Overview and highlights

Overview

Since 2011, C2D2 has awarded £1,537,141 in funding to fifty-six new research, translational and outreach projects across twenty-two departments. These projects all share the central goal of improving the welfare of patients and the wider public, whether by improving our understanding of a particular disease or disorder and its contexts, by looking at ways of optimising the delivery of health services, and/or by promoting new therapies and disease prevention methods.

A wide range of chronic diseases and disorders are encompassed in this funded research but a number of particular areas stand out including neurological and mental health disorders, chronic infections, cancers and chronic wounds as well as the investigation of common disease processes. These areas have been approached from a whole spectrum of disciplinary angles - from molecular biology and biochemistry to history and sociology - and investigations have benefited from the deployment of a number of state-of-the-art in-house technologies, including fMRI, genomic sequencing, advanced computer simulations and low temperature plasmas.

More than half of the funded projects represent exciting new collaborations between researchers in different departments. Funding has increasingly equalised across the faculty areas, with a more than two-fold increase, from 23% in the first year of funding to over 50% by the second year, in the number of participants from outside the Sciences. In the most recent round of funding 60% of the funded projects had participants from more than one faculty area.

Around sixty-six external collaborations are represented, including with other universities, NHS Trusts, other health organisations, medical charities, arts bodies and pharma companies, of which approximately forty are new collaborations.

The money awarded in years 1 & 2 has to date leveraged in external funding more than eight times the original investment. Articles have been published in a range of high impact journals, including PNASHuman Molecular Genetics and Sociology of Health and Illness and some of the research is already influencing policy and practice. Much of the research is also reaching an international audience and several new international partnerships have been initiated through the funding.

In September 2013 the Centre held its first Conference to celebrate the achievements from the research and other activities sponsored so far.

Research Facilities which are beneficiaries of C2D2 funding

Highlights

Some key research highlights and outputs

  • Establishing a link between a mutation which triggers Parkinson’s Disease and problems with vision in an animal model. 
  • Identifying significant correlations between individuals’ subjective experience of the elapse of time and Autism Quotient (AQ) scores.
  • A computer modelling programme that represents the first application of agent-based modelling to molecular networks and which will form the basis for further comprehensive investigations in the role and characterisation of RNA networks in disease.
  • New data on the prevalence of Hepatitus C virus (HCV) and Human T lymphotropic virus (HTLV) in mothers and children in Malawi which indicates a different distribution of HTLV in Southern Africa to that previously reported.
  • Demonstrating that connectivity between the primary and secondary cortical visual areas of the brain is largely maintained despite prolonged loss of visual input caused by macular degeneration and therefore that operations to restore sight would not be compromised by significant changes in the cortical visual fields maps.
  • Demonstrating the potential for using low-temperature plasmas as a focal prostate cancer therapy.
  • The discovery that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appear to attribute as much social and emotional value to a range of everyday objects as neurotypical individuals.
  • Complete genomic reconstructions for two periodontal pathogens, Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola, dating to the Medieval period, contributing to a picture of variation in oral microbial communities through time and space.
  • Creation of CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber sub-theme on mental health, including only instance in UK of mental and sexual health research programme.
  • Presentation of two photo-book projects on the history of disease at the 2014 World Health Assembly.

Some key translational highlights

  • Research on electronic medical devices for measuring has led to a University spin-out Clear Sky Medical Diagnostics and the devices have been protected worldwide by four patents filed in July 2013.
  • Investment in research into computational modelling autoimmune and immune responses to chronic inflammatory diseases led to a University spin-out SimOmics to improve efficiency of drug development
  • The development of a new test to discriminate between stage 1 lung cancer and benign lung nodules from human plasma samples. Establishment of a new commercial partnership to take forward the clinical development of the research.
  • A published paper on the 'window of opportunity' for death after catastrophic brain injury has been cited in the draft report by the Royal College of Physicians on the management of disorders of consciousness.
  • Submission of evidence to House of Lords Select Committee on the Mental Health Capacity Act 2005. This research, along with evidence from over 200 others, informed the conclusion that vulnerable adults are being failed by the Act designed to protect and empower them and informed recommendations for improvements.
  • Creation of new online resource, as part of Healthtalkonline.org website, for family members and others involved in the care of people with severe forms of brain injury. Contribution recognised by award of joint first prize from the ESRC for 2015 ‘Outstanding Impact in Society’ and first prize for "Information on Ethical Issues" at the 2015 BMA Patient Information Awards.