhibition

The official launch took place on the 8th November 2017 and was attended by Prof Fiona Lettice, Prof Dylan Edwards, Prof Laura Bowater and Dr Karen Smith. The exhibition features leafcutter ants that Prof Matt Hutchings group from UEA are studying. The ants farm their own natural antibiotics, used to protect themselves and their nest, from bacteria that grow on their bodies. Antibiotics produced by this bacteria can kill superbugs such as MRSA, without MRSA developing resistance to them and there is the hope they can be developed for future drug use.


Over 200 guest attended and these included the other sponsors; Pfizer, Shionogi and RUCK as well as the ABPI, BBC News, BBSRC, Daily Telegraph, CBS, GSK, J&J, MRC, Nature, NHS England, various NHS Trusts, NESTA, PwC, Reuters, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, Sky News, Tesco and various universities and science societies.

They heard from Ian Blatchford, Chief Executive of the Science Museum; Erik Nordkamp, Managing Director of Pfizer UK; Lord Jim O’Neill former government minister and leading economist and Angela Rippon, television journalist, newsreader, writer and presenter, whose live was saved by antibiotics.

After a year of hard work, the Superbugs exhibition is ready for its first museum visitors to explore the hidden world of bacteria and the threat antibiotic resistance poses to our health.

http://sciencemuseum.org.uk/superbugs 

https://www.uea.ac.uk

Should you have any questions regarding antibiotic resistance research at UEA please contact:

Prof Laura Bowater, Norwich Medical School (01603 591941)
Dr Karen Smith, Research and Innovation Services (01603 593147)


 

Norwich Science Festival 2017

Saturday the 21st of October 2017 saw the start of nine days of inspirational exhibitions, sensational shows as well as an abundance of hands-on science and engineering activities for all ages and all levels of knowledge at the second Norwich Science Festival. The Norwich Medical School was lucky enough to take part in several events throughout the week. We delivered public talks at the Forum’s auditorium with The Microbes Fight Back by Professor Laura Bowater and Putting Cancer on a Diet by PhD research student Manar Shafat. The Benefits of Exercise was also discussed by a panel of UEA researchers (Dr Sarah Hanson, Prof Andy Jones, Dr Andy Atkins and Alison Welsh) who discussed the benefits of physical activity topped off with a short, accessible, walk at the end of the session.

 Friday also saw the Norwich atrium transformed into the Explorium; a plethora of hands on activities designed for families. Activities included Antibiotics Unearthed; PhD students Ethan Drury and Claire Hews invited members of the public were invited to hunt for new antibiotics from garden soil. We also had a Scenario Planning event; festival visitors were shown how big organisations try to get ready for an uncertain world. Charlotte Hammer and Julii Brainard asked members of the public to think about what would happen if an unknown virus slipped into the water system.

Saturday also saw Art and Anatomy come together in a workshop run by artist and anatomist Charlie James. In this short drawing workshop, Charlie took intrepid ‘would be’ artists through the process of drawing the skull, using a photograph as reference.

The Norwich Science Festival 2017 was a huge success with more than 8-10 000 people a day passing through and attending the events.

Let’s see what next year’s festival brings.

UEA supports Science Museum Exhibition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives

9 November 2017 – Spring 2019

A free exhibition at the Science Museum

sciencemuseum.org.uk/superbugs

Major Sponsor: Pfizer
Associate Sponsor: Shionogi
Supported by UK Research and Innovation and the University of East Anglia

 

We share our world with bacteria. Trillions live on and inside you, and although many are harmless they can also cause infection and death. Thanks to antibiotics, millions of people each year are cured of previously untreatable bacterial diseases. But bacteria have fought back, evolving into superbugs resistant to antibiotics.

Opening on 9 November 2017, Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives explores humanity’s response to the unprecedented global threat of antibiotic resistance. Today superbugs kill almost 700,000 people a year globally and by 2050 this could rise to 30 million. Examining antibiotic resistance at the microscopic, human and global scale, this exhibition features remarkable scientific discoveries from across the globe and reveals the personal stories of those waging war on superbugs.

Visitors will glimpse twelve real bacteria colonies in the exhibition, including nine deadly bacteria that the World Health Organisation classifies as a significant threat to human health. Grown by bioartist Anna Dumitriu, the bacteria include Escherichia coli, often first to colonise new-born babies’ stomachs, Staphylococcus aureus, one of the earliest superbugs identified and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The exhibition includes a digital interactive examining the microscopic world of bacteria and reveals how Bdellovibrio bacterivorous (a bacterium that eats other bacteria) and bacteriophages (a virus that infects bacteria) battle superbugs.

At the human scale, we delve into the stories of those tackling antibiotic resistance, from a superbug survivor to healthcare professionals preventing infections and a designer’s solutions to stop bacteria spreading. Geoffrey, a former patient who was in isolation for five months after antibiotics failed to treat a bacterial infection acquired during surgery, shares his story with visitors. Doctors Zoe Williams and Imran Rafi examine why millions of antibiotics are taken unnecessarily, and with 1.3 million people catching bacterial infections in UK hospitals each year, visitors can investigate how Sarah Whitney prevents bacteria spreading at The Royal Marsden Hospital. As almost half of antibiotics are used in agriculture, the exhibition also explores how robotic chickens and listening to pigs coughing can help farmers reduce antibiotic use. 

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum said: ‘As the home of the greatest medical collection in the world, it is fitting that the Science Museum is to open an exhibition on antibiotic resistance – the most pressing medical challenge facing our society. With the resurgence of diseases once thought banished to history books, this exhibition shines a light on the remarkable scientific research that could stop the spread of the superbugs.’

Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives also examines the antibiotic resistance crisis on a global scale. Thirty years since the last antibiotic was approved for human use, researchers are hunting for new antibiotics in unusual places. Visitors can dive with University of Illinois at Chicago researchers in a video which explores the Icelandic fjords that may provide a new source of antibiotics. Also on display are South American leafcutter ants, which use fungi and bacteria to produce antibiotics that can kill superbugs like MRSA. University of East Anglia researchers are investigating how these bacteria function to help develop new antibiotics. 

Four prototypes made by teams across the globe vying to win the £8 million Longitude Prize – awarded by the UK Government and Nesta to the first team to develop a fast, affordable and accurate diagnostic test for bacterial infections – will also be on display. Stellenbosch University in South Africa are developing a test that can detect when the body’s immune system responds to a bacterial infection, while the UK’s GFC diagnostics have created a fluid which turns blue when bacteria with antibiotic resistant genes are found.

Meeting the unprecedented challenge of antibiotic resistance requires global action. By acting as the head of a global health organisation, visitors can attempt to stop the spread of superbugs across the globe in a new interactive game developed exclusively for the exhibition.

Sheldon Paquin, curator of Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives said: ‘For over seventy years antibiotics have been essential to medicine, helping save hundreds of millions of lives. As antibiotics become increasingly ineffective, our exhibition investigates the latest research in our battle against superbugs.’

Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives is supported by Pfizer (Major Sponsor) and Shionogi (Associate Sponsor) with additional support from UK Research and Innovation and the University of East Anglia.

The exhibition is open daily from 9 November 2017 until spring 2019, with late opening until 22.00 on the last Wednesday of each month (except December) for Lates at the Science Museum.

Should you have any questions regarding antibiotic resistance research at UEA please contact:

Prof Laura Bowater, Norwich Medical School (01603 591941)
Dr Karen Smith, Research and Innovation Services (01603 593147)

UEA becomes a member of One Nucleus

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is now a member of One Nucleus, an international membership organisation for life science and healthcare companies.

Membership of One Nucleus will provide an additional platform for UEA researchers to network and engage as part of Europe’s largest life science and healthcare cluster. In particular it can help us to develop further linkages across the Cambridge/London corridor as well as further afield and provide new mechanisms for sharing our thoughts and ideas with many other organisations.” Dr Karen Smith, Research & Innovation Division

UEA Vision - Our research spans the global challenges we face today: from meeting the needs of an ageing population to understanding the unique and fragile environments we live in. We seek to address these challenges through our pioneering and boundary-breaking research, all to help build a better, healthier world.

One Nucleus’ Mission - For One Nucleus and our members to be the top European life science and healthcare network. This will be achieved by maximising the global competitiveness of our members.

https://www.uea.ac.uk

http://www.onenucleus.com

Norwich Medical School welcome QuintilesIMS visit to the Bob Champion Research and Education Building (BCRE)

On Friday the 15th September we were delighted to welcome two senior leaders from QuintilesIMS to the Norwich Medical School; Adam Collier Director, Real World Evidence, NEMEA Region and Adam Lloyd, Senior Principal, Health Economics.

They were the guests of Prof Ric Fordham (Norwich Medical School, UEA)and Dr Karen Smith (Research and Innovation Services)  who were keen to showcase the breadth and depth of UEA research in health economics, epidemiology, economics and big data.

QIMS heard a series of very interesting talks:

  • Introduction to Health Economics Consultancy
    Prof Ric Fordham (Health Economics Consulting, Norwich Medical School, UEA)
  • Patient and public preferences for health and healthcare
    Prof Jenny Whitty (Health Economics, Norwich Medical School, UEA)
  • Use of Pharma Sales data in competition economics
    Dr Farasat Bokhari (School of Economics, UEA)
  • Investigating longevity and longevity improvement using THIN primary care database
    Dr Lisanne Gitsels (School of Computing Sciences, UEA)
  • Counting on arthritis
    Prof Alex MacGregor (Genetic Epidemiology, Norwich Medical School, UEA)

The talks were followed by positive discussions over lunch between our guests, Ric, Karen, Sue Johnson (Manager of UEA Consulting) and Mark Chapman (Faculty Manager, Norwich Medical School).

QuintilesIMS is an American multinational serving the combined industries of health information technologies and clinical research. It is a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services with a network of more than 50,000 employees conducting business in approximately 100 countries. It is the world’s largest contract research organization and is focused primarily on Phase II-IV clinical trials and associated laboratory and analytical services.

The Wellcome Trust Visit the Norwich Research Park

A team of nine from the Wellcome Trust, the second largest charitable foundation in the world,  visited the Norwich Research Park (NRP) on the 13th August 2017.

The cross-NRP visit involving the Earlham Institute, Quadram Institute Bioscience, John Innes Centre, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, Sainsbury Laboratory and University of East Anglia (UEA) was organised and hosted by Dr Karen Smith, Relationship Manager, Medical & Life Sciences, Research & Innovation Division, UEA and supported by Prof Matt Hutchings, Associate Dean of Innovation, Science Faculty, UEA.

The day began in the lecture theatre of the Queen’s Building with an overview of the Wellcome Trust by Roger Blake, Head of External Relations and this was followed by a Q&A session chaired by Dr Candace Hassall, Head of Research Affairs. Participants then enjoyed a delicious networking lunch at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Following lunch a series of four workshops took place: Early career funding; Funding for senior science lecturers and researchers; Our new Innovations strategy and funding opportunities and Support for researchers in Public & Population Health and Our Planet, Our Health.

These highly informative and interactive workshops were followed by a series of afternoon meetings between Wellcome representatives and individual Principal Investigators from across the NRP. There we also meetings held between the Wellcome and senior leaders from each institution. In addition, there was time for brief tour of the research park which is unique because its 3,000 researchers work within a 1km radius – facilitating collaboration and communication and access to research equipment and facilities across all partners.

In total, over 100 researchers drawn from across the NRP participated in the day and there was a real sense of confidence that the event will catalyse additional submissions for funding, particularly cross-institutional ones.

InnovateUK/Knowledge Transfer Network participate in UEA Workshop

Prof Bryan Hanley and Mrs Jan Stringer of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) spoke to over 30 UEA faculty about InnovateUK Funding Streams and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at a Workshop held on Tuesday the 18th July 2017 at The Enterprise Centre, UEA.

The KTN is a network partner of InnovateUK and helps  businesses get the best out of creativity, ideas and the latest discoveries, to strengthen the UK economy and improve people's lives. It links ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through its network of businesses, universities, founders and investors.

The KTN talks were supplemented by Dr Karen Smith providing an 'academic's perspective' in relation to the successful 'Linspeed' project UEA is a partner in utilising a new approach for improving properties of natural fibres as biodegradable and a green source of materials in vehicles and other applications developed by Dr G. Richard Stephenson, Reader in the School of Chemistry.

Mr Geoff Foulds of NetComposites Ltd, a member company of the consortium, gave the 'industrial perspective'. It was apparent how beneficial such academic-industry collaborations are to all parties and and how they provide a mechanism to ensure that university research has real world impact.

The Workshop was facilitated by Dr Debi Bhattacharya (School of Pharmacy) and Dr Karen Smith (Research Innovation Division).

 

Eli Lilly visit UEA

Chris Beadle of Eli Lilly, Open Innovation in Drug Discovery (OIDD) Regional Ambassador and medicinal chemist by training visited UEA yesterday and gave a fascinating insight to the company, the OIDD programme and the many areas where our scientists and Lilly could potentially work together (UEA having already signed an Open Innovation Drug Discovery Universal Program Agreement with the company).

23 delegates from across the Faculty of Medicine and the Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Pharmacy attended the workshop at the Julian Study Centre and a series of one-to-one meetings between Chris and individual PIs took place following a networking lunch.

The day was supported by Prof Dylan Edwards, Executive Dean of the Faculty Medicine and Health Sciences and Prof Phil Gilmartin, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and hosted by Dr Karen Smith, Relationship Manager, Medical and Life Sciences, Research Innovation Division and Dr Samuel Fountain, Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences.

Introducing our new Relationships Manager, Dr Karen Smith


Introduction from Dr Karen Smith, our new Relationship Manager for Medical and Life Sciences.

I instigate new and develop existing opportunities for partnerships with private, public and third sector organisations based on the world leading research conducted in the Faculty of Medicine and the Schools of Biological Science, Chemistry and Pharmacy. I work closely with academics to promote key research capabilities through knowledge exchange, impact, enterprise and engagement.

Following several years in management consultancy with EY and IMS Health I worked at University of Cambridge in several roles including Head of the Corporate Liaison Office and Executive Director of the Cambridge Computational Biology Institute and at UCL as Director of Bioprocess Leadership.

I gained extensive experience in developing strategic, high-value relationships with stakeholders including companies of all sizes, academic institutions, government bodies, knowledge transfer networks, professional institutions and sponsors.
I hold several degrees including two Masters degrees and a PhD from Emmanuel College, Cambridge(Neuroanatomy).

 

Health Hacked

Health Hacked is a collaborative event, aiming to find innovative solutions to today's pressing healthcare issues. We bring together a diverse group, from healthcare professionals and industry decision makers to digital tech developers and students, to find solutions that may otherwise have not been thought about or discredited as unattainable. Our participants work throughout the day to find viable business ideas that could not only make money, but change lives.

We hope that everyone leaves this event feeling inspired to explore options to make their creative ideas into start-ups in an already blossoming tech industry in the East of England.

This year, we're adding a crowdsourcing element to ensure we offer subject matter that our participants truly care about. So far we have problems such as improving loneliness and social isolation in the elderly community and improving the prognosis for cancer patients. More details on this can be found on our website.

"It's been an absolutely outstanding event to organise and I believe it's going to be a great day for all involved. I'm really excited to see what this year's group of participants can come up with."

For more information, have a look at our conferences and events section.

AstraZeneca Visit Norwich Research Park

Wednesday 29 March 2017 was an exciting opportunity for scientists from AstraZeneca to meet with scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) during the AstraZeneca Open Innovation Visit. The visit took place at the Centrum, on the Norwich Research Park. Dr Samuel Fountain, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology and Director of Employability in the School of Biological Sciences welcomed the visitors to our university and Professor Dylan Edwards the Executive Faculty Dean for the Faculty of Medicine and Health provided a research overview on behalf of the UEA. The morning session concluded with the representatives from AstraZeneca introducing Open Innovations (creating scientific progress through collaborations). The afternoon was taken up with a series of productive meetings between Dr David Andrews, Associate Director, Discovery Sciences,

Innovative Medicine and Early Development; Dr Radoslaw Polanski, Senior Scientist; Dr David Smith, Principal Scientist; and Dr Andrew Whittaker, Clinical Science Associate Director, Emerging Innovations Unit, SP&A and members of UEA’s research community. Professor Laura Bowater, the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health commented that ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for scientists at the UEA to highlight their research expertise to a wider research community. UEA has a lot to offer and is always open to collaborate in order to overcome difficult R&D barriers to seek solutions to global problems.’


Photo Credits Dr Karen Smith, Research Innovation Division; Dr David Andrews Associate Director Discovery Sciences, Innovative Medicine and Early Development AZ; Dr Samuel Fountain, UEA BIO; Dr Andrew Whittaker Clinical Science Associate Director ,Emerging Innovations Unit, SP&A AZ; Dr David Smith Principal Scientist AZ;   Dr Radoslaw Polanski Senior Scientist AZ.

The Appliance of Science

March the 9th saw the Times Higher Education publish a league table that highlights the top International Universities that have the Most Industrial Partners. the most collaborations with Industry When it comes to the most collaborations with Industry, the US, South Korea, Germany, France and Sweden outstrip the UK with the number of Universities in the Top 50.  In fact, there are just three British Universities ranked in the Top 50.  Imperial College London is centrally ranked at number 23, and The Institute of Cancer Research sneaks into the Top 10 at number 9. However, the top ranked British University for Industry collaborations is the University of East Anglia that is comfortable placed at number five. The Times Higher Education rankings are based on the proportion of research papers published in collaboration with Industry. In t op spot is the Pohang University of Science and Korea, which published a significant 22.98 % of research publications with Industry collaborators, but the UEA the top ranked UK University in the table also makes it into double figures with 10.23%.

* data obtained from Times Higher Education March 9th 2017 https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/universities-with-biggest-corporate-links

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Annual Research Awards 2017

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences hosted the annual Research Awards ceremony on the 28th of February, in the Council Chamber building at UEA. The awards ceremony celebrated the diversity of expertise and experience to be found among our vibrant research and teaching community and it was also a chance to highlight some of the excellent enterprise opportunities taking place across our faculty. This year there were two new prizes up for grabs. Firstly, we wanted to recognise research activity that had resulted in any enterprise outputs such as patents, consultancy opportunities or spin out companies: the Enterprise from Research prize.  Secondly, in recognition of the excellent and diverse teaching experience that has also resulted in enterprise and engagement opportunities we also offered an Enterprise and Engagement from Teaching prize.

Winners of the FMH 2017 Annual Research Awards ceremony

The winner of this year’s Enterprise from Research prize was Dr Justin O’Grady for the opportunities that have arisen from his groups work on novel methods for depleting host nucleic acid from clinical samples to enable better metagenomics sequencing based diagnosis of infections. This work has led to a patent and the following paper is an example of the work that led to the patent.

K. Schmidt, S. Mwaigwisya, L. C. Crossman, M. Doumith, D. Munroe, C. Pires, A. M. Khan, N. Woodford, N. J. Saunders, J. Wain, J. O'Grady* (corresponding author), D. M. Livermore (2017). Identification of bacterial pathogens and antimicrobial resistance directly from clinical urines by nanopore-based metagenomic sequencing. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 72(1):104-114.

The winner of the Enterprise and Engagement from Teaching prize was Professor Veena Rodrigues. Professor Rodrigues has created a wide reaching Clinical Educator Development Initiative that includes consultancy opportunities, the development of the FutureLearn Clinical Supervision with Confidence massive open online course (MOOC), which is Europe’s first medical education MOOC addressing faculty development of health professions educators, as well as the development of research-informed online CPD courses at UEA. For more information please refer to the publication below and a link to the MOOC is also available.

Rodrigues VC, Leinster S. ‘Clinical Supervision with Confidence’: Exploring the potential of MOOCs for Faculty Development. In: Khalil M, Ebner M, Kopp M Lorenz A, Kalz M, editors. Proceedings of the European Stakeholder Summit on experiences and best practice in and around MOOCs (EMOOCs 2016), 2016 Feb 22-24; Graz, Austria. Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand GmbH. P. 287-95. Available at: http://emoocs2016.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/proceedings-emoocs2016.pdf. ISBN 9783739237107

Clinical Supervision with Confidence Course website: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/clinicalsupervision-with-confidence

The Microbes Fight Back

Here in the Norwich Medical School we understand the prescient danger that is facing our society. Antibiotics are familiar drugs that society has taken for granted. Sadly, due to our casual use of these precious resources, more and more antibiotics are becoming ineffective against common diseases, and there are few alternative treatments bubbling through the discovery pipeline to replace them. Laura Bowater, Professor of Microbiology Education and Engagement at Norwich Medical School, has recently published a book that considers the past, present and uncertain future of antibiotics. This popular science book describes how infectious diseases, such as The Plague, were able to wreak havoc on populations long before the discovery of the first antibiotics. In an engaging and accessible style, Professor Bowater eases the reader through the science of antibiotic synthesis and the molecular weaponry that can destroy bacterial pathogens. She also outlines how these pathogens are naturally able to mutate and develop resistance to these pharmaceutical lifelines.

With the dearth of new antibiotic drugs coming to market we need to use our antibiotics more wisely, develop new antimicrobial drugs and prevent infections from happening in the first place. If you want to know more about a future where antibiotic resistance is the norm or if you are keen to understand how human activities can prevent the rise of 'superbugs' then this book is well worth a read. Professor Bowater highlights the need for universal cooperation in order to tackle this global health challenge, which, if not addressed, could transport us back to the medical dark ages.

More information is available at the publisher's website

The Microbes Fight Back: antibiotic resistance recently highlighted as Times Higher Education Book of the week.

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