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A newsletter for staff of the University of Dundee

Friday, 20 May 2011


  1. Art stars visit degree show
  2. £6 million grants for CLS researchers
  3. Professor Struthers elected to prestigious fellowship
  4. Social impact award for Professor Newell
  5. V&A at Dundee architect talk this weekend
  6. Nobel Laureate delivers Peter Garland lecture
  7. DDU to lead UK network
  8. £350,000 wider access boost
  9. Mackenzie lecture looks at role of health technology
  10. Free dementia lecture at Ninewells
  11. Cancer experts meet at symposium
  12. German summer for scholarship winners
  13. Bring a pound to work day next week
  14. Law students help CHAS
  15. CRC open day
  16. Research grants news online
  17. What's On
  18. Contributing to eContact

1. Art stars visit degree show

Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz and Pixar founder and computer graphics pioneer Alvy Ray Smith kicked off this year’s Dundee Degree Show celebrations last night (Thursday) at a special Associates Reception.

Susan, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, gave a talk to students at the Dalhousie Building while Alvy Ray Smith delivered a public lecture preceded by a showreel of work from students on the Animation programme.

The Degree Show, which opens to the public tomorrow (Saturday), is one of the highlights in Dundee’s cultural calendar. Last year’s exhibits were viewed by around 10,000 visitors and the Show raised around £1.5million for the local economy.

This year’s show features work from nearly 300 graduating students across 11 disciplines and takes place throughout the two buildings and fourteen floors that make up DJCAD.

Dundee Degree Show is the centrepiece of a whole weekend of cultural activity taking place across the city centre this weekend. It includes exhibitions, talks and theatre. For more information visit

The Degree show runs until Sunday, May 29th. Admission is free and the exhibition is open from 10am until 8pm (Monday - Friday) and 10am to 4pm (Saturday - Sunday).

2. £6 million grants for CLS researchers

Two researchers in the College of Life Sciences have been awarded a total of more than £6 million in grants from the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Jason Swedlow and Professor Tom Owen-Hughes, both based in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression, have received grants of £4.2 million and £2 million respectively.

Professor Swedlow, recently named 'Innovator of the Year' at the BBRSC's Excellence with Impact Awards, has received the £4.2 million grant for his research project, 'The Open Microscopy Environment: image informatics for biological sciences.'

'Our team at the Open Microscopy Environment (OME) has built open software tools that enable access, analysis, viewing and sharing of large data sets,' he said. 'Initially built for light microscopy, we have successfully extended these tools to many other domains of biological imaging.'

The funding will support a total of 25 posts, 16 of them at Dundee, and the rest at collaborating universities in the UK, USA, France and Italy.

Professor Tom Owen-Hughes has received over £2 million from the Wellcome Trust to continue his basic research into the mechanisms for remodelling chromatin structure.

'My research team benefit from the long term vision shown by The Wellcome Trust in funding basic research into processes such as gene regulation which lie at the heart of all biological systems,' he said. 'We are also fortunate to have a critical mass of facilities and expertise available in Dundee.'

The grant will support six positions within Professor Owen-Hughes' team.

3. Professor Struthers elected to prestigious fellowship

Professor Allan Struthers, of the University’s Medical School, has been elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Academy Fellows are elected for outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical science, for innovative application of scientific knowledge or for their conspicuous service to healthcare.

Allan Struthers, who is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, said he was delighted to receive the Fellowship.

'It is a great tribute to all the staff who have contributed to my research programme over the years,' he said. 'A particular thanks must go to the hundreds of patients in Tayside who have volunteered so willingly to take part in our clinical research studies over the last 20 years, including especially to those who have taken part in more than one study each.'

Professor Struthers is among 40 of the UK's leading medical researchers who have been recognised for excellence in medical science. The new Fellows will be formally admitted to the Academy at a ceremony on Wednesday 29 June 2011.

4. Social impact award for Professor Newell

Alan Newell, Emeritus Professor in the School of Computing, has been given a major award from a premier international computing society.

Professor Newell has been given a Social Impact Award by the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) at their 2011 conference in Vancouver.

Alan Newell is the founder head of the School of Computing, which contains one of the largest academic groups in the world researching computer and communication systems for older and disabled people.

'I am honoured to receive this award but it should also be dedicated to the many members of my research team who over the years have contributed so much to this important field,' said Professor Newell.

Professor Newell will this summer have a new book published by Morgan Claypool, 'Design and the Digital Divide - insights from 40 years in computer support for older and disabled people', in which he describes the research and developments which led to this award.

Professor Newell was a Deputy Principal of Dundee University between 1992 and 1995. He is a member of the Order of the British Empire, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy. In 2006, he was named ACM Fellow for his contribution to computer-based systems for people with disabilities.

5. V&A at Dundee architect talk this weekend

Kengo Kuma, the lead architect on the V&A at Dundee project, will give his first public lectures in Scotland this weekend to capacity audiences at the University.

Mr Kuma was originally scheduled to give his first public lecture in Scotland on Saturday evening (21 May) but such was the level of interest that an additional presentation of the same talk was scheduled for earlier in the day. All tickets for the events have now been taken up amounting to more than 1500 in total.

'The interest we are continuing to receive in the whole V&A at Dundee project, but particularly in these lectures by Mr Kuma, has been absolutely tremendous,' said Judith Barnard, Director of External Relations.

'We added the second lecture to try and let as many people come along as possible and we are delighted that the public have responded so positively. Unfortunately it does mean that we cannot offer any more tickets, but for those who cannot make it we will be making a film of the lecture available through our website soon.'

Kengo Kuma & Associates won the design competition for the V&A at Dundee building. A Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, Mr Kuma also holds the prestigious Architectural Institute of Japan Award (1997).

His 'The Answer is Architecture' will explore the role that architecture has in connecting people to their environment. It will take place at the Dalhousie Building on Saturday May 21st, from 12.30 pm and then again from 6pm.

For more on the V&A at Dundee see

The V&A at Dundee is being delivered by Design Dundee Ltd, a partnership between the V&A and Dundee City Council, the Universities of Dundee and Abertay Dundee, and Scottish Enterprise.

6. Nobel Laureate delivers Peter Garland lecture

Nobel Laureate Professor Venki Ramakrishnan visited the University this week to deliver the annual Peter Garland Lecture at the College of Life Sciences.

Professor Ramakrishnan ,who is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, is one of the most prominent molecular biologists in the world today. He shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A Steitz and Ada E Yonath 'for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome'.

His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fellow of the Royal Society, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Louis Jentet Prize for Medicine, Datta Medal, Heatley Medal, Foreign Member of the Indian National Science Academy. He received India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.

The Peter Garland Lecture is the College of Life Sciences' most prestigious lecture. Peter Garland was the first Professor of Biochemistry in Dundee and under his leadership from 1970-1984 it became the UK’s strongest life sciences department.

7. DDU to lead UK network

Two researchers at the University’s Drug Discovery Unit have been awarded a £200,000 networking grant from three major funding bodies to coordinate building a UK wide network in a developing area of drug discovery.

Professors Ian Gilbert and Paul Wyatt have received the funding from the EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC for the project involving the generation of 3D fragment libraries.

Fragment libraries are collections of small molecules which are increasingly important for use in the discovery of potential new treatments for diseases through the process of drug discovery and design.

'This award will allow us to build a unique consortium, with engagement of the major UK not-for-profit drug discovery groups in combination with excellent synthetic and computational chemistry groups in UK universities. This network grant gives us the opportunity to develop this consortium and actively seek further members and interactions,' said Professor Gilbert.

'Fragment based drug discovery is an emerging area and one in which the UK as a whole is playing a leading role. This network of research groups will help us maintain our position on a global stage.'

The founding organisations working with the University in the network include MRC Technology, Cancer Research Technology, The Institute of Cancer Research, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Structural Genomics Consortium, Oxford, University College London and the Beatson Drug Discovery Program.

The project is one of seven new networks being funded by the EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC, aimed at increasing collaborative research and identifying and refining research priorities and challenges.

8. £350,000 wider access boost

The University has received funding of £350,000 for two projects intended to widen access to higher education.

The Scottish Funding Council grant will be split evenly between Reach Scotland and Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) and will run until 2013. The aim of the projects is to encourage S4-6 pupils from schools with low progression rates into higher education to consider going to university.

ACES promotes art, design and architecture, and Reach Scotland the high demand professions such as law, medicine, dentistry, child nursing and midwifery.

The Dundee team will work with 17 schools from across Tayside with below average levels of pupils moving on to higher education, and undertake a wide variety of activities to help promote higher education in these professions.

'We are delighted that the SFC has provided the funding for initiatives to help ensure that access to high demand-professions is widened,' said Dr John Blicharski, Access & Participation Manager at the University.

'The number of applicants to the professional degrees from these schools is often very small and so both ACES and Reach are especially keen to target students from non-traditional backgrounds, such as those who would be the first in their family to go to university or those from low income households.'

For more information visit and for more information.

9. Mackenzie lecture looks at role of health technology

A discussion of how improved information technology helps connect patients, healthcare providers and funders will take place at the Dalhousie Building next week.

Dr John Halamka, a renowned international expert in the field of healthcare technology, will deliver the 6th Mackenzie Lecture, entitled ‘Connecting patients, providers and payers’, on Thursday, 26th May.

Dr Halamka is Chief Information Officer at Harvard Medical School, and holds a number of other roles relating to information technology and provision within healthcare organisations as well as being a practicing emergency physician.

His talk will examine how $27billion will be spent to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare in the US through strategic implementation of information technology.

The annual Mackenzie Lecture is hosted by the Health Informatics Centre, part of the School of Medicine, and is held in honour of Scottish cardiologist Sir James Mackenzie who pioneered the use of polygraphs to detect dangerous irregular heartbeats and the study of cardiac arrhythmia.

The lecture takes place at the Dalhousie Building from 12.30-1.30pm on Thursday, 26th may.

Further details can be found at

10. Free dementia lecture at Ninewells

Three leading figures in dementia research will be sharing their knowledge and experience at a public lecture at Ninewells Hospital next month.

Professor Mike Ashford, Professor of Neuroscience and join Dr John Sharkey, a senior lecturer in translational medicine, both of the Biomedical Research Institute will join Dr David Findlay, consultant psychiatrist at Royal Dundee Liff Hospital at the lecture on 7 June.

Topics under discussion will include the Scottish Dementia Clinical Research Network, Alzheimer’s disease and ways to enhance the body’s defences against dementia.

The lecture is free and will take place between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on Tuesday 7 June at Lecture Theatre 2 at Ninewells Hospital.

For more information contact Susan Simpson on 496589 or via email at or visit

11. Cancer experts meet at symposium

Cancer experts from leading centres in Dundee and Belfast gathered at the University last week to discuss the latest advances in research and foster future collaborations.

The Dundee-Belfast Cancer Centres’ Joint Symposium looked at a number of themes including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, skin cancer and responses to radiation.

Dundee and Belfast are both Cancer Research UK Centres, drawing together world class research and medical expertise to provide the best possible results for cancer patients nationwide.

'There are strong common themes of cancer research across the Dundee and Belfast Centres, and this meeting helped us to work together in key areas of clinical importance,' said Professor Paul Clarke, one of the organisers.

Dundee was the first Cancer Research UK Centre established in Scotland and is helping set the pace for national and international progress in bowel, breast and skin cancer. The Centre brings together researchers and support from the University, Cancer Research UK and NHS Tayside.

12. German summer for scholarship winners

Three students currently studying German in the School of Humanities will have the chance to consolidate their language skills this summer after winning scholarships to Germany.

Jan Grnac, an economics student, Philip Jamieson, a student in European Studies and medic Rachel Hammond all had to submit an application in German explaining how they would benefit from the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) Scholarship.

Programme convener of German language Ms Marion Sporing praised the success of the students who will now be able to attend a language course at a German University this summer.

'German is an important language in the academic community and we are delighted that our language students who have a wide range of academic subject backgrounds continue to be successful in securing DAAD scholarships,' she said.

13. Bring a pound to work day next week

Staff throughout the University are being invited to 'Bring a Pound To Work' later this month as part of local radio station Radio Tay’s Cash for Kids Charity appeal.

Any schools, offices and departments wishing to take part in this year’s 'Bring a Pound To Work Day' on 27 May can pick up a poster and collection bucket from the Press Office on the Fifth Floor of the Tower Building. Posters can also be emailed.

All buckets and money collected should be returned to the Press Office as soon after 27 May as possible.

Radio Tay has been raising money for local youngsters for more than two decades. Cash For Kids assists around 25,000 children and young people most in need or at risk every year.

For more information contact

14. Law students help CHAS

Postgraduate law students at the University have raised more than £2,000 for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

The Diploma in Legal Practice students undertook a wide variety of fundraising activities in aid of CHAS including a Zumba class, sponsored leg waxing, a pub quiz, bake sale and raffles. The sale of merchandise also raised money and the efforts culminated in a charity ball last month.

Diploma students Terian Watson, Garry Sturrock, Rebecca Black and Karen Gatherum met with CHAS Fundraiser Alison Rennie at Rachel House to hand over the cheque for £2,000.

CHAS provides the only hospice services in Scotland dedicated to children and young people, operating Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, as well as a home care service called CHAS at Home. The services, which cost over £6 million each year to run, are free to families who need them and are largely funded through the generosity of supporters.

15. CRC opens day

The Clinical Research Centre at Ninewells is opening its doors to the public today (Friday) from 10am to 2pm.

Information stands on the various types of research currently taking place will be on display while staff at the centre will be on hand to answer questions about clinical research.

A number of health checks will be available to visitors including blood pressure, BMI and a spirometry check which can detect early signs of lung disease.

There will also be guided tours of the MRI scanner and PET CT scanner.

16. Research grants information available online

Details of research grants awarded are available on the web at:

17. What's On?

Find out what’s happening around the University at

18. Contributing to eContact

Submissions for the next edition should be emailed to by midday on Wednesday, 1 June 2011. Please include "item for eContact" in subject heads for all contributions.

There is a 100-200 word limit for items and staff are advised to provide a contact email or website for more information. Contributors must be University staff or students unless in exceptional circumstances.