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Cardiff University website scoops international medical prize

09 July 2009

An innovative Cardiff University website which helps parents facing the difficult decision to test for conditions like Down's syndrome in their unborn child, has scooped a major international prize.

The amnioDex website ( was awarded the ‘Best of Show’ and the ‘Gold Award’ at the 2009 Health and Science Communications Association (HeSCA) Media Festival held in St Louis, USA last month.

Developed by Professor Glyn Elwyn from Cardiff University’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health and Clinical Epidemiology PhD student Marie-Anne Durand, the new website is designed to help those parents to decide whether to undertake an amniocentesis test - where a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the foetus is removed and analysed for chromosome abnormalities.

Professor Glyn Elwyn, who also leads Cardiff University’s Decision Laboratory research group, said: "With existing information and support provided to women who are offered an amniocentesis widely considered to be insufficient, amnioDex has been developed to facilitate decision making by providing decisional support and unbiased information. amnioDex has been carefully designed to offer women decisional support and unbiased information, and to assist them in a difficult decision made at a time of strong emotional upheaval. We are thrilled to receive these awards which recognise our commitment to developing and evaluating high-standard decision support interventions".

HeSCA is an international association of communications professionals based in the USA. The HeSCA Media Festival is regarded as the pre-eminent media festival in health sciences in North America. The Festival is described as being "where ‘the best of the best’ entries in print, video, still media and interactive media compete for distinguished honours".

The Cardiff University team was funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust to carry out a needs assessment, development and evaluation of patient decision support for women facing amniocentesis.

The new website includes video clips of women’s stories and health professionals, decision making exercises, a forum, and useful contacts list of related charities and support groups.

1. School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health. A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities.

The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health. The School has six interdisciplinary research groups to draw upon its own strength in depth and the vast range of expertise available across Cardiff University.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. In the recent independent UK Research Assessment Exercise, almost 60 per cent of University research was assessed as either world-leading or internationally excellent. In Neuroscience, Psychiatry and Psychology, 80 per cent was either world-leading or internationally excellent, placing Cardiff joint first in the UK in this field.

Visit the University website at:

Marie-Anne Durand

School of Medicine


Telephone: 029 2068 7135

Professor Glyn Elwyn

Research Director, Primary Care & Public Health

School of Medicine

Telephone: 029 2068 7195