News Article | May 12, 2017
OXFORD, England & BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Blue Earth Diagnostics, a molecular imaging diagnostics company, announced that the Trial Steering Committee recommended that further recruitment be stopped in the FALCON clinical study of fluciclovine (18F) PET/CT imaging, based on successful results of a pre-planned interim analysis. The FALCON trial, announced in March 2016, is a UK-based, open-label study (NCT02578940) to evaluate the clinical impact of fluciclovine (18F) PET/CT imaging on patient management decisions in men with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Axumin™ (fluciclovine F 18), a novel molecular imaging agent for use in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated blood levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) following prior treatment. The primary endpoint of the FALCON study examines the percentage of men who have their management plan changed after a fluciclovine (18F) scan. The single, pre-planned interim analysis of the primary endpoint was performed based on the first 85 evaluable patients. Based on the interim analysis results, recruitment in the trial was to be stopped due to efficacy. The efficacy and safety of fluciclovine (18F) to impact patient management decisions is currently under clinical investigation. Blue Earth Diagnostics plans to present results of this interim analysis of the FALCON trial at an upcoming medical congress and subsequently publish full results in a peer-reviewed publication. “The primary aim of the UK multi-center FALCON trial of fluciclovine (18F) PET/CT imaging was to assess its clinical impact on treatment decisions in men with recurrent prostate cancer being considered for radical potentially curative treatment,” said Dr Fergus Gleeson, Professor of Radiology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, and Chief Investigator on the study. “Study recruitment has been stopped because of the significant numbers of changes to treatment made following the scan. In addition, we want to evaluate other criteria such as its diagnostic performance and the effect that PSA level may have on the probability of lesion detection by fluciclovine (18F). “We are pleased at the Trial Steering Committee’s recommendation for the FALCON trial, and we look forward to sharing the results with the medical community at an upcoming scientific congress,” said Jonathan Allis, D. Phil., CEO of Blue Earth Diagnostics. “Axumin can provide actionable information for physicians treating patients with suspected recurrent prostate cancer, and Blue Earth is committed to continuing efforts that may benefit men with recurrent disease.” “Biochemically recurrent prostate cancer poses an important medical challenge, as it occurs in up to one third of men who have been previously treated, and current commercially available anatomical imaging techniques are limited in the amount of information they provide,” said Judd Moul, M.D., Professor of Surgery, Urology, at Duke University. “Information provided by an Axumin PET scan provides useful information about the location and extent of suspected recurrent disease and has the potential to provide information to facilitate the appropriate care of men with recurrent prostate cancer.” Blue Earth Diagnostics also announced that the LOCATE study (“The Impact of 18F Fluciclovine (FACBC) PET/CT (Positron Emission Computed Tomography) on Management of Patients With Rising PSA (Prostate-specific Antigen) After Initial Prostate Cancer Treatment”), has completed patient enrollment earlier than anticipated. The LOCATE trial is a U.S. multi-center study designed to assess the impact on patient management of 18F fluciclovine PET imaging in patients with rising PSA after initial prostate cancer treatment. The clinical utility of 18F fluciclovine PET/CT imaging will be assessed by the change from initial to revised treatment plan. Additional information about the LOCATE trial is available at: www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02680041). The FALCON trial, “Fluciclovine (18F) PET/CT in biochemicAL reCurrence Of prostate caNcer (FALCON),” is an open-label multi-center study in the U.K. designed to assess the clinical utility of fluciclovine (18F) PET imaging in the management of patients with prostate cancer with biochemical recurrence after initial treatment. The primary endpoint is to evaluate the clinical impact of fluciclovine (18F) in affecting treatment decision and is assessed by comparing records of the patient’s treatment plan after a fluciclovine (18F) PET scan with the treatment plan prior to the scan. Secondary endpoints include evaluation of the effect of treatment change in patients with positive fluciclovone (18F) PET imaging findings who had a treatment change involving radical salvage therapy; diagnostic performance; PSA threshold; safety assessment and comparison with choline PET (if performed). As stated in the protocol, a single, pre-planned interim analysis of the primary endpoint was to be performed based on the first 85 evaluable patients. If the number of treatment changes is greater than 45, the trial will stop recruitment early due to efficacy. If the number of treatment changes is 8 or fewer, the trial will stop recruitment early due to futility. The FALCON trial is jointly funded by Innovate UK and Blue Earth Diagnostics and is being conducted at six leading institutions in the UK: Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University College London, Kings College London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and Greater Glasgow Health Board. Additional information about the FALCON trial is available at: www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02578940). U.S. Indication and Important Safety Information About Axumin Axumin™ (fluciclovine F 18) injection is indicated for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels following prior treatment. To report suspected adverse reactions to Axumin, call 1-855-AXUMIN1 (1-855-298-6461) or contact FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. Full Axumin prescribing information is available at www.axumin.com. Axumin (fluciclovine F 18) injection is a novel product indicated for use in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to identify suspected sites of prostate cancer recurrence in men. Recurrence of prostate cancer is suspected by an increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels following prior treatment. PET imaging with Axumin may identify the location and extent of such recurrence. Axumin was developed to enable visualization of the increased amino acid transport that occurs in many cancers, including prostate cancer. It consists of a synthetic amino acid that is preferentially taken up by prostate cancer cells compared with surrounding normal tissues, and is labeled with the radioisotope F 18 for PET imaging. Fluciclovine F 18 was invented at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., with much of the fundamental clinical development work carried out by physicians at Emory University’s Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. Axumin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2016, following Priority Review, and is the first product commercialized by Blue Earth Diagnostics, which licensed the product from GE Healthcare. The molecule is being investigated by Blue Earth Diagnostics for other potential cancer indications, such as glioma. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. While most primary prostate cancer can be successfully treated, the disease recurs in approximately one-third of patients. In some patients recurrent disease is detectable only by a rise in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, yet the location of the recurrence cannot consistently be located by conventional imaging, potentially impacting subsequent management of these patients. Blue Earth Diagnostics is a molecular imaging diagnostics company focused on the development and commercialization of novel PET imaging agents to inform clinical management and guide care for cancer patients in areas of unmet medical need. Formed in 2014, Blue Earth Diagnostics is led by recognized experts in the clinical development and commercialization of innovative nuclear medicine products. The company’s first approved and commercially available product is AxuminTM (fluciclovine F 18), a novel molecular imaging agent for use in PET imaging to detect and localize prostate cancer in men experiencing suspected biochemical recurrence. Blue Earth Diagnostics is funded by Syncona Limited, an investment company listed on the London Stock Exchange (LON: SYNC). For more information, visit www.blueearthdiagnostics.com.
News Article | May 12, 2017
One of the most pressing and perplexing questions parents have to answer is what to do about screen time for little ones. Even scientists and doctors are stumped. That’s because no one knows how digital media such as smartphones, iPads and other screens affect children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently put out guidelines, but that advice was based on a frustratingly slim body of scientific evidence, as I’ve covered. Scientists are just scratching the surface of how screen time might influence growing bodies and minds. Two recent studies point out how hard these answers are to get. But the studies also hint that the answers might be important. In the first study, Julia Ma at the University of Toronto and colleagues found that, in children younger than 2, the more time spent with a handheld screen, such as a smartphone or tablet, the more likely the child was to show signs of a speech delay. Ma presented the work May 6 at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. The team used information gleaned from nearly 900 children’s 18-month checkups. Parents answered a questionnaire about their child’s mobile media use and then filled out a checklist designed to identify heightened risk of speech problems. This checklist is a screening tool that picks up potential signs of trouble; it doesn’t offer a diagnosis of a language delay, points out study coauthor Catherine Birken, a pediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Going into the study, the researchers didn’t have expectations about how many of these toddlers were using handheld screens. “We had very little clues, because there is almost no literature on the topic,” Birken says. “There’s just really not a lot there.” It turns out that about 1 in 5 of the toddlers used handheld screens, and those kids had an average daily usage of about a half hour. Handheld screen time was associated with potential delays in expressive language, the team found. For every half hour of mobile media use, a child’s risk of language delay increased by about 50 percent. “The relationship is not that strong,” Birken says, and those numbers come with big variations. Still, a link exists. And finding that association means there’s a lot more work to do, Birken says. In this study, researchers looked only at time spent with handheld screens. Future studies could investigate whether parents watching along with a child, the type of content or even time of day might change the calculation. A different study, published April 13 in Scientific Reports, looked at handheld digital device use among young children and its relationship to sleep. As a group, kids from ages 6 months to 3 years who spent more time using mobile touch screen devices got less sleep at night. Parent surveys filled out online indicated that each hour of touch screen use was linked to 26.4 fewer minutes of night sleep and 10.8 minutes more sleep during the day. Extra napping time “may go some way to offset the disturbed nighttime sleep, but the total sleep time of high users is still less than low users,” says study coauthor Tim Smith, a cognitive psychologist at Birkbeck, University of London. Each additional hour of touch screen use is linked to about 15 minutes less sleep over 24 hours. By analyzing 20 independent studies, an earlier study found a similar link between portable screen use and less sleep among older children. The new results offer “a consistent message that the findings from older children translate into those younger,” says Ben Carter of King’s College London, who was a coauthor on the study of older children. So the numbers are in. Daily doses of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on a mobile device equals 7.5 minutes less sleep and a 50 percent greater risk of expressive language delay for your toddler, right? Well, no. It’s tempting to grab onto these numbers, but the science is too preliminary. In both cases, the results show that the two things go together, not that one caused the other. It may be a long time before scientists have answers about how digital technology affects children. In the meantime, you can follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recently updated guidelines, which discourage screens (except for video chatting) before 18 months of age and for all children during meals or in bedrooms. We now live in a world where smartphones are ever-present companions, a saturation that normalizes the sight of small screens in tiny hands. But I think we should give that new norm some extra scrutiny. The role of mobile devices in our kids’ lives — and our own — is something worth thinking about, hard.
News Article | May 11, 2017
There have been some noteworthy examples of successful human ageing in the press recently. It was announced that Prince Phillip will be retiring from royal duties in the autumn, at the age of 96. A couple of days later we heard the sad news that 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sharchan died in an attempt to summit Everest (having successfully climbed the mountain at 76 years of age). Last week, we were also told about Bill Frankland, who, at 105 years of age, still works in immunology research, publishing regularly in scientific journals. What allows some people to be so vital in old age? Are they mere outliers, or can anyone, potentially, reach a ripe old age in good health? Chronological age reflects how long you’ve been alive, whereas biological age is a measure of how well your body functions compared with your chronological age. Chronological age is both easy to measure and has a high degree of precision. At the time of writing this, I’m 33 years, 2 months and 27 days old (or 12,140 days, including leap years). Biological age is a bit more intangible. We have population averages for blood pressure and heart rate at various ages. We also have good data on how muscle mass and grip strength tends to diminish with age. So if you are better than the population average for your age, you are biologically “younger”. What separates chronological from biological age? People often think that the two are intrinsically linked; that is, as we age, we become frailer – as our cardiovascular, muscular and neurological capacities decrease. Indeed, it is well understood that these variables, across population groups, tend to decrease with time from about 30 years of age. However, the rate of change in function differs between individuals, as measured by either physical function, cardiovascular function or neurological ability (decision making, reaction time, memory and cognitive function). Also, lower rates of change – that is, better maintenance of function – lead to better health, independence and longevity. In other words: successful ageing. If we look to animal models of successful ageing, biological and chronological ageing don’t always go hand in hand. Lobsters live a very long time and they don’t seem to show reductions in function with ageing (nature’s cruellest joke – nearly immortal, yet delicious). One type of jellyfish (Turritopsis nutricula) is biologically immortal. They can essentially “age backwards”. And naked mole rats show reduced ageing. Their chronological age differs from their biological age and their mortality rates don’t accelerate as they age, like in most mammals. Of course, humans aren’t jellyfish or subterranean sabre-toothed sausages. What evidence do we have of human functionality being preserved with age? A couple of years ago, Ross Pollock and colleagues at King’s College London examined a group of 142 successfully ageing people. Participants were cycling enthusiasts, aged 55 and 79 years. To be eligible for the study, men had to be able to cycle 100km in under six-and-a-half hours, and women had to be able to cycle 60km in five-and-a-half hours. Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded from the study. The researchers attempted to differentiate between chronological and biological age, and they did indeed tease out some interesting differences. These participants showed remarkable levels of muscular and cardiovascular function, with VO2max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise) values more commonly seen in people 30 to 40 years of age. Importantly, the participants’ VO2max values had decreased with age – although not as much as in the general population – suggesting they had delayed, but not prevented, chronological age. Also, there was a wide variation in VO2max – lifelong exercise helped this functional measure but did not totally explain successful ageing. In other words, exercise is good for you but not to the same degree in different people. Following on from this work, we targeted a group of successfully aged male athletes, with similar criteria as Pollock and colleagues, and compared them with a group of older, inactive people. Both Pollock’s results and ours showed a preservation of testosterone levels and physical function in this successfully ageing group of men compared with the inactive group. We found that getting our inactive group to complete high intensity intermittent training for six weeks offset lost physical function differences and increased one form of testosterone to a degree that was closer to that of our successful ageing group. But it’s important to point out that this relatively short six weeks of training didn’t remove all the differences between the groups, nor would it be expected to. Six weeks of training shouldn’t equal a life’s effort. We’re continuing to conduct research on this model of successful ageing to see if we can establish the effect of genes, environment and training history, and gain insight into cause and effect. Do these individuals maintain high levels of physical activity and thus successfully age better? Or do they successfully age better and thus maintain physical activity for longer? We do know, however, that it’s never too late to introduce supervised exercise into older people’s lives, no matter their chronological or biological age. But, for the final answer as to how genetics, lifelong activity levels and environment all come together to result in successful ageing, we’ve got more work to do yet to establish the role these all play in making the naked mole rats and Prince Philips of this world. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Bradley Elliott is a member of, and receives research funding for human ageing from, the Society for Endocrinology, a not-for-profit charity (reg. charity No. 266813), and is also a member of the Society for Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Wasting Disorders.
News Article | May 14, 2017
On 18 November 2015, the British press gathered in a hall in Westminster to witness the official launch of Leave.EU. Nigel Farage, the campaign’s figurehead, was banished to the back of the room and instead an American political strategist, Gerry Gunster, took centre stage and explained its strategy. “The one thing that I know is data,” he said. “Numbers do not lie. I’m going to follow the data.” Eighteen months on, it’s this same insight – to follow the data – that is the key to unlocking what really happened behind the scenes of the Leave campaign. On the surface, the two main campaigns, Leave.EU and Vote Leave, hated one other. Their leading lights, Farage and Boris Johnson, were sworn enemies for the duration of the referendum. The two campaigns bitterly refused even to share a platform. But the Observer has seen a confidential document that provides clear evidence of a link between the two campaigns. More precisely, evidence of a close working relationship between the two data analytics firms employed by the campaigns – AggregateIQ, which Vote Leave hired, and Cambridge Analytica, retained by Leave.EU. British electoral law is founded on the principle of a level playing field and controlling campaign spending is the key plank of that. The law states that different campaigns must not work together unless they declare their expenditure jointly. This controls spending limits so that no side can effectively “buy” an election. But this signed legal document – a document that was never meant to be made public and was leaked by a concerned source – connects both Vote Leave and Leave.EU’s data firms directly to Robert Mercer, the American billionaire who bankrolled Donald Trump. This is a deeply complex story. It has taken three months of investigation to unravel the web of connections – both human and contractual. But these connections and threads linking two separate foreign data analytics companies – one based in Canada and one based in London – raise profound and troubling questions about our democratic process. Because these intricate links lead, in not many steps, to Robert Mercer. This ordinary-looking document is at the heart of a web of relationships that link Mercer with the referendum to take Britain out of the EU. What impact did Mercer have on Brexit? Did the campaigns know of the link? Did they deliberately conceal it? Or could they, too, have been in the dark? Because, legally, these two companies – AggregateIQ in Canada and Cambridge Analytica, an American company based in London, have nothing to connect them publicly. But this intellectual property licence shown to the Observer tells a different story. This created a binding “exclusive” “worldwide” agreement “in perpetuity” for all of AggregateIQ’s intellectual property to be used by SCL Elections (a British firm that created Cambridge Analytica with Mercer). The companies may have had different owners but they were legally bound together. And, the Observer has learned, they were working together on a daily basis at the time of the referendum – both companies were being paid by Mercer-funded organisations to work on Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in America. What is more, several anonymous sources reveal the two companies, working on two separate British Leave campaigns, actually shared the same database at the time. In fact AggregateIQ had a non-compete clause. Leave.EU announced in November 2015 it was working with Cambridge Analytica which means that AggregateIQ must have had explicit permission to work with Vote Leave. And yet none of this was visible. Dominic Cummings, a former Tory special adviser who was Vote Leave’s chief strategist, was a vocal critic of Ukip, Farage, Leave.EU and its millionaire backer, Arron Banks. And the two campaigns followed different strategies – Leave.EU targeting Ukippers and disaffected working-class Labour voters with images of queues of refugees. Vote Leave targeted middle England with a message about returning £350m a week from Europe to the NHS. Follow the data, however, and another story is revealed, which leads directly to Mercer and his close associate, Steve Bannon, now Donald Trump’s chief strategist in the White House. Mercer was the owner of Cambridge Analytica, a firm which, as the Observer detailed last week, was spun out of a British firm with 30 years experience in working for governments and militaries around the world, specialising in “psychological operations”. At the time of the referendum, the Observer has learned, Bannon was the head of it. What was not known, until February, was the relationship between all these figures and the Leave campaign. That was when Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director, revealed to this paper that Farage was a close friend of both Bannon and Mercer. He said that the Leave campaign was a “petri dish” for the Trump campaign. “We shared a lot of information because what they were trying to do and what we were trying to do had massive parallels.” Wigmore also said that Mercer had been “happy to help” and Cambridge Analytica had given its services to the campaign for free. It was the general secretary of Ukip, a British lawyer called Matthew Richardson, who effected Leave.eu’s introduction to Cambridge Analytica, Wigmore said. “We had a guy called Matthew Richardson who’d known Nigel for a long time and he’s always looked after the Mercers. The Mercers had said that here’s this company that we think might be useful.” He said that Mercer, Farage and co had all met at a conference in Washington. “The best dinner we ever went to. Around that table were all the rejects of the political world. And the rejects of the political world are now effectively in the White House. It’s extraordinary. Jeff Sessions. [Former national security adviser Michael] Flynn, the whole lot of them. They were all there.” When the Observer revealed Mercer’s “help” in February, a “gift” of services, it triggered two investigations. One by the Information Commissioner’s Office about possible illegal use of data. And another by the Electoral Commission. Cambridge Analytica is a US company and Mercer is a US citizen and British law, designed to protect its electoral system from outside influence, expressly forbids donations from foreign – or impermissible – donors. The commission is also looking into the “help” that Gunster gave the campaign. It was not declared in Leave.EU’s spending returns and if donated, it would also be impermissible. Gavin Millar QC, an expert in electoral law, says it raises questions of the utmost importance about the influence of an American citizen in a UK election. But the contents of this document raise even more significant and urgent questions. Coordination between campaigns destroys the “level playing field” on which UK electoral law is based. It creates an unfair advantage. Millar said that one of the significant and revealing aspects of the arrangement was that it was hidden. “It’s the covert nature of the relationship between these two companies and campaigns that I find particularly revealing and alarming. If there is covert cooperation via offshore entities, [it] is about as serious a breach of the funding rules as one can imagine in the 21st century.” Millar said that this case was without precedent. “To have a billionaire so directly buying influence in a British election is absolutely unheard of. This is completely out of the ordinary. And what’s clear is that our electoral laws are hopelessly inadequate. The only way we would be able to find the truth of what happened is through a public inquiry.” The link between Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ was never supposed to come to light. And it is still uncertain how Vote Leave came to work with AggregateIQ. There are several major Tory donors and pro-Brexit figures associated with Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections, including Lord Marland, former treasurer of the Conservative party and head of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. The pro-Brexit Tory donor Roger Gabb, the owner of South African wine company Kumala, is also a shareholder and was involved in one of the Leave campaigns. In a separate incident he was fined £1,000 by the Electoral Commission for failing to include “imprints” – or campaign branding – on newspaper ads. The Observer revealed last week that two core members of the Vote Leave team used to work with both Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ. Cummings said that he found the company – on which he spent by far the biggest chunk of his campaign budget – “on the internet”. He declined the opportunity to comment for this article. On Twitter, he accused the Observer of “bad journalism” and said the story was “an embarrassment to a national paper” but he did not comment further on how he found AggregateIQ, a firm with fewer than 10 employees based on an island off the west coast of Canada, on LinkedIn. Or if he knew of its relationship to Cambridge Analytica and Mercer. Though he has been a keen follower of Mercer’s dealings, tweeting several times about his company, Renaissance Technologies, which he describes as “the world’s most successful quant fund” [a hedge fund that uses automated trading]. Millar said: “It is appalling that Vote Leave, whose lead campaign status was authorised by the state (and whose campaign was partly funded by the state), does not feel an obligation to give … public answers to the questions you raise.” Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica have responded by telling the Observer that they did no work with each other. Arron Banks, the head of Leave.EU, said it had talked to Cambridge Analytica about working with it “if we won the official designation – but we didn’t”. This directly contradicts his own memoir, The Bad Boys of Brexit. Under the entry for 22 October 2015, Banks writes: “We’ve hired Cambridge Analytica, an American company that uses ‘big data and advanced psychographics’ to influence people.” There are multiple further pieces of evidence. The YouTube video of Leave.EU’s launch event, the same event in which Gunster talks about data, shows Banks sitting next to a senior executive of Cambridge Analytica, Brittany Kaiser. She is described on Leave.EU’s Facebook pages as its director of programme development, and she told the British press about the “large-scale research” that would identify what people were really interested in and how this would “help inform our policy and our campaigns”. A now deleted post on Leave.EU’s website (but available via archive), entitled The Science Behind Our Strategy, details how Leave.EU was working with Cambridge Analytica, whose “psychographic methodology” is “on another level of sophistication”. In November, Kaiser told Bloomberg the first stage of the work involved interviewing “close to half a million Britons”. To put this in context, typical polling samples conducted by firms such as YouGov are of about 1,200 people. Research on this scale and magnitude would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, say experts – though nothing has been declared or accounted for by any campaign. Any donation of services by Cambridge Analytica or Mercer would be “impermissible” under UK law. In February 2016, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, told Campaign magazine: “Recently, Cambridge Analytica has teamed up with Leave.EU – the UK’s largest group advocating for a British exit (or ‘Brexit’) from the European Union – to help them better understand and communicate with UK voters. We have already helped supercharge Leave.EU’s social media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online and the campaign’s Facebook page is growing in support to the tune of about 3,000 people per day.” On 2 February, Banks tweeted: “Our campaign is being run by Gerry Gunster (won 24 referendum in the USA and Cambridge analytica experts in SM”. (This post has since been deleted, though screenshots exist.) In March 2016, Kaiser gave an interviewer further details: “Well, actually right now we are working on the Brexit campaign so we are working with all three of the main parties. […] It’s a very exciting campaign because it has forced the British government to run their third ever national referendum.” In January 2017, Banks responded to a dismissive tweet about Cambridge Analytica, with: “Interesting, since we deployed this technology in leave.eu we got unprecedented levels of engagement. 1 video 13m views. AI won it for leave.” All this has taken so long to come to light because the spending returns for the different campaigns were published only in February. Martin Moore, director of the Study of Communication, Media and Power at King’s College London described how he began to investigate the returns back then. “I went through the invoices when the Electoral Commission uploaded them to its site. And I kept on discovering all these huge amounts going to a company that not only had I never heard of but that there was practically nothing at all about on the internet. More money was spent with AggregateIQ than with any other company in any other campaign in the entire referendum. All I found, at that time, was a one-page website and that was it. It was an absolute mystery.” Other outlets found discrepancies. Buzzfeed published a story about how Vote Leave had given a 23-year-old fashion student, Darren Grimes, a gift of £625,000 in the week before the election, – which was spent on the BeLeave social media campaign – as well as a further £50,000 from another third party donor. Vote Leave and Grimes both claimed there was no coordination between campaigns. Grimes, the Observer has learned, had previously worked with Chris Wylie, a Canadian political strategist, who introduced AggregateIQ to Cambridge Analytica. The returns showed that Vote Leave donated a further £100,000 to Veterans for Britain – which then spent exactly that amount of money with AggregateIQ. Both campaigns denied any “coordination”. Nor was there coordination, Vote Leave said, with the Democratic Unionist Party, which spent a further £32,750 with AggregateIQ. Leaked emails published in February last year appeared to reveal a plan to break spending laws by creating different campaigns and covertly coordinating them. Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe, wrote to colleagues: “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities each of which could spend £700k: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.” But if coordination did occur, it is unclear which parties knew what. A spokesman for Veterans for Britain told the Observer that AggregateIQ approached it. “I didn’t find AggregateIQ. They found us. They rang us up and pitched us.” However lawyers for Cambridge Analytica say that neither it nor SCL Elections has had any contractual or other link with AggregateIQ for 12 months, when it was retained to provide some software development and digital marketing support. They add that neither SCL Elections nor Cambridge Analytica was involved in AggregateIQ’s alleged involvement in the Vote Leave campaign. A number of individuals, including Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, have sent a file of evidence to the Electoral Commission, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan police pointing out a catalogue of issues. They all referred it back to the Electoral Commission, saying it was the body with jurisdiction over the matter. The commission announced it was going to pursue an investigation of Leave.EU. Publicly, it has made no statement about Vote Leave. Sources have told the Observer that it is unable to pursue a proper investigation because AggregateIQ is outside British jurisdiction. The Observer has learned that the Information Commissioner’s Office is actively investigating BeLeave, Vote Leave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP for potential offences, including illegal sharing of data, but it is believed to have the same problem: the evidence is offshore. Kinnock said: “It’s clear the Electoral Commission, the body which is meant to uphold it, is completely toothless … That’s the heart of the problem. Even if it finds a problem, it can only impose a fine which is just the cost of doing business. There’s clear evidence of channelling funding through third parties, including DUP and BeLeave as front organisations to circumvent the rules. And there is no way of properly holding anyone to account. What you’ve shown is that there is a much bigger story here that I believe needs a full public inquiry. There are so many issues. Thousands of pounds of work apparently unaccounted for. Evidence of coordination between multiple campaigns. Multiple breaches of data protection. And this question of foreign influence, of a foreign billionaire buying influence in a British election, goes right to the heart of our entire democratic process.” The Observer asked Cambridge Analytica for comment on the financial and business links between Cambridge Analytica, Mercer, Bannon, AggregateIQ, Leave.EU and the Vote Leave campaigns. We asked about an apparently coordinated campaign strategy between Leave.EU, Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP “in part funded and enabled by Robert Mercer”. A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said: “Cambridge Analytica did no paid or unpaid work for Leave.EU.” Lawyers for Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections wrote to the Observer on Saturday to complain about our previous stories, which they said contained significant inaccuracies and amounted to a sustained campaign of vilification designed to paint a false and misleading picture of their clients. They said we were conducting a concerted campaign to undermine their clients and cause them damage. They said their clients have done no wrong, broken no laws and breached no one’s rights and had not been part of a “shadowy” or unlawful campaign to subvert British democracy or dupe the British public.
News Article | May 10, 2017
Brain scans have traditionally proven difficult if not impossible to obtain for babies and particularly for fetuses. There was also the concern of keeping infants safe within an MRI scanner. But the seeds of development and disease may yet be found in those earliest stages of growth. Now a massive trove of MRI scans of babies during pregnancy and in the first weeks of life are being shared online by a British team. The undertaking is called the Developing Human Connectome Project, and involves scientists from King’s College London, Imperial College London, and Oxford University. “The Developing Human Connectome Project is a major advance in understanding human brain development,” said David Edwards, of King’s College London, the lead investigator and a neonatologist. “It will provide the first map of how the brain’s connections develop, and how this goes wrong in disease.” The range of age would be from 20 weeks to 44 after conception, potentially from the second trimester through the first month of life, according to the project. The images will be the traditional array of MRI images, from white matter and cortical surfaces, to myelin maps and viewpoints. The project touts its ambitious scope with making future breakthroughs possible, they said in a statement. “Our goal is to create a dynamic map of human brain connectivity… which will link together imaging, clinical, behavioral, and genetic information. This unique setting, with imaging and collateral data in an expandable open-source informatics structure, will permit wide use by the scientific community.” The project is backed by a €15 million grant from the European Research Council, with the understanding that the images would be shared as widely as possible.
News Article | May 20, 2017
Labour has outlined plans to bring the rail, water and energy supply industries back into public ownership. Royal Mail will also be nationalised as part of a manifesto pledge to reverse some of the high-profile privatisations pushed through by the Conservatives in the 1980s and 90s, and by the more recent coalition government. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell brushed aside concerns that it would be a step back to an era when nationalised industries were characterised by lack of investment, labour disputes and poor services. Nonetheless, questions remain. Buying National Grid, which runs the UK’s energy transmission network, would cost £38bn based on its current capitalisation, though that includes its US business, which the government presumably wouldn’t want. The six power networks and four gas networks – separately owned entities that look after local power and gas – are valued at £60bn, but Labour has stressed any nationalisation programme for energy would be a gradual process. Nationalising 32 water companies in England and Wales will also be costly. The water regulator, Ofwat, puts the capital value of the industry at £69bn. For Royal Mail, Labour says it would acquire enough shares to restore majority public control. Buying 50.1% of it would mean an investment of just over £2.15bn at current share price. The rail industry will cost nothing, because track and station owner Network Rail is already state-owned. That leaves the train franchises, which the state just could take over when franchises lapse. Economists Jonathan Portes of King’s College London and Tony Yates of Birmingham University jumped to McDonnell’s defence when he said the policy wouldn’t add to Britain’s debt burden. Unlike the nationalisations of failing industries in the 1930s and 1940s, Railtrack in 2002 and the banks in 2008, Labour’s targets are thriving. It may seem like an accounting sleight of hand, but the cost of privatisation would be balanced by the value of the asset acquired. Regional water franchises were sold, not leased, so Labour would need to buy out those shareholders. It would also need money to buy Royal Mail shares. Cash can be borrowed at ultra cheap rates on international money markets, though, and the government will then take the profit usually passed to shareholders. McDonnell says he would make shareholders trade shares for bonds: the government would still need to pay bondholders interest, but the profit margin would be shared with consumers. Imagine a privately owned water company has a 10% profit margin. If Whitehall lawyers managed to negotiate 5% annual interest on these bonds, consumers could get the remaining 5%, which the government would distribute through lower bills. Plans to renationalise energy transmission companies are less clear. The manifesto says Labour will “regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator licence conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system.” This is likely to be a more organic process, whereby the government funds municipal networks that will take over the National Grid on an area-by-area basis. In addition, the government will support a new breed of local supplier to compete with the big six retailers of power that include Centrica, E.ON and EDF. This part is uncosted for now. Labour says it will “cut household bills by £220 a year”. But the process will be slow as the changes to a complex industry are negotiated. It could take control of the National Grid at huge cost. It could change the firm’s investment policies and promote renewable energy, but this would increase bills, not cut them. A move to municipal ownership of power lines and local generation could reduce bills, but only after much investment. Buying water companies and Royal Mail could realise a more immediate gain, but this could be eroded by demands from the government to increase investment. Critics also say a Labour government would come under pressure to pay higher wages. Keeping post office delivery centres from closure, which Labour highlights in its manifesto, is a union demand that few voters would consider important. It depends how well the government runs nationalised businesses. Their value could fall if they become loss-making. Academics have found private operators no more effective or efficient than public owners. Money is usually the key. The trains are safer and popular with buckets of public investment. Labour says Royal Mail has paid out £640m in dividends in three years while closing 10% of delivery offices. As an owner of Royal Mail, the government did much the same: the Treasury took all the surpluses and invested very little in new machinery or processes. And to compete with Amazon an increase in investment would be vital.
News Article | May 15, 2017
A landmark study led by UNC School of Medicine researchers has identified the first genetic locus for anorexia nervosa and has revealed that there may also be metabolic underpinnings to this potentially deadly illness. The study, published today in The American Journal of Psychiatry, is the most powerful genetic study of anorexia nervosa conducted to date. It included genome-wide analysis of DNA from 3,495 individuals with anorexia nervosa and 10,982 unaffected individuals. If particular genetic variations are significantly more frequent in people with a disorder compared to unaffected people, the variations are said to be "associated" with the disorder. Associated genetic variations can serve as powerful pointers to regions of the human genome where disorder-causing problems reside, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. “We identified one genome-wide significant locus for anorexia nervosa on chromosome 12, in a region previously shown to be associated with type 1 diabetes and autoimmune disorders,” said lead investigator, Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., FAED, founding director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and a professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “We also calculated genetic correlations – the extent to which various traits and disorders are caused by the same genes," said Bulik. “Anorexia nervosa was significantly genetically correlated with neuroticism and schizophrenia, supporting the idea that anorexia is indeed a psychiatric illness.” “But, unexpectedly, we also found strong genetic correlations with various metabolic features including body composition (BMI) and insulin-glucose metabolism. This finding encourages us to look more deeply at how metabolic factors increase the risk for anorexia nervosa,” Bulik said. This study was conducted by the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium Eating Disorders Working Group – an international collaboration of researchers at multiple institutions worldwide. “In the era of team science, we brought over 220 scientists and clinicians together to achieve this large sample size. Without this collaboration we would never have been able to discover that anorexia has both psychiatric and metabolic roots,” said Gerome Breen, Ph.D., of King’s College London. “Working with large data sets allows us to make discoveries that would never be possible in smaller studies,” said Laramie Duncan, Ph.D., of Stanford University, who served as lead analyst on the project. The researchers are continuing to increase sample sizes and see this as the beginning of genomic discovery in anorexia nervosa. Viewing anorexia nervosa as both a psychiatric and metabolic condition could ignite interest in developing or repurposing medications for its treatment where currently none exist. Institutions that participated in this research include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Karolinska Institutet; King’s College London; Stanford University; the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University; Massachusetts General Hospital; Charité-Universtätsmedizin Berlin; the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Duisburg, Essen; and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
News Article | May 23, 2017
« DOE: gasoline direct injection engine technology showing very rapid adoption; 48.5% market share after 9 years | Main | Echodyne raises $29M Series B to bring “radar vision” to autonomous vehicles, drones and machines » Researchers at Imperial College London, working with colleagues from King’s College London and University of British Columbia, have demonstrated a mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles directly affect the lungs to initiate symptoms such as a tightening of the airways and cough. These triggered respiratory reflexes can potentially worsen underlying conditions, such as asthma. Previous research has shown a strong association between urban air pollution and respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, but the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In the study, published as an open-access paper in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the team showed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the exhaust particles directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways. The findings may provide a key link between exposure to air pollution on city streets and respiratory symptoms which can lead to hospitalisation for people at higher risk, such as the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases. Previously, scientists showed that the effects of air pollution on the lungs of asthmatics correlated with the concentration of small, ultrafine particles inhaled, although the exact mechanism was unclear. These tiny particles (less than 100nm in diameter), can get deep into lungs and are so small that cells recognize them as biological molecules which can be absorbed and processed, possibly accounting for their adverse health effects. However, the new findings suggest a more complicated mechanism. When the particles in diesel exhaust were processed to separate the insoluble carbon core from the soluble, outer organic fraction, the researchers found that it was chemicals on their surface (the PAHs) which directly stimulated nerves, while the central carbon particles did not. The researchers say that the small size of the particles helps the chemicals to reach deep into the lungs, and cross membranes, where they can activate the nerves. The team tested the effects of exposure in a guinea pig model and animal nerve tissue. The effects were also tested on human tissue, using sections of vagus nerve from donor lung tissue that was surplus to transplant requirement. The researchers found that when the tissue had been exposed to PAHs, sensory nerves responsible for the reflex events and initiating common respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing, were stimulated. The evidence suggests that when these organic compounds are inhaled, they interact with receptors in the airways to cause oxidative stress. This stress then cascades and opens ion channels, tipping the electrochemical balance and causing the nerves to ‘fire’. These findings were further supported using nerve tissue from mice lacking the functioning ion channel (called TRPA1), in which this change to the electrochemical balance in the nerves, and subsequent symptoms, was not seen. In a previous study in 2013, a group including researchers at Imperial showed that high levels of air pollution on London’s busy Oxford Street had a measurable effect on the lungs of people with asthma, compared with exposure in less polluted areas of the city. The results showed a link between the levels of ultrafine particles (including diesel exhaust particles) at street level and reductions in lung function. Professor Belvisi explained the latest work adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the direct effects of air pollution on public health. Combined with previous clinical exposure studies, in which people were exposed to real world levels of diesel exhaust particles in the lab, the mechanism illustrates the effects of typical exposure for people living and working in an urban environment.
News Article | May 24, 2017
25 May, Washington, US, and online. TRADE, SECURITY, AND THE U.S.-MEXICO RELATIONSHIP. This event is being organised by the Brookings Institution’s Mexico Initiative and will feature a series of panel discussions that will explore the various dimensions of the US-Mexico relationship, including on trade. Please note that the event will also be webcast live. To learn more and to register, please visit the Brookings website. 25 May, Geneva, Switzerland. GLOBAL HEALTH R&D: HOW CAN WE BEST SET PRIORITIES BASED ON EVIDENCE? This event is being organised by the governments of Switzerland and South Africa, as well as the European Commission, and will be hosted by the Global Health Centre. The meeting will examine research and development (R&D) activities within the context of global health, examining different initiatives that are currently in place to help in setting priorities for future R&D financing. To learn more and to register, please visit the event website. 29-31 May, Dakar, Senegal. PRACTICAL WORKSHOP ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND TRADITIONAL CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS. This workshop is being organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and will focus on building knowledge and exchanging views on the subjects of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. To learn more, visit the WIPO website. 31 May-1 June, Almaty, Kazakhstan. WORKSHOP: EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES. This workshop is being organised by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and will examine the challenges and prospects for reforming state-owned enterprises in Asia. The event will bring together government representatives from various countries in the region. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. For more information, please visit the ADBI website. An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted here. Please bear in mind that dates and times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not always announce the important informal meetings of the different bodies. Unless otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre William Rappard, rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland, and are open to WTO members and accredited observers only. 30 May: Workshop on Aid for Trade 31 May: Committee on Trade and Development – Session on Aid for Trade 1 June: Working Party on the Accession of Comoros 2 June, Washington, US. INDIA’S SEARCH FOR PROSPERITY. This event is being organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and will feature economist Vijay Joshi as the guest speaker. Joshi will lead a discussion based on his book, India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity, which examines the evolution of the Indian economy and the roles of different actors in this context. Joshi will be part of a panel featuring speakers from the International Monetary Fund and the Carnegie Endowment. To learn more and to register, please visit the Carnegie website. 12 June, Geneva, Switzerland. DISCIPLINING FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES: A CONTRIBUTION OF THE TRADE SYSTEM TO CLIMATE MITIGATION AND SDGS. This roundtable is being organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) as part of the E15 Initiative, which is jointly implemented with the World Economic Forum. The focus of this event will be looking at trade tools and how these can be used to help discipline subsidies for fossil fuels. The meeting will include both WTO negotiators and experts in the field. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. To learn more, visit the ICTSD website. 14 June, London, UK. BREXIT, TRUMP AND THE FUTURE OF THE TRANSATLANTIC ALLIANCE. This Chatham House event will examine the implications of Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump for the bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. The event’s guest speaker will be Sir Nigel Sheinwald GCMG, who is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London Department of War Studies, and was previously the UK’s ambassador to the United States and the UK’s permanent representative to the European Union. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. To learn more, visit the Chatham House website. 20 June, Brussels, Belgium. INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON WOMEN AND TRADE. This event is being hosted jointly by the European Commission and the International Trade Centre, bringing together stakeholders from a range of backgrounds with the goal of building support for empowering women through trade. A full event agenda is available online. To learn more and the register, please visit the European Commission website. 30 June – 2 July, Geneva, Switzerland. FIFTH GLOBAL REVIEW OF AID FOR TRADE: “REDUCING TRADE COSTS FOR INCLUSIVE, SUSTAINABLE GROWTH.” This biennial WTO event will feature over 50 sessions focusing on the Aid for Trade Initiative, as well as how to address the issue of trade costs in the context of the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Please note that registration closes on 26 June. To learn more, please visit the WTO website. 26-28 September, Geneva, Switzerland. WTO PUBLIC FORUM 2017. This year’s edition of the WTO’s outreach event will have as its theme “Trade: Behind the Headlines.” The meeting will aim to look at the real-life implications of trade, as opposed to rhetoric, and will also look at how trade can support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related issues. A call for proposals is currently open for those who wish to organise sessions at this year’s forum, with a due date of 4 June 2017. To learn more, please visit the WTO website.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Harwell Campus SWINDON, 27-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — A major new £100 million investment by the government into the development of an innovative multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre was announced today (Thursday 23 February 2017) by Business Secretary Greg Clark. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute (RFI) – named in honour of the pioneering British scientist whose use of X-rays to study biological structures played a crucial role in the discovery of DNA‘s ‘double helix’ structure by Francis Crick and James Watson – will bring together UK strengths in the physical sciences, engineering and life sciences to create a national centre of excellence in technology development and innovation. The new Rosalind Franklin Institute will have a hub based at the Harwell campus It will bring together UK expertise to develop new technologies that will transform our understanding of disease and speed up the development of new treatments Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy to maintain the UK’s global leadership in science, innovation and research Business Secretary Greg Clark said: The UK has always been a pioneer in the world of science, technology and medical research. It’s this excellence we want to continue to build on and why we made science and research a central part of our Industrial Strategy – strengthening links between research and industry, ensuring more home-grown innovation continues to benefit millions around the world. Named after one of the UK’s leading chemists, the new Rosalind Franklin Institute will inspire and house scientists who could be responsible for the next great discovery that will maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of global science for years to come. Delivered and managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the RFI will bring together academic and industry researchers from across the UK to develop disruptive new technologies designed to tackle major challenges in health and life sciences, accelerate the discovery of new treatments for chronic diseases affecting millions of people around the world (such as dementia), and deliver new jobs and long-term growth to the local and UK economies. Chair of the Research Councils and EPSRC Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson said: The UK is currently in a world leading position when it comes to developing new medical treatments and technologies in the life sciences. However, other countries are alive to the potential and are already investing heavily. The Rosalind Franklin Institute will help secure the country as one of the best places in the world to research, discover, and innovate. The central hub at Harwell will link to partner sites at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Oxford, Imperial College, King’s College London, and University College London. Industry partners will be on board from the outset, and the Institute will grow over time, as more universities and researchers participate. The work at new Institute will contribute directly to the delivery of EPSRC‘s ‘Healthy Nation’ prosperity outcome, its Healthcare Technologies programme, and to the Technology Touching Life initiative that spans three research councils (the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and EPSRC) and seeks to foster interdisciplinary technology development research across the engineering, physical and life sciences. The development of the RFI has been led by Professor Ian Walmsley, FRS, from the University of Oxford, who said: This is a new joint venture between some of the UK’s leading universities and key partners in industry and research councils. The aim is to speed the application of cutting-edge physical science insights, methods and techniques to health and life sciences by providing an interface between research programmes at the forefront of these areas, co-located at Harwell and connected, dynamically, to the wider UK research base. We anticipate innovative new businesses will grow from this effort over time, as the Institute will engage with a range of key industries from inception. A collaborative joint venture model allows the RFI to make the most of interactions and draw on a wide range of existing research excellence from across the UK. Patrick Vallance, President of R&D at GSK said: We welcome the creation of the RFI which will bring world-leading, multi-disciplinary teams from industry and academia closer together, and will further strengthen the UK as a place to translate excellent science into patient benefit. Through collaboration we will be able to make advances in life science technologies much quicker than we could manage alone. Research at the RFI will initially be centred on five selected technology themes, focusing on next-generation imaging technologies – X-ray science, correlated imaging (combining X-ray, electron and light microscopy), imaging by sound and light, and biological mass spectrometry – and on new chemical methods and strategies for drug discovery. Dame Carol Robinson, FRS, who is leading the RFI‘s biological mass spectrometry theme, and received the 2004 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award that recognises outstanding scientific contributions and supports the promotion of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said: It is fitting that this new Institute bears Rosalind Franklin’s name. She achieved so much in a relatively short life and without her work many of the advances that have taken place since would not have come about. Work in the Institute will include development of the next-generation of physical tools including mass spectrometry, instruments for X-ray science and for advanced microscopy – fields directly descended from her research interests. Notes for Editors: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) STFC is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar. STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested £473M in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes. The Medical Research Council (MRC) The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk Diamond Light Source Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron science facility, and is approximately the size of Wembley Stadium. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines. Diamond is used by thousands of academic and industrial researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including structural biology, health and medicine, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, earth & environmental sciences, chemistry, cultural heritage, energy and engineering. Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer products, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light. These are of exceptional quality, and range from X-rays to ultraviolet to infrared. Diamond’s X-rays are around 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. 2017 marks a double celebration for Diamond – 15 years since the company was formed, and 10 years of research and innovation. In this time, researchers who have obtained their data at Diamond have authored over 5,000 papers. The institute is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust The Harwell Campus Harwell Campus is a public private partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners, U+I Group PLC and two Government backed agencies, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA). Harwell is one of the world’s most important science and innovation locations. It has a growing reputation as the UK’s gateway to space with over 65 space and satellite applications related organisations located on campus and is now seeing rapid growth in the Life Sciences and HealthTec sector with over 1,000 people working in this field alone at Harwell. In addition to space and life sciences, the campus hosts an array of other key sectors including, Big Data and Supercomputing, Energy and Environment and Advanced Engineering and Materials. With a legacy of many world firsts, the campus comprises 710 acres, over 200 organisations and 5,500 people. Harwell Campus is the UK’s National Science Facility and is among Europe and the world’s leading sites dedicated to the advancement of science, technology and innovation. Having spent 75 years at the forefront of British innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and centred around a community hub. Science experts, academics, government organisations, private sector R&D departments and investors create an environment where innovation, collaboration and discovery thrive. Harwell’s Cluster Strategy The Cluster of about 70 Space organisations at Harwell is testament to the power of co-locating industry, academia and the public sector alongside investors and entrepreneurs. The European Space Agency, RAL Space, The UK Space Agency, Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, Lockheed Martin, and Deimos Space UK can all be found on the Campus. This creates many opportunities for collaboration, increasing capability and sharing risk. Being within a Cluster brings access to high-quality common infrastructure, facilities and expertise, alongside exposure to new markets The Harwell vision is to be home to a number of Clusters that exploit the existing strengths of the Campus. The next step is a new HealthTec Cluster that will benefit from the considerable synergies across the life and physical sciences capabilities of the Campus and the Space cluster. These clusters will enrich each other, creating a powerful multidisciplinary environment tailored to problem solving that will allow the UK to compete with the best in the world. The clustering of industries, facilities and science experts has given rise to the term Harwell Effect – and is an ideal model for future science and business innovation programmes. Science clusters drive economic growth. MIT has created businesses with a combined value of $3tn, the equivalent of California’s GDP. Harwell Campus is the only location in the UK with the potential to emulate this success. To find out more about events, open days or the new developments, visit the Harwell Campus website. SOURCE: EPSRC Contact Details In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column. Name: EPSRC Press Office Telephone: 01793 444404