College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON

College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine,
Swansea University
10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
History in the making
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON

01                                                               09
Vision                                                           10 years of success

02                                                               10
Highlights                                                       Learning and teaching

06                                                               18
Rising to the challenge                                          Research

07                                                               30
From vision to reality                                           Enterprise and innovation

                                                                 Making an impact

                                                                 Towards 2020

                                                                 Get in touch

Front cover image based on an original idea                      First published in 2014 by                           All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
by Leifa Jennings.                                               College of Medicine, Swansea University              reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in
Research as Art 2013                                             Swansea                                              any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical or
Undergraduate award:                                             SA2 8PP                                              otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of College
’Cobalt, Celeste, Cyan and Me‘                                   Wales                                                of Medicine, or the copyright owner(s), or as expressly
Leifa Jennings (College of Medicine)                                                                                  permitted by law. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside
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“This photo shows a rail of blue theatre scrubs, ready to                                                             Team, College of Medicine, Grove Building, Swansea
be worn. It is a visual representation of how it feels to be     ISBN 978-0-9929905-0-3                               University, Swansea, SA28PP
a medical student entering the operating theatre for the
first time.                                                                                                           The authors’ moral rights have been asserted.
                                                                 Copywriter: Jane Fraser –
Everyone else has a role to play and a place to be, but as       Photographers: and             All images are © College of Medicine unless stated
a student you stand there, bright red ‘Student’ lanyard                   otherwise.
around your neck, feeling like you definitely don’t fit in.      Printed by: Zenith Media
My research project on theatre etiquette aims to create a
piece of work to inform new students of the unwritten rules
of the operating theatre, hopefully allowing them to feel
more confident the first time they enter the operating theatre
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
01   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014               Vision
     History in the making

We train tomorrow’s doctors
and life scientists in an
environment offering an
interdisciplinary approach to
translational medicine, from
basic science to healthcare
delivery, and an innovative
approach to building the
knowledge economy.
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
02    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                            Highlights
      History in the making

The long and the short of it

The College of Medicine has come a long way in a short
time and is now acknowledged as one of the fastest
growing medical schools in the UK. The journey started
with small incremental steps. Momentum gathered.
It is now in full stride.

                                                1960s                     2001

In the 1980s EPSRC sites its UK National
Mass Spectrometry Service Centre at
                                                Swansea University
                                                becomes one of the
                                                first Institutions in
                                                the UK to offer BSc
                                                Genetics degrees.
                                                                          Swansea University
                                                                          establishes a Clinical
                                                                          School under the
                                                                          leadership of
                                                                          Professor Julian
Swansea University                                                        Hopkin.
                                                Genetics and              2003
                                                Biochemistry              The original concept

                                                departments               for the Institute of Life
                                                develop at Swansea        Science (ILS) is
                                                University.               captured on a napkin
                                                                          in a New York diner.
In 2004 the Clinical School develops into       1980s
a School of Medicine                            EPSRC sites its UK        2004
                                                National Mass             The Clinical School
                                                Spectrometry              develops into a
                                                Service Centre at         School of Medicine,

                                                Swansea University,       welcoming the first
                                                boosting an existing      cohort of Graduate
                                                centre of excellence.     Entry Programme
                                                                          (GEP) students.
In 2006 The Blue C Supercomputer is
given a permanent home at Swansea               1990s
University                                      Swansea University        2005
                                                founds a                  Building work on
                                                Postgraduate              ILS begins with a
                                                Medical School.           groundbreaking
                                                                          ceremony featuring
                                                                          local school children.

                                                                          The Blue C
                                                                          Supercomputer is
                                                                          given a permanent
                                                                          home at Swansea
                                                                          University as part
                                                                          of a high profile
                                                                          collaboration with
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
2007                     The Ibadan Swansea
ILS1 opens its doors     Partnership wins
for business with the    second prize in the
Boots Centre for         Tropical Health and
Innovation (BCI) as      Education Trust (THET)
its flagship tenant.     Health Links
American Astronaut
of Welsh descent,        Professor Gareth
Dafydd Rhys              Morgan takes over
Williams, presents to    leadership of the
school children and      School of Medicine.
scientists at ILS.
                         The School of
The School of            Medicine hosts its
Medicine partners        first Christmas Ball for

with the School of       staff and students.
Medicine in the
Gambia to establish      2009
the Swansea-Gambia       Medical student            ILS1 opens its doors for business in 2007
link with support from   Nathan West is
the Tropical Health      selected as the first
and Education Trust      student to receive the

(THET).                  Mullany Prize for
Prime Minister           Swansea and Bro
                         Morgannwg NHS              The School of Medicine enjoys spectacular
Gordon Brown visits
                         Trusts combine and         results as part of the Research Assessment
ILS during his term
                         are granted University     Exercise (RAE2008)
of office.
                         Hospital status to
First Minister for       become Abertawe Bro

Wales, Rt Hon Rhodri     Morgannwg University
Morgan, describes        Health Board.
ILS as the ’jewel in
the crown of Wales’.     Swansea University
                         partners with the NHS
                                                    Medical student Nathan West is selected
The School of            to secure significant
                                                    as the first student to receive the Mullany
Medicine enjoys          funding for a second
                                                    Prize for Excellence
spectacular results as   phase of the ILS.
part of the Research
Assessment Exercise
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
04    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                             Highlights
      History in the making

                                                2009                       ILS launches the

The centre for NanoHealth is developed,
a joint initiative worth £21 million
                                                The Schools of
                                                Medicine and
                                                collaborate to
                                                develop the Centre
                                                                           Affiliate Membership
                                                                           Scheme to encourage
                                                                           life science and
                                                                           healthcare companies
                                                                           to access the
                                                                           expertise and state-of-
                                                for NanoHealth, a
                                                joint initiative worth     the-art facilities.
                                                £21 million.

                                                                           ILS establishes
                                                The first cohort of        E-Health Industries
                                                students begins            Innovation (EHi2)
                                                studying on the            Centre with grants
Graduate Entry Medicine students achieve        Graduate Entry             worth nearly half a
100% pass rate in 2010                          Medicine (GEM)             million pounds.
                                                programme entirely
                                                at Swansea                 Graduate Entry
                                                University.                Medicine students

                                                                           achieve 100% pass
                                                The Haemostasis            rate.
                                                Biomedical Research

Construction work begins on the Data
                                                Unit is opened at          2011
                                                Morriston Hospital’s       Rector of Medicine
Science building to house the £9.3 million      emergency                  and Health, Professor
Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research   department.                Julian Hopkin, is
and the £8 million Administrative Data
                                                                           awarded a CBE in
Research Centre Wales                           Edwina Hart AM             the New Year’s
                                                OBE officially             Honour List for
                                                launches ILS2.             Services to Medicine.

                                                2010                       The School of
                                                BEACON project             Medicine becomes
                                                begins, a                  the College of
                                                collaboration              Medicine.
                                                Aberystwyth, Bangor        ILS2 and the Centre
                                                and Swansea                for NanoHealth open
                                                Universities               for business.
                                                dedicated to
                                                harnessing the             State-of-the-art MRI
                                                power of plants in         equipment arrives
                                                medicine, science          from Siemens.
                                                and manufacturing.
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
2012                    Health Minister          2014
The Joint Clinical      Mark Drakeford           MRC bioinformatics
Research Facility       visits ILS and           centre is won in
(JCRF) is launched      launches ‘Help is at     collaboration with
in collaboration        Hand’, a support         Warwick University,
with ABMU Health        publication for          becoming the
Board’s Clinical        people bereaved          College’s fourth
Research Unit           through suicide.         research council
(CRU).                                           centre in two years.
                        First minister
Genetics and            Carwyn Jones             The GMC adds
biochemistry            officially opens the     Swansea University
programmes are          Centre for               to the list of
recognised for          Improvement in           institutions able to
high graduate           Population Health        award Primary
employment rates        through E-records        Medical
with over 80% of        Research (CIPHER),       Qualifications
graduates in            a multinational          (PMQs).
employment or           partnership to
further study within    improve population       The College of
6 months.               health and               Medicine celebrates
                        wellbeing through        its 10th Anniversary.
Professor Keith         health informatics
Lloyd is appointed      research.                The College of
Dean and Head of                                 Medicine wins
the College of          Biochemistry             Athena SWAN
Medicine.               teaching is              bronze award for
                        enhanced with            commitment to
                        new teaching             advancing women’s
2013                    laboratories.            careers in science
EPSRC National
Mass Spectrometry       Construction work
Facility replaces the   begins on the Data       BEACON wins
service centre to       Science building to      RegioStars award
provide a               house the £9.3           for sustainable
comprehensive           million Farr Institute   growth.
mass spectrometry       of Health Informatics
service for             Research and the         First cohort of GEM
university research     £8 million               students graduates
groups throughout       Administrative Data      from Swansea
the UK.                 Research Centre          University.
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
06    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
      History in the making

Rising to the challenge

Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B. Davies applauds
the College of Medicine’s distinctive approach and
rapid growth, and its contribution to positioning
Swansea University for the 21st century.

                                                Those decisions have enabled the College         further strengthened within our ambitious
                                                to develop world-leading strengths and           Science and Innovation campus
                                                build up its recognition with remarkable         development and Singleton campus
                                                speed, initially attracting substantial Welsh    developments, many led by the College
                                                Government and European Investment Fund          of Medicine.
                                                support for the Institute of Life Science and,
                                                recently, large MRC and ESRC funds for the       The College of Medicine’s approach
                                                purpose-designed Data Science building.          reflects the distinctive Swansea strengths
                                                This will open in 2015 and will house            that are particularly relevant for a 21st
                                                the £5 million Farr Institute of Health          Century University: multidisciplinary
                                                Informatics Research, the £4.3million            research, collaboration with industry and
                                                Centre for the Improvement of Population         an international perspective. We are
                                                Health through E-records Research                confident at Swansea that we have the staff
                                                (CIPHER) and the new £8 million                  commitment and ambition to maintain our
Swansea’s efforts to establish a medical        Administrative Data Research Centre              impressive momentum and spectacular
school date back at least to the 1960s.         (ARDC) Wales.                                    growth, and that the College of Medicine
However, Swansea lost out then when                                                              has a big role to play in that success.
the new schools went to Universities in         The big challenges of today do not respect
England, and lost out again in a further        the artificial boundaries between traditional    I wish the College of Medicine well in
round of new medical schools in the             disciplines. Swansea’s Institute of Life         its next phase of development and in its
1990s.                                          Science has eliminated several disciplinary      ambitious plans for further expansion
                                                boundaries to foster world-class research        of learning and teaching, research
All changed in 1999 with devolution.            that delivers high-technology solutions          and innovation.
With fresh thinking in Wales came a fresh       to major healthcare challenges in
opportunity, and the arguments by the           collaboration with industry and the NHS.
University and clinicians in the region
began to receive a sympathetic hearing.         The growth in research income achieved           Professor Richard B. Davies
Importantly, the population in the region       by the College of Medicine is impressive,        Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University
could begin to look forward to the health       particularly the high proportion of
and wider benefits associated with living       prestigious research council income which
close to a medical school. In 2001, the         in 2013-14 accounted for 62% of the
Welsh Government, with the support of the       £14.5 million secured by the College.
Welsh Assembly, established a medical
school at Swansea.                              The results of the Research Assessment
                                                Exercise 2008 (RAE2008) demonstrated
Step-by-step, the College of Medicine took      unequivocally that Swansea University is
shape. Key early decisions have proved to       fast achieving its ambition to be a world-
be crucial: it was not to mimic other           class, research-led University. Since then,
medical schools elsewhere in the UK, but to     progress has accelerated even faster and
focus on graduate entry, adopt a distinctive    Medicine is very much a part of that
multi-disciplinary approach to research,        success. Already Swansea is fourth in the
and commit uniquely in the UK to effective      UK for the amount of collaborative research
collaboration with industry.                    with industry. Our industrial links will be
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
07    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
      History in the making

From vision to reality

Professor Julian Hopkin, founding Head of Swansea
Clinical School (2001-2004) and School of Medicine
(2004-2008) sits in Café Glas, ILS1, and discusses how
the College of Medicine arrived at where it is today.

                                                become fully aware that it was under-            formed the basis of us putting the case to
                                                doctored by international standards and          Assembly politicians and other interested
                                                new Schools were being established in            parties in order to build a growing base of
                                                England as a result of the findings. Wales       support for the venture. I have to say here
                                                was lagging behind in both training new          that Andrew Davies and Dai Lloyd put our
                                                doctors and in recruiting doctors to work        case boldly and, in so doing, crucially
                                                in Wales. There was additional and much-         secured support for the embryonic plans
                                                needed opportunity outside the capital for       at a formal Welsh Assembly debate.
                                                a fresh approach in medical teaching and
                                                research.                                        What were the many challenges
                                                                                                 you mention?
                                                What benefits did you see for Swansea            Initially, there were Civil Service strategic
                                                and south west Wales generally?                  doubts: they held the belief that the
                                                Wales’ second centre in Swansea would            concentration of medical, academic people
What was your vision for the College of         in turn foster both recruitment and retention    and resources in the capital, Cardiff, would
Medicine at Swansea University?                 into the NHS of the west and through that –      produce ‘critical mass’ with better results
It was 1999 and I’d returned from Oxford        and research – would drive medical               for medical training and especially medical
to Swansea with the aim of just doing           advances of international importance,            research. There was also concern from
medical research when talk of the               advancing medicine at large whilst at            Cardiff Medical School itself, fearing that
possibility of a new medical school arose       the same time being rooted in its local          resources would be siphoned away from
again in the Swansea Hospitals – there’d        community, which was integral to our             them. And then there was the simple case
been a failed bid to UK Government in the       vision.                                          of economics – that both capital and
1960s and later the establishment of a                                                           revenue can be hard to come by.
postgraduate medical school led by John         You had the vision, so what about the
Williams. The 1999 vision was for an            process – how did you make it happen?            So how did you overcome these
exciting and strategically sound medical        We had to ensure that there was a vibrant        challenges?
school that placed innovation at the heart      and committed support for the project            Many of the strategic doubts voiced by the
of our proposal to the, by then, devolved       across Swansea NHS and University – we           Civil Service were neutered when Andrew
Welsh Assembly Government: innovation           anticipated there would be challenges.           Davies and Dai Lloyd fought our corner
that would apply to the excellence of           And there were! But, at the outset we had        at the Assembly. But then came all the
medical teaching and medical research.          96% of the consultant workforce onside,          detailed planning of the School to be
We envisaged the creation of a second           voting for the development, and recording        rigorously developed in voluminous
medical school for Wales that truly             that they would be ready to provide clinical     business plans that would require final
complemented rather than duplicated the         teaching. The support was boosted by             formal support. And here, I’ll reiterate, the
established Cardiff Medical School model.       Professor Robin Williams (Vice-Chancellor        elements of cooperation and competition
We also saw the benefits of healthy             of the University at that time) and Dr Pat       we saw working across the two centres, a
competition as well as cooperation              Steane (Medical Director) and Mr. David          ‘diversity model’ if you like, which we felt
between the two Schools in Wales’               Williams (Chief Executive Swansea NHS            would offer more productivity. We also put
two major cities.                               Trust) declaring their full backing. With this   forward an incremental, small step model
                                                strong local team in place we were able to       for Swansea rather than a single giant
Was there a need as well as a desire for        spearhead our mission and therefore able         stride approach, which would allow us to
a second medical school for Wales?              to develop our vision. We assembled and          prove ourselves by performing brilliantly in
Absolutely. At that time, the UK had            considered very early practical plans which      all areas and demonstrating that brilliance
College of Medicine, Swansea University - 10th Anniversary: 2004-2014 History in the making - BEACON
College of Medicine, Swansea University
08     10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
       History in the making

in our results: success driving momentum
so that the next phase in our development
could be secured. It was proven success
that was to be the practical cornerstone
of the advance of the School. There were
some tough times, but outrageous ambition
and team spirit were key right from the start.

What pedigree did Swansea have at
that time to drive the agenda forward
and endorse its case?
Swansea had a substantial hospital
complex with high standards of practice;
the physical infrastructure was in place.
In addition to a comprehensive range of
general hospitals services it also had
specialist units – cardiac, renal, burns,     from all around the world – medical,          and distinction rates for the Graduate Entry
neonates, etc. It was also blessed with a     scientific, technical, administrative – and   Programme. Out of our first 2 cohorts, a
strong set of local general practices and     it’s those people who are responsible for     Swansea student won the all-Wales best
a University with diverse departments and     the outstanding success of the School –       medical student award in both 2008 and
strengths: there was already a School of      now a College – in teaching, research and 2009 final examinations. And then of
Nursing here and a very powerful School       innovation – and have made the robust         course, there was Prime Minister Gordon
of Engineering that were committed to         entity it is in 2014. And again innovation    Brown’s visit in 2008: he was, quite rightly,
the local vision of a new medical school      in medical training: while the UK was         duly impressed and sent a warm letter of
building on the research base of the          strongly focused on School-Entry medical      fulsome congratulations.
existing postgraduate medical school. In      training, we dared
Swansea we also had a University whose        to be different,
campus abutted onto one of the major          following the USA        “I’d like to be remembered simply as the
NHS sites (Singleton), which promised         and German
                                              approach by
                                                                       founding boss whom I hope folk found
great facilitation of working together in
teaching and, vitally, in research. This was  attracting Graduate ambitious for medicine in Swansea and
a model of excellence and innovation          Entry students with      Wales, determined and fair minded.
between NHS and the University that local     their distinct and       But it wasn’t just about me.”
Welsh Assembly politicians strongly           diverse backgrounds Professor Julian Hopkin CBE
endorsed and which led to its approval.       and maturity which       College of Medicine, Swansea University
                                              has enriched the
Do you remember how you felt when             talent and potential
the first phase of the Clinical School        of the medical
came to be in 2001?                           workforce in terms of medical care and        It’s been quite a journey and I know it’s
I’ll never forget the moment when I received research. We were able to offer a highly       only just begun. How would you like
the phone call from Andrew Davies – I was innovative medical degree programme with your involvement to be remembered?
at home and he told me that the Welsh         thorough integration of medical care and      Simply as the founding boss whom I hope
Assembly Government had supported our         medical    science from day one.              folk  found ambitious for medicine in
application and innovative model to grow                                                    Swansea and Wales, determined and fair
the School in phases and to work in           The rise of the School (College) has been     minded. But it wasn’t just about me.
cooperation with Cardiff. It all started with continuous and I know it will continue in
34 Senior Clinical Tutors who were            that vein. The founders of the Swansea        What else do you think significant as to
appointed from among the Consultant Staff School knew that the now great and                where Swansea stands so successfully
to lead the medical student teaching in the   wonderful Harvard Medical School had          poised in 2014?
first phase of the Clinical School which      started in 49 Marlborough Street, Boston      Team spirit, and again team spirit. And
lasted from 2001-2004. They produced a        in 1810 and just went on to grow!             keeping focus on the little matter that the
truly brilliant performance with rave formal                                                medical education and medical research
feed back from the students and impressed What do you see as your proudest                  and development of today makes the great
politicians and civil servants. It all went   moments in the College’s story to date? doctors and powerful medicine of
from there…                                   Obviously the establishment of the            tomorrow.
                                              Swansea Clinical School in 2001 and then
And what about 2004, a significant            the School of Medicine in 2004 (later to be And the future?
milestone, I’m sure?                          renamed the ‘College’). The Institute of Life Bright, very bright. Successive Heads must
Momentum had been gathering towards           Science with building 1 in 2007 and           sustain outrageous ambition and team
2004, which marked the transition from a      building 2 in 2012. In 2008 there was a       spirit. Current Head, Keith Lloyd, is doing
Clinical School to the School of Medicine     highly successful Research Assessment UK      just that.
with its distinctive Graduate Entry medical   Exercise Result when 87% of our research
concept – and with the first glimmers of the outputs were classed as world-leading or
Institute of Life Science concept. It’s worth internationally excellent and, of course, the
emphasising here that business plans are      winning of MRC/RSCR Research Centres in
one thing but performance is another:         Health Informatics and Data, the support of
from the word go, the School excelled at      EPSRC for the Mass Spectrometry Centre.
attracting and appointing staff at all grades I’m proud of our people: the fantastic pass
College of Medicine, Swansea University
09   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

Ten years. Ten snapshots. Together
they tell the story of the incredible
journey the College of Medicine
has made in the last decade, and
signpost where that journey might
lead in the future.
College of Medicine, Swansea University
10    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
      History in the making

25/2/14 100%+
Recognition – The General Medical               Fast growth – Number of Undergraduate
                                                                                          Numbers count – From 3 Postgraduate
Council (GMC) adds Swansea                      students across 3 years is 197 in 2013-   students between 2001-2003 there are
University to the list of academic              2014 compared with 94 in 2007-2008        now 140 Postgraduate students engaged
institutions with the right to award            cohort                                    in Taught Masters and Research
Primary Medical Qualifications                                                            Programmes in 2014
independent of any other institution

Learning and teaching
2014 is a doubly special year for medical education at Swansea. September
sees the 10th anniversary of the first students who started on the Swansea-
Cardiff 4 year Graduate Entry Programme (GEP) in Medicine.

July 2014 also sees the first cohort of medical students to have spent all
four years of their course at Swansea University qualifying as doctors.
Their completion of Swansea’s Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) Programme
is a triumph for staff and students alike.

But learning and teaching within the College of Medicine is much more.
It is the successful coming together of its integral parts: a highly-regarded
undergraduate programme in Genetics, Medical Genetics, Medical Biochemistry
and a world-class Postgraduate facility comprising taught Masters and Research
degrees in areas significant to the advancement of medicine on a global scale.
College of Medicine, Swansea University
11    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
      History in the making

At the heart of the triumph and celebration     story of the College    “The staff members who walked into the
of 2014 are ambition, innovation and            from day one. The       Purnell Lecture Theatre on that first day –
above all, proven excellence in learning        tone was always
and teaching. Whether part of the               deliberately bold       8th September 2004 – of the first year of
Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM),                  and ambitious:          our GEP course are unlikely ever to forget
Undergraduate or Postgraduate                   this was a College      the feeling of seeing for the first time these
programmes, all the students who qualify        that was going
in the College of Medicine know that they       somewhere and
                                                                        young people as a group. We got to know
will be equipped to be tomorrow’s doctors       only the cream          them well as we did each cohort of students
and life scientists in the communities they     of world class          from then on.”
will serve: across Wales; across the UK;        expertise would         Professor Rhys Williams
across the world. With them they will           suffice. Big            Formerly Chair of Learning and Teaching,
carry the prestige of one of the UK’s           ambitions needed        College of Medicine, Swansea University
fastest growing medical schools.                big thinking.

Firm foundations                                Prestigious teaching                           challenges – fortunately more of the lesser
The story of successful learning and            experts were sought out across the world       type than those of greater magnitude – and
teaching at today’s College of Medicine is      and recruited sometimes en masse (six          all have been overcome through a spirit of
not a new one. The ethos of providing the       joined in one day in 2001) attracted by        “pragmatic acceptance of setbacks by
best learning and teaching was already          the vision of the Swansea model, which         students and a collaborative culture of
firmly established on campus, and               realised that a Medical School could not       positive thinking and hard work by staff
recognised nationally and internationally,      be built without major players in the fields   members.” One person of many more
before the beginnings of the College of         of research and teaching nor without           deserves acknowledgement: Professor Rhys
Medicine. Previously based in the School        innovation as a key driver.                    Williams, who is said to have enabled
of Biological Sciences, Swansea University                                                     “medicine to be brought to life” at
had offered BSC Genetics degrees since          Students across all three areas of learning    Swansea and who successive cohorts on
the 1960s, one of the first Institutions in     and teaching have been, and continue to        the GEP/GEM Programmes will remember
the UK to do so. Swansea University also        be, recruited through a stringent selection    as the “human face” of their medical
boasted a highly regarded School of             process comprising UCAS application,           education. He has handed on that role to
Nursing (which celebrates its 25th              open day, interview and assessment. The        Professor Judy McKimm and her team.
anniversary this year) and a globally           best of the best philosophy applies here
acclaimed School of Engineering. There          too, so that in 2014 only 25% of those         Learning and teaching for tomorrow
was also a research based postgraduate          who initially apply will be considered         The three features which follow aim to
medical school. All this provided a firm        eligible to take part in the ‘Swansea          encapsulate the essence, development
foundation on which the embryonic               Experience’.                                   and successes of the unique ‘Swansea
College of Medicine could build, maintain                                                      Experience’ of learning and teaching
and improve on the quality provision of         Making it happen                               and illustrate where these successes
learning and teaching which lays at the         It takes great people to turn concepts into    are leading.
core of the success it enjoys today.            tangibles and there have been many
                                                people tasked with just that during the
Thinking big                                    College of Medicine’s short, but dynamic,
Attracting and retaining the best staff and     history of learning and teaching to date.
students has been a critical element in the     This history has not been without its
College of Medicine, Swansea University
12    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                           Learning and teaching
      History in the making

Tomorrow’s life scientists

2014 sees Swansea University’s Biochemistry
and Genetics Undergraduate programmes firmly
embedded within the College of Medicine. But
the roots reach back over forty-five years to the
1960s when the University was one of the first UK
institutions to offer students BSc degrees in Genetics.

                 hen Swansea did not            benefiting from the cross-fertilisation   2007-2008 saw that figure soar to over
                 become Wales’ second           achieved through shared learning and      80% where it has remained year on year
                 medical school in 1966         teaching and research expertise available since.
                 the University’s long and      within the College. Many teachers on the
respected tradition in Biochemistry,            Undergraduate Programmes are part of      The Undergraduate Programmes also take
Chemistry and Genetics continued to             the wider research environment and many   pride in the fact that they are seeding the
flourish. Biochemistry was closely involved     teachers are medical professionals, often ‘home grown’ and globally significant
with the Chemistry Department prior to          working as doctors in local hospitals.    research that is so in evidence at ILS. An
transfer in the late 1980s to the School        Positioned together, the two sciences     ongoing cycle of learning and teaching is
of Biological Sciences into which Genetics      have been strengthened and are jointly    developing at the College: Undergraduate
was also integrated. When the bid re-           contributing to the
emerged in 1999, this tradition was critical    prestige of the
in giving leverage to the articulation of the   College as a whole. “We are turning them into professional
new vision.
                                                With the transfer       scientists. I am proud to say, I taught them.”
                                                to the College of       Professor   Paul Dyson,
It made sense: there is a substantial link
                                                Medicine there          Undergraduate Programme Director,
between Genetics and Medicine and it
                                                has been an             College of Medicine, Swansea University
was a natural step that linked the people
instrumental in helping to birth the Swansea    accompanying
Clinical School in 2001. In Medicine there      increase in status of
was Professor Julian Hopkin and in Genetics     the Undergraduate Programmes. The rate      – Postgraduate – PhD – Staff; retaining that
there was Professor James Parry who both        of growth has been rapid: during 2007-      knowledge base in a local clever economy
realised the positive and mutual benefits of    2008 there were 94 students in total across for the benefit of the wider world of Life
their separate disciplines forming part of      the 3 years. Fast forward to 2013-2014      Science.
the envisaged model for the School.             and there are 197 – a 100%+ increase
                                                and Programmes are almost fully             And the future? Such strong performance
The fit between medical and molecular           subscribed.                                 in such short a time looks set to continue
science that was so strategically effective                                                 on an upward trajectory. About to launch
at the inception of the School, and integral    The Undergraduate Programmes are            is an innovative one year MSc bolt-on to
to its aims and ambitions, resulted in the      tuned into the increasing demands of        the BSc that will place greater emphasis
Genetics Programme being incorporated           students as consumers of education, and     on research and add even more value to
within the School (now College) of              since transfer was completed in 2010 have tomorrow’s life scientists.
Medicine in 2007, with Biochemistry             been proactively evolving the nature and
following in 2010. With the new transfers       scope of the degrees offered (currently a
came a considerable overhaul of                 total of 5 single and joint honours BSc
management and structures, with the             Degrees) ensuring that Swansea maintains
formation of a joint Board of Studies           competitive edge and maximises
chaired by a single Programme Director –        employment opportunities for its Graduates.
initially Professor David Skibinski and
currently, Professor Paul Dyson.                Increasing employability success is a
                                                source of pride: in 2007 only 67% of
By 2014, that fit has already been              Graduates taught in the Biological Sciences
successfully proven, with Undergraduates        were employed in work or in further study.
College of Medicine, Swansea University
13   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

                                               George is a an award-winning        can hone their skills in business
                                               researcher in the College of        settings. Evidenced by the

                                               Medicine who combines teaching      spectacular employability rate,
           Dr George Johnson,                  and research, ensuring that         this hands-on experience makes
                                               tomorrow’s life scientists are      them some of the most sought
           Senior Lecturer                     learning from the best of today.    after graduates in the UK.
           College of Medicine,
                                               Academics like George who
           Swansea University                  keep their fingers on the pulse
                                               of research teach students the
                                               latest methods and findings and
                                               coordinate placements in world-
                                               leading organisations such as
                                               GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) so students
College of Medicine, Swansea University
14    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                            Learning and teaching
      History in the making

Tomorrow’s doctors

25th February 2014 will always be remembered as
the day Swansea University’s medical school joined
the General Medical Council’s (GMC) prestigious list
of UK medical schools entitled to award UK Primary
Medical Qualifications (PMQs) independent of any
other institution.

       his GMC validation is testament to       GEM enables Swansea to play its part in         GMC’s Tomorrow’s Doctors (2009) outlines
       the vision and ambition of all those     the under-doctoring issue in Wales by both      the requirements of a doctor under three
       who campaigned for Wales’ second         increasing recruitment and increasing           themes: doctor as scientist and scholar;
       medical school ahead of it opening       retention of doctors, which will in turn        doctor as practitioner; and doctor as
its doors to the first cohort of thirty-six     improve the health and wellbeing of the         professional. Those doctors who leave
graduates in 2004. This acknowledgement         communities they will serve. It has already     GEM in 2014 will know that they have
to ‘stand alone’ is also an endorsement         started to deliver with 59% of this year’s      had the best of the best to equip them to
of the successive leaders who have been         cohort who will graduate with a MB BCh          be tomorrow’s doctors. For them, their
charged with Graduate Entry Medicine’s          in July committed to foundation doctoring       lifelong journey is just beginning.
stewardship in its ten short years and a        in Wales.
marker of the responsibility to follow in
the years to come.                              The GMC visiting      “In common with best medical practice
                                                team highlighted some
Back in 2004 the Graduate Entry                 of the programme’s
                                                                      internationally and in line with Tomorrow’s
Programme (GEP) was funded by the               unique features       Doctors, the Swansea GEM programme
Welsh Assembly Government as part of            including the Rural   incorporates… a high level of patient
a joint collaboration between Swansea           and Remote Health     involvement and a large number of self-
and Cardiff Universities, which meant that      in Medical Education
students on the Programme spent the first       (RRHIME) and the      selected clinical and research experiences
two years at Swansea followed by their          value placed on the   to develop lifelong learning.”
final two years at Cardiff. From its            Welsh language        Professor Judy McKimm
inception in 2004, Swansea had been             and culture which     Dean of Medical Education,
striving to be able to ‘go it alone’ and        is embedded in the    College of Medicine, Swansea University
since 2007 the College of Medicine              programme.
had worked partnership with Welsh
Government, the Wales Deanery, local            2014 is a year to celebrate and also            So too for GEM. The programme will
Health Boards, hospitals, community             to acknowledge that there have been             mature with the years and with continued
organisations, students and the GMC to          challenges along the way. Challenges            outward facing thinking will continue to
develop the distinctive GEM Programme,          that have been overcome with the same           attract and retain the best. Small student:
which it was able to offer from 2009.           ethos of determination, team spirit and         teacher ratios and a context that views
                                                the pursuit of excellence that is at the core   both learners and teachers as professional
Swansea’s GEM programme is unique in            of GEM’s success. Following the bitter          colleagues is a potent mix and combined
Wales and one of a small group of similar       disappointment – both for students and staff    with GMC’s recent validation has boosted
programmes of medical study in the UK.          – of the 2011 GMC Review, the curriculum        Swansea University’s upward trajectory
It is an innovative, accelerated medical        has been recast, building on and adapting       and its ambition to be one of the world’s
degree open to high-achieving graduates         its inherent strengths so that it has now       top universities.
with demonstrable first and upper second        been deemed ‘fit to go’. It is proof of
degrees in the arts, sciences or humanities.    the “yes we can…and we did,” mind
Competition is tough and only seventy,          set of Professor Judy McKimm and her
selected from initial applications of over      predecessor, Professor Rhys Williams
eight hundred, will have the opportunity to     who have enabled the GEM Programme
benefit from the ‘Swansea Experience’.          to come of age.
College of Medicine, Swansea University
15   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

                                               Gaining one of the seventy places   intentionally not structured in
                                               on the GEM programme is an          a traditional ‘body systems’

                                               achievement in itself, but          approach. Instead, it is designed
           Graduate Entry Medicine             becoming one of the seventy         to reflect the way in which
                                               doctors of tomorrow is something    clinicians actually approach
           Students                            else.                               patients, investigating particular
           College of Medicine,                                                    problems and conditions from
                                               The GEM curriculum features         all possible angles. This gives
           Swansea University                  a unique balance of learning        Swansea graduates the upper
                                               weeks, clinical apprenticeships,    hand when it comes to
                                               specialty attachments, clinical     approaching the uncertainties
                                               assistantships, electives and       and uniqueness of their future
                                               shadowing. Unlike conventional      practice and prepares them to
                                               medical degree courses, the         be tomorrow’s doctors.
                                               innovative GEM curriculum is
College of Medicine, Swansea University
16     10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                            Learning and teaching
       History in the making

Growing talent

The rapid rate of growth in the number of
Postgraduates choosing to progress their studies
at Swansea is commensurate with the College’s
status as ‘UK’s fastest growing Medical School’.
It is affirmation of the demand for its distinctive
approach to learning and teaching at the heart
of its vision.

   n 2014, within the College of Medicine        John Baxter, Professor Gareth Jenkins and        with the Chair meeting all students at the
   there are 140 candidates engaged in           Professor John White, each retrospectively       end of every year to chat about progress
   highly valued and respected                   keeping the Chair warm for the subsequent        and gaining valuable feedback; four
   Postgraduate and Continuing Education         sitter. Though the stewardship has               official joint-appraisal meetings between
or in supervised Postgraduate Degrees            changed, the focus on increasing                 Postgraduates and their Supervisors; the use
aligned to the research-active groups in         Postgraduate numbers and at the same             of Skype and the fusion of the internet into
the College. In the years 2001-2004              time ensuring high levels of service are         the design of projects; platforms for students
there were just 3.                               maintained is paramount. Student surveys         to have their voice in quarterly ’Tea with
                                                 are now all important and Blackboard             Tom’ sessions. And in the ethos of the
The Postgraduate thread of learning              intranet allows the Programmes to monitor        interdisciplinary nature of learning and
and teaching is now able to offer 4              satisfaction. Vital markers too are statistics   teaching and research at the College, open
Postgraduate Research Degrees: Doctor            from external monitoring benchmark bodies        discussions at monthly meetings operating
of Philosophy (PhD); Doctor of Medicine          such as the Research Excellence                  in a culture of collective decision making.
(MD); Master of Philosophy (MPhil); and          Framework (REF).                                 Since 2007 there have been physical
the latest addition – a significant milestone
for the Programme – Masters by Research          The learning and
                                                                         “Postgraduate Day in May has now become
(MRes.) introduced in 2013.                      teaching nurturing
                                                 approach embodied Postgraduate Week. I’m really proud that the
Under its Postgraduate Taught Masters            in the PhD              number of Postgrads is too big to present
and Continuing Education Programme,              programme can           snapshots of its research on 1 day.”
the opportunities continue to expand: all        be summed up            Dr Tom Wilkinson
are linked to the College’s professional         in ‘Tom’s method’ –     Chair of Higher Degrees,
and research expertise and focus on              a close mentoring       College of Medicine, Swansea University
gaining transferable employability skills        of apprentice by
as well as specialist knowledge.                 master that
                                                 progresses over the duration of the        structures too that have been the catalysts
Year on year, the Postgraduate                   course from I (the master demonstrating)   in attracting and developing progression
Programmes are growing talent: talent            to We (master and apprentice working       from Undergraduate to Postgraduate to PhD:
enriched by the experience of study itself       together on research in the laboratory)    world class innovation and research at work
and in turn, enriching the advance of            to You (master gradually ‘letting go’ of   in the laboratories and facilities of the
medical science. Postgraduates are drawn         the apprentice who thus becomes a          Institute of Life Science (ILS1 and ILS2).
from across the globe, the UK, from              new master).                               With the new Data Science building on
industry, and from other programmes in                                                      track to open in 2015 and ILS3 beckoning
the College of Medicine: many of those           The Postgraduate Programmes are coming     in 2020, things can only go from strength
who graduate through GEM or the                  of age. To reach the point they are at     to strength and give more space for
Undergraduate Programme are feeding              today, a strong strategy and strong        developing knowledge to flourish.
into Postgraduate study and in so doing          structures have needed to be in place.
progressing the knowledge pipeline and           The restructuring of the Postgraduate
helping retain ‘home grown’ expertise.           Research Degrees 2011-2012 has resulted
                                                 in the “best balance of people and ensures
Nurturing all the expertise at present           everybody’s on the same page.” But
(2013-) is Dr Tom Wilkinson, Chair of            there are smaller changes in place too:
Higher Degrees who succeeded Professor           increasing pastoral support for students,
College of Medicine, Swansea University
17   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

                                               Leanne is studying towards a         company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
                                               PhD at the College of Medicine       where she excelled by helping

                                               after being awarded a CASE           to improve human health risk
           Leanne Stannard,                    studentship funded by                assessment.
                                               multinational company
           CASE PhD Studentship                AstraZeneca and the BBSRC.           The College of Medicine’s ethos
           College of Medicine,                She graduated from the College       is that research and industry
                                               in 2013 with a first class honours   opportunities are made available
           Swansea University                  in Medical Genetics.                 to undergraduate students as well
                                                                                    as postgraduates, allowing them
                                               Her growing talent was evident       to grow into scientists of global
                                               after successfully securing a UK-    standing.
                                               wide recruited and hotly contested
                                               placement with global healthcare
College of Medicine, Swansea University
18   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

£25m +
Upward trajectory – from £1 million
                                               Recognised excellence – over 87% of
                                                                                      Strength in depth – over 140 top flight
grant income in 2004 to £25 million            research judged as world-class or of   Researchers working across 4 research
in 2014                                        international importance in RAE2008    themes of global significance in
                                                                                      3 state-of-the-art buildings

In 2014 the College of Medicine is recognised across the globe for the impact
of its Research. This is credit to those whose early vision for the new College
realised that Research excellence was integral to the model that would pay
dividends and grow profile quickly.

Today, Research is firmly embedded within the College of Medicine at its
Institute of Life Science (ILS). But its story is shaped by a strong tradition
and a track record of success in Genetics and Biochemistry, which have
been based at Swansea University since the 1960s.
College of Medicine, Swansea University
19     10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
       History in the making

The status and impetus for growth afforded       the Institute of Life     “We don’t produce clones. I’m really proud
by Swansea becoming a fully fledged              Science (ILS1). Its       of my students – they’re unique and they
Medical School in 2004 is nothing short of       open-plan and
startling. Nowhere is this more in evidence      shared core facilities have a unique research environment.”
than in the field of Research, one of the        of laboratories and       Professor Gareth Jenkins
three pillars that together, in just a decade,   offices embodied          Director of Research,
have enabled the College of Medicine to          the collaborative         College of Medicine, Swansea University
say, ‘Look at us!’                               ethos that was
                                                 central to Research
                                                                                                decided to reorganise the existing structure
Perfect strategy                                 at the College of Medicine. It allowed
                                                                                                into units of critical mass under four broad
Of course the raison d’être of the               for ‘clusters of difference’ and a cross-
                                                                                                themes that had been identified as giving
embryonic College of Medicine in 2004            fertilisation of ideas between different
                                                                                                the ‘flavour’ of Research expertise at
was to teach doctors, without that it would      areas of Research and between
                                                                                                the College of Medicine: Patient and
have been nothing. But the early strategists, academics, PhD Students and enterprise
                                                                                                Population Health and Informatics (PPHI);
particularly, Professor Julian Hopkin,           and innovation at the heart of the concept
                                                                                                Biomarkers and Genes; Microbes and
recognised that this on its own was not          of ILS.
                                                                                                Immunity; and Devices with Data Science
enough: the College had to build an
                                                                                                central to all.
international reputation for Research.           The ILS1 WOW factor, combined with the
                                                 research expertise that was already in
                                                                                                Bright spots
His strategy was to “get the best quality        place, plus the excellence highlighted in
                                                                                                In 2014, these four themes remain broad
people and get them fast”. At that time          the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise
                                                                                                and will be further refined to highlight a
there were no dedicated buildings for            (RAE) now re-named the Research
                                                                                                series of ‘bright spots’. Research will bring
Research, no state-of-the-art facilities to      Excellence Framework (REF) drove a
                                                                                                these ‘bright spots’ into sharp focus to
entice world-wide expertise, no history,         second substantial wave of recruitment
                                                                                                maintain the upward trajectory that has
but nevertheless they came from the outset, of calibre, as did ILS2 in 2011 and the
                                                                                                seen grant income rise exponentially from
excited by the opportunity of the Swansea        launch of the Joint Clinical Research Facility
                                                                                                a base of £1million in 2004 to £25million
vision conveyed with dynamism and                (JCRF) in 2012. Success then quickly
                                                                                                in 2014 and by 2015 will see the Data
determination by Julian. They came from          followed success with a flurry of research
                                                                                                Science building open its doors to two
the UK; from Germany; and from further           council funded centres: mass spectroscopy,
                                                                                                research centres, cementing the positioning
afield, USA and New Zealand. Many who health informatics and bioinformatics.
                                                                                                of Research at the College of Medicine as
had started out in Swansea ‘came home’.          Translational research at Swansea was
This was a bold strategy which made              being seen to make a “real difference in
a big statement about intention. It was the      the real world”; but perhaps it could make
                                                                                                The features which follow aim to give
beginning of a virtuous circle and a spiral      an even greater difference.
                                                                                                snapshots of the four major Research
of confidence based on the pedigree of
                                                                                                Themes that have been identified at
these initial staff that would, in turn, attract Strength in depth
                                                                                                Swansea together with the cross-cutting
yet more acknowledged experts in their           Up until 2012 research in the whole
                                                                                                theme of Data Science. The features look
respective fields.                               College was led by 35 Professors and
                                                                                                back at the development of each area of
                                                 consisted of over 130 Research Groups.
                                                                                                Research and look forward to where those
Room to grow                                     There was general agreement that the
                                                                                                particular areas might lead in the future.
With more people came the need for more Research was being spread too thinly and
space; more space meant capacity for             that strength in depth across less breadth
more people and 2007 saw the triumph of was the way forward. It was therefore
College of Medicine, Swansea University
20    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                           Research
      History in the making

Discovery and delivery

In 2014 Researchers working within the broad theme
of Biomarkers and Genes at the College of Medicine
are acknowledged as world leaders in the discovery
of novel genetic, immunological and molecular
biomarkers and in the delivery of their practical
applications in drug development and treatments.

            enetics at Swansea has a long       influenced the care of rare neurological    (HPC) Wales, an innovative collaboration
            and distinguished history. Its      disorders; how their studies of genetic     which today gives innovators and
            origins can be traced back to       mutations have affected the studies of      researchers in Wales access to world-class,
            the late 1960s and early 1970s      safety of toxins at low dose; the 2013      secure and easy to use HPC technology.
when its founding fathers, Professor John       EPSRC UK National Mass Spectrometry
Beardmore and Professor David Skibinski,        Facility; pushing the boundaries of         This collaboration is central to the College
returned from Cambridge and began their         research in Diabetic Nephropathy and        of Medicine’s research ethos: inter-
pioneering research contributions in the        Retinopathy; and of course, the advances    disciplinary collaboration with the other
fields of genetic toxicology and DNA            in Nanotoxicology, now a rising star        Research themes and interaction with
repair mechanisms, population and               within Biomarkers and Genes.                industry and spin-out companies so that
evolutionary genetics and in the genetics                                                   market needs are fully integrated into
of microbes and cell organelles.             There have been significant milestones         research. Central too is the dynamism
                                             too in that time that have driven success:     of the department that is “creating its
Soon after Swansea opened its doors to       unquestionably ILS1
Graduate Entry Medicine in 2004, the         in 2007 and ILS2
departments of Genetics and Biochemistry     in 2011, and before,          “It was a really big deal and a coup for the
were brought together under the College of   in 2006,    the IBM R&D       College – both exciting and terrifying.
Medicine. Rooted in the respected tradition collaboration and the          I had the keys to drive this (IBM Blue C
of those early days, Biomarkers and Genes Blue C Supercomputer
has since evolved as one of the four major (the largest in the UK
                                             at the  time  and a           Professor Mike Gravenor
research themes identified by the College
                                             remarkable coup for           Theme Lead Biomarkers and Genes,
of Medicine as ‘bright spots’.
                                             the College). Dedicated College of Medicine, Swansea University
The establishment of the fledgling Medical   to Life Sciences for
School and the impressive research           ‘mathematical biology’,
standing of early visionaries Professor      Blue C has been used in projects including own story as it goes along” with the
Julian Hopkin and Professor Rhys Williams numerically intensive analysis of viral         flexibility to enquire, explore, discover
was a “powerful pull” in attracting          genomes, epidemiological modelling, large and deliver.
research talent to Swansea. One such         clinical data bases and analysis of the
talent was Mike Gravenor, now Professor      genetics of disease susceptibility.          The next ten years will see Biomarkers and
Mike Gravenor, Theme Lead for Biomarkers                                                  Genes build on the successes of the last
and Genes, who took up a Lectureship on      The spin-offs from this cannot be            decade by expanding its clinical and
returning to his “home town” from Oxford     underestimated: within the College, the      business interfaces and attracting more
in 2004. He, like many others who came       enablement of the Informatics and Data       funding to take its research forward. The
at that time, could not resist the challenge Science Base (prior to PPHI) by Professor    facilities of ILS and the talent of its people
of Professor Julian Hopkin’s words:          David Ford and Professor Ronan Lyons and gives the opportunity to do so as they stand
“Come here and help us set up something      the facility to carry out cutting-edge       shoulder to shoulder with the NHS and
exciting.”                                   research into the evolution of viruses (the  Enterprise and Innovation.
                                             paper which was published in 2006
Today, within Biomarkers and Genes, there became the 3rd highest cited paper out
are ten Professors each with “a story to     of 12,000). Externally, the ‘kit’ and its
tell”. Some of the most noteworthy of the    outputs became the blueprint for the
last decade being: how their research has    £44 million High Performance Computing
College of Medicine, Swansea University
21   10th Anniversary: 2004-2014
     History in the making

                                               Shareen's research sits within the   better deliver treatment and
                                               College of Medicine’s Biomarkers     patient outcomes.

                                               and Genes Theme. She has
           Dr Shareen Doak,                    established a research programme     An award-winning scientist and
                                               in nano-genotoxicology looking       UK and EUROTOX Registered
           Reader                              at how DNA can be damaged            Toxicologist, Shareen’s expertise
           College of Medicine,                by very small or “nano” particles    is recognised across the globe.
                                               that potentially lead to cancer.     She sits on the UK Government
           Swansea University                  She also leads prostate cancer       Committee on Mutagenicity
                                               research at the College,             and the International Genetic
                                               investigating the molecular          Toxicology Technical Committee
                                               basis of progression to invasive,    and is an external expert for the
                                               aggressive disease, with an          EU Scientific Committee on
                                               ultimate aim of discovering a        Consumer Safety.
                                               prognostic biomarker panel to
College of Medicine, Swansea University
22    10th Anniversary: 2004-2014                             Research
      History in the making

Speed and scale

In 2014, Patient and Population Health and Informatics
(PPHI) is a multidisciplinary research centre with a
world-class reputation. It has evolved from pioneering
work carried out at Swansea University in the 1990s
to make explosive impacts internationally in the field
of Health Informatics.

        PHI is one of the four major research    research groups within Wales, the wider        comparison with just 20 in 2004. The
        themes identified in the restructuring   UK and across the world.                       Informatics Team has grown steadily to
        of research at the College in 2012                                                      over 100 since the inception of ‘big data’
        and now consolidated within the ILS.     The growing success of the Centres within      projects such as SAIL and CIPHER and is
It is currently directed by Theme Lead,          PPHI is “phenomenal”. It is home to: the       “well set” to continue at the forefront of
Professor Helen Snooks (2012-) its               Centre of Health Information Research and      research as the structures that make for
precursor being led by Professor John            EvALuation (CHIRAL); the Centre for the        success are in place: informatics; clinical
Williams who set the scene and played a          Improvement of Population Health through       trials unit; and research themes. And then
major part in today’s story through the early    eRecords Research (CIPHER) one of a            there’s ILS itself, a physical testament of
work of vision and value undertaken at the       network of only four world-class Health        possibility, growing hand in hand with
Postgraduate Medical School (-2001) and          eResearch Centres of Excellence funded by      research: ILS1 (2007); ILS2 (2011); the
Swansea Clinical School (2001-2004).             the Medical Research Council (MRC); an         new Data Science building due for
                                                 £8 million Centre of Administrative Data       completion in 2015; and the vision for
Vision and value remains at the heart of         Research and Evaluation; and one of the        ILS3 in 2020.
PPHI’s remit: to produce and disseminate         four major centres that
high quality and internationally relevant        together form the MRC’s
research that will be deemed to be “worth        £20 million funded UK         “It’s all about impact… about research
doing” to both policy makers who plan            health informatics            results that are not just locally applicable,
and deliver health services and to patients      research group,
who use those services.                          the Farr Institute.
                                                                               but internationally applicable.”
                                                                               Professor Helen Snooks
                                                                               Theme Lead PPHI,
Year on year, PPHI’s growing reputation as       This latest award not
                                                                               College of Medicine, Swansea University
a global leader in research using electronic     only cements the
data is being recognised in the form of          College of Medicine’s
prestigious awards and the capture of            reputation for world-
millions of pounds in grant funding.             class research but will enable PPHI to         Going forward, the need for change is not
Instrumental in this recognition is the          capitalise on its expertise in safely sharing, seen: PPHI is on a solid footing and making
innovation and entrepreneurship of               combining and analysing diverse data sets a considerable contribution to the College
Professor David Ford and Professor Ronan         across new boundaries, ‘leading                of Medicine. It is on the right trajectory to
Lyons and their “solid research rooted in        discoveries’ and validating research           attract and build capacity at all levels to
public health”.                                  findings at a speed and scale not              take Swansea to the world and attract yet
                                                 previously possible. It will also be a         more money and more people of the highest
The essential component underpinning the         catalyst for investment to the UK through      calibre to Swansea. Professor Helen Snooks
ground-breaking research at PPHI is its          collaborations with IT and pharmaceutical      states it simply: “Do what we do; and do
Secure Anonymised Information Linkage            companies and build on its already strong      more of it!”
(SAIL) system that securely brings together      collaborations among UK and International
the widest possible array of routinely           Researchers.
collected patient data for research,
development and evaluation, using cryptic        Speed and scale is not only pertinent to the
codes for anonymity. From its inception in       research possibilities, but to the growth of
2006, SAIL is now engaged in a range of          the infrastructure in which that research
high-profile externally funded research          operates: the people and the place. In
studies, leading or collaborating with           2014 PPHI supports 200+ jobs in
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