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2017

Students and staff with big ideas that can change lives will pitch for instant funds in Cardiff University’s annual Da Vinci Awards.

Five winning presenters will walk away with up to £3,000 each, to help turn their research ideas into economic and social reality.

The Awards – on 21 November – showcase Cardiff University’s young innovation talent and help forge links between the University and private and public sector backers.

Last year’s winners included Liz Bagshaw, who has been working to develop low cost water quality sensors and is using the prize money to develop prototypes for testing in river catchments in Devon.

Many presenters come from research teams working across University Schools, and include staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students from all disciplines.

The event, open to the public, is designed to match fresh ideas to seed funding with a minimum amount of hassle.

“We’re thrilled to be marking our fifth annual Da Vinci Awards,” said Professor David Barrow, School of Engineering.

“This year, Ana Avaliana, from the Royal Academy of Engineering will be joining us to present the Awards, and also to pitch to the audience the Academy’s own Enterprise Hub Programme, which offer a great opportunity for future entrepreneurs. Whilst the event is driven by Engineering, we are really keen to diversify pitches and forge links with businesses and external organisations...”

The University is developing a £300m Innovation Campus which will help deliver economic and social prosperity in Wales by forging partnerships between Cardiff’s innovators and the wider world.

The Da Vinci Innovation and Impact Awards 2017 will start promptly at 17:30 on Tuesday 21 November at the KuKu Club, Park Plaza Hotel, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff.

Students, graduates and staff wishing to present should email Professor David Barrow to register their pitch idea on the last available time slots, before 17:00 Friday 17 November, and to get the FAQ details.

To collect or reserve a ticket, contact Aderyn Reid, Room S2.04, Cardiff School of Engineering, Queen’s Buildings, The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3AA, +44 (0)29 2087 4930.

A unique approach to targeting the abnormal T-cells that cause T-cell lymphomas could offer hope to patients with the aggressive and difficult-to-treat family of cancers, finds a study involving researchers from Cardiff University.

The team of researchers, working with biopharmaceutical company Autolus Ltd, have discovered a method of targeting the cancer without destroying healthy T-cells, essential to the immune system.

Lymphomas arise when immune cells, called lymphocytes, that protect us against germs, become cancerous. There are two types of lymphocytes: B-cells and T-cells. Recent developments, including immunotherapies, have transformed the once fatal diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma into a curable condition but there remains a critical need for new therapeutic approaches to the rarer, but often more aggressive, T-cell lymphoma.

A key challenge of treating these cancers has been to identify a way of eliminating the abnormal T-cells whilst sparing the healthy ones that play an essential role in providing protection against infections.

T-cells recognize and remove germs using a molecule on their surface called the T-cell receptor. This receptor is made using one of two duplicated copies of the T-cell receptor gene, called C1 or C2, at random. As a result, the T-cells we use to fight off viruses and other germs are a near equal mixture of cells using either the C1 or C2 genes. When a T-cell becomes cancerous all the cancer arises from a single cell so that the cancer is either all C1 or C2.

The research team have engineered a way to eliminate T-cells based on whether they use the C1 or C2 gene. The team demonstrate that targeting of C1 T-cells can kill C1 cancers while leaving all normal C2 T-cells unharmed so that they can take care of infections.

Professor Andrew Sewell from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said: “We wouldn’t last a week without the essential job our T-cells perform by protecting us from infection. The devastating effects of low numbers of just one type of T-cell are all too evident in HIV/AIDS.

“T-cell lymphomas are particularly difficult to treat without damaging essential, healthy T-cells that are vital to the immune system. The new and innovative approach that Autolus have developed now allows potential for removal of all cancer cells without causing any damage to half of our T-cells...”

Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK, said: “This study has demonstrated it’s possible to kill cancerous T-cells but importantly spare some healthy ones, opening up exciting new treatment possibilities. T cells are a vital part of our immune system and our survival; that’s why when a patient has a cancer in these cells, it would cause serious harm to use a therapy that targets both healthy T cells and cancerous ones.

Dr Georgios Trichas, in Wellcome's Innovations team, added: “This is an exciting development that could lead to new potential therapies for T-cell cancers. Previous efforts in the field have been held back by difficulties in distinguishing between normal and cancerous T-cells. Importantly, the researchers have not only been able to identify the cancerous T-cells but also shown how existing technologies that redirect the immune system can be adapted using this discovery to target and kill these cells. Although very promising, the study was done in vitro and in mouse models so more research is needed to prove it is safe and effective before it can be tested in the clinic."

The full manuscript ‘Targeting T-cell receptor β-constant for immunotherapy of T-cell malignancies’ can be found in Nature Medicine.

The research funders include Wellcome and Cancer Research UK.

Two Namibian filmmakers being mentored in Wales have had their work screened at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, as part of an African film festival.

The screening was the culmination of a two-week residency in Wales for Felicia Mutonga and Darryn February supported by Cardiff University.

Felicia and Darryn won a competition for their short films about youth culture and multilingualism in Namibia, which were shown at Chapter on 12 November as part of the Watch Africa 2017 film festival.

The residency was sponsored by a ground-breaking project to support and study multilingualism in Namibia - Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Global Challenges, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It has been developed through a partnership between Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Watch Africa film festival.

The mentoring has helped Felicia and Darryn to establish lasting links with the film sector in Wales and offered a platform for their work.

Felicia said: "It’s an honour and a privilege to be granted an opportunity that will not only shape my future alone but also benefit those coming behind me."

Darryn added: "This was an amazing opportunity for us to develop our film making skills."

Professor Loredana Polezzi, of Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages and member of the Transnationalizing Modern Languages team, said: "Namibia is a country where speaking multiple languages is the norm..."

Fadhili Maghiya, Watch Africa: Wales Africa Film Festival coordinator, said: "When we set up the festival in 2012, it was always with the intention of creating opportunities for aspiring filmmakers to learn and showcase their work, so to be doing that earlier than expected is really satisfying. The partnership with Cardiff University and many others has been a major factor in being able to do this. We hope that this is just the beginning."

The film festival is supported by British Film Institute (BFI), Arts Council Wales, Black History Month, Welsh Government, Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, Cardiff University, Hub Cymru Africa and others.

The Phoenix Project is a partnership with the University of Namibia to tackle poverty and promote good health. It is part of Cardiff University’s Transforming Communities programme to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of communities in Cardiff, Wales, the UK and further afield.

Earlier this week, Stephen Fry - one of the UK's best known actors, writers and comedians - dropped in on staff and students at Cardiff University’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute to learn more about the latest research taking place at the world-leading centre.

As Patron of the Institute, Stephen is a keen advocate of its work and uses his outstanding public and media profile to help break down the stigma so often attached to people who experience mental health difficulties. As part of his 2006 documentary - The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive - he visited Professor Nick Craddock's team to discuss the condition, and also took part in his largest ever research study into bipolar.

During his latest visit, Stephen met with the Institute’s Emeritus Director, Professor Sir Mike Owen, and some of its leading researchers, to hear about their latest research in this area. The visit concluded with a conversation with Ben Lewis, Director of Student Support and Wellbeing. As a friend of Cardiff, and a champion for the holistic support of student wellbeing more broadly, Stephen learnt more about Cardiff’s sector-leading student support model.

Photograph of Stephen Fry with Ben Lewis, Director of Student Support and Wellbeing

Stephen re-emphasised his Patronage of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, and gave his public backing to Cardiff’s student support and wellbeing operation. He said: "I hold my relationship with Cardiff dearly, and am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit again and see some old faces, and meet some new ones..."

Professor Sir Mike Owen said: "We remain very grateful for Stephen’s public support of the Institute. As both a leading area of research at Cardiff, and one the University’s identified priority fundraising areas, the profile Stephen continues to afford our efforts is invaluable, and is a real asset as we seek to address some of the biggest challenges facing global health and wellbeing in the 21st Century."

A pop-up hub to help students develop business skills and share ideas will be centre stage at Cardiff University this autumn.

Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week, the hub will transform the entrance foyer in the University’s Main Building into an interactive space where Cardiff University students can seek advice and work alongside others with great ideas.

The week, from 13 to 17 November, will also include a special event where students shortlisted for the University’s annual SPARK IDEAS competition – with £5,000 in overall prize money available – pitch their businesses to sponsors from Santander Universities, TramshedTech, S3 Advertising and Paperclip.

Sean Hoare, Acting Enterprise Manager for Cardiff University Careers & Employability, said: “The aim of the week is to leave students feeling inspired, emboldened and delighted. We’ll be using the space designed by previous SPARK winners, CAUKIN, in the VJ Gallery in Main Building to host guest speaker events and provide drop-in advice; as well offering a place for anyone to just come along, sit down, work and exchange ideas.”

Enterprise & Start-Up is a partnership between Cardiff University and Cardiff University Students' Union, offering workshops, competitions and skills sessions to help students put ideas and innovations into real-world action.

During the autumn, a series of training events will help students hone their skills. Sessions include ‘How to assess a potential idea,’ ‘How to find your market,’ ‘Mastering the pitch,’ and ‘How to find investment for your project.’

The event complements Welsh Government’s ‘Be the Spark’ initiative, which is working to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation by bringing academia and business closer across the country.

For further information, tweet @CardiffUniE, visit the Enterprise website or email enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk.

A unique mentoring scheme, designed to encourage language learning amongst young people in Wales, has been awarded the prestigious Threlford Cup by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL).

The Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Mentoring Scheme, which is led by Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, is funded by Welsh Government as part of its Global Futures plan which aims to improve and promote the take up of modern foreign languages in schools. In partnership with Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities, the project undertakes a nationwide approach to increasing inter-cultural understanding and promoting language learning at key stages.

The CIOL awards the Threlford Cup annually to an individual, organisation or project that has encouraged language learning in others.

This year, after nominations from external evaluator, Teresa Tinsley and South East Wales MFL consortium coordinator, Sioned Harold, the MFL Mentoring scheme was presented with the Threlford Cup by CIOL’s Royal Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO at an award ceremony which took place at The Law Society in London.

The scheme has achieved much success since it began in 2015, working with over a quarter of all secondary schools in Wales. MFL students from Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities are trained as mentors and coaches. The student mentors are then partnered with schools in their respective areas and matched with Key Stage 3 mentees. Student mentors undertake weekly mentoring and coaching sessions for their pupil mentees in small groups across the academic year.

Over the last two years the mentoring scheme has had a significant impact on partner schools who have reported a marked increase in pupils choosing languages at GCSE as well as improved motivation to continue learning languages and to consider university.

Teresa Tinsley, who nominated the scheme, said: "This has been a win-win project. It has broadened horizons and built ambition in pupils and at the same time has provided university students with employability skills and experience to take into their working lives. It is always good to see universities working with schools and this project has been particularly well targeted and well organised. I am delighted to see this recognised nationally."

Professor Claire Gorrara, Professor of French in the University's School of Modern Languages and academic lead for the project, said: "To be honoured by the Chartered Institute of Linguists is a huge achievement for the MFL mentoring scheme..."

"Achieving recognition like this is fantastic but we are always developing new ways to improve the project so that it reaches more pupils across the country. We’re currently working on a digital platform to extend the project’s reach to pupils in more remote areas which is an exciting development and venture."

The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams said: "We want all learners to have the ability to speak to people in other languages and to understand and appreciate their own and other cultures. The Modern Foreign Languages Mentoring Scheme is an excellent way of achieving this and I am pleased that Cardiff University has had the recognition it deserves for leading on this project as part of our Global Futures Plan."

Some of the best rugby union teams in the world will train at Cardiff University’s new state-of-the-art gym ahead of the 2017 autumn international series.

Wales host New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Georgia at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in November and December.

The four visiting teams will prepare for their matches at the revamped Fitness and Conditioning Centre, which reopened on Senghennydd Road in time for the 2017/18 University term.

The centre offers three floors of cardiovascular, resistance and weight-based equipment including a top floor now dedicated to strength and conditioning training.

The top southern hemisphere teams have previously trained at the former Strength and Conditioning Centre on Park Place ahead of the annual autumn internationals.

The All Blacks were also put through their paces there before their Rugby World Cup semi-final clash with South Africa in 2015.

Teams are using the revamped Fitness and Conditioning Centre after its previous facilities were transformed over the summer.

Head of Sport Stuart Vanstone said: “We have a long standing relationship with touring teams who visit the city to play against Wales during the autumn campaign. All have used us previously but for Georgia it will be the first time they experience the Cardiff University welcome!

“The newly refurbished Fitness and Conditioning Centre which features our strength and conditioning suite has been designed in a way to service the best athletes in the world and I am sure the touring teams will enjoy their sessions with us.”

The matches taking place this autumn are: 11 November, Wales v Australia; 18 November, Wales v Georgia; 25 November, Wales v New Zealand; 2 December, Wales v South Africa.

The Fitness and Conditioning Centre is open Monday to Friday from 06:45 to 21:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.

Ground-breaking work to improve health and reduce poverty in Namibia will be highlighted in a new photographic exhibition.

The Phoenix Project, a partnership between Cardiff University and the University of Namibia (UNAM), has had a significant impact on the country since its launch in 2014.

The display at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) in Windhoek runs from 10 November 2017 to 18 February 2018 and seeks to bring some of the transformative work to life.

It follows a Phoenix Project photographic exhibition at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff earlier this year, however this display is different and has been specifically curated for Namibia.

One of the key themes is the power of the youth of Namibia in science, health and national development.

Health also features prominently - including heart health, anaesthesia, critical care and first response in trauma care, areas in which the Phoenix Project has been prominent.

The exhibition, featuring images taken by Phoenix photographer Paul Crompton, will be officially opened by UNAM Vice-Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula at 18:00 on 9 November.

Project leader Professor Judith Hall said: "Working hand-in-hand with the University of Namibia, Phoenix is making a real impact so I’m delighted we have an exhibition to give people a flavour of what makes the project so special.

"One of the main themes of the exhibition is the power of youth - we can, we have done, and we will go forward harnessing this power. Youth energy, goodness and enterprise will make things better for all Namibians..."

Professor Hangula said: "The Phoenix Project is a perfect example that north-south collaboration is not only possible but also that it can be very successful as well."

Ndeenda Shivute, of the National Art Gallery of Namibia, said: "Not only is the exhibition a tool to showcase the good work the project has done in Namibia but it is a great educational tool for the various visitors to the NAGN. This is a great showcase of how the arts and science can work together and we hope this is the beginning many collaborations."

Mr Crompton said: "It’s been a privilege to document the work of the Phoenix Project. From the learners in Keetmanshoop to the young doctors in Rundu, I have been so impressed by the desire these young Namibians have to grow, learn and make a difference for their country.

"I hope that I have managed to capture some sense of this in the images on show in the exhibition."

Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, announced in March this year that the University would continue to fund Phoenix for a further five-year period, until at least 2022.

The project’s work taps into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty, health & wellbeing, and education.

Phoenix is part of Cardiff University’s Transforming Communities programme, which works with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond.

Heads of UK professional bodies for medicine, teaching and policing have signed and published an evidence ‘Magna Carta’ – putting evidence at the heart of their institutions.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Chartered College of Teaching, and the College of Policing have published the declaration with the aim of embedding its key principles within their organisations.

The signing was hosted by the Alliance for Useful Evidence and Cardiff University Professor Jonathan Shepherd CBE, of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Created by Professor Shepherd and agreed by the Colleges, the charter reads as follows:

"Evidence of what works and what doesn’t has become, through formal trial and error across all professions and public services, a foundation of professional practice. Equally, many untested interventions can do more harm than good and are wasteful of public and private resource.

Therefore, Medical Royal Colleges, the College of Policing and the Chartered College of Teaching as leaders of our professions, declare that our institutions expect all members to take full account of evidence and evidence-informed guidance in their daily decisions and advice to individuals and organisations.

Further, because potential new policies and interventions need to be tested for effectiveness and cost benefit, we also declare that our institutions expect and will support rigorous evaluation. To these ends we undertake to ensure that these principles are reflected as appropriate in our respective values, constitutions or conditions of membership".

Professor Jonathan Shepherd added: “Professional bodies are major influences on the daily practice of hundreds of thousands of professionals across the UK who are their members and fellows..."

Chaired by Lord O'Donnell, principal speakers at the signing were Professor Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching; Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges; and Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, College of Policing Board.

Research shows that most people are worried about climate change, and yet the social silence on the subject is deafening: we hardly ever talk about it, and when we do the conversation can raise difficult questions.

As UN climate talks get underway in Germany, Cardiff will be hosting a climate discussion with a difference, in the form of a concert at Eglwys Dewi Sant.

Part of ClimateKeys – a global initiative involving over thirty concerts in nine countries – the evening of music, talks and discussion will encourage people to think and talk about climate change in new ways that lead to positive and hopeful responses. The concert takes place within Cardiff University’s Festival of Social Science 2017.

ClimateKeys was founded by London-based composer and pianist Lola Perrin, and features concert pianists and climate change experts collaborating in performances that include a conversation with the audience about positive response to climate change.

To date, over a hundred concert musicians and guest speakers in twenty countries have joined ClimateKeys. More concerts are being planned during 2018. Lola Perrin explained why, as a professional musician, she had initiated the project and brought other musicians on board: "Talking about climate change needs to move into the centre of all we do, so we are scores of concert pianists putting the conversation into the heart of our concerts."

For the Cardiff event, Lola Perrin is being joined by Dr Stuart Capstick from Cardiff University and Dr Adam Corner from the charity Climate Outreach. Both Stuart and Adam have a background in Psychology and the ways in which people understand and respond to climate change.

Dr Capstick said: "Climate change can seem overwhelming, and something that is hugely complex and removed from our everyday lives. But we still have many opportunities to protect the things that matter to us, and to do things differently..."

Dr Corner added: "It is hugely important that we try to break the conversational silence on climate change, and face the reality of a changing climate like we would any other issue in society. If we can talk about what climate change means for the things we love and the future we want, we will stand a better chance of building a low-carbon world."

The event is being held at Eglwys Dewi Sant (St David’s Church, St Andrew’s Crescent, near to the National Museum), from 8pm to 9:30pm on Friday 10 November.

All are welcome to attend the concert and talks, and are free to join in discussion of these issues. For more information and to book a free ticket, see the ClimateKeys website.