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Life Sciences Research Network Congress brings together Wales’ finest Drug Discovery researchers

10 September 2018

Life Sciences Congress 2017
Congress 2017

The 5th Annual Scientific Drug Discovery Congress will take place at the St David’s Hotel & Spa in Cardiff Bay from 11th to 12th September 2018.

This flagship event brings together drug discovery scientists from across Wales, providing the opportunity to develop new collaborations across the scientific community and strengthen the focus to bring new research funding to Welsh institutions.

Funded as part of the Welsh Government’s £50 million Sêr Cymru 1 programme to build research capacity in Wales, this final event in the Network’s lifecycle will showcase the wealth and maturity of Network drug discovery projects across Wales. This year the focus will be on exciting and innovative work being undertaken by final year PhD students and a selection of Postdoctoral researchers, revealing a wealth of research talent as projects advance to the last stage of data analysis and the potential discovery of solutions to areas of unmet medical need. Congress is an opportunity for students and leading academics from across Wales to highlight their research and discuss the challenges faced in developing the next generation of therapeutics. The event will be attended by a number of leading researchers whose work has led to successful commercialisation, as well as industry representatives with substantial experience in drug development.

This year, the Network is delighted to welcome the following key-note speakers: Dr Alan Parker, Reader in Translational Virotherapies at Cardiff University presenting on tumour-selective virotherapies; Dr George Johnson, Associate Professor at Swansea University will present on developing high-throughput genetic toxicity assays; Professor Cathy Thornton, Professor of Immunology at Swansea University who will present on drug discovery in pregnancy and paediatrics and Professor Paul Dyson, Professor of molecular microbiology at Swansea University who will present on bacterial mediated RNA interference as a therapy for solid tumours.

The Network is especially delighted to welcome Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Sciences at Welsh Government to open Congress on day one.

“The Life Sciences Research Network has not only brought researchers into Wales from across the European Union but it has encouraged inward investment from leading research charities such as Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust. For the last 5 years it has given researchers and students opportunities to bring exciting new research projects into areas that may have previously been under-researched. The Sêr Cymru programme has led to a step change in research capacity and put Wales firmly on the map as a centre of scientific discovery.”

Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services

Since the Network began in late 2013 with funding from the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, £5.9 million has been committed direct to Network drug discovery projects across Wales, facilitating collaborative engagement with over 330 partners. Bringing together leading academics from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities in over 143 research projects, £34.6 million in additional research funding has been generated and researchers have presented their work in over 361 conference presentations and had over 118 papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

The Network has surpassed the key performance indicators set by funders at project outset and these levels of output highlight the quality and quantity of research being undertaken by Network projects across Wales.

The Network has worked closely with a number of industry partners, the NHS and other major funding bodies with a strong focus on links to other funders, such as the Life Sciences Bridging Fund.

Professor Brancale, Network Scientific Director said: “The level of engagement with the Network, from academics has been immense so far. We have seen over 457 new drug discovery project applications submitted for review – and we have supported over 143 projects. The Network has made a real difference by focusing funding on potentially high impact research and supporting the discovery of novel potential therapeutics.”

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