Professor Alan Gange, Head of School
Welcome to the second edition of the School newsletter for this session. I hope you enjoyed reading the first edition as much as I did. I would like to congratulate all of those involved in the editing and production of this newsletter. As I have said before, a publication like this can only be as good as its contributors, and after such a good start, we need to keep the momentum going. So please consider writing something today!
In the relatively short time since the last newsletter, the School has seen remarkable success in research grant awards. Such awards are vital for the future of the School and help to keep us at the forefront of research quality in the UK. In the last couple of months, we have attracted projects totalling over £1.2 million, awarded to Prof Brown (hoverflies in integrated pest management), Prof Dickson (muscular dystrophy work), Prof Leubner (seed dormancy), Prof Williams (epilepsy research), Dr Yanez (spinal cord injury) and me (using beneficial fungi to reduce reliance on peat composts).
It’s not just the amount of income that is important for our research reputation, but also the quality of the work that we do, present and publish. We have just heard that Kate Augustin, a postgraduate student with Prof Williams, won the top poster prize at the 4th Global Symposium for Ketogenic Dietary Therapies for Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders. The research by Professor Dickson is also renowned worldwide and this was recently confirmed by him and his team being awarded the accolade of ‘Scientist of the Year’ by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Congratulations to all of them.
Prizes are not just for researchers though. The School is fortunate to possess a large number of endowments, which are used to fund prizes for achievements by students. A number of these are awarded for academic excellence in all 3 y of the degree. Postgraduates whose thesis contains a significant amount of chemistry can also be considered for the Bourne Medal (which includes a substantial cash prize). Recently, we have introduced a new prize which will be awarded to one or two graduands who have made a great contribution to life in the School during their degree. The first recipients will be in 2015.
Doing well in your exams can earn you more than prizes though. Each year we purchase bursaries that enable the top student in years 1 and 2 to attend the week-long British Science Festival. Look out for an article in The Scribe by one of our recipients on his experience of this event.
I am aware that many students reading Biomedical Sciences hope to go on to study medicine. We have been actively searching for ways in which we can help in this respect, including much closer links with Ashford & St Peters Hospital Trust. Many of you will be taught by staff from ASPH during this year and our Rare Disease Day next term will provide further opportunities for you to gain experience in this field. However, perhaps the most exciting development is that we are looking to formulate an agreement with the American University of Antigua, in which they will guarantee to interview all our students who apply to their medical programme. We are also negotiating on them making some scholarships available to our students. The programme would be a four year one, with two years in Antigua and two years in the UK with the East Kent Health Trust. I will let you know when I have further details.