Articles on this Page
- 06/14/13--03:33: _Large Hadron ‘insid...
- 06/14/13--04:34: _New Visiting Fellow...
- 06/14/13--08:08: _Looking forward to ...
- 06/14/13--22:00: _Cambridge academics...
- 06/16/13--00:00: _Born to rule: two p...
- 06/17/13--01:20: _Towards the ‘holy g...
- 07/03/13--08:02: _"Studying isn't onl...
- 07/04/13--01:22: _Was the dawn of man...
- 07/04/13--03:00: _Crossing frontiers ...
- 07/05/13--01:00: _Bovril: a very beef...
- 07/05/13--01:53: _New and under the sun
- 07/08/13--04:00: _Family bonds: how d...
- 07/08/13--08:46: _Fun Lab: a big hit ...
- 07/09/13--02:51: _Artist in focus: Ch...
- 07/09/13--02:59: _We need feminism be...
- 07/09/13--07:30: _Churchill Archives ...
- 07/10/13--05:00: _Villiers Park Hasti...
- 07/11/13--07:56: _Fun Lab: a big hit ...
- 07/11/13--14:00: _Males have no taste...
- 07/12/13--02:47: _Until lions write t...
- 06/14/13--03:33: Large Hadron ‘insider’
- 06/14/13--04:34: New Visiting Fellowship will bring Brazilian expertise to Cambridge
- 06/14/13--08:08: Looking forward to 2014
- 06/16/13--00:00: Born to rule: two public talks look at royal births of the past
- 06/17/13--01:20: Towards the ‘holy grail’ of anticoagulant drugs
- 07/03/13--08:02: "Studying isn't only about books and libraries"
- 07/04/13--01:22: Was the dawn of man among trees in the cradle of disease?
- 07/04/13--03:00: Crossing frontiers at Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2013
- 07/05/13--01:00: Bovril: a very beefy (and British) love affair
- 07/05/13--01:53: New and under the sun
- 07/08/13--04:00: Family bonds: how does surrogacy impact on relationships?
- 07/08/13--08:46: Fun Lab: a big hit at The Big Weekend!
- 07/09/13--02:51: Artist in focus: Christopher Wood
- 07/09/13--02:59: We need feminism because….
- 07/09/13--07:30: Churchill Archives Centre celebrates 40th year with UNESCO award
- 07/10/13--05:00: Villiers Park Hastings Scholars celebrate a year of achievement
- Photo (left to right): Richard Gould (Chief Executive, Villiers Park Educational Trust), Councillor Alan Roberts (Mayor of Hastings), Hayley Graham, Jack Doherty, Fern Pattinson and Russell Reid.
- 07/11/13--07:56: Fun Lab: a big hit at The Big Weekend!
- 07/11/13--14:00: Males have no taste… at least if you are a Heliconius butterfly
- 07/12/13--02:47: Until lions write their own history…
In October 2000, I arrived in Geneva from Stansted airport ready to start a two year research job at the European centre for particle physics (CERN) with my heart in my throat. This was before all of the recent excitement about the Large Hadron Collider, but for a particle physicist, CERN is the ultimate temple of physics and for me, it was my lifetime ambition to work there. I had recently daringly, and many said stupidly, turned down a life-time lectureship at another university so that I might have a chance of working at CERN (the offer came with an inflexible initial start date).
CERN really is an amazing place. There are some 10,000 physicists and engineers working on the site, which straddles the Franco-Swiss border, just outside Geneva, underneath the Jura Mountains. Everyone is working for The Cause - our common goal is to find out what the stuff that makes up our universe is like, and how it behaves.
When I arrived, the Large Hadron Collider had not been built and the previous one was toward the end of its operation. While I was there, there was a potential hint of a higgs signal in the data. All of a sudden, CERN was completely abuzz. Everyone was trying to find out the latest rumours. There were four independent experiments back then, all competing with each other. The idea behind this was that they can check each other's results, and keep each other unbiased. But because of this competition, the experiments were rushing to make a big discovery before the others, but they also wanted to keep their data secret so as not to give the others a clue.
I am a theoretical physicist: I do the mathematics and interpret experimental data, rather than actually run the experiments. My theoretical colleagues had spies on the experiments, which they were trying to push for information to find out the latest on the Higgs boson. Then they would tell their friends, and all sorts of wild rumours would start to fly about. Mostly this wasn't done for any personal advantage, it was just that we were fascinated, and really wanted to know what was going on at the cutting edge as early as possible. Once every month or two, the experiments would hold seminars and do official releases of data. Sometimes we already knew what they were going to say but sometimes it was a surprise.
In the end, it turned out that the hint of a signal that we were all getting so excited about was just a random fluctuation of the data. We couldn't really know this for sure though until we had seen the LHC data, and that didn't arrive for another eight years or so.
At the time though, since there was the hint of a higgs boson signal in the data, and since the collider only had a year or so left before shutdown to make way for the LHC, the accelerator engineers started to ramp up the energy as much as possible. This was a risky strategy, because parts started to break down, being under a lot of strain (I imagine the accelerator engineers, like Scottie from Star Trek, shouting "she cannae take any more captain!") My friend worked on one of the experiments, and many times he was paged from the pub and had to taxi up to the experiment to try and get it working once it had all broken down.
Since the beam was still on, the experiment was losing valuable data that all of the other experiments were taking, and could lose out on a discovery as a result. One time, his boss had to be called in at 1am from a birthday party to coordinate everyone. The first thing to do was pour coffee down him to try to sober him up.
People often think that the biggest man made experiment on earth will be ultra high-tech and efficiently squeaky clean. In some ways this is true, but there was also a sort of Heath-Robinson aspect too. For instance, the accelerator is a complicated beast with thousands of different magnets and sub-pieces, all with complex and nervy feedback across them. As a result, driving it is something of a black art: apparently you get the "feel" of how it is behaving that day and some of the operators were particularly good at this knack. During 1998, the best operators by far were the French accelerator engineers: they just had the most experience, and an uncanny sense of how it would behave in the following five minutes. That year, the football world cup was in France, and we were praying that France would be knocked out early because the rate of good beam was really low: all the good French operators were taking days off to watch their team's matches.
It was hard getting research jobs in the subject back then: the competition was ultra-tough, and I was far from sure I would be able to get the next job. Whenever I thought about leaving the subject, I think how sad I would be to read about a big discovery (like the recent Higgs boson discovery) and to know that I could have been involved, at least in some small way. I really feel that I am super lucky to be still researching in the field. I work from the University of Cambridge, but visit CERN several times a year for research. If you ever go to Geneva, I thoroughly recommend you to get on the CERN website several weeks beforehand, and book yourself in to a guided tour. I guarantee it will be an incredible scientific journey.
Inset image: Ben Allanach working it out during his time at CERN
In a recent talk for TEDx, theoretical physicist Professor Ben Allanach explored the research he undertook during the two years he spent working on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. Here, he takes us back to his time as one of the scientists working on the biggest scientific experiment in human history.
Rarely has Brazil been more conspicuous on the world stage. Whether it is because of the forthcoming World Cup (2014) and Olympics (2016), or its emergence as an economic and scientific powerhouse, or its success in poverty alleviation initiatives, South America’s largest country is making a splash and grabbing headlines. As its geopolitical and cultural impact grow, so too does the importance of enhanced engagement and increased understanding.
It is in this context that an agreement was signed on Thursday 6 June for the creation of the Celso Furtado Visiting Fellowship in Brazilian History and Humanities, based at St John’s College. The Visiting Fellowship is intended to bring to St John’s College, for a period of one academic year, an outstanding Brazilian scholar working in the humanities and social sciences with a focus on Brazil. The Visiting Fellow is expected to carry out his or her research, participate fully in the College’s life, and join in relevant academic activities across the wider university –including the Centre of Latin American Studies, to which he or she will be affiliated.
The agreement was signed between Professor Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s, and Professor Jorge Guimarães, President of CAPES –Brazil’s federal agency for the support of post-graduate education and research, a division of the Ministry of Education. CAPES already funds up to 30 full PhD bursaries for Brazilians in Cambridge, managed by the Cambridge Trusts, as well as various Brazilian postdocs and “sandwich” placements for PhD students.
The Visiting Fellowship was named after Celso Furtado (1920-2004), a distinguished Brazilian economist, public intellectual and politician, who between 1973 and 1974 was Simón Bolívar Professor at the Centre of Latin American Studies –the first Brazilian to hold that distinguished post. Though Furtado himself was a member of King’s College, St John’s seemed to be the most appropriate place for such a Visiting Fellowship following the donation, in 2010, of over 2,000 books on Portuguese and Brazilian history. The gift, made to the College by St John’s alumnus and historian Kenneth Maxwell (and now fully catalogued), is the most important single resource on Luso-Brazilian history in the United Kingdom.
Thursday’s signing ceremony, followed by a dinner at the Master’s Lodge, was attended by Dr Mary Dobson; St John’s Senior Bursar, Chris Ewbank; Manucha Lisboa, Professor of Portuguese Literature and Culture and Fellow of St John’s; and Janet Chow, Academic Services Librarian. Other Cambridge attendees included Dr Jennifer Barnes, Pro-Vice-chancellor for International Strategy; Professor Martin Daunton, Master of Trinity Hall and Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dr Charles Jones, Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies.
Accompanying Prof Jorge Guimarães alongside members of CAPES’ international affairs directorate were senior representatives of the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology, Professors Paulo Sergio Beirão, Alvaro Toubes Prata and Virgilio Almeida. The Brazilian embassy was represented by the new Head of the Academic Division, Flávio Werneck.
Specific details regarding the Celso Furtado Visiting Fellowship in Brazilian History and Humanities will be published in due course.
Professor Christopher Dobson, Master of St John’s, and Professor Jorge Guimarães, President of CAPES, sign agreement for the creation of the Celso Furtado Visiting Fellowship in Brazilian History and Humanities
Share your memories of the Festival and how it has changed over the years, offer suggestions for themes and events and, of course, come along and be enthused!
The 2014 Cambridge Science Festival will be held between 10 and 23 March 2014.
Cambridge Science Festival is 20 next year and we’re already looking forward to celebrating this great occasion.
Professor Stephen Patrick O’Rahilly is appointed a Knight Bachelor, Professor Alan Dashwood is appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Professor William Rodolph Cornish, is appointed a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Professor David Ford is appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and Anthony David Lemons is appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Professor, Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine, Department of Clinical Biochemistry
Professor, Sir Stephen O’Rahilly is appointed a Knight Bachelor for his services to Medical Research.
After graduating in Medicine from University College Dublin in 1981, O’Rahilly undertook postgraduate clinical and research training in general medicine, diabetes and endocrinology in London, Oxford and Harvard. He arrived in Cambridge in 1991, obtaining a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellowship and establishing his laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He is currently Chair of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Cambridge, as well as Co-Director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit.
O’Rahilly has won many awards for his work, including the Society for Endocrinology Medal, the European Journal of Endocrinology Prize and the Novartis International Award for Clinical Research in Diabetes and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999, and the Royal Society in 2003.
“I am delighted to accept this honour on behalf of the many dedicated colleagues who have worked with me over more than 20 years to make Cambridge a centre of excellence for research and clinical care in the area of metabolic and endocrine diseases. Having lived in the UK for more than half my life I am touched that the work I have been involved in has been recognised by my adopted country in this way.”
Professor, Sir Alan Dashwood, Emeritus Professor of European Law, Faculty of Law
Professor, Sir Alan Dashwood is appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services to the development of European Law.
Arriving in Cambridge in 1995, Dashwood is now Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law and Emeritus Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. In January 2012 he became a part-time Professor of Law at City University. He is also a Barrister in Henderson Chambers, a Bencher of the Inner Temple and took Silk in 2010.
He specialises in the law of the European Union, and appears regularly in proceedings before the Court of Justice of the EU. Before election to his Chair at Cambridge, he was a Director in the Legal Service of the Council of the EU. He was the founding Editor of European Law Review and was one of the Joint Editors of Common Market Law Review until December 2008. He is a co-author of Wyatt and Dashwood’s European Union Law, the sixth edition of which appeared in 2011, and contributes frequently to legal periodicals. At the invitation of the FCO, he led a team of Cambridge lawyers in drafting a model EU Constitution, as a contribution to the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe. He was appointed CBE in 2004.
"Regarding its legal obligations under the EU Treaties, the UK has a compliance record second to none. We also have arguably the best legal education on EU Law and some of the best scholarship. I'm grateful that my small contribution to this success story should have been so generously recognised."
Professor William Cornish, Emeritus Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Faculty of Law
Professor William Cornish is appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services to promoting understanding of British Law in Central Europe.
Originally from Adelaide, Cornish completed his postgraduate studies at Oxford - one of the first group of British Commonwealth scholars in 1960. He was side-tracked from a return to Australia by a post in the Law Department at the LSE.
On arriving in Cambridge in 1990, he became the first Director of the Law Faculty’s Centre for European Legal Studies. Cornish is recognised for the contribution he has made to the British Law Centre at Warsaw University and several other law schools in the region. He has been much helped in this over the last twenty years by other scholars, mostly Cambridge-based, and by teaching staff who are working full-time in Warsaw. The course he has taught has made a distinctive contribution to the process of Europeanisation that the countries of central Europe have undergone in the same two decades.
A Fellow of Magdalene College, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1984 and is an External Academic Member of the Max-Planck Institute for Intellectual Property Law, Munich. In 1997 he was made an Honorary Queen's Counsel.
Cornish's particular interests are in the law of intellectual property and in modern legal history. His publications include: The Jury (1970), Law and Society in England 1750-1950 (1989) and Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trademarks and Allied Rights (4th edition, 1999)
He has recently been Chairman of the National Academies Policy Advisory Group's working party on 'Intellectual Property and the Academic Community', whose report is available from the Royal Society.
He writes: "My special interests at the moment include the adaptation of the patent system to biotechnology and the impact of multi-media on intellectual property"
Professor David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, Faculty of Divinity
Professor Ford is appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his services to theological scholarship and inter-faith relations.
The Regius Professor of Divinity, a Fellow of Selwyn College and Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, Ford took up his post in Cambridge after teaching theology in the University of Birmingham for fifteen years.
Co-founder of the Scriptural Reasoning movement which gathers Jews, Christian and Muslims to read and discuss their sacred texts, he has been involved in a wide range of inter-faith projects, within and outside the academy, in Britain and around the world.
He was awarded the Sternberg Foundation Gold Medallion for Inter-faith Relations in 2008 and the Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation in 2012.
Ford is a Trustee of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton and an Advisor to the Institute of Comparative Scripture and Interreligious Dialogue in Minzu University of China, Beijing.
Alongside his work on inter-faith relations, other interests include the work of the L’Arche communities for people with learning disabilities and the place of theology and religious studies in higher education. He is currently working on a theological commentary on the Gospel of John.
His recent publications include: The Future of Christian Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
"I am delighted. I look forward to going on working in theology and inter-faith relations. My thanks go to the team of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme and all who have supported it, and to the ‘Scriptural Reasoning’ movement. I also recall in gratitude those who taught me in Trinity College Dublin, Yale, Tübingen and Cambridge. In particular I think of Stephen Sykes, my first theology teacher and PhD supervisor in Cambridge - I was honoured to succeed him as Regius Professor of Divinity”.
Anthony David Lemons, Director of Physical Education and Sport, University of Cambridge
Mr Lemons is appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to University sport.
With a career spanning over 44 years, including positions at the Universities of Liverpool and Edinburgh and the National Sports Institute in Paris, he has been the Director of Physical Education at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. During this time, he has transformed the position of sport within the University and the community at large, by developing extensive partnerships and delivering new opportunities for sport, exercise and health related fitness across the region. He is a Fellow of Hughes Hall.
This year will see the completion of Phase 1 of a £50m Sports Centre for the University, the result of 15 years of negotiation, planning, design and fundraising work, led by Lemons and a huge moment in the history of sport at the University that will provide world-class facilities. Sporting facilities delivered under Lemons management also include a Grade 1 athletics track, synthetic hockey pitch and pavilion, and an Indoor Cricket School. In addition to his commitment to provide the best quality sports facilities for the University and it's sportspeople, Lemons has also worked closely with the city to ensure that all of the facilities are available to the wider community.
Lemons is a founder and Head of the Cambridge MCC Universities Centre of Excellence, one of only six in the Country. He also helped to establish the Eric Evans Fund to provide financial support to student athletes, coaches and officials.
Dedicating his working life to University Sport, he has tried to ensure that the sportspeople of Cambridge and beyond have access to top quality sports facilities across the region.
Four Cambridge Professors and the University's Director of Physical Education and Sport have been recognised in the latest honours list.
Birth is a momentous event in anyone’s life. When the people involved were absolute monarchs, births had the capacity to shape the narrative of nations. Past royal births are both examples of this most universal of experiences and potent indicators that historians can use to investigate our culture, politics and mores.
As the arrival of the latest royal baby approaches, two public lectures will unravel some of the problems and pitfalls surrounding births of Tudor and Stuart monarchs. The lectures — titled Born to Rule — will shine a light on the history of fertility, pregnancy and childbirth in Britain in the 15th to 17th centuries.
The talks will be given by historians working with the Generation to Reproduction Project at Cambridge University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science. This cross-disciplinary research group is funded by the Wellcome Trust to investigate the history of reproduction over the long term.
On Tuesday 18 June, Peter Jones, a principal investigator in the Generation to Reproduction project will talk about Henry VIII’s fertility struggles. Henry forged multiple marriages in the pursuit of a single goal – a healthy male heir who would ensure the continuation of a fragile dynasty.
“Throughout his reign Henry VIII was obsessed by the need to produce a male heir and, ideally, a spare to take the ruling Tudor line forward. Henry’s domestic and foreign policies were shaped by this quest to reproduce and he directed an impressive battery of resources – medical, religious and political – at achieving this aim. Nothing was spared: neither family relationships nor religious affiliations,” said Jones.
Because he broke from Rome, in order to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, it is often assumed that Henry VIII was irreligious. But the evidence for his personal beliefs suggests that he was very devout – and in his quest to sire a child he bought into the quasi-magical practices current at this time.
“When Katherine of Aragon bore him a son – an infant who lived only six weeks – he jumped on a horse and rode from Richmond to the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk where he said prayers of thanks to the Virgin Mary and left a necklace as a thank-offering. Though he’s commonly remembered for his dissolution of the monasteries, he remained pious to the end of his life,” said Jones.
“Henry VIII also clearly believed, as many people did, in the power of rituals involving amulets and prayer rolls. He owned and wrote on such a roll – a manuscript inscribed with devotional prayers – which was to be wrapped around women during childbirth to protect mother and child. He refused to crack down on these superstitious practices.”
For many years there was speculation that Henry’s own fertility problems had been caused by syphilis, a retrospective diagnosis which tapped into his reputation as a womaniser. Medical historians now reject this view: there is insufficient evidence of symptoms of the disease.
A more recent explanation for his shaky fertility is that he carried the gene for the Kell antigen on red blood cells. Most people are Kell-negative and if Henry’s wives were Kell-negative, they would become sensitised once they had conceived a Kell-positive baby. Subsequent Kell-positive pregnancies would be at risk as the mother’s antibodies attacked the baby as a foreign body.
“Interestingly, while in the modern era infertility was often blamed on the woman, there is evidence that in Tudor circles fertility was seen as a matter of balance between men and women. There are, for example, records of tests in which herbs were put into pots of urine from both the man and woman to see which herb grew and thus which partner was fertile. It was more of an open question than a simple assumption that fertility problems stemmed from the woman,” said Jones.
The childbirth drama that unfolded some 150 years later is the subject of the second talk. On Tuesday 25 June, Mary Fissell of John Hopkins University (currently a visiting scholar at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science) will present the gripping story of the birth of James Francis Edward in 1688. The arrival of the so-called “warming pan baby” – a reference to the feverish speculations surrounding his true parentage – is an early example of the media circus that surrounds royal infants.
The birth of James Francis Edward in 1688 at St James’s Palace is said to have been witnessed by no fewer than 42 eminent public figures, assembled to act as verifiers of the legitimacy of the child as legal issue of James II and his second wife, Mary of Modena. “The pressure on Mary of Modena to produce the sought-after male heir was horrific. She experienced a series of stillbirths and this latest pregnancy had been the source of successive waves of gossip. A fascination with celebrity is nothing new,” said Fissell.
“People doubted that Mary was genuinely pregnant and, once she went into labour, there were reports that the baby who emerged had been smuggled into the bedchamber in a warming pan, or that it had been sneaked into the bed through a secret door in the bedhead. The routes through which these rumours spread were the cheap broadsheets that were being produced in huge numbers, and read by an ever more literate population, often in the newly popular coffee houses, which were incubators for rumour.”
The warming-pan scandal put a permanent question-mark against baby James’s legitimacy. He never became king. His half-sister, Mary and her husband William of Orange, seized the throne in 1688, in part claiming that succession had failed because James was not the legitimate heir. The deposed King James II and his wife Mary of Modena fled to France from whence their son mounted invasions to reclaim the throne. Later known as the Old Pretender, he was the father of the Young Pretender or, more famously, Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Procreation was a matter of mystery and fear as well as a matter for celebration. “There was no sex education and the process of pregnancy and childbirth was usually a woman’s preserve, unless an emergency required a doctor being brought in. Childbirth was feared, perhaps disproportionately so – but most women would know, or know of, someone who had died in childbirth. One family alone in London had a monopoly in the use of forceps which were a closely guarded secret,” said Fissell.
“My interest in the drama of the warming-pan birth – apart from it being a really good story – is the way in which it was a royal birth but also an ordinary birth, revealing so much about the tussle for power in gender relations. During the Civil War women had risen to unforeseen prominence and with the restoration of the crown there were moves to keep them in check. Ballads, for example, portray them as sexually suspect and promiscuous, meaning that no man was safe from their mischief.”
The talk ‘Henry VIII: the Quest for an Heir’ is on Tuesday 18 June, followed by ‘Mary of Modena: a Royal Scandal’ on Tuesday 25 June. Both lectures will take place in the Little Hall, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge at 5pm. Free and open to all, no need to book.
More about the Generation to Reproduction group at Cambridge University can be found at http://www.reproduction.group.cam.ac.uk/
For more information on this story contact Alex Buxton, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge, email@example.com, 01223 761673
The hype surrounding the birth of a royal baby is nothing new. Two public lectures (18 and 25 June) will explore the Tudor and Stuart obsession with producing a male heir.
A new spin-out company from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, XO1 Ltd, has raised $11 million in funding to develop a new anticoagulant drug which has the potential to save millions of lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes without causing bleeding.
The funding, from leading life science investor Index Ventures, will be used to develop ichorcumab, an antibody invented by researchers from the University and Addenbrooke’s, which targets thrombin, the enzyme responsible for blood clotting.
“This is the most exciting drug candidate I have seen in 20 years in the industry,” said Dr David Grainger, Venture Partner at Index Ventures and interim Chief Executive of XO1 Ltd. “It has the potential to save millions of lives.”
Ichorcumab is a synthetic antibody based on a naturally-occurring antibody found in a patient at Addenbrooke’s in 2008. “This patient arrived in A&E with a head injury, and we rapidly discovered a degree of anticoagulation consistent with severe haemophilia,” said Dr Trevor Baglin, Consultant Haemotologist at Addenbrooke’s, part of Cambridge University Hospitals, who treated the patient in question. “We thought it might be fatal. But to our surprise the bleeding stopped quite normally.”
The observation led Dr Baglin - and his colleague Professor Jim Huntington at the University’s Cambridge Institute of Medical Research - to design a synthetic version of the antibody in the patient’s blood that was responsible for this extraordinary anticoagulation.
Anticoagulants, such as warfarin and the newer generation of drugs that directly target thrombin and another coagulation factor (fXa), are widely used to prevent thrombosis - a major cause of heart attacks and strokes. However, as blood clotting is essential to prevent excessive bleeding, the use of these drugs is limited by the bleeding side-effects that they cause. An anticoagulant drug which does not cause bleeding is considered the ‘holy grail’ in this area of research.
“Undoubtedly higher doses of these anticoagulant drugs could prevent the majority of heart attacks and strokes,” Dr Baglin explained. “But we can’t give higher doses because the bleeding they would cause would itself be fatal. Ichorcumab has the potential to change all that.”
“This antibody can deliver a high degree of anticoagulation without increased bleeding; we’ve never seen that before,” said Professor Huntington.
The investment, which comes from the $200 million Life Sciences fund Index launched last year to accelerate new drug discovery, will be used to complete the preclinical development of ichorcumab, and to manufacture substantial quantities of the antibody. “We expect to begin trials in human volunteers within two years,” said Dr Grainger.
“This represents the largest investment in a life science company by Index Ventures to date, underlining the transformative potential we see in this drug candidate,” said Kevin Johnson, Partner at Index Ventures.
The company will operate in virtual mode, without offices or labs, using out-sourced drug development expertise from across the globe. “That approach gives us maximum flexibility to deliver high quality development faster and cheaper,” said Dr Grainger, who is based at the Babraham Research Campus.
“We are delighted to license this exciting asset to XO1, backed by the experienced Index team,” said Andy Walsh of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm.
For more information on this story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Cambridge spin-out raises $11 million in funding to develop revolutionary new drug for thrombosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes.
Bethany, Nisha, Kulshoma, Lara, Jessica, Amy, Julia, Adeline, Georgia, Ellie and Matt’s mission? To spend a day in Cambridge exploring student life, and then report their findings to the rest of the year in a special assembly.
“Yesterday we organised ourselves into three teams” explained Bethany. “Studying, Accommodation, and Socialising. Students from Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin universities answered our questions and talked to us about our different topics. Next week we’ll present in assembly.”
“Today, some of us are designing the presentation and some of us are deciding what to say,” said Nisha.
“We took hundreds of photos yesterday,” Julia said. “Now we’re looking through them to decide which ones are good.”
“We’re looking for funny pictures and the ones which best describe the topic,” added Adeline.
“Like the picture of the fire station,” said Julia. “One of the students told us he’d burnt his cereal. So we took a picture of a fire station, just in case any of us sets fire to something while we learn to cook.”
“We’re designing the presentation to fit with the script,” said Ellie. “The photos need to be relevant to the subject, linked to what Matt and the others are saying, so that it looks good when we present it to the rest of the year.”
“We’re each doing a paragraph on what we found out and how it works,” said Matt. “I’m talking about how much rooms cost, and what you get for your money. I don’t like being on stage so I’m not looking forward to it – I think Ellie ought to take my place.”
Jessica will be the first speaker when the group report their findings. “I’m writing my script today,” she said. “We’ve got three script groups, one for each theme.
“We found out lots that we wouldn’t have known about before. Talking to the undergraduates was the best, they told us real stuff – they’re not putting a show on.
“We found out where students like to study,” added Lara. “They can choose what fits them personally. I thought the libraries at both universities were really peaceful, for me they would be a great place to study.”
“University students are much more independent in how they study,” said Amy. “There’s no pressure – teachers won’t come and look for you if you don’t come to class. It’s really down to you.”
Kulshoma is also presenting, on the topic of socialising. “I am feeling confident – we are practising the script today.”
“Although the Manor is right here in Cambridge,” explains Matt, “just like any school there are many students that have little or no experience of higher education in their families. This project gave them an opportunity to find out for themselves what the student experience could be like, and they’ve all done brilliantly – producing a fantastic presentation to share with others back at school.”
The Day in the Life programme is run jointly by Cambridge’s two universities. Marc Rothera, Outreach & Recruitment Manager for Anglia Ruskin University, explained its benefits: “The project helps students begin to understand the diversity of university provision available to them. It highlights the importance of good research and decision making, and gives them a great chance to develop skills that will benefit them both in their education and as they move on into the world of work.”
Nick Bedford, Director of Information, Advice and Guidance at The Manor Community College, is looking forward to seeing the final presentation.
“On our doorstep we have these two massive resources – Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Cambridge. I thought this would be a great opportunity for our students.
“I can tell them as much as I like, but I’m their teacher. It’s a different relationship with someone just a few years older than them. Talking to the undergraduates reinforces the messages we’re trying to give them in school and helps them see and hear for themselves what’s available to them.
“The barrier here isn’t physical. We need as many ins as we can get to HE. Matt and Laura’s work is massively valuable. They’ve got the expertise to show our students straight to where they need to go.”
“It’s all too easy to lose your focus in 6th form,” Nick added. “I know myself that it was only the prize of getting to university at the end of 6th form that kept me going. I hope that experiences like Day in the Life will give them something to really push for.”
“After doing “A Day in the Life” I’m really looking forward to going to university now,” said Jessica.
Adeline also felt inspired by the challenge. “It makes me excited about university – to be independent, and to have that freedom.”
What is it like studying at university? How do students really spend their time? A team of eleven Y10 students from The Manor Community College in Cambridge took on the task of finding out with the Day in The Life challenge from the HE Partnership project.
When the family of Albert Perry - a recently deceased African-American man from South Carolina - sent a sample of his DNA to be tested by a genealogy website, they weren’t expecting to rewrite the history of mankind. They were probably just a bit curious.
But Perry’s DNA contained a Y chromosome not seen before, one which potentially reveals that the last common male ancestor in the paternal line of humanity is almost twice as old as previously thought – some 338,000 years, even though the oldest fossil of man is only 195,000 years old.
The DNA was traced back to the Mbo ethnic group in central Africa, based primarily in South West Cameroon, suggesting that the dawn of modern man took place deep in the inhospitable forests of this region rather than the savannahs of East Africa, the area that conventional science has – until now – located as the site of the first homo sapiens.
This Friday, a student-run conference hosted by Cambridge’s Biological Anthropology Division will focus on this groundbreaking research, published earlier this year by a team from the University of Arizona and UCL, to ask some of the major questions it raises: How might this change our understanding of human evolution? Does the forest still influence who we are today?
Relocating Origin will feature experts from Cambridge and elsewhere, including one of the UCL scientists who conducted the original research, Professor Mark Thomas, and will be available to watch through a live webcast.
“This is a hugely exciting time for human origin studies. If these early findings are proved correct, the current narratives of the beginning of our species have been predicated on a different location and a different time!” says Katie Fitzpatrick, a PhD candidate in the Department and one of the conference organisers.
“The hot, humid forests work against fossil preservation as they just decay in such climates – unlike arid regions that have been the focus of early human research so far. However, the evidence may still be in the rainforests but we haven’t been looking”.
By asking ‘What if Adam lived in the forest?’ scientists will explore the implications not just for genetics but human culture, technology and society.
The impact of a forest home on the social structure of the first homo sapiens will be examined by the Division’s Dr Peter Walsh, who researches social networks in primate ecology. A major theme of the conference will be what’s known as Behavioural Immune System hypothesis – the idea that social behavior is an intrinsic part of the immune system, and infectious disease transmission can dictate social contact, especially in the heart of Africa.
“The forest region of central Africa is the disease epicentre of the universe! HIV from chimps, bats carrying rabies, Ebola, SARS, insect vectors carrying malaria and parasitic diseases like river blindness and elephantitis, loads of fecal-oral diseases… It’s described as ‘pathogen rain’,” says Walsh.
“You live in a big group with lots of social interaction, and one of you gets Ebola – everybody dies. So it doesn’t make evolutionary sense in such places”.
Walsh suggests that the region’s ‘pathogen rain’ could have stunted early human development, as limited interactions due to fear of disease meant that ideas and innovations were unable to spread and build, leaving our first ancestors languishing in the forest for thousands of years.
“In disease hotbeds, people have much stronger group identification, which makes them much more hostile – part of the behavioural immune system. You see the same in gorillas.”
One possible theory Walsh will discuss is that, instead of a “key innovation” – such as walking upright or fire - triggering human development, just getting out of the disease-riddled forests could have allowed for much greater social interaction that sparked a “cascade of technological innovation”.
And it is a much more recent human innovation opening up these possibilities. We now live in the age of ‘big data’. The access to unprecedented reams of digital information is transforming almost every area of academic research in tandem with society in general: “This capacity to have genetic samples from vast numbers of people is giving us a whole new view of why we are the way we are, and this is only the start,” says Walsh.
While the evolutionary scientists stress that much more research needs to be done in the region, which presents all manner of challenges from unfavourable climates for fossilized evidence to political instability, the conference will be the first to look at the emergence of this brand new direction in the field, and how it can be taken “from speculation to science”.
“Certain methodologies need to be nailed down, which will take a few years, but this avenue of investigation could lead to the reassessment of a huge range of thinking around fire, meat-eating, bipedalism, locomotion – when and how these things happened are all potentially up for discussion,” adds Walsh.
“What we want to ask is how this might change things, to get people to start thinking about the possibility that the last fifty years of research has been mistaken in its assumptions about where we came from.”
For a full list of speakers and topics, and a link to the live webcast of the conference, go to http://relocatingorigin.soc.srcf.net/
Inset image: Dr Peter Walsh
A student-led conference to be webcast live will ask, in light of recent research, whether the story of human origin is radically different from established thinking, and what that might mean for everything from genetics to the birth of culture.
Those taking part include Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, artist Quentin Blake, author MJ Hyland, Frank Field MP, columnist Owen Jones, George the Poet, teen writer Anthony McGowan, comedian James Mullinger and academics ranging from David Reynolds and Noreena Hertz to Mary Beard, Anthony Giddens and Richard Evans.
The University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas, which runs from 23rd October to 3rd November and celebrates the very best of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Events are held in lecture halls, theatres, museums and galleries around Cambridge and entry to most is free.
The theme of the Festival, which is in its sixth year, is frontiers and events around this theme include debates about the future of immigration with David Goodhart, director of thinktank Demos and author of 'The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration', the history of border conflicts, and raising multilingual children.
MJ Hyland will take part in a discussion of the borders between literary genres and whether publishers and writers have become more conservative about crossing those borders in recent years.
Another session which explores the borders between genres is a word-off between rappers and poets. Three rappers will compete with three poets to explore whether rappers or poets make the best lyricists. Mark Grist, famed winner of the don’t flop rap battles, Stephen Morrison Burke, the current Birmingham poet Laureate, and Hollie Mcnish, Glastonbury festival slam winner and BBC Radio 4 regular will compete for the poets. For the rappers are hip hop - Skuff, this year's BBC introducing rapper of the week, representing hip hop, Jimmy Danger, founder of record label audio danger records representing drum n bass, and grime fanatic Deanna Rodger, previous UK poetry slam champion.
Another event sees popular spoken word performer George the Poet give a performance of his work Malik at West Road Concert Hall. George, a Cambridge University student, is a spoken word performer, public speaker, writer and recording artist from North-West London who offers social commentary through poetry.
The Festival will see a host of inspiring interactive sessions for people of all ages, including a Horrible Histories session, line dancing for preschoolers, a pre-history day, a hands on session exploring whether humans and animals see the world in different ways, a backstage tour of the ADC Theatre, learning French through chess and a walk exploring the hidden history of Indian students at Cambridge. The Museum of Classical Archaeology is running a passport to the past activity where children can learn about the past through designing a passport and following a trail around the museum.
Other events at the Festival include:
- a series of debates on the future of Europe - from European fertility and the future of the EU to whether Europe is in terminal decline
- an ingenious new sequel to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
- a new film on a groundbreaking Muslim and Christian dialogue initiative, The Common Word, will be followed by a talk with Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sheikh Abdul Hakim Mur
- a debate on the ethics of smart drugs with Professor Barbara Sahakian and Dr Raymond Tallis
- a talk on the operas of Verdi and Wagner, celebrating their bi-centenaries
- a discussion of the impact of CS Lewis on science 50 years after his death with Daily Telegraph columnist and author Dr James LeFanu
- a debate on how possible future wars are being depicted in science fiction, led by Chris Beckett, winner of the 2013 Arthur C. Clarke award
- Museum showoffs, an open mic night featuring a whole bunch of museum enthusiasts talking about the stuff that makes them buzz
- a series of debates on issues relating to feminism, from boardroom quotas, female converts to Islam in the UK and how to be a single woman to whether it is feminist to encourage women into male-dominated areas.
The University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas is sponsored by Barclays, Cambridge University Press and Anglia Ruskin University.
Event partners include Heffers Classics Festival, University of Cambridge Museums RAND Europe, the Goethe-Institut London and the Junction. The Festival's hospitality partner is Cambridge City Hotel and its media partner is BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
Malavika Anderson, the Festival of Ideas Coordinator, said: "The Festival of Ideas has grown significantly over the last few years, in terms of both the number as well as the diversity of events on offer. We were delighted to have hosted over 14,000 visitors at the festival in 2012 and look forward to welcoming even more over 12 days this autumn. The theme this year – Frontiers – 'explores how borders, boundaries and margins are being either challenged or reinforced around the world' - has inspired the development of some truly exciting events."
The programme will be published on 2nd June September. More information from www.cam.ac.uk/festivalofideas
Do rappers make better lyricists than poets? Is there an alternative to austerity? Is Europe in terminal decline? What is the impact of conspiracy theories? These and many more thought-provoking questions will be explored at this year's Cambridge Festival of Ideas which is bursting with over 200 events for people of all ages.
A century and a half ago, a revolution took place in the food industry. A boom in the urban population fuelled a need for the mass production of affordable, non-perishable foodstuffs sold in cans and jars. Advances in processing and manufacturing collided with a burgeoning interest in science: the result was the emergence of branded convenience foods, cleverly marketed as nourishing and nutritious.
Speaking tomorrow at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, Lesley Steinitz will present a paper titled ‘Making Muscular Machines with Nitrogenous Nutrition: Bovril, Plasmon and Cadbury’s Cocoa’. In her discussion of what went into the building of these most stalwart of brands, Steinitz will address the question of how some of these products are so embedded in the public psyche that we go on buying them even when their grandiose claims have long been dropped.
Food is the stuff of life: the fortunes made in food manufacturing rely on the creation of narratives that tap into our deepest hopes and fears. The story of Bovril as the ultimate processed beef-based food is an example of brilliant marketing and myth-making – one that famously brings together notions of Britishness and beefiness into a bulbous bottle with a chunky red lid.
Some 130 years ago a Scotsman spotted a gap in the market. Tasked with supplying preserved beef from the ranches of North America for Napoleon III’s army, following their defeat due to starvation during the 1870/71 Siege of Paris, John Lawson Johnston saw the potential for a beef extract with added protein. He produced an extract made by heating carcasses of cattle and reducing the liquids that came off into a residue which was mixed with powdered dried meat. This substance, which Johnston believed was truly nutritious, overcame all the problems associated with the transportation of meat across thousands of miles of ocean.
As a brand that for decades stood the test of time and still boasts iconic status in the public imagination, Bovril encapsulated notions of health and energy, stamina and stoicism. Bovril is good for you. It helps to build healthy bodies. Bovril is what explorers drink to keep their spirits up when times are tough. It’s what your British granny gives you to sip when you’re recovering from a bug. Bovril makes your Sunday roast gravy dark and strong.
How did Johnston build his brand – and how did he create an image for a gloopy substance that has its own niche in the history of British food? Steinitz looks at the ways in which Johnston built a huge market for Bovril which is just one of the products covered by her wider study of industrial health foods and culture between 1880 and 1920. It was an era marked by a new decadence as an expanding sector of the population could afford new-style convenience foods while many worried about a reversal of Darwinian evolution towards the physical and moral degeneration of the human race, caused by the evils of industry, drink and squalor.
Steinitz explained: “The practice of dietetics, eating the appropriate food to make you well, was a practice which stretched back to ancient times. Advances in the application of scientific know-how – especially chemistry – and technology opened up new possibilities for food processing and preservation and its transportation across massive distances. Many of the new food products – which often didn’t resemble anything you could make at home - were attached onto older dietetic practices and were promoted not for just their convenience, cost or flavour, but also because they were health-giving. One such food was Bovril.”
Bovril was an inspired name marrying together meat, myth and magic: the first part of the word ‘bo’ borrowed from bovine and the second part ‘vril’ from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s science fiction novel, The Coming Race, in which the Vril-ya were an underground people with awesome electrical powers.
“From the start, Bovril was heavily advertised through campaigns that tapped into the mood of the public quite brilliantly. It was British and the company worked hard to make sure it was a food of choice of the army – it was patriotic and nutritious. Advertising featured pictures of bulls: the strongest of beasts, whose meat turned British men into the strongest and smartest in Europe. Essentially Bovril was imagined as a bull in a bottle. In this way, the advertising of Bovril is strikingly different to the advertising of meat products today which rarely if ever carry images of animals,” said Steinitz.
Advertising connected Bovril to the fashionable and popular physical culture movement by getting sporting celebrities to endorse the brand. One of these, the world’s strongest man at the turn of the 20th century, an Adonis-like star called Eugen Sandow, had developed his rippling muscles so that his body resembled a classical sculpture which he showed off to enormous crowds in the music halls. In the 1910s Bovril was also marketed as a highly advanced, scientific beverage that had been shown in experiments to boost the weight, assumed to be muscle mass, of humans and dogs.
The scientific theories that surrounded Bovril linked it with electricity, another marvel of science that was changing people’s lives. “In the late Victorian era, there were many popular therapies that used electricity as a stimulant and tonic for nervous complaints and constipation,” said Steinitz. “Bovril also slotted into the temperance movement as a drink that was alcohol-free and yet not namby-pamby. It has a suitable dark, macho look and a meaty, macho smell.”
Advertising was only part of the story. The company needed to source beef extract and protein, which meant working with ranchers in South America and the Antipodes, with shipping lines and hundreds of retailers. It meant keeping the supply chain flowing to meet growing demand. In all these areas, the Bovril company was adept at building networks with people of influence. And on every level the company innovated, for example, purchasing machines and dynamos to automate the manufacture and packaging of up to 150,000 bottles of Bovril per day in Bovril’s state-of-the-art factory which opened in 1900 in the heart of London. Its directors were so proud of their factory that they hosted annual tours for doctors and nurses, of their ‘Temple of Sanitation'.
As Johnston used his commercial success and his newfound wealth to march up the social scale, he exploited his network of powerful contacts to generate orders for his product which went into the armed forces, hospitals and workhouses. This gave Bovril the credibility as a legitimate health food for people to buy it also for home use. Its markets crossed class boundaries and Bovril could be drunk any time of day or night. It could also be spread on toast or added to soups and stews. In the summer, the company tried to persuade consumers to drink it cold with soda!
The product did however hit a few blips: Bovril had its own horse-meat scandals during the late 1800s, and in 1906 sales of Bovril dipped as result of public horror at the appalling human and animal conditions in the massive Chicago meat processing plants exposed by the publication of Upton Sinclair’s bestselling novel, The Jungle. More recently Bovril went beef-free for a period in response to concerns about BSE (mad cow disease).
Where is Bovril today? It’s still on the supermarket shelves but in many homes the squat black bottle slumbers at the back of the kitchen cupboard. The brand is owned by food giant Unilever and sales tick over at a modest pace – and inflated scientific claims for Bovril’s health-giving properties have long disappeared. “While Bovril used to be marketed as British using symbolism of beef and a bull, today its advertising taps into Britishness as symbolised by the National Trust and energetic outdoor pursuits in all weathers. But there is still something unshakable about our belief in British backbone from tasty Bovril,” said Steinitz. The black pot with the red lid lives on.
For more information about this story contact Alex Buxton, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge, email@example.com, 01223 761673
Top inset image: John Lawson Johnston
The makers of the beef extract called Bovril were pioneers in the dark arts of marketing. Speaking tomorrow at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, Cambridge University historian Lesley Steinitz will show how that famous black gloop won a cherished place in the heart of the nation.
A new solar car which, according to its creators, “rewrites the rulebook” for green vehicles, has been designed by students aiming to become the first British team to win the World Solar Challenge.
The prototype, which has been named “Resolution”, was built by engineers at the University of Cambridge. It is being unveiled in a road-test today (July 5th) at the Millbrook Race Track, near Bedford.
The team will be taking the car to Australia in October, where they will compete against rivals from all over the world in a 3,000km race from Darwin to Adelaide, in which the vehicles must be powered by the sun alone.
Their hope is that Resolution’s radically different design, in particular a set of moving solar panels which maximise power by tracking the path of the sun across the sky, will enable them to take first place where others have failed. No British team has ever won the competition in its 26-year history.
Keno Mario-Ghae, team manager for Cambridge University Eco-Racing, based at the University’s Department of Engineering, said: “Resolution is different because she overcomes one of the main limitations that affect most solar cars.”
“Traditionally, the entire structure of a solar car has been based on a trade-off between aerodynamic performance and solar performance. That’s how they’ve been designed for the past 10 years, and that’s why they all tend to look the same.”
“We turned the concept on its head. Our reasoning is that solar performance needs to adapt to the movement of the sun, but the car needs a fixed shape to be at its most aerodynamic. To make the car as fast and powerful as possible, we needed to find a way to separate the two ideas out, rather than find a compromise between them.”
The solution the team eventually hit upon involved embedding the solar panels within an aft-facing tracking plate. This plate follows the sun’s trajectory, and moves the panels themselves, so that they are optimally positioned at all times. The team estimate that this will give the car 20 per cent more power than it would have otherwise had.
This structure is placed under a canopy which forms part of the teardrop shape of the vehicle as a whole. The design is a departure from the “tabletop” look of most other solar cars, but is more aerodynamic. Because it encases the solar panels, rather than making them part of the shape, the question of power generation does not compromise the car’s aerodynamics.
Resolution measures less than 5m in length, is 0.8m wide and about 1.1m in height. Driving her across the Australian desert is likely to be a claustrophobic experience - in fact, the driver must be a maximum of 5’ 3’’ tall! These, however, are deliberate concessions made by the team for the sake of making the vehicle as fast and efficient as possible in the hope of winning the race. In the future, more conventional solar vehicles may well adopt similar ideas, but opt for comfort, rather than speed.
The car weights 120kg, and can reach a top speed of almost 140 kilometres per hour (almost 87 miles per hour), but needs about the same amount of power as a hairdryer. It achieves this by maximising efficiency at every level - for example, the motor is located in the hub of the wheel, eliminating the need for gears, chains or differentials which would lower its efficiency overall.
For those small enough to squeeze inside the cockpit, the vehicle has also been fitted with on-board telemetry, an “intelligent cruise control” which takes into account traffic, weather and driving style, and will advise the team on how to optimise the vehicle’s efficiency during the race itself.
2013 will be the third time that student engineers at Cambridge have taken part in the race. The first attempt, in 2009, was beset by battery issues and saw the team finish 14th out of 26 entrants. After a substantial redesign, the University’s Eco-Racing team entered again in 2011. That race was hampered by bush fires and poor weather conditions, and only seven of the participating cars were able to finish using solar power alone.
The team raises its own funds to develop and build the car, using a combination of corporate sponsorship and individual donations through a “Friends of CUER” scheme. The students involved also have to manage the manufacturing schedule carefully, as part way through the course of building the vehicle everything is necessarily put on hold while they do their exams! The final product is the result of a huge, collaborative effort involving 60 students.
“Efficiency is where our real strength lies and this is how we will be hoping to compete with the bigger teams entering the Challenge this time around,” Mario-Ghae added. “A huge amount of careful planning has gone into this project. It has involved research not just in terms of engineering and aerodynamics, but into the materials we use, the modelling behind the design, and the optimisation of the solar cells that power the car.”
“The cumulative effect is, we think, a radical, race-winning design that also incorporates elements that could be used more widely in a low-carbon future. No British team has won this race before, but there is no reason why we can’t be the first to do it.”
For more information about this story, please contact Tom Kirk, Tel: 01223 332300, firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of Cambridge students are hoping that their game-changing design of solar car will make them the first British winners of the World Solar Challenge.
When a woman becomes a surrogate to enable others to have a baby, new relationships are formed. Research carried out by the Centre of Family Research, University of Cambridge, suggests that many of these relationships flourish. The research will be presented today at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) conference in London.
Surrogacy, the process whereby a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for an infertile couple, has become a more widely-accepted way of building a family, helped in part by media coverage of its use by high-profile celebrities. Commercially arranged surrogacy is illegal in the UK and many surrogates, most of whom have children of their own, are motivated by the desire to help others have a family.
To date there has been limited research into the long-term impact of surrogacy on the adults and children involved in the process, but now a study at the Centre for Family Research is looking at whether, and how, surrogacy affects family relationships.
Today Dr Vasanti Jadva and PhD candidate Susan Imrie of the Centre for Family Research will present findings from a two-year ESRC-funded research project which looks at the experiences of surrogacy from a range of perspectives including that of the partners and children of surrogates as well as surrogates themselves.
The research is based on in-depth interviews with 34 surrogates, 36 children of surrogates and 11 partners of surrogates. Twenty of the surrogates had been interviewed by Dr Jadva more than ten years ago in a previous project which looked at the psychological wellbeing and experiences of surrogates one year after the birth of the surrogacy child. The participation of these women allowed the researchers to track relationships over time, adding a valuable dimension to the study.
The findings paint a largely positive picture of the relationships between the surrogate and her own family, and between these individuals and the families created through surrogacy.
“Our research shows that in the majority of cases, relationships formed as a result of surrogacy are valued and enjoyed by surrogates and sustained over time,” said Dr Jadva. The study found that surrogates stayed in touch with the majority of the surrogacy children (77 per cent) and with most of the parents (85 per cent of mothers, 76 per cent of fathers). Of the surrogates who had chosen to maintain contact with the surrogacy families, most would meet in person once or twice a year.
Most of the surrogates’ own children (86 per cent) had a positive view of their mothers’ involvement in surrogacy. Almost half (47 per cent) were in contact with the surrogacy child all of whom reported a good relationship with him or her. A significant number of surrogates’ children referred to the child as a sibling or a half sibling.
There are two types of surrogacy practised in the UK: gestational surrogacy, also known as host surrogacy, in which the surrogate gestates the couple’s embryo (or an embryo created using a donor egg) and becomes pregnant through IVF; and genetic surrogacy, also known as traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate uses her own egg and is thus the genetic mother of the child.
Interestingly, the type of surrogacy did not affect how the surrogacy child was viewed by the surrogates’ own children and did not appear to have a bearing on whether the experience was seen as positive or negative by those involved.
Susan Imrie said: “It is clear that the children of surrogate mothers do not experience any negative consequences as a result of their mother’s decision to be a surrogate and that this was irrespective of whether or not the surrogate used her own egg. In fact, most of the children we spoke to were supportive of their mother being a surrogate and were proud of what she’d achieved.”
Surrogacy offers a means of having children to a growing number of couples experiencing fertility problems or unable to conceive. The practice is legal in the UK on an altruistic and non-commercial basis, and surrogacy arrangements are non-enforceable in law. The surrogate is the legal mother of the child until legal parentage is transferred to the intended parents through a Parental Order which can be applied for between six weeks and six months after the birth. Since 2010 it has been possible for same-sex couples in the UK to use surrogacy as a means of parenthood. Although no accurate figures are available on the number of surrogacies carried out in the UK, it is estimated that numbers are increasing.
Dr Vasanti Jadva will be presenting her paper ‘Children of surrogate mothers: psychological wellbeing, family relationships and experiences of surrogacy’ at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) on Monday, 8 July. Susan Imrie’s poster is titled ‘Surrogate mothers: contact and relationships with families created through surrogacy’.
For more information about this story contact Alex Buxton, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge, email@example.com 01223 761673.
Preliminary results from a pioneering study at Cambridge University paint a positive picture of the relationships formed between surrogates and the families they help to create.
Some had just wandered in to see what all the fuss was about, as children and adults queued to take part in the hands-on activities, while others had heard about the Fun Lab on the radio or read about it in the Cambridge News.
The event was part of The Big Weekend, a jam-packed three-day free festival hosted by Cambridge City Council. The University’s Public Engagement team, University Museums and the Sport department came together with the Medical Research Council and Napp Pharmaceuticals for the Fun Lab to offer hands-on activities for all ages, from ‘make your own fossil’ and build a brain hat, to skull and skeleton snap.
The event also provided a taster for the Summer at the Museums activities, which invite visitors to explore the world and discover amazing things through the jam-packed programme of events starting on Saturday 20 July 2013 and ending Saturday 7 September 2013. For more details please see the full calendar of events: http://www.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.cam.ac.uk/files/summer_at_the_museums_cal...
The ‘Future Fossils’ event by the Sedgwick Museum, which was run on the day by the University’s Public Engagement team, proved extremely popular. Over 250 people, including children, teenagers and adults, relished the opportunity to learn how fossils form at the same time as getting stuck in and creating their own, unique fossil imprint, which they could take away with them.
In reality, the process takes millions of years; in this version things were sped up considerably by using modelling clay and plaster-of-Paris. Some fossils were far from traditional and included imprints using Lego men, toy cars and plastic dinosaurs.
Visitors thoroughly enjoyed the event and the general consensus gleaned from the feedback forms was that it was a valuable learning opportunity. Some of the comments included: “Fossil making was absolutely brilliant – in fact, all of it was good, dress up photos, skulls, chromatography…” “Loved making a fossil and testing one’s heart rate on a bike. Everything was awesome!” “We liked making fossils and dressing up in funny clothes.”
One parent commented: “Just wanted to say how much fun the family had in the Fun Lab tent on Saturday. What a well organised, fun, appealing and informative event. THANK YOU! The fossil has pride of place on my daughter's windowsill. Having travelled the length of the events tents, I think yours stood out... There was a real buzz. We were repeatedly asked where we got the brain hats from.”
Other events in the Fun Lab marquee included wobble boards and a Batak wall from the Sport Department, which focused on sporting attributes such as balance and reaction time. An exercise bike also allowed adults and children to put themselves to the test and burn off some excess energy while their heart rate was monitored. Surprisingly, in spite of the high temperatures, this also proved popular.
The MRC Human Nutrition Research Unit put people’s taste buds to the test by offering blindfolded fruit tasting. Although this activity was for all ages, children loved taking part and it had the benefit of enticing them to try fruits they would not normally consider. Many parents left saying they were delighted that their children would now eat fruits they had always refused previously.
The University Museum of Zoology created the unique skull and skeleton snap, where real museum specimens were used in a matching game of skulls to their skeletons.
Sue Long, Festivals and Outreach Officer, who co-ordinated the event, said: “We had record numbers of people visiting the Fun Lab on Saturday and it was brilliant to see everyone having such a spectacular time, including our team of volunteers who loved every minute of it. The popularity of events such as the Fun lab really do prove that people enjoy having fun while learning.”
The Fun Lab was sponsored as part of ARM's support for The Big Weekend.
For more upcoming events from the University of Cambridge please visit http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/whatson/
On a blisteringly hot Saturday, hundreds of eager, chattering children, their families, and other visitors poured through the University of Cambridge Fun Lab marquee at The Big Weekend on Parker’s Piece.
Presenting some 25 works together for the first time, this is a unique opportunity to see the Wood collection at Kettle’s Yard. Favourite paintings from the permanent displays will be displayed beside rarely seen drawings, stage designs and ephemera from the archives. Highlights include the reunion of two portraits, depicting sibling friends of Wood’s, Jean and Jeanne Bourgoint, whom it is said inspired the Jean Cocteau novel, Les Enfants Terribles.
Wood’s ambition to become the best painter alive propelled him from a childhood in rural Wiltshire to the epicentre of the avant-garde in cosmopolitan Paris of the 1920s, where he learnt quickly from the artists he met. His 1930 exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim in Paris was the first time an Englishman had been shown in Paris for several years. His painting developed rapidly, and by the time of his tragic death in 1930 at the age of 29, he had evolved a mature, lyrical style and a passionate connection with the coastal life of both Cornwall and Brittany.
The exhibition will examine the artist’s preoccupations, his subjects, his life and relationships with other artists including Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Picasso and Jean Cocteau, as well as his importance for Jim Ede, founder of the gallery. The permanent collection will be complemented by major loans from the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum and from the University of Essex to which Ede donated Woman with Fox (1929), as part of his gift to the fledgling University in 1964.
The exhibition is open Tuesday – Sunday, 11:30am – 5:00pm, until 1 September 2013. For more information please visit: http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
This summer, Kettle’s Yard reveals a unique collection of work by English artist Christopher Wood, for the third in its series of Artist in Focus exhibitions.
There is nothing new about feminism. With its roots in the suffragette movement of the turn of the 20th century, feminism experienced a comeback in the 1960s when the focus shifted from votes for women to wider issues of equality. There is nothing new either about handheld slogans used as an online device for getting out a bold message in just a few words. Someone holds up a placard with a slogan and someone else takes a picture. The photograph is sent round the world on the web. There are many such photos and many of them disappear without trace.
When activist groups in the UK and USA started using this template to encourage people to think about feminism, students in Cambridge took up the challenge to complete the sentence ‘I need feminism because…” Over a period of three days in April more than 700 people (many of them students at Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)) took part in the campaign. Their messages ranged from global and political to funny and personal. Examples ranged from ‘rape is used as a weapon of war around the globe’ and ‘today in the UK there are 4000 girls in forced prostitution’ to ‘I love baking and my dad does too’ and ‘some of my friends will laugh at this’.
The images were an immediate hit on Facebook and got half a million shares in two weeks. When 60 of the most striking images were edited into a Tumblr social blog site, the post was re-blogged over 230,000 times and re-tweeted around the world. Taken up in the mainstream press, the images led to a surge of interest. The French newspaper Figaro translated a dozen slogans into French. The Huffington Post reported that the campaign had spread to Malawi and Australia. Cosmopolitan magazine gave the campaign a thumbs-up. The Guardian carried an article by a 17-year-old soon-to-be Cambridge student who organised a feminist society at her school in Cheshire.
Appearance, and the pressure to conform to a narrow model of femininity, featured strongly in the ‘I need feminism because…’ campaign – and tellingly, the photograph picked up most frequently showed a woman holding a sign saying ‘I need feminism because this should really not perturb anyone’. An arrow pointed to the hair under her armpit.
All of a sudden feminism was in the air and the discussion point was: what is feminism today and what is its role some 60 years on from its re-emergence in the wake of Simone de Beauvoir’s Le Deuxième Sexe? The question of relevance lies at the core of what was, in many ways, a fun thing to do in the lead-up to exams: a plan concocted in Cambridge by Cambridge University Students Union (CUSU) Women’s Officer, Susy Langsdale, in response to months of planning with various groups and committees in an attempt to give voice to an upwelling of feeling following high profile cases of violence against women.
Langsdale is, unsurprisingly, thrilled by the success of the campaign she orchestrated with colleagues at Cambridge and the committee members of ARU Feminist Society. She comments: “Feminism has had some negative stereotypes in the past, but I think that nowadays students are increasingly excited by the potential it offers for change. This campaign helped to give voice to different people and, in doing so, combated some of the lingering ideas that feminism is outdated or elitist.”
She says this as an avowed feminist, brought up with strong female role models helping her to believe in herself. “I’m a feminist because I see women dealing with sexism and sexist attitudes on a day-to-day basis and want to help to improve their situations. However, it is clear that people are feminists in all kinds of different ways and for all kinds of reasons, whether because of their principals, their politics or as the result of personal circumstances or experiences. Standing in the street outside ARU on East Road and outside King’s College on King’s Parade for five hour slots across three days, we encountered a staggeringly wide range of people and opinions, but what they all had in common was a determination to improve the situation for women everywhere.”
It took real courage for some people to take part in such a visible campaign, as Langsdale explains: “Some people felt incredibly shy about being photographed but were keen to make a contribution. A few women were unable to show their faces because of possible repercussions. Some older women told us they were pleased to see that feminism was alive and well.”
Not all reactions were positive. Langsdale says: “We had abuse, some in the street and a lot more online, some of it pretty hideous, but it simply increased our resolve to stand up and put across our message that feminism is needed. For me and for the other organisers, this abuse was depressingly common but also reinforces the value of getting out into the streets and engaging with individuals and showing that feminism is alive and kicking. When we stand together, like in this album, it’s clear that all different sorts of people from all different backgrounds need feminism, it’s not irrelevant like the “trolls” try and make out. It’s empowering, exciting and potent.”
At the end of this week Langsdale, who graduated last year with a degree in History of Art, steps down from her post and hands over to the incoming CUSU Women’s Officer, Lauren Steele, a student on the Education with Drama and English course. Langsdale comments: “It’s been an amazing and educational year. The women’s campaign is one of the most vibrant and engaged campaigns in Cambridge University and I think this comes from its willingness to interact with anyone who approaches it, as the photos we took clearly demonstrated. I look forward to seeing what Lauren gets up to next year and wish her all the luck with the job!”
For more information about this story contact Alex Buxton, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge, firstname.lastname@example.org 01223 761673.
A campaign by students in Cambridge to raise the profile of feminism has been phenomenally successful. The project revealed just how frustrated many students are by sexist attitudes and how willing they are to work together to combat them.
The Churchill Archive, the personal papers of Sir Winston Churchill, which contains over one million items, including originals of his best-known phrases and speeches, has been recognised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as part of its Memory of the World Programme.
The collection will now appear on the UK National Register, highlighting its particular importance to the heritage of Britain. Churchill is joined this year by ten other British collections of note, including Hitchcock's Silent Movies and The Domesday Book.
“Churchill's words continue to resonate.” said Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College, home to the Churchill Archives Centre and the collection. “The notes for his great speeches, the drafts for his many books, and his rich correspondence are the raw material for the study and understanding of his legacy. It has to be right that they are now included on the National Register of our Documentary Heritage.”
UNESCO’s UK Register follows the larger, International Register of Documentary Heritage established in 1997. This list contains many types of globally important documentary, from ancient clay inscriptions and writings on papyrus, to modern digital sound recordings. UK entries to the list include the 1916 film, The Battle of The Somme and The Magna Carta.
A special ceremony will take place on July 9 at the Council Chamber of Tamworth Town Hall where staff from the Churchill Archives will be presented with the award.
“We hope [the] announcement will encourage people to discover these items and collections, as well as some of the other great documentary heritage near them.” said David Dawson, Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee.
For further information on accessing the archives go to: http://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/archives
The Cambridge archives which hold the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Thatcher is celebrating the inclusion of its core collection on the UK National Register of Documentary Heritage, a standard linked to the United Nations Cultural arm.
The Scholars Programme works with able local students from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping them develop a passion for learning, reach their full academic potential and raise their aspiration - all of which was in evidence during the celebration event.
During the evening Scholars from Years 10 to 13 talked movingly about their experiences over the last year and how they have influenced them both academically and personally. 74 Scholars who achieved the Gold Standard received certificates of achievement. The Gold Standard is a new initiative introduced this year to recognise the attainment, attitude, manners, contribution, attendance and progress of Scholars during the academic year.
Gold Standard Scholars from each year group who had demonstrated exemplary Gold Standard qualities were shortlisted for the Mike Baker Scholar of the Year Award. The winners, as announced by the Mayor, were:-
• Russell Reid (William Parker Sports College) for Year 10;
• Fern Pattinson (The Hastings Academy) for Year 11,
• Jack Doherty (Bexhill College) for Year 12 and
• Hayley Graham (Sussex Coast College) for Year 13.
Around 140 people attended the event including Scholars from Bexhill College, Helenswood School, Parkwood Sixth Form, Sussex Coast College, The Hastings Academy, The St Leonards Academy and William Parker Sports College, their families, the Mayor of Hastings Councillor Alan Roberts, Jon Beard (Director of Undergraduate Recruitment at the University of Cambridge), school and college staff, Villiers Park staff and Trustees.
According to Theresa Phillips, Principal at The Hastings Academy, the Scholars Programme has had a positive impact not just on the Scholars themselves but on the whole school’s ethos, culture and attainment. “During the four years that we have worked in partnership with Villiers Park Educational Trust the school has progressed from ‘special measure’ to a recent ‘good’ Ofsted inspection,” she explained.
By the end of the evening everyone in the room had been inspired by the Scholars, touched by their presentations and proud of all of their achievements.
Jon Beard, Director of Undergraduate Recruitment for the University of Cambridge, who attended the event, said “The students involved in the Scholars Programme are clearly thriving. That is in no small part due to the commitment of Villiers Park, Hastings schools, and their collective determination to put student success at the heart of everything they do. I am delighted that the University can be involved in such a positive initiative.”
Richard Gould, Chief Executive at Villiers Park Educational Trust, added “We were delighted to be able to celebrate this year’s progress with so many Scholars, their families and staff from their schools. The involvement of the University of Cambridge will be an added incentive for the young people to aspire for excellence”
The Mayor of Hastings joined Scholars from the Villiers Park Educational Trust Scholars Programme for an evening of celebration hosted by Hastings Academy. The Hastings Scholars Programme is sponsored by the University of Cambridge as part of the collegiate University’s commitment to encouraging able students from backgrounds under-represented in Higher Education to aspire to university.
The event was part of The Big Weekend, a jam-packed three-day free festival hosted by Cambridge City Council. The University’s Public Engagement team, University Museums and the Sport department came together with the Medical Research Council and Napp Pharmaceuticals for the Fun Lab to offer hands-on activities for all ages, from ‘make your own fossil’ and build a brain hat, to skull and skeleton snap.
The event also provided a taster for the Summer at the Museums activities, which invite visitors to explore the world and discover amazing things through the jam-packed programme of events starting on Saturday 20 July 2013 and ending Saturday 7 September 2013. For more details please see the full calendar of events: http://www.cam.ac.uk/museums-and-collections/whats-on/summer-at-the-museums.
The ‘Future Fossils’ event by the Sedgwick Museum, which was run on the day by volunteers and staff from the University’s Public Engagement team, proved extremely popular. Over 250 people, including children, teenagers and adults, relished the opportunity to learn how fossils form at the same time as getting stuck in and creating their own, unique fossil imprint, which they could take away with them.
In reality, the process takes millions of years; in this version things were sped up considerably by using modelling clay and plaster-of-Paris. Some fossils were far from traditional and included imprints using shells, Lego figures and plastic dinosaurs.
Other events in the Fun Lab marquee included wobble boards and a Batak wall from the Sport Department, which focused on sporting attributes such as balance and reaction time. An exercise bike also allowed adults and children to put themselves to the test and burn off some excess energy while their heart rate was monitored.
The MRC Human Nutrition Research Unit put people’s taste buds to the test by offering blindfolded fruit tasting. Although this activity was for all ages, children loved taking part and it had the benefit of enticing them to try fruits they would not normally consider.
The University Museum of Zoology created the unique skull and skeleton snap, where real museum specimens were used in a matching game of skulls to their skeletons.
Sue Long, Festivals and Outreach Officer, who co-ordinated the event, said: “We had record numbers of people visiting the Fun Lab on Saturday and it was brilliant to see everyone having such a spectacular time, including our team of volunteers who loved every minute of it. The popularity of events such as the Fun Lab really does prove that people enjoy having fun while learning.”
The Fun Lab was sponsored as part of ARM's support for The Big Weekend.
For more upcoming events from the University of Cambridge please visit http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/whatson
On a blisteringly hot Saturday, hundreds of people poured through the University of Cambridge Fun Lab marquee at The Big Weekend on Parker’s Piece
Female Heliconius butterflies have taste receptors next to spikes on their legs in order to spear and ‘taste’ plants to find the most beneficial ones on which to lay their eggs, new research reveals. As male Heliconius butterflies do not lay eggs, they have no taste receptors on their legs. The research was published today, 11 July, in the journal PLoS Genetics.
For the research, the scientists studied the genes that code for the taste receptor proteins. Using new high-throughput sequencing methods, they were able to identify genes expressed at very low levels, including the great diversity of taste receptor genes unique to female Heliconius butterflies.
Because, unlike their parents, caterpillars cannot fly away to find a more suitable plant, it is imperative that the female butterflies choose the best host plant for their eggs or risk the survival of their offspring. The proteins that are coded for by the taste receptor genes enable the female butterflies to identify the most advantageous plants on which to lay their eggs.
Dr Chris Jiggins, lead author of the paper from the University of Cambridge said: “It appears that a new set of taste receptor genes have evolved to help identify toxic plants and are used by females to find the plant that will increase their caterpillars chance of survival.”
It is a long-standing hypothesis that butterflies are so diverse partly because of the complicated evolutionary arms race with the plants that their larvae eat - as plants develop new ways to prevent being eaten, butterflies develop new ways to eat plants.
For example, Heliconius butterflies evolved in a way that allows them to feed on the highly-toxic, cyanide-containing leaves of passion flower vines.
The Heliconius butterflies have not only evolved to overcome the plant’s defences, but can now even synthesise their own cyanide-containing compounds that protect them from predators.
Professor Adriana Briscoe, who conducted the research while a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge and is currently at the University of California, Irvine, said:
“This study is important for understanding the co-evolution of butterfly species and their host plants, uncovers a new set of genes that are critical to the species' survival, and reveals that female butterfly behaviour shapes the hereditary make up of butterflies.”
Unlike their male counterparts, the female Heliconius butterflies have taste receptors on their legs in order to pick the best plants on which to lay their eggs.
Through kimonos, wall hangings, mats, soft sculptures and paintings, artist Deanna Tyson tells her political tales and weaves her social comments through stitched and painted works.
“Textiles, their application, their colours, their very threads and stitches reveal a great deal about the social history of differing cultures,” says Tyson. “Like a spider, I hope to lure the spectator in through a pretty and frivolous web of threads towards a political punch. Many of the pieces employ African wax cloth, the lineage of which is steeped in meaning and metaphor, legacies of colonialism, trade routes and exploitation.”
The exhibition space in the atrium of the Alison Richard Building (ARB) nestled among the Faculties of English, History, Divinity and Music is creating a reputation as one of Cambridge’s best-kept secrets, and a leading venue for contemporary international art.
Since the building’s opening last year, the ARB’s Public Art Committee has welcomed a series of exhibitions as part of its ‘ART at the ARB’ initiative, including installation, photography, ceramic and textile work. The bright open space of the building’s atrium, arranged over three floors, lends itself to large and colourful pieces and offers a flexible approach to displaying three-dimensional works.
The ARB, home to the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) is not just an elegant space, but also has art running through its veins. Last year award-winning contemporary ceramicist Edmund de Waal embedded his porcelain works into the very ground on which the building stands for his piece, A Local History. The three glass-covered, underfoot cabinets, or vitrines, that contain his collections of ceramic fragments echo the meticulous work of archivists at the Centre of African Studies, the Centre of South Asian Studies and Centre of Latin American Studies. The thrill of walking over these unmarked cabinets for the first time is well worth a visit.
Deanna Tyson’s exhibition of textile work, ‘Until lions write their own history the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter’, will be open until 3 January 2014. Entry is free.
To find out more about ‘ART at the ARB’, and to propose a new exhibition, visit: http://arbpublicart.wordpress.com
An exhibition of contemporary textile art by Deanna Tyson has opened at the Alison Richard Building in response to the unique materials held there collected from all corners of the globe.