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Pioneering international partnership honoured

25 November 2011

Wen Jiang - webProfessor Wen Jiang with some of the Capital Medical University Research Fellows

Cardiff’s ground-breaking cancer research partnership work with China has won the International Collaboration category at the annual Times Higher Education awards.

The University won for its collaboration with Capital Medical University in China which aims to find new approaches to detecting and treating cancer. The partnership pools the research expertise and knowledge within both institutions with the aim of making real progress in tackling a global issue – breast cancer.

Research fellows from Capital Medical come to Cardiff to work alongside the School of Medicine’s Professor Wen Jiang, originally from China’s Shandong province and one of the world’s leading breast cancer researchers, and eminent breast cancer surgeon Professor Robert Mansel. They quickly establish themselves as leaders in their subject area, returning to China as accomplished clinicians and medical researchers.

Wen Jiang award - webLeft to right at the awards ceremony are host Rob Brydon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Professor Wen Jiang and Smita Jamdar, head of education practice at sponsors Martineau. Credit:

Cardiff’s success was announced at the Times Higher’s Awards ceremony, held in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The event was hosted by Welsh comedian Rob Brydon – who took great pleasure in announcing a Welsh winner. Professor Jiang and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure collected the trophy, sponsored by law firm Martineau.

One of the judging panel, Paul Boyle, acting chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council and international champion at Research Councils UK said: "This project demonstrates the value that comes from bringing together international experts who can forge world-class partnerships that are sustainable."

Professor Jiang said: "This is a tribute to a lot of hard work by many people. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, did a lot to establish the partnership in the first place. Our colleagues at Capital Medical were very enthusiastic in making it happen. We have had very generous support and encouragement from the philanthropist Albert Hung, who is now funding the second phase of this partnership.

"I would also like to thank colleagues at Capital Medical for their co-operation and support. The School of Medicine at Cardiff has also strongly supported and encouraged this initiative."

"The award is also testimony to the hard work of the Research Fellows who have come to Cardiff and produced some very impressive results. We have had 21 so far, including eight who are currently working here. It was a great joy for me to return to China recently and to see the projects some of our former Fellows are setting up."

The Capital Medical research fellows have been exploring the metastasis of breast cancer, examining how the disease spreads around the body. To date, the partnership projects have discovered new biomarkers for not only breast cancer but for prostate and kidney cancer. These markers have been independently validated in the UK and China for their long term clinical relevance to the patients. Their findings have led to 26 papers published in highly ranked medical journals.

Under the second phase of the partnership, funded by Albert Hung, the Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and philanthropist, 20 Chinese scholars will come to Cardiff over a four year period.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "A great many people can take pride in this award. Professors Jiang and Mansel are world figures in the fight against breast cancer. Their brilliance has been a key factor for Capital Medical's enthusiasm for this partnership. Sandra Elliott and colleagues in the International Office worked tirelessly to set up the agreement. Development and Alumni Relations played an important part in creating wider support for the collaboration. In particular, we have had great support and interest from Albert Hung, who has ensured that this extremely valuable work can continue."

"The award is also a reflection on the Research Fellows themselves. They have already contributed to some very significant discoveries during their time at Cardiff. Many of those who have returned to China are now playing a leading role in research teams of their own. Above all, this award will be further encouragement for the partners' hunt for new approaches to breast cancer, both here and in the UK."

The Times Higher Awards recognise the ground-breaking work undertaken by UK higher education institutions.