William Harvey Day – Tuesday 21st October 2014

The Blizard Institute is pleased to announce that three of its researchers have won prizes at  the Barts and The London School of Medicine’s 2014 William Harvey Day on Tuesday 21st October.

Dr Thivi Maruthappu, a PhD student from the Centre for Cutaneous Research, won the prize for best oral presentation for her talk "iRhom2: a novel regulator of wound healing".

Our researchers also won two of the four poster prizes:

Heather McMullen, a Doctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, won in the Population Health category for her poster “Promoting rapid testing for HIV in primary care: RHIVA2 cluster randomized controlled trial and cost effectiveness study”.

Dr Orli Thau-Zuckman, a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, won in the Translational Medicine/Dentistry category for her poster “An omega-3 fatty acid as a novel therapeutic agent for acute intervention after traumatic brain injury”.

Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to everyone from the Blizard Institute who contributed to such a successful day.

Further information about William Harvey day can be found on the Barts and The Londn School of Medicine and Dentistry website here.

A ground-breaking new research partnership with UCL Institute of Neurology (under UCLPartners) and the charity Brain Tumour Research begins today, as the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence launches. The partnership starts a new chapter in long-term, sustainable and continuous research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40.

The research is led by Professor Silvia Marino, a leading brain tumour scientist and neuropathologist based in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, here at the Blizard Institute. Professor Denise Sheer, also from the Blizard Institute, and Professor Brandner and Dr Rees at UCL Institute of Neurology will be the other key partners in this initiative.

The research will focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive type of malignant brain tumour found in humans. The aim of the research is to increase our understanding of the cells within the brain from which GBM originates. The team will look at how this particular type of brain tumour develops from normal cells, and determine which genes and biological functions control its behaviour. By uncovering this essential knowledge, the clinical evaluation of each individual patient can be improved and better and more specific drugs which target the tumour cells can be identified.

Silvia Marino, Professor of Neuropathology at Queen Mary University of London’s Blizard Institute, comments: “We know a cure for glioblastoma can and will be found – and this funding boost will hopefully enable significant steps towards a breakthrough. The plan for our centre of excellence is to specialise in adult glioblastoma as we have a wealth of experience in the field, ranging from preclinical experimental models to advanced genomics for direct patient benefit. We also look forward to strengthening collaborative links between us and the UCL Institute of Neurology.”

The partnership is part of the charity’s aim for a £20 million investment in brain tumour research over the next five years. Brain Tumour Research aims to establish seven Research Centres of Excellence across the UK, building a ‘critical mass’ of research teams and aiming to bring the UK to the forefront of brain tumour research.

With secure long-term funding, researchers will be able to pursue the sustainable and continuous research so desperately needed by the scientists and clinicians working in the heavily underfunded field of brain tumour research. Promising scientists will be trained up through the ranks and as specialist brain tumour expertise and knowledge builds, experienced researchers can then move between Centres to encourage cross-pollination of the very best thinking at the cutting-edge of brain tumour research.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, comments: “Today we will be forming a powerful new network of researchers in order to accelerate progress in brain tumour research and make a clinical difference. All partners involved share a vision of a sustainable and secure environment for research into brain tumours in the UK, ultimately creating better futures for all those diagnosed and living with a brain tumour. We are determined to do all we can to change this, and to one day find a cure for this devastating disease.”


The facts about brain tumours (source Brain Tumour Research)


  • More children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other cancer
  • Brain tumours receive less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research
  • 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
  • Only 18.8% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
  • Unlike most other cancers, incidences of deaths from brain tumours are becoming more prevalent (and are much more common now than in 1970)

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has awarded the Edgar Gentilli Prize to Dr Neha Pathak, a QMUL academic clinical fellow, for her research on a urine test for cervical cancer.The prize of £750 plus £250 of book tokens is awarded for the best piece of original work on the cause, nature, recognition and treatment of any form of cancer of the female genital tract.Neha’s research grabbed headlines around the world when it was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in September.* The paper showed that a simple urine test could offer women a less invasive, but accurate and efficient alternative to the smear test sample to detect the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is one of the main causes of cervical cancer.“Even in a developed country like the UK, women’s take-up of smear tests has gone down to under 80%, partly because it’s an invasive and uncomfortable process, and, for working women, it can be difficult to find the time to fit it in their busy lives. A simple urine test would be an easy and potentially cheap alternative. This is a particularly important consideration for women in developing countries,” said Neha.Neha heard that she had won the prize on October 6. She said: “It’s a rather unexpected honour and, of course, it’s great to be recognised by senior colleagues and mentors within my specialty. It definitely gives me an energy boost to keep working away at these research questions!”

Neha is carrying out the research for her fellowship under the supervision of Professor Khalid Khan at QMUL’s Blizard Institute. “I love working in the women’s health research unit. There is such a collaborative and supportive ethos that makes the problem-solving involved in research really enjoyable. Khalid is always ready to share his expertise and nurture my research. I am very grateful for that.”She hopes to build on the BMJ research and collaborate with other groups around the world to try to answer some of the questions that still remain about using a urine test to detect HPV, such as: how good is the urine test at predicting cancer, is it cost-effective, should it be a six-month test, should it be used in conjunction with the smear test that detects cancerous cells, and could it be useful for checking levels of HPV in the population?

* "Accuracy of urinary human papillomavirus testing for presence of cervical HPV: systematic review and meta-analysis”, by Neha Pathak, Julie Dodds, Javier Zamora, Khalid Khan. BMJ 2014;349:g5264 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5264