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Queen’s Anniversary Prize for pioneering Cardiff University genetics centre

15 November 2007

Strict embargo

Not for publication or broadcast before 1900, Thursday November 15, 2007

Cardiff University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, which has transformed healthcare in several inherited diseases, is among the winners of this year’s Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for excellence in Higher Education.

The Anniversary Prizes recognise outstanding work at world-class level in UK universities and colleges. The Institute of Medical Genetics has won its Prize for work identifying genetic causes of diseases and developing new diagnostic tests and treatments for them.

The Institute of Medical Genetics, based at the University’s School of Medicine, was set up in 1987 with the aim of identifying the genetic causes of disease and translating the findings into practical benefits for patients and their families. Since then, its achievements have included:

  • Identifying genes linked to bowel cancer, Huntington’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, tuberous sclerosis and polycystic kidney disease
  • Developing tests for these and other disorders which are now used in the NHS and abroad, allowing earlier and more accurate diagnosis and increasingly more effective treatments
  • Trials of new treatments for tuberous sclerosis and Huntington’s Disease
  • Enhanced screening for families at risk of disease
  • Training counsellors to support patients and families in coming to terms with the results of genetic tests
  • Helping develop the Wales Gene Park, enhancing the Welsh knowledge economy and public understanding of genetic science

The Institute is now expanding with a £4.8M investment in new laboratories for more work on cancer genetics. The focus will be on developing new methods of earlier diagnosis and treatment.

The Prize will be presented to the Institute by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace at a ceremony for all the winners next February.

Announcing the winners today, Robin Gill, founder and Chairman of the Royal Anniversary Trust, said: "The Prizes confer the highest national recognition on the work of our universities and colleges and the part they play in the country’s economic advance, social wellbeing and industrial self-fulfilment. The Prizes scheme creates networks that benefit the institutions themselves as well as the wider community. It establishes a benchmark for excellence and validates Britain’s contribution to innovation, knowledge and skills on the world scene."

Institute of Medical Genetics director Professor Julian Sampson said: "Everyone at the Institute is delighted to have won this award. Our approach is to work with patient organisations, the NHS and other local, national and international partners, ensuring that advances in genetic knowledge deliver direct benefits to patients and their families. It is a huge honour to have our work recognised in this way."

The Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Dr David Grant, said: "Professor Julian Sampson and the Institute of Medical Genetics team are to be congratulated on this recognition of the excellence of their research, training and healthcare work. The Institute has identified the causes of several major diseases and developed innovative and effective new approaches to the treatment and support of patients and families with inherited conditions.

"This prize is the second significant honour for Cardiff University geneticists in recent weeks, following Professor Sir Martin Evans’ Nobel Prize for stem cell research, and is testament to our world-leading standing in this increasingly vital science."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.

Members of the University’s staff have won two other Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in the past. Professor Tony Campbell won a Prize in 1998 for his application of chemiluminescence to clinical diagnosis. The Manufacturing Engineering Centre won a prize in 2000 in recognition of its contribution to the economy.

Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Further Information:

For more information and pictures, please contact:

Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University.

029 2087 5596

e-mail: RouseS@cardiff.ac.uk