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A message from the Vice-Chancellor

You are making pioneering research possible and giving talented students the foundation to flourish.

Whether you have generously:

  • made a donation to student support, medical research or another Cardiff project
  • joined Cylch Caerdydd
  • made the decision to leave a gift to Cardiff in your Will
  • joined #TeamCardiff as a fundraiser
  • supported students in their career journeys
  • volunteered your time as an Alumni Ambassador

… you have helped to write the stories you are about to read, and countless others.

Thank you for making a tangible difference to lives here in Wales and across the world.

Professor Anita Thapar (MBBCH 1985, PHD 1995)

Anita is lead of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section at the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences.

In 1999 Anita was made Wales' first Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Since then she has tried to further the understanding of the genetics that underpin common psychiatric disorders.

"I’ve always been passionate about child and adolescent psychiatry because that is when most mental health problems begin, and when we can make a difference.

"Our research at Cardiff University over the past 20 years has focused on the causes of mental health problems in children and young people.

"I believe it is vitally important to generate high-quality scientific evidence to inform practice, new treatments and dispel stigma in this field."

Her research focuses on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and youth depression. ADHD is a brain disorder with symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is estimated that between 1.4% and 3% of the population are affected. As well as neurodevelopmental difficulties in childhood, ADHD can continue into adulthood causing further mental health and social difficulties.

Watch an interview with Anita featuring parents' questions about ADHD

"In the past, parental behaviour was blamed for many child mental health problems including autism. However, we and others have found that ADHD runs in families; twin studies consistently show very high heritability.

"We then turned to molecular genetic investigations. We found an increased burden of rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in ADHD and showed that there is an important overlap with other neurodevelopmental problems, notably, autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.

"Our research has helped change the conversation around ADHD and shifted the burden of blame from the parents, focusing instead on the contribution of genetic factors.

"There is still research to be done, but it is encouraging that we have such a talented generation of new researchers, clinicians and students in Cardiff who want to push the field forward."

For people struggling with the spectrum of mental health and neurological disorders, the work that researchers are doing at Cardiff can offer hope, as well as tangible options for faster diagnosis, and better, more personalised treatments. Your support is helping to make that happen.

Professor Anita Thapar (MBBCH1985, PhD 1995)
Professor Anita Thapar (MBBCH1985, PhD 1995)

Peter Gillibrand (Broadcast Journalism 2018-)

Peter is studying for an MA in Broadcast Journalism. He is also a newsreader for Global Radio, based in Cardiff Bay. Peter received the Dr James Thomas Scholarship in 2019 to help him complete his master's degree.

"Receiving the scholarship was too good to be true, and it was such an honour to have my work recognised by my tutors."

Watch an interview with Peter where he talks about receiving an award

Having started with Global Radio on a freelance basis, he is now a permanent member of staff. In his first five months he has covered a wide range of stories, including providing coverage of Wales' Six Nations rugby championship matches. A particular achievement was getting a story on to national radio when he secured an interview with a Cardiff University lecturer who was stranded in China at the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

"Thanks to the scholarship I was able to get my dream job in radio broadcasting. I can’t tell you the feeling I get when I go on air and break news stories across Wales – to my country! I couldn’t have done it without the award.

"I nearly had to pull out due to financial hardship and that was impacting my mental health. It was getting to the point where my parents weren’t able to help, so money was an issue. The scholarship helped so much with the financial stress of rent and living costs.

"This type of award really does help disadvantaged students. It provides an opportunity to unlock talent and removes barriers. It helps those students get a great education, and tangible skills."

Our students are the global leaders of tomorrow. Your support ensures they get the opportunity to access a world-class education regardless of their background or financial situation.

Peter Gillibrand presents the news in a radio studio
Peter Gillibrand (Broadcast Journalism 2018-)

Hannah Thomas (BSc 2019, Medicine 2020-)

Hannah is undertaking research for her PhD, which was funded entirely thanks to a gift from a Will.

"I became interested in the immune system during my degree which included a professional training year in Cardiff University’s Department of Infection and Immunity.

"My research looks at T-Cells, a type of white blood cell which fights infection. I'm looking at T-Cells that specifically target the bacteria that cause Tuberculosis (TB), which infects millions every year and remains a global threat.

"As the bacteria becomes more resistant to antibiotics, this new approach, of using the body’s own immune system to target the disease, could provide the solution. If we can identify a universal T-Cell, it could be a worldwide effective, affordable cure.

"But the potential for this research is much bigger. If we can prove this works for TB, we could use this for other diseases like cancer, diabetes and MS, giving hope to many around the world."

For Hannah the transition from student to researcher is part of a professional pathway, but at the end of that pathway is an important goal.

"PhDs are a stepping stone to build your professional career from being a student to becoming a researcher. You have the support system around you, but you are completely independent in choosing your own experiments and the direction of your research. It’s exciting to have the opportunity although you need to be resilient when things don’t go to plan, but when your research is successful there is an enormous sense of achievement.

"Having a fully funded PhD was such a weight off my mind. Self-funding just wasn’t an option for me. I was so grateful to the person who supported me. Thank you so much for the donation – it’s going to such a good cause; hands-on research in the lab with the end goal of finally finding a cure for TB. It really is making a difference."

Our immune systems could hold the key to finding more effective treatments, with fewer side-effects, for people suffering from many major diseases. Thanks to your support, researchers across Cardiff are now closer than ever.

Hannah Thomas pictured in her office
Hannah Thomas (BSc 2019, Medicine 2020-)

Dr Harriet Quinn-Scoggins (PhD 2019)

Harriet is a research associate at the Division of Population Medicine. She was supported by donations to undertake the Future Leaders in Cancer Research (FLiCR) programme.

"My research focuses on public engagement with cancer screening and understanding behaviours that impact time to diagnosis, especially in deprived high-risk groups.

"My current trials offer screening to people at a high-risk of lung cancer. If we can diagnose people earlier, survival rates will dramatically improve, but the ultimate aim is to lower the risk of getting the disease in the first place."

Watch: Harriet talks about anthropology in cancer research

The Future Leaders in Cancer Research programme equips promising researchers with skills like grant-writing, financial management, and presentation techniques.

Participants are encouraged to build professional networks and develop their research career. Ultimately, this enables them to secure funding, projects and trials that will allow them to explore their ideas and further cancer research.

"Thanks to Cardiff University’s Future Leaders programme, funded by you, I’ve had tailored training, and been able to collaborate with other scientists and doctors. By working together, we can understand and improve patients’ experiences. We want to increase awareness of the symptoms of cancer and remove the barriers that stop people going to the doctor sooner.

"This will lead to faster diagnosis and treatment, and empower people to make choices to lower their risk."

Cancer will affect one in two of us in our lifetime. Your support can help our cancer researchers to develop faster diagnosis techniques, discover more effective treatments, and perhaps one day find a cure.

Harriet Quinn-Scoggins conducting a telephone interview for her research
Dr Harriet Quinn-Scoggins (PhD 2019)

Mohammad Zubair Arshad (Mechanical Engineering 2016-)

Mohammad is currently studying Mechanical Engineering. He undertook a summer placement at KGAL Consulting Engineers, offered by a Cardiff University alumnus.

Watch: Mohammad talks about alumni providing internships

"During my internship I helped to design and model a flood defence gate as part of the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project. I knew of KGAL’s ground-breaking work in water control and their reputation to strive for the best designs using a sustainable approach, and was excited to be part of the team."

Not only do internships and workplace opportunities give students skills and experience, those offered by an alum can provide an extra layer of value. In Mohammad's case the alumnus who offered the internship was extremely supportive and organised additional placements to give him an even broader experience.

"The internship helped me build many skills including my computer modelling skills. I had some knowledge of CAD modelling beforehand, but the internship taught me the proper practices used in industry. It also gave me the opportunity to develop my interpersonal and team building skills, as well as experience working together towards a common goal.

"Thanks to opportunities like this, offered by alumni, I’ve been able to kick-start my career, and learn from some of the best engineers in the industry."

The opportunity to gain first-hand, expert experience provides our students with a valuable foundation and can be the springboard to their career. The part you have played in supporting their development and learning is crucial for the next generation.

Mohammad Zubair Arshad stands in an engineering lab wearing a white lab coat
Mohammad Zubair Arshad (Mechanical Engineering 2016-)

Ellie Parsons (Law and Criminology 2016-)

Ellie is studying Law and Criminology. She's benefitted directly from our alumni giving their time to guide and inspire current students.

"I don’t have any friends or family working in law, so to have alumni give career talks and offer their advice and experience has been a huge benefit.

"I hadn’t realised the different career avenues available, and what would fit my strengths. The career talks gave me focus and made me realise the relevance of extra-curricular activities, and making the most of the university’s support."

Volunteering your time, whether sharing your Cardiff story, speaking to prospective students, or providing a career talk, can have long-lasting impacts.

"I’m lucky enough to have secured a training contract and the alumni I met were a huge influence on where I applied, and how to submit the strongest application.

"That connection with Cardiff is so important. The alumni have been in your shoes, and were once exactly where you are, at the start of your career. They get it and they can help!"

Because of your experience and your links to Cardiff, you have helped generations of students like Ellie to study, succeed and step out into the world of work as proud Cardiff University alumni.

Ellie Parsons is interviewed in the Law Building overlooking Park Place
Ellie Parsons (Law and Criminology 2016-)