What follows, in timeline form, is a brief account of some major milestones of Welsh history and the development of medical education in Wales for the period 1997 to 2005.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) confers highest accolades on the College’s undergraduate courses in Medicine and Dentistry.
College awarded Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the chemiluminescent labelling technology developed in the College in the 1970s. "An award in recognition of almost twenty years work which has made significant impact on provision of healthcare worldwide and which has been commercially successful."
In February, the Sir Geraint Evans Wales Heart Research Institute opens following a major all-Wales funding campaign.
The College, in partnership with Cardiff University, succeeds in obtaining £3m from University Challenge Seed Fund "to make good research into better business". In May, the new Clinical Kinaesiology Laboratory opens, forming the central part of the Department of Physiotherapy Education’s research activity.
UWCM is awarded £13.5 million from the Joint Infrastructure Fund (a joint Government/Wellcome Trust research initiative) to build the Henry Wellcome Building for Biomedical research in Wales on the Heath Park Site.
Institute of Medical Genetics and Institute of Wound Healing Research each receive ‘Centre of Excellence’ status from the Welsh Development Agency and the Welsh National Assembly. Both are deemed to have world-class facilities and to be examples of successful industrial collaboration.
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Widening student access to UWCM. Tony Higgins, Chief Executive of UCAS, describes UWCM as being "miles ahead of the game, blazing a trail in the UK".
As part of the Welsh National Assembly’s strategy to increase medical student intake in Wales from 190 to 290, the Swansea Clinical School is established as a partnership between UWCM, University of Wales Swansea and the Swansea NHS Trust.
Professor Stephen Tomlinson takes up his post as Vice Chancellor of UWCM. Formerly Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing at Manchester. He says, "I am delighted to have the opportunity to build upon the strengths of UWCM. As the College faces the challenges of the future it is good to know that the deserved excellent reputation of UWCM will provide such a fertile ground for further development."
Vice-Chancellor, University of Wales College of Medicine (2001-2004)
Plans are underway for a new integrated Genetics Institute in Cardiff as a home for the Wales Gene Park. It is hoped that this will become a Centre of National and International importance providing the resources to advance the knowledge of genetic determinants of human disease.
Schemes for widening access to UWCM courses continue with the UWCM Compact scheme, targeting schools from all over Wales. UWCM becomes leading member of MediPlant (The Medicinal Plants Consortium) intended to raise awareness of medicinal plant research. For example, the Abuta plant is used by midwives in the Amazon Jungle to combat pre- and post-natal pain.
Cancer Research UK scientists in Wales announce a discovery that could help halt the rapid spread of breast cancer. Prof. Robert Mansel (UWCM Professor of Surgery) states, " . . . treatment becomes more difficult when abnormal cells spread to other parts of the body. By understanding how cancer cells escape from a breast tumour we can look at ways to halt the process in its early stages and contain the disease."
Research grant of £600,000 awarded to UWCM for study into screening programme for ovarian cancer. The 10-year worldwide race to identify the ‘sperm factor’, the essential molecule in sperm that ‘triggers’ an egg to develop, is won by a team of scientists at UWCM.
On 1st April 2002 the Gwent Clinical School is formally established in acknowledgement of the substantial contributions made by the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in the delivery of UWCM’s medical teaching programme. The Report of the National Assembly Review of Higher Education in Wales advocates closer collaboration within the HE sector in Wales, with the possible merger of UWCM and University of Wales, Cardiff; originally proposed in 2001 by Professor Stephen Tomlinson in agreement with Dr David Grant, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University. In its response, the Welsh Assembly Government stresses the continuing importance of UWCM’s ‘all-Wales’ role, "We are clear that any reconfiguration or collaboration must not dilute its all-Wales role and responsibility."
£2.3 million Research Council award for research into ‘optical biochips’ - a system to investigate cell response to drugs and find out whether or not they are diseased in the first instance. This will be a collaborative project with the Optical Biochips Consortium at Cardiff University, University of Bangor, The Gray Cancer Institute in London, University of Warwick and premier laboratories in the USA. UWCM awarded ‘Investor in People’ status - the first pre-1992 university in England and Wales to be honoured in this way.
Plans are formally submitted to the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) for the establishment of the North Wales Clinical School, a joint venture between UWCM, HE and NHS partners in North Wales.
After reviewing a range of options for closer collaboration, the Councils of UWCM and University of Wales, Cardiff formally agree that both institutions should merge under the name ‘Cardiff University’ with effect from August 2004.
In July, the first Exercise Science & Sports Medicine Symposium was held at Cardiff University. Experts in exercise science, sports medicine, nutrition& health and lifestyle, discussed the national obesity epidemic. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has recognised this with its 'Health Challenge Wales' initiative.
Also in July, Professor Sir Peter Harper (pictured below) from the Department of Medical Genetics is honoured with a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his major contribution to research in genetics.
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On 1st August the UWCM and University of Wales Cardiff officially merge into one institution, to be known as ‘Cardiff University’, thus re-establishing the Medical School within its parent body after 70 years. The Medical School becomes part of the Wales College of Medicine, Biology, Life and Health Sciences.
In September, the Swansea Clinical School admitted its first students into the Graduate Entry Programme in Medicine. Students will spend the first two years at the University of Wales Swansea and the Swansea NHS Trust. They will then join medical students of the Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University to complete their medical studies for two further years.
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In October, the Learning Resource Centre for pre-registration nursing undergraduate students officially opened at Caerleon by Jane Hutt, Minister for Health & Social Services. The Centre will provide training facilities using the latest technological equipment and techniques as part of The School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies.
The Annual Meeting of the Association of Dental Education in Europe took place in Cardiff, with dental academics from 35 countries across Europe - primarily to address the shortfall in numbers of dentists in Wales. The Meeting coincided with the official opening of the Paediatric Dentistry Clinic at the University Hospital of Wales. Funding was by the WAG.
Professor Julian Sampson from the Department of Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine, helped to isolate a drug from a fungus found on Easter Island, which offers new hope to sufferers from a genetic disease that encourages tumour growth.
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In November, the implementation commenced of the General Practitioner (GP) Appraisal Scheme by experts in the School of Postgraduate Medical & Dental Education, in order to improve GP services throughout Wales.
Cardiff University secured £1.5 million funding from Research Councils UK to appoint 12 experts in a range of inter-disciplinary research areas.
Biggest advance in 30 years of breast cancer surgery pioneered by Professor Robert Mansel and a multidisciplinary team in the School of Medicine, Wales College of Medicine. An innovative surgical technique removes only the sentinel lymph node under the arm to detect cancer cells, where previously all nodes were removed, causing severe side-effects.
On 17th December, the title 'Cardiff University' and a new Supplemental Charter was formally granted to the University by the Privy Council on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. The grant of the title means that Cardiff officially becomes a University in its own right and independent from the University of Wales. The Supplemental Charter formally recognises the merger with UWCM and has been granted in the name of Cardiff University. The Chair of the University Council, Professor Sir Keith Peters, said, "This is a historic and significant day in the history of our development."
During the first four months of the academic year, Cardiff University secured £23 million of awards - £10 million more than for the same period last year. The School of Medicine won an award of nearly £1 million.
Professor Whittaker, recently retired Professor of Forensic Dentistry in the School of Dentistry, Cardiff, made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year’s Honours List. The award is made for his services to forensic dentistry.
Forty seven nurses and pharmacists are the first in Wales qualified to undertake supplementary prescribing – an initiative which will provide patients with a quicker and more efficient access to medicines.
Professor Mansel Aylward CB, appointed Chair of the Wales Centre for Health, a new institution established by the WAG to lead health improvements in Wales.
Launch of the Wales College of Medicine’s North Wales Clinical School in Wrexham. The £12.5 million initiative will enhance the role of North Wales in training student doctors, and results from collaborations with three North Wales NHS Trusts, University of Wales, Bangor, North East Wales Institute and primary care delivery in North Wales.
Formation of a Health Policy Group, chaired by Pro Vice-Chancellor External Affairs, Professor Ken Woodhouse, to bring together academics, researchers and educationalists with professionals from the health care sector.
Roger Jones OBE, Council Member of the former UWCM and graduate of the Welsh School of Pharmacy, awarded a knighthood. Sir Roger Jones is currently Chairman of the Welsh Development Agency.
Launch of the Wales Cancer Institute (WCI). “Another step forward for medical research in Wales”, said Health Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons when he attended the official launch. The WCI will co-ordinate the research of scientists and clinicians and will also help to increase investment into cancer research in Wales. It builds upon the existing Cancer Interdisciplinary Research Group in the School of Medicine. Dr Gibbons also said: “Despite recent improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, it is still one of the major killers in Wales”.
A major breakthrough in breast cancer treatment has been identified by Professor Wen Jiang – the substance, known as NK4, stops every form of spread and differs from conventional treatments that only inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
A team from the Department of Psychological Medicine, led by Professor Julie Williams and Professor Michael O’Donovan, discovered a gene called KIAA0319, which is likely to be one of the causes of dyslexia in children. This major finding will give a better understanding of what causes the brain disorder which disrupts reading and writing skills. 300 families from Wales and the West of England, where at least one child suffered from the disorder, took part in the research.
Innovative Dental Simulator Suite opened at the Dental School, Cardiff. The facility includes eight computer-aided ‘DentSims’ which use the latest in optic imaging and simulation technologies to give dental students the best and most effective training experience possible. The equipment ensures real-time feedback and evaluation of a student’s performance.
A device, known as ‘Alladin’ based in the School of Engineering, has been developed to diagnose the precise state of stroke victims from the time of the stroke throughout their recovery period, enabling medical staff to determine the correct treatment at each stage. ‘Alladin’ should be in full production within the next three years.
The Welsh School of Pharmacy’s Tenovus Centre for Cancer Research has identified 168 genes involved in Tamoxifen resistance, and 141 associated with resistance to a similar drug called Faslodex, which results in limited treatment options available to patients.
Possible benefits for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease of omega-3 fatty acids (as found naturally in oily fish) will be investigated by a major £30,000 research project funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. The project will be led by Professor John Harwood, Head of the Cardiff School of Biosciences.
The School of Chemistry received a £4.2 million investment to create a new research centre of excellence in physical organic chemistry.
A team at Cardiff University developed a needle that is painless. The thin needle will not reach pain receptors.
The School of Healthcare Studies awarded its first two Physiotherapy PhDs to Dr Nicola Phillips and Dr Monica Busse. Their research was conducted at the research centre for Clinical Kinaesiology, a laboratory used to measure the characteristics of movement, which is run by the Department of Physiotherapy.
A £10 million investment has provided for All-Wales Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Research Centre scanners – which use a powerful imaging technique to identify a range of diseases, e.g. cancers, heart disease and brain disorders – and will be based at UHW, Cardiff.
Researchers at Cardiff University discovered a means of delivering DNA directly into skin cells. The new technique allows DNA to be spread more efficiently throughout the body.