Cardiff hosts inaugural Marshall Alumni Lecture

3 November 2014

Carwyn Jones and Prof Melton
Carwyn Jones AM presents Professor Melton with the Marshall Medal

A world renowned stem cell expert has visited Cardiff University to present a lecture to commemorate 60 years of British-American educational scholarships.   

Harvard University Professor, Douglas Melton, delivered the first 60th Anniversary Marshall Alumni Lecture at the University and received a special award from Carwyn Jones AM, the First Minister of Wales.

The lecture, entitled 'Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine: A Path to Longer and Healthier Lives', discussed how stem cells might be used to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

cdecided to come to Cardiff to deliver his lecture because of the pioneering embryonic stem cell research carried out by Professor Sir Martin Evans that led him to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2007.

Professor Melton is a 1975 Marshall Scholar and is currently the Xander University Professor at Harvard. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Co-Chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Last month a breakthrough was announced following research led by Professor Melton in which his team at Harvard discovered how to make large quantities of insulin-producing cells that could lead to the end of daily insulin injections for people living with Type 1 diabetes.

Before the lecture, the First Minister presented a Marshall Medal to Professor Melton to recognise his outstanding achievement and contribution to British-American understanding.

Some 40 Marshall Scholars from the United States were at the lecture, along with Sir Martin Evans, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, and Dr John Hughes, Chair of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.

Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. The Marshall Commission has a partnership scholarship with Cardiff University and the Welsh Government has hosted three visits to Wales by groups of Marshall Scholars in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones AM, said: "I am delighted to be here to mark the 60th anniversary of the first arrival of the Marshall Scholars to the UK. These scholarships represent the highest levels of research and academia and I am always impressed with the students' thirst for knowledge, enthusiasm and understanding of the UK."

Since 1954, approximately 1800 Scholars have held Marshall Scholarships. The 60th anniversary celebrations began on 8 May 2014 with a reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attended by HRH the Prince of Wales and a dinner attended by US Ambassador Matthew Barzun. Cardiff hosted the first of four alumni lectures as part of the celebrations, with the others taking place in Edinburgh, Belfast and London.