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April 2014: Issue 1

Without change there is no innovation creativity, or iUPPORTER ncentive for improvement.


A news bulletin for the supporters of the University’s Research Trust


Today the RIDT is going yet another step forward and we are launching our very own newsletter, Supporter. As the University’s Research Trust our aim is to continue promoting and fundraising for high-calibre local research. Through this newsletter we aim to keep you updated with what we are currently doing in the field of fundraising for research, because we truly believe that you have a central part in this. We are always on the lookout for creative and innovative concepts that will help to bolster our University’s research funding, and we need your help and contributions to do this!

Another Good Cause As the RIDT approaches its 3rd year, we felt the need to strengthen our link with our donors and supporters.You play a vital role in our existence and in our achievements so far.This newsletter has the scope of keeping you updated on the various initiatives that we are working on.We also want this newsletter to be the platform through which we give thanks to your supportive actions.

Our objective for the first years of the Trust was to establish ourselves well within the Maltese society and to create the necessary awareness about the important work that is being carried out within the University of Malta.We always believed that once we show what is already happening, and once we explain its benefits to society, fundraising will be a natural follower. Our collective effort to expose the research activity, the researchers and how their work is affecting our lives seems to have been noticed.

Wilfred Kenely

Chief Executive Officer

While we embarked on our programme of engagement with various sectors of society, we also experienced the first cases of society reaching out to us with the scope of raising funds for research. In this first issue of SUPPORTER, we are very happy to report a number of donations coming from different sectors of society – the corporate sector, foundations and NGOs, and individuals.These, and others, are the positive signals that we have been receiving from society since our inception. Signals that fill us with encouragement and with hope that one day, and that day might not be far away, university research will find its place as a recognised good cause that deserves the support of society. The RIDT is exceptionally grateful to all those who have come forward and donated funds towards our cause. My appreciation also goes towards all those academics and other individuals who, in one way or another have helped the RIDT in reaching out to the public through their sterling work and relentless efforts.

Research, Innovation & Development Trust





In the first edition of the RIDT newsletter we would like to pay tribute to a great woman who is a role model to us all. Helen Muscat was a fighter, a true hero who showed us that giving up is never an option. Her tireless campaigning in the field of breast cancer, which she was also diagnosed with in 2004, has given a new lease of life to those women who suffer from this deadly disease. Helen was also a benefactor of the RIDT, and her innovative vision is still helping push forward breast cancer research in Malta. ‘A Night for Life – the Helen Muscat Memorial Concert’, by soprano Lydia Caruana will take place at Teatru Manoel on Saturday June 7, 2014 at 8 pm.


are we up to?

First of all let’s start with some basic information.The RIDT, an acronym for the Research, Innovation and Development Trust of the University of Malta was set up in 2011 through an agreement between the University and the Government of the time. Our general objectives are mainly twofold, promoting research projects with the University community and the general public, and raising more funds for high-calibre local research.

Whilst still being in its infancy stages, the Trust started operating its mechanisms and the first donations started flowing in from various corporate entities, such as the Malta Freeport, FIMBank, and the Central Bank of Malta, to name a few.Tied with various research projects across several faculties of the University, these funds are slowly helping local researchers to make a difference. As the months rolled by, more companies and entities are realising the importance of funding research, and further


contributions, both in cash and in kind are reaching the Trust, thus increasing the University’s pool of resources.The end of last year also brought with it a breakthrough for the Trust, when we saw the first ever community fundraising for research.

Over €400,000 were raised in the first two years. Encouraging, but definitely not enough.The University requires a steady flow of revenue to supplement the very modest amount allocated by the Government, and it is only through your help that we can truly bolster our local research profile and build a better University! The Central Bank of Malta pledges €108,000 to the RIDT for the setting up of a Chair in Economics within the University of Malta.

Research, Innovation & Development Trust


Community FUNDING The concept of community funding for higher education research, although new to Malta, is actually something that runs back decades in various countries across Europe, and more so in the US. Its significance is major; research is an activity that benefits the whole society, and just like many other noble causes for which we raise funds, research is to be there with them. Late in 2013, the RIDT made a very important and noteworthy breakthrough, which saw the first donations for research generated directly from the public. From three separate campaigns, and in collaboration with various NGOs, the Maltese community managed to raise more than €125,000 for local medical research.

During the first days of December 2013, the RIDT received €55,000 from the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation, which are being invested in a specialised Ph.D. programme on breast cancer.The money was raised through the ALIVE Cycling for Cancer Challenge 2013 organised by the ALIVE Foundation and in collaboration with the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation. Just a few weeks ago, the ALIVE Foundation launched its 2014 challenge, which will see the participants cycling 1000km from Prague to Belgrade, and pledged that the funds raised will once again be donated towards breast cancer research.

In a University fundraiser organised by KSU, University staff and the Chaplaincy, the traditional Christmas on Campus campaign raises funds for various noble causes during the month of December. The novelty in this year’s campaign was that a third of the funds raised were donated to the RIDT for the cancer research projects being undertaken by Dr. Pierre Schembri-Wismayer and his team. The campaign managed to raise a total of €12,000 with €4,000 being devolved to the RIDT, which were presented to the Rector in the early weeks of January by a delegation of students and staff.

In January 2014, the Lifecycle Foundation gave a very significant donation to the RIDT for specialised research in the renal field. €70,000 were presented to RIDT during the launch of the Lifecycle Challenge 2014, and such funds shall be used to support a research programme into renal failure and its possible prevention.This donation also marked the start of a long-term collaboration between Lifecycle and RIDT to continue supporting local research in the renal field.

Previously, funds collected by dedicated fundraisers locally were put towards facilities (such as dialysis machines or oncology beds donated by Lifecycle and the Malta Cancer Foundation respectively). This cause, is well intentioned but to be clear, a small improvement in cancer therapy or kidney disease will outdo the benefits of numerous bits of treatment equipment, most of which are provided by our national health service anyway. More bang for your buck!

Research, Innovation & Development Trust

Various NGOs, riding this wave, are deciding to target their next fundraising campaigns towards researching projects at the University. Similar commitments, will allow our small but great nation to emerge from under the cloak of imperialism where unfortunately many still believe nothing good can be developed on our shores. Adding local funding to a British or international institution or campaign may sound nice, but let’s face it – it’s a drop in the ocean. Locally this drop will help fill the small but empty thimbles that are local research capacity’s needs.


Various international students gathered on the University Quadrangle in a colourful showcase of culture and traditions to raise funds for research.


Early this year, various research projects which I am spearheading were the lucky recipients of the sum of €4000 through the RIDT, part of a sum which had been collected by University students and staff over the Christmas period. Whilst the other two thirds were donated to other local charities (which is obviously very good), it is heartening and important for us researchers to see that fundraising for research in Malta is being considered a noble cause.

Dr. Pierre Schembri Wismayer

Cyclists having a break on their way to Russia during the Lifecycle Challenge 2013.

Cancer survivor Rimona Mifsud Cristiano during the launch of the ALIVE Cycling Challenge for Cancer 2014.

Despite innovation being the buzzword on all politicians’ mouths, both local and European, funding for research to push Malta into the very desirable knowledge economy is still seriously lacking.
These funds, small as they are, can help support graduate students who will make tomorrow’s researchers, will help buy consumables – which can be alarmingly costly especially in biological research like cancer, and can allow Maltese researchers to attend conferences abroad to share their findings and learn from other researchers. In my case, the funds were used for consumables in two projects, one studying novel agents to make leukemia cells “grow old and die” and the other using the body’s own immune system to fight metastasized cancer. The immune system is one of the few things, which like chemotherapy (but not as toxicly) can travel round the body and attack cancer after it has spread. Viruses are the other likely therapeutic candidates for the future, and with your ongoing help and support we can continue delving into the unknown and unravel the mysteries behind our health and well-being! Dr. Schembri-Wismayer is the Head of the Anatomy Department within the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Malta. He read for his undergraduate degree in Malta, and pursued a Ph.D in Molecular Oncology at the Beatson Institute or Cancer Research in affiliation with the Glasgow University. He heads various research projects in stem cells, differentiation and cancer, while also supervising several postgraduate and doctorate students within the University.


Science in the City Click above, watch in HD and enjoy!

The RIDT takes an active part in the annual Science in the City event, a festival of science and art in the heart of our capital city,Valletta. As part of the pan-European Researchers’ Night, the festival attracts large crowds of children, youths and families into Valletta, and showcases various projects, demonstrations, exhibitions and interactive campaigns. The latest edition of the festival was held at the end of September 2013, and attracted over 15,000 people to the city.The festival will be held again this year, on Friday 26th September 2014, so be prepared to experience science like never before. Here’s also a short clip we prepared, showcasing some snippets from Science in the City 2013.

Upcoming EVENTS

Latest NEWS

ALIVE Challenge for Cancer 2014

Lifecycle and the University of Malta establish a long term collaboration on kidney research

Wednesday 9 July – Friday 18 July 2014

A Night For Life

The Helen Muscat Memorial Concert (featuring leading soprano Lydia Caruana)

Saturday 7 June 2014, Manoel Theatre, Valletta

Lifecycle Challenge 2014

Monday 8 September – Monday 22 September 2014

Famelab: In search for new voices of science communication Riding 1,000km for Cancer Research Science in the City contributes to 1.2 million record for Researchers’ Night 2013

Science in the City: European Researchers’ Night 2014 Friday 26 September 2014

Research on the Waves

Weekly radio slot on local research; every Monday at 1.30pm on Radio Malta 2 (105.9FM). Hosted by Susan Mulvaney. 4

For more information on the Research, Innovation and Development Trust, please contact us Tel: +356 2340 8201 Email:

Research, Innovation & Development Trust



RIDT e-newsletter magazine issue1  
RIDT e-newsletter magazine issue1