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Recipients:
University College London
University of Cambridge

Results

Core support for Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Instiute. Award for years 4 and 5. 20 Sep 2006

This application requests the continuation of core support to the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute. The aim of the Institute, an integrated part of Cambridge University, is to contribute to an understanding of normal animal development, including the processes of cell differentiation, morphogenesis and cell proliferation, and to explain how, should these processes fail, cancers may arise. The Institute attempts to achieve these objectives by recruiting the best scientists and by ensuring that they have the best possible environment for their work. Recruitment is carried out by a committee of Group Leaders, with the main criterion for appointment being scientific excellence. This application is concerned with providing the best scientific environment for our researchers, and indeed the Institute's core support is one of its most important assets, allowing our scientists to spend as much time as possible on their work. This support provides practical assistance, such as media preparation, and secretarial and administrative assistance, including help with grant applications and equipment procurement. It also provides computer staff and a bioinformatician, as well as expertise in confocal microscopy. Core support is essential if the Institute is to maintain its position as a leading centre of cell, molecular and developmental biology.

Amount: £3,005,149
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge

WELLCOME TRUST CENTRE FOR STEM CELL RESEARCH 20 Sep 2006

The new Institute for Stem Cell Biology in Cambridge will be an international centre of excellence in fundamental stem cell research. The Institute will focus on definition of the genetic and biochemical mechanisms that control stem cell fate, providing foundations for applications in disease modelling, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. This proposal is for provision of core resources for embryonic stem cell manipulation and transgenesis. A central resource of skilled personnel will maximise research productivity and continuity, promote cooperation and synergy, and accelerate technological innovation. Timely and efficient production of customised gene-modified stem cells and mice is essential underpinning. Specialised expertise will support advanced genetic engineering of mouse and human stem cells, and operation of robotic platforms to develop screening methodologies for isolating genetic, protein and chemical regulators. A dedicated PdD programme in stem cell biology will capitalise on the opportunity for high level research training provided by the intellectual environment and core facilities in the Institute. A Strategic Award will immediately establish the Institute for Stem Cell Biology amongst the best-resourced and most attractive environments for stem cell research world-wide, providing a magnet for recruitment, and a much-needed focus for UK and European stem cell biology.

Amount: £6,956,531
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge

VALUE IN PEOPLE AWARD. 30 Aug 2006

Not available

Amount: £300,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Fragment-based approaches to the design of candidate drugs that interrupt protein-protein interactions involved in cell regulation. 28 Apr 2006

Structure base drug design and Structural bioinformatics are emerging areas that could help lead drug discovery. The Trust has recently awarded £1,022,854 to Professo'r Sir Tom Blundell and colleagues at University of Cambridge to identify candidate ligands that may advance cancer therapeutics. The applicants plan to extend fragment-based approaches and design novel candidates that interrupt protein-protein interactions exploiting small pockets in protein-protein interfaces, particularly where one component is :a flexible polypeptide that assembles to give a specific structure only in the multiproteiri complex. They are specifically examining the multiprotein complex of human recombinase, Rad51, and the product of the breast cancer associated gene, BRCA2. The applicants plan to screen using X-ray, NMR, mass spectrometry, and other biophysical approaches, together with biochemical and biological assays to select and validate useful ligands. This project could identify drugs that block the BRCA2-RAD51 interaction to sensitise canc~r cells to radiation, DNA cross-linking agents or replication inhibitors, or to directly induce cancer cell death during proliferation. In addition, this project has the potential to validate that protein protein interactions are potentially druggable

Amount: £1,022,854
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge
Amount: £213,508
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge

SONHIA - study of newly diagnosed HIV infection amongst Africans in London. 23 Jan 2006

HIV/AIDS amongst Britain's African communities is a major public health concern, yet to date, relatively little research has focused on this group. This study will increase our understanding of the factors which influence access to, and utilisation of, HIV treatment and prevention services among African communities in Britain. It will also help to inform the development of culturally appropriate HIV health promotion interventions aimed at increasing service uptake within these communities. Plan of investigation: The study population will be all African patients attending in- or outpatient services at selected London HIV treatment centres. To date 7 centres have agreed to participate. The project will consist of two inter-linked components implemented over 2 years: i) A qualitative study amongst a purposively selected sample of newly diagnosed HIV positive Africans employing in-depth interview techniques, and ii) A cross-sectional survey of newly diagnosed HIV positive Africans presenting to specialist HIV services in London. Key workers at each study site will recruit patients and distribute the questionnaires. Dr Burns will perform the interviews. 'Framework' will be used for organising and analysing the qualitative research. Quantitative data analysis will be using STATA 6.0. The questionnaire, topic guide and protocol will be submitted to all appropriate Research Ethics Committees for approval. All patients will be given written information regarding the study and written informed consent will be obtained prior to participation. An African Community Reference Group will be set up to oversee all stages of the study design. Background preparation for the study will be undertaken as part of the MSc dissertation. Study outputs: Peer reviewed publication on health care seeking behaviours among Africans and reasons for delayed presentation; contextual information on healthcare access and utilisation, stigma, onward HIV transmission risk and proportion of HIV infections acquired within the UK.

Amount: £23,380
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Antigen presentation and dendritic cell function in malnourished children. 15 Feb 2006

Malnutrition has a major impact on the health of children and is responsible for approximately 50% of all childhood deaths, mostly from infectious disease. The precise relationship between malnutrition, immune competence and infectious disease is poorly understood, yet these interrelated factors are the critical determinants of childhood morbidity and mortality. Though neglected in recent years, the association of malnutrition with defects in cell mediated immunity (CMI) is well established. Studies of CMI in malnutrition have focused on T cells, however, central to the successful generation of T cell responses is the ability of the host to present antigen to T cells. The professional antigen presenting cell in humans is the dendritic cell (DC), yet DCs have not been studied in any great detail in malnutrition, partly because the technology for their isolation and culture have only recently been established. Abnormalities of DCs have been described in early life and in association with infections such as HIV and malaria. T cell abnormalities described in severe malnutrition may be secondary to abnormalities of DCs. We propose to study DC function in a group of severely malnourished children on admission to a nutrition ward and then follow their DC function through recovery. The chosen study site in Zambia provides the ideal environment for such a study as the nutrition ward at Lusaka University Teaching Hospital admits 1,800 severely malnourished children a year and has an active research unit. During the study we will (1) characterise the patterns of DC phenotype and function in severe malnutrition, (2) describe the effects of severe malnutrition, HIV and measles on DC function, and (3) describe the impact on DC function of in vitro supplementation with micronutrients, thought to contribute to DC function. This study will provide insights into the mechanism of immune deficiency in malnutrition while also providing a rational basis for the development of novel focused micronutrient supplementation aimed at improving immune function in the severely malnourished child.

Amount: £23,105
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Collaborations between developing and developed countries in advancing biomedical population genetics, neglected diseases and bioprospecting R&D: developing policy and practice guidelines for going forward in 21st century. 22 May 2006

Studentship in Biomedical Ethics Project title: Collaborations between developing and developed countries in advancing biomedical population genetics, neglected diseases and bioprospecting R&D: Developing Policy and Practice Guidelines for Going Forward in the 21st century. The project will examine the structure, organisation and interplay of key ethical, socio-economic, health-policy and commercial concerns regarding the establishment of sustainable support systems (policies, institutions, R&D and commercial practices) for biomedical collaborations between developing and developed countries, framed around a need to align participant incentives- within a system that promotes and ensures ethical practice. It will elucidate the benefits and shortcomings of current practice; investigate the interplay between trade-offs and competing tensions facing collaborative efforts (e.g. exploration versus exploitation, short vs long-termism, trust vs vigilance, competition vs cooperation, opportunism vs altruism, planning vs emergence); highlight implications; and draw novel collaboration performance measures and improved guidelines for addressing a series of collaboration -specific issues in a multidisciplinary and integrated manner. These include access to genetic resources, benefit sharing and ethical concerns, IPR protection, technology transfer and capacity building in developing countries. Research will build on theoretical and empirical evidence from the fields of global health, bioethics, alliance theory, innovation management and development studies. The project will employ a multiple methodology approach, combining evidence from comparative case studies of collaborative R&D efforts at biomedical centres in the developing world (e.g. at sponsor institutions: Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies and Wellcome Trust's South East Asia Overseas Unit), interview data, company profiles, descriptive statistics, bibliometric and patent data. Empirical evidence for best-practice transfer will draw on contextual insight from the fields of population genetics, neglected diseases and bioprospecting. Such theoretical and practical advancements are pivotal towards spring-boarding cross-national collaboration practice in the biomedical sector, and ensuring that both "First" and "Third World" parties offer each other better credibility, stronger contributions and more equitable benefit distributions in turn.

Amount: £8,976
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge

Imaging neuroscience at the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FIL) 20 Sep 2006

The FIL is a prime example of a UK based laboratory that is an established world leader. This application for a Strategic Award is motivated by the need to secure the future of the FIL. The FIL supports a large portfolio of Wellcome Trust (WT) supported programme and project grant research, fellowships and studentships. A Strategic Award will enable the laboratory to retain its highly-skilled core infrastructure support staff; ensure a context of excellence to enable Wellcome Trust funded principal investigators (PIs) to continue producing science that is world class and high impact; and enable the laboratory to provide specific added value. A key example of the latter is in the field of bio-mathematics and data-analysis where our goal is to provide a common platform (extended SPM) for integrating data across distinct imaging modalities including fMRI, magneto-encephalography (MEG) and electro-encephalography (EEG). Finally, a Strategic Award will enable the FIL to provide a theoretical-neuroscience framework that informs both basic and clinically-oriented research into common neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Amount: £6,742,608
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR). 20 Sep 2006

A major objective for CIMR over the next 5 years is to better understand protein localisation, function and metabolism in a range of diseases in which genetic studies have identified the causative genes. Underpinning our core facilities is essential to achieve this objective and will provide added value to the considerable investment that the Wellcome Trust is already making to our scientific activities. Our present scientific goals are: (i) determination of the molecular mechanisms of intracellular protein aggregate formation and breakdown in health and disease, including the identification of novel therapeutic targets for protein conformational diseases; (ii) identifying and characterising the molecular machinery of intracellular membrane traffic and determining how traffic pathways are coordinated, regulated and modified in health and disease; (iii) the identification of genes, proteins and pathways increasing susceptibility to, or protection from, autoimmune diseases; (iv) determining the transcriptional regulation of haematopoietic stem cells. Our proposal includes funding of core specialist scientific staff, annual research retreats, funds to encourage young clinicians back into research and a case for 2 PhD students per annum. We aim to make CIMR a flagship in the UK for interdisciplinary research at the interface between clinical and basic research.

Amount: £4,084,076
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge

Conversation Piece. 26 Jul 2006

The Listening Room The Listening Room is a collaboration between artist Alexa Wright and Alf Linney, Professor of Medical Physics at University College London. Within the Centre for Auditory Research at UCL Alexa and Alf are researching an effective means of modelling human communication. With a view to creating an interactive audio installation - an intelligent room that can converse with its occupants - they will bring the latest technologies for sound placement and for speech recognition and synthesis into a clinical environment where they will interact with scientists who are working to understand the physical and neurological aspects of binaural hearing.

Amount: £96,052
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Neurotopographics. 26 Jul 2006

Neurotopographics The project brings together a scientist, an architect and an artist to make a film exploring how dynamic patterns of brain activity provide a code for the structure of space. The film will follow the journey of a visitor to an art gallery as seen through the visitor's eyes and from a bird's eye view on an architectural plan. During the journey the activity of brain cells known as 'place cells', 'grid cells' and 'head direction cells' will then be conveyed through a confrontation with sound and colour. The film will invite the audience to consider how their brains represent the world around them.

Amount: £13,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

Volunteers in biomedical research: social science perspectives. 14 Dec 2005

Volunteers in Biomedical Research: Social Science Perspectives The aim of this meeting is to bring together academics who are specifically interested in exploring what it means to be a volunteer from the volunteers' perspective. While many of the researchers in the field are London-based, there has been little opportunity for all to meet in a single forum. The workshop will develop ideas and collaborative links for future work, build capacity in the UK social science community, and explore how this area of research can engage with current debates in science policy and research governance. Although UK government policy now puts a strong emphasis on public participation in research governance, there remains little discussion on the participatory role of volunteer human subjects. There are questions too about how adequately current codes of medical ethics function in practice and how they can accommodate the idea of more actively participative volunteers. The proposed workshop and its outputs could contribute to moving forward these issues. Topics to be addressed will include: the researcher-subject relationship; volunteers' understandings of research design and the implications for informed consent; volunteer motivation to participate; historical perspectives on volunteers' self-understanding; the significance of discourse around the 'volunteer', 'participant' or 'subject'; the possibilities for volunteers to influence the design and development of research. The meeting fits specifically with the objective of the Wellcome Biomedical Ethics programme to "build and enhance national capacity in the field". Some of the invited participants are working specifically within the programme's focus, looking at volunteering in relation to genetics (especially genetic databases) and neuroscience (especially brain imaging); others are working on the role of volunteers in a diverse range of the biomedical sciences. This meeting is specifically concerned with qualitative studies of volunteers' own experiences and understandings, and to this extent we are not aware of any recent meetings on this emerging field of science.

Amount: £2,880
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

'Epidemics in South Asian History: A review of medical, political and social responses' conference to be held in Burdwan, India on 7th, 8th and 9th November 2006. 08 Feb 2006

Epidemics in South Asian History: A review of medical, political and social responses A lot of the valuable research that this meeting will showcase is being carried out by staff in the smaller South Asian universities, whose contributions are often ignored in well-known publications; similarly, many UK-based associations for the study of the history of medicine remain unaware of the range and richness of this work, generally to their own disadvantage. This situation generally exists because scholars attached to the smaller South Asian universities have relatively weak links with the major international communities of historians of medicine, particularly those in the UK and Europe, where there has been a great interest in the subject over the past two decades. Apart from seeking to redress this situation, the proposed meeting also aims to highlight the significance of the study of the history of medicine at a university where a notable level of commitment towards the subject already exists. A joint meeting with the Wellcome Trust Centre would help advertise Burdwan University's efforts to propagate the post-graduate study of the history of medicine, science and technology, which would be useful both nationally and internationally. It is hoped that Burdwan University's efforts will receive greater publicity through a major international conference, which is likely to stoke greater government support for these educational ventures (activities in Burdwan University do not go unnoticed by the Government of West Bengal, which funds educational activities through the state). Burdwan University's intellectual resources could be useful to UK-based historians of medicine, as it offers the possibility of creating new collaborations and an effective base for Wellcome Trust-funded scholars seeking to carry out research in the region (research visas need to be sponsored by recognised universities and the university's department of history could be very helpful in this regard). Burdwan's history department is in keeping with the Wellcome Trust Centre agenda of seeking to expand interest in the history of medicine internationally; a goal in sync with the Wellcome Trust's history of medicine division's own goals.

Amount: £3,000
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University College London

40 years of Family Research. 28 Mar 2006

Title of meeting: 40 years of Family Research Martin Richards has been an eminent researcher in many areas of family research and it is probably not an exaggeration to describe him as one of the pioneers in the field of psychological and social aspects of 'new' human genetics. He has raised important questions, developed research and contributed greatly in areas such as genetic screening, consent and bioethics. He has given generously of his time to serve on many committees in associated areas. The occasion of his retirement seems an appropriate time to reflect on his contributions and the way his work can be taken forward.

Amount: £750
Funder: The Wellcome Trust
Recipient: University of Cambridge