Pioneer 2021-22 Issue 3

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The magazine of The UEA Difference Campaign

ISSUE 3 ∙ 2021-22

ONE LESS OBSTACLE Inspired by real accounts of student hardship during the pandemic, we reveal how your support made life a little easier. Nothing could have prepared Alice* for the impact of the pandemic – but the COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund helped her overcome financial stress and complete her studies. Even with hindsight, I know that coming to study at UEA was a good choice. Yes, this past year has been hard – but I can feel the warmth and care thanks to everyone who supports this fund. “I was questioning how I would be able to stay and complete my course after losing the income from my part-time job. Even when nonessential businesses reopened, and I could work again, there just weren’t enough hours in the day to study and earn enough money for rent and bills.

UEA donors helped support students during the pandemic through the COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund.


“When I heard about this fund, it made me feel included. To me, it was proof that the outside world hadn’t forgotten us. “It was a beautiful day when I received the acceptance email. My shoulders dropped and the tension lifted. I can still feel that tingly sense of relief. “The fund paid my living costs for nearly a month while I was working on my final assignments. I could reduce my hours until restrictions lifted and put the time into University work. “I’d like to send my thanks to everyone who supported us. I hope you all stay well and stay safe.” *Not her real name. This article merges the real stories of several anonymous students.


TO PIONEER The past 18 months have been unexpected, unpredictable and unprecedented. Yes, the pandemic closed doors. But our generous philanthropists and friends pushed them back open. This magazine is a celebration of your incredible support.

ISSUE 3 Contents 03

Dementia research


Climate change


The Pioneer Fund


The Enterprise Fund

13 Prostate cancer tests 15 The Sainsbury Institute 17

Giving in wills

19 Scholarships 22 COVID-19 testing 23 Childhood bone cancer 27 International Chair of Creative Writing 30

The last word

On page 20, read about how you gave scholars an ally in ambition. Find out how you set about revolutionising the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer (page 14) and childhood bone cancer (page 24). And turn to page 22 to see how you helped to fight a pandemic. The Difference Campaign is now entering its final year. Our next chapter in philanthropy is full of wonderful possibilities. We can’t wait to see what our thriving supporter community will make possible next. Thank you so much for all you do. We are proud to count you as a friend. Karen Jones Chancellor, UEA


£1.3m Dementia research fundraising target

Football players training with UEA FC and WFC, campus clubs for students.

A SCORE TO SETTLE WITH DEMENTIA Helping to protect professional footballers through early detection of cognitive decline.

epeated sub-concussive brain damage from headers could leave players more prone to dementia in their later years, according to the SCORES project, a UEA research initiative led by Dr Michael Grey. Dr Grey is a Reader in Rehabilitation Neuroscience whose 20 years of experience in brain injury education and research is helping to detect signs of cognitive decline. “Footballers of every generation are becoming increasingly concerned about the risk of developing dementia,” he explains. “We’re starting to see researchers make the link between heading balls and an increased dementia risk but, without robust scientific evidence, players have to live with the uncertainty. “A few years ago, a landmark study that looked at 7,000 former professional football players found that their dementia risk was three-and-a-half times greater than the general population.


“Five of the 11 members of England’s 1966 World Cupwinning team have been diagnosed with dementia. It’s abundantly clear that this is a very real and pressing need.”

The goal? To detect problems long before clinical symptoms of dementia present themselves – allowing for crucial early interventions and treatment.

KEEPING FOOTBALLERS SAFE SCORES is a neurological research project that will track the behavioural, cognitive and mental health of professional, amateur and recreational footballers.

The project has engaged hundreds of footballers. And, while most studies focus on professional male athletes, SCORES also studies female footballers, as well as amateurs and recreational players. u


u “A small group will be coming into the lab,” continues Dr Grey, “but the vast majority will participate from home. We’re asking people to complete online tests for attention, memory, cognitive function and spatial navigation. It all takes less than 30 minutes, four times a year.”

Profs Michael Hornberger and Anne Marie Minihane are also leading UEA’s dementia research.

Former professional male players participating in the study include Norwich City's Jeremy Goss and Iwan Roberts, and Crystal Palace's Mark Bright, who is also on board as a SCORES Ambassador. THE FUTURE OF SPORT “In five years, we will have a much better understanding of the early signs of neurodegeneration,” Dr Grey says. “Is the onset of cognitive decline earlier in contact sport athletes compared with those who play non-contact sports? Is the rate of decline faster? Does gender make a difference?” But the doctor is also quick to stress these questions will remain unanswered unless testing capacity drastically increases – and that is where philanthropy will join the field. “Our testing platform is designed to be scalable, but it’s not just an algorithm. Unlike an app, there is a human behind our tests, analysing and scrutinising the data. The success of SCORES means we have reached our capacity for managing data. With more funding, we can recruit the researchers we need to expand the project. Ultimately, we want to be able to make firm conclusions based on statistical analysis and, for that, we’ll need a much larger group of participants.” FOR EVERYONE’S BENEFIT While SCORES is starting with footballers, Dr Grey’s long-term vision is to benefit everyone. “My sisters were both forced into retirement from amateur football because of repeated concussion, so I have a personal stake in this. We must help protect players of all sports from childhood through to retirement. “Without philanthropic support, this study wouldn’t be able to continue. Thank you to the generous supporters who have helped us get this far. The next step is to recruit researchers and a neuropsychologist who will support those at risk, improve lives and create a research blueprint. “With the tools, techniques and analysis developed through SCORES, we want to make having a brain health check as normal as an eye test – and tackle dementia in the general population before it’s too late.”


DEMENTIA RESEARCH AT UEA The past 12 months have seen major strides in UEA’s capacity to deliver groundbreaking research to transform dementia diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care. UEA researchers are leading pre-clinical dementia studies into the effects of a healthy diet and exercise, risk factors in sleep and how memory loss can inform the development of earlier diagnostic tests. This year saw the opening of the UEA WellcomeWolfson Brain Imaging Centre, thanks to the visionary philanthropic support of Wellcome and the Wolfson Foundation. This dedicated facility on the UEA campus will study and understand the brain and early signs of dementia. The centre will enable scientists to push human imaging to new limits, see the brain in unprecedented detail and, crucially, develop new diagnostic tools and cognitive rehabilitation interventions. To find out more about dementia research at UEA, please get in touch with the Development Office. Contact details on the back cover.

PUTTING HEADS TOGETHER Mark Bright scored over 200 times in his career. As a SCORES Ambassador, his new goal is to stop unnecessary suffering. You know there’s an element of risk when you sign up as a professional sportsperson. I broke my arm twice. Once, I needed a major knee operation. You get on with the recovery and I was playing again within a month. What I never would have guessed is that heading footballs could increase my risk of getting dementia in later life. That’s why UEA’s research is so important. It could help protect players and make the game safer. The goal of this project is to find evidence and make conclusions that protect players’ wellbeing. Hopefully, by lending my support, I can stop suffering for the younger generation. I’ve opened my phone book and contacted all the players I used to play with. I reached out to female footballers as

well. It’s urgent that we get as many people involved as possible and make this study even more accurate. I’ve also been invited to discuss the project in the media to help get the word out. We learn by making mistakes. You have to work on results and that’s why this study is so important. It is how we will figure out what the risk is and manage it. I think we owe that to our kids. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t practice heading. In America, they’ve already stopped heading for children at young ages for their safety. Even for adults, I would save heading for the games. It’s like when they changed the offside rule – you adjust and get on with it. If it’s going to save lives, then there’s no choice to make.

Mark Bright, former professional footballer, is an ambassador for UEA’s SCORES project. © dmg media Licensing


MAKING FOOD FAIR The Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development is improving global food security in the face of climate change.


n February 2021, a new centre of excellence launched at UEA. Thanks to funding of £750,000 from the John Innes Foundation, the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development will help farmers worldwide become more resilient to changing and unpredictable conditions, improving food security. The Institute’s Director, Professor Nitya Rao, spoke to the John Innes Foundation’s Chairman of Trustees, Peter Innes, about how shared values are being exercised to help put food on tables worldwide. Professor Nitya Rao The Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development has been established to help the world achieve zero hunger in the face of climate change. We will do this by bringing together researchers across disciplines to use innovative technology and education to keep people food secure and healthy. Peter Innes I find it completely unacceptable that people are going hungry in the 21st century and that children are growing up undernourished. ‘Business as usual’ clearly isn’t working and progressive solutions are now our only option. As an organisation, we want to support projects with a longer-term view, whilst also dealing with what nature throws at us, like COVID-19. NR The pandemic has revealed cracks in our food systems from production through to sale and consumption. Panic buying in the UK left supermarket shelves empty. In India, transport broke down, which forced farmers to leave fruit and vegetables to rot. And people in urban areas either had no fresh food or faced exorbitant price increases. There is international agreement on a goal of zero hunger by 2030. Arguably, we are on track to miss that. Today, around 795 million people still face hunger daily. PI Over the past 12 months, we’ve also seen what science and genomics are capable of – the coronavirus vaccines are proof that no mountain is insurmountable. How will the Institute tackle these huge issues?



NR The possibilities are endless. It might be coming up with new ways to cook rice so that traditional recipes become more nutritious. Or developing new drought-resistant crops packed with vitamins and micronutrients. Our first task is to build a core group that can develop partnerships and nurture relationships. Then, we’ll collaborate to make progress at pace. For example, perhaps we might start with an idea from a Quadram Institute researcher, bring in expertise from the John Innes Centre and run a behavioural experiment with the School of International Development. PI One of the biggest advantages we see is that, until it really picks up steam, the Institute has no need for a building – all the members already have facilities in their respective organisations. We believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so we’re very keen to encourage collaborations. Norwich Research Park is world leading, from UEA’s climate academics and international development expertise to food and agriculture expertise at the John Innes Centre, as well as other institutes at the Park. NR Absolutely. We strongly believe that truly transdisciplinary research based on mutually respectful collaborations and partnerships can help drive solutions on the ground. u

£8m Climate change fundraising target

Rice fields in Bali, Indonesia. Farmers worldwide will benefit from innovative climate change solutions. © Natalie Beavis

Professor Corinne Le Quéré CBE investigates the interactions between climate change and the carbon cycle. In 2020, she received the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences for her research.

u PI If we don’t act now, crops will fail and become more unreliable. Climate change will also deepen inequalities, which we know can lead to conflicts like the Arab Spring or Ethiopia’s current situation. Cultural and social problems will be on our hands if we don’t address this urgently.

NR We’re deeply thankful for the transformational gift from the John Innes Foundation. Now we are looking for further philanthropic support to make the greatest impact as fast as possible. We’ll start where food insecurity is most prevalent, which is in the Global South, broadly defined as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. With the help of generous donors, we can make sure that everyone has access to reliable sources of nutritious food. But, for this to happen, we must ensure that farmers and producers can deal with the effects of climate change. PI It’s an inspiring thought. I can’t wait to see what this passion makes possible in the coming months and years. Prof Nitya Rao is Director, Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development and Professor of Gender and Development, UEA. Peter Innes is Chair, John Innes Foundation. He maintains an unbroken family line of Innes family members who have been trustees of the Foundation.


UEA’S COMMITMENT TO CLIMATE CHANGE UEA was the first institution to prove that the world is warming. This year, we launched a new £8 million fundraising campaign in response to the climate emergency. The campaign will establish the Observatory for Climate Recovery at UEA to harness data and understand climatic trends in real-time. We’ll also set up ScienceBrief to translate scientific evidence into public action and policy. The Research Centre for Ecosystems and Climate Sustainability will help to better understand pressures on ecosystems and how they can help fight climate change. Finally, as part of the UEA Arctic Initiative, the Roland von Glasow Air-Sea-Ice Chamber is a specialist laboratory researching rising sea levels and unique Arctic ecosystems. Philanthropy will be central to the success of our work to fight climate change. Thank you to everyone who has offered their generous support.

£3m Pioneer Fund fundraising target

INVEST IN THE FUTURE Following a visionary leadership gift, UEA’s new Pioneer Fund is gathering momentum, explains David Ellis, Director of Development.

The launch of the Pioneer Fund in 2021 will be a transformational moment for UEA. Since its founding, the University has not had a donor-based endowment fund offering market returns on donations. Now, thanks to a hugely generous gift from alumnus David Kowitz (EAS83), we can invite our supporters to endow their giving and make an even greater lasting difference. David and his wife Sarah (EAS81) fund the Kowitz Scholarship, supporting students on UEA’s MA Creative Writing (Prose Fiction). David’s donation has now been used to set up a new professionally run endowment for UEA – and hopefully inspire many others to join him. The development of the Pioneer Fund has been overseen by the University Registrar and Secretary, Ian Callaghan. His role ensures the investment policy meets the University’s ethical and environmental criteria, in addition to his fiduciary responsibility as our Chief Resource Officer. Personally, I am delighted with this transformation in our philanthropic outlook. Most universities with histories much longer than our own can plan with greater confidence thanks to the steady income from their growing endowment funds. I want to replicate that security for the future of UEA and its students, learning, teaching and research.

Scholarship donors like David and Sarah will see their gift grow and produce annual cash sums, and help many more students follow their ambition. Others will wish to see investment returns on their gift go where the need is greatest – allowing the University to continue to ‘do different’ and forge its distinct path through a changing and sometimes challenging world. We do hope that many alumni and philanthropists will go on to leave a legacy gift for the Pioneer Fund in their will – what a fantastic way to be remembered in perpetuity, and tax efficiently! The pandemic has shown us that we can never predict what might be around the corner. Resilience is in all our minds. My hope now is that we can double the Pioneer Fund’s value by its second birthday and triple it by year three! David Kowitz said, “As a member of The Difference Campaign Advisory Board, I have witnessed the enormous effort in recent years to initiate an endowment fund. It’s my absolute pleasure that I can continue to support the scholarship that my wife and I fund, while also helping to secure the future of UEA. With the Pioneer Fund now operational, the hard work is done – and it’s over to you, my fellow alumni and generous donors, to join Sarah and I in making so much more possible.”


(Clockwise from top left) Seeing plastic bottles next to a ‘protect the environment’ sign inspired Squiish. Dr Sheng Qi, Chief Scientific Officer, Squiish. James Beavis, Chief Executive Officer (left) and Muhammed Özsoy, Chief Operating Officer, Squiish. Prototype personal hygiene pods, developed at UEA.

£3m Enterprise Fund fundraising target

AN UNPRECEDENTED 12 MONTHS In Spring 2020, the Enterprise Fund paused regular funding rounds and diverted funds into emergency support grants. It was essential that we helped our businesses weather the lockdowns and maintain the momentum of their previous hard work. In total, nine companies have received a total of £101,024 in emergency funding since March 2020. Since funding reopened, 14 new businesses, including Squiish, have continued to receive Grow It and Scale It funding and investment. £232,500 has been awarded, thanks to the continued generosity of our philanthropists. We are very grateful for all your support. 11

LOOK GOOD. DO GOOD. Sorry plastic bottles – your time is up. Squiish is a new startup set to revolutionise personal hygiene, backed by the UEA Enterprise Fund.


an the bathroom become the first plastic-free room in the home? This is the vision of James Beavis (NBS15) and Muhammed Özsoy (NBS14), UEA graduates and entrepreneurs. As co-founders of Squiish, they are at the cutting-edge of plastic-free packaging – and poised to banish single-use shampoo bottles to the history books. “Consumers today are stuck,” explains James. “Shampoo bars are better for the environment but aren’t very nice to use. Most people just put up with single-use plastic bottles. Squiish will be revolutionary because we will offer a high-quality hygiene product that’s also 100% plastic-free. “We have invented a new single-dose personal hygiene pod that provides all the convenience and performance of modern liquid soaps and shampoos, without the plastic waste. Our innovative new capsule is made from seaweed, one of nature’s most abundant resources. It simply melts in warm water, leaving behind no residue.” ACCESS TO FUNDING Making ideas a reality is the biggest challenge for any business. That’s where the Enterprise Fund came in, continues Muhammed. “When we first read about the support available to UEA entrepreneurs, it seemed too good to be true. At the thriving Enterprise Centre, the team gave us coaching and advice on starting and running a business. They shared industry

contacts. And, of course, helped us access the grants and investment that have made the biggest difference of all. “We were delighted when we were successful in our first application for a £250 grant, which we put towards audience research. Just figuring out whether there was a genuine interest.” REWARDING RESPONSIBILIT Y “Further grants of £2,000 and £7,500 followed,” says James. “They paid for market research, a patent landscape search and building a prototype with Dr Sheng Qi (EDU07), Reader in Pharmaceutics (UEA School of Pharmacy). “Finally, we found ourselves in front of the Enterprise Fund panel. We won the maximum award – a transformational investment of £50,000 to recruit a senior research associate and bring our product to market. “The belief and encouragement from UEA have been unreal. We are not trading yet, so we had to prove our worth to the external investment committee. They genuinely understood our vision and see us as part of the next wave of companies who really do care – responsibility is baked into our brand DNA.” THANK YOU FROM SQUIISH “We value every penny we have received,” says Muhammed. “The people who donated to the Enterprise Fund spent many years earning this money, and we will do our best to make you proud. Thank you all so much.”


Progress continues in Prof Cooper’s laboratory at The Bob Champion Research and Education Building, Norwich Research Park.

NO TIME TO LOSE This year, UEA researchers edged closer to launching two revolutionary new prostate cancer tests.


ince the last issue of Pioneer, researchers have continued to prove the science behind the UEA Prostate Cancer Tests as we seek to put them into the hands of doctors and patients worldwide.

“We have been making excellent progress,” said Professor Colin Cooper, Chair of Cancer Genetics at UEA. “This clinical research phase is backing up our headline breakthroughs. We are steadily moving closer to the end goal – readily available commercial tests that can be used in hospitals and men’s homes around the globe.”


UEA Prostate Cancer Tests fundraising target

THE PUR TEST UEA’s non-invasive urine test to diagnose aggressive prostate cancers earlier and more accurately received a huge boost in sample collection using home testing kits at 12 new collection sites. The test relies upon valuable biomarkers carried in urine that reveal whether a prostate cancer is aggressive or low-risk. Our Prostate Screening Boxes, which fit through a standard letterbox, are now being trialled in the UK, Europe and Canada. They have been funded by Movember and Prostate Cancer UK to help provide better quality samples, reduce the need for men to visit a clinic and confirm the research results in a wider population. In addition, the accreditation process has begun for the team’s new diagnostics lab in The Bob Champion Research and Education Building. “It will take around 12 months to get our lab accredited,” explained Prof Cooper. “We are currently in clinical trials but, in the next stage, we will be providing test results that inform the treatment options of real patients as part of their ongoing monitoring by doctors.” THE TIGER TEST Despite delays caused by COVID-19, progress has also been made on UEA’s second prostate cancer test. The Tiger Test is a new way to analyse prostate biopsy samples and identify a dangerous and life-threatening group of cancers, nicknamed ‘tiger’ cancers.

When attention turned to the pandemic response, hospitals reduced patient screening. Prof Cooper expects an influx of data to flood the labs in late 2021 and into 2022 as transmission rates drop and cancer clinics reopen. Thanks to a new Affymetrix Microarray Scanner funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Norfolk, the team will be ready. In the meantime, continued analysis of historic samples has been proving the breakthrough discovery at the heart of the Tiger Test. “We are reviewing a dataset made up of 200 patients to track their cancer from diagnosis through to the outcome of treatment, including death,” said Prof Cooper. “Confirming our discoveries about why some cancers are more deadly than others will help avoid unnecessary treatments and their harmful side effects.” POWERED BY PHIL ANTHROPY Without generous philanthropists, none of these advances would have been possible. “Thank you to everyone who has lent the tests their support,” said Prof Cooper. “The day we can start helping to save men’s lives draws ever closer.”


The Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park on the UEA campus.

KEEPING ART OPEN TO ALL Despite closing its doors during England's coronavirus lockdown, the power of philanthropy ensured that the Sainsbury Centre continued to be a place of enrichment and reflection for art lovers. For local people, the Sculpture Park was an invaluable way to continue to view art in person during the lockdowns. These dramatic artworks in the beautiful setting of the UEA Broad were a balm for health and mental wellbeing. The park has grown significantly over the last five years and continues to add new pieces, with Anthony Caro’s Goodwood Steps arriving in July. The Learning Team provided children's art packs to more than 400 families and began a digital museum project for schoolchildren using virtual and augmented reality. Lockdown didn’t halt the Sainsbury online cataloguing project to update the research and information of the entire Sainsbury collection, generously funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. When restrictions eased, the museum was among the first to reopen. But the innovations developed during the pandemic are here to stay and continue helping the gallery bring art to a broader, more global audience.

18 15

Professor Simon Kaner, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute.

JAPAN, VIA NORWICH Tucked away in Norwich’s Cathedral Close lies the hidden gem of UEA… ou’ll find it just a stone’s throw from the 315-foot spire of Norwich Cathedral, where peregrine falcons roost above the city. With cottage gardens and wrought-iron railings, the roads here are quintessentially English. But behind the door of 64 Cathedral Close is one of the brightest jewels in the East of England – a treasure trove of Japanese art, books and artefacts and a hub for leading international research and study. The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures is where UEA helps foster a better understanding of Japan on the local, national and international stages. We spoke to Professor Simon Kaner, Executive Director of the Institute, to find out more. Hello Simon. How was the Sainsbury Institute founded? As readers may know, the Sainsbury Centre on the UEA campus was established in 1978 by Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury to house their extensive donation of artworks and sculpture. There are some fabulous Japanese pieces in those collections, including one of the best collections of prehistoric Japanese ceramic figures outside Japan. The story goes that the Sainsburys attended a conference hosted by our now-Research Director, Nicole Rousmaniere. Here, they became aware of the UK’s lack of Japanese art historical expertise and decided to act. They sold a Modigliani painting, which was their wedding present to one another, and used it to endow our Institute in 1999. How has your work grown and stayed relevant? Our network is ever-growing. In this country, we have lent our expertise to exhibitions, like

the British Museum’s 2019 show, Manga, curated by Professor Rousmaniere. That was the year’s most popular exhibition in the whole of the UK. We are also involved in an upcoming Buckingham Palace exhibition called Japan: Courts and Culture organised by the Royal Collection Trust. We now have what I think is an unrivalled network in Japan. There is a close relationship with many universities, including the University of Tokyo and prestigious venues like the Tokyo and Kyushu National Museums, where we have held lectures. We facilitate world-class research through our fellowship programme, which gives us links with organisations worldwide where many former Fellows go on to hold distinguished positions. There are also lots of plans for the Olympic year. What makes the Institute special? So many things. The Lisa Sainsbury Library is among the top Japanese art libraries outside of Japan – it’s not quite what you’d expect to find on a quiet street in Norwich! We have around 40,000 books, exhibition catalogues, antique maps and other treasures. Step outside, and many of the plants in our gardens even have an East Asian connection. Many academics come and work in the building, but anyone with an interest in Japan is also very welcome to visit us and explore our resources. Our Third Thursday Lecture series is popular in Norwich and, increasingly, with our online audience as well. One secret to the Institute’s success is that, even in an age of instant communication, it has never forgotten the importance of direct contact and dialogue – values that are fundamental in Japan. It’s quite a gift, and it was all made possible by the Sainsburys. We are, and will always be, so grateful.


CELEBRATE ONE LIFE. CHANGE MANY. One family remembered their loved one by supporting UEA’s prostate cancer research, while a gift in a will is transforming art at the University.

ndrew and Ursula Jackson were married 52 years. But, after visiting the GP with pains, Andrew was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Tragically, he would die less than six months later. After his death, Ursula and her family were determined to help make sure others wouldn’t have to go through what they did. That’s when they heard about a new test for prostate cancer that UEA is developing. She told us her story. A SUDDEN TURN OF EVENTS “Up until last winter, Andrew was driving the sugar beet harvester. He was 74 and still working. My husband was born into a farming family, lived all his life in Norfolk and loved everything about the countryside. “After the season finished, he had some pain, so he went to the GP for blood tests. They immediately referred him to the hospital. “I remember the consultant saying, ‘I don’t like it.’ He sent Andrew for further tests. They told us it was prostate cancer. And then the pandemic struck, making everything even more complicated and difficult.

THIS WAS THE PERFECT WAY TO REMEMBER MY HUSBAND. ‘Well, this sounds just the thing. It’s absolutely marvellous that we can focus on something positive despite the heartache.’ “The professor’s PUR Test is going to help people with prostate cancer spot it sooner. If that had happened for Andrew, he might still be here. Now, I’ve got a son, brothers and nephews. This could potentially help save their lives in the future. “My husband was a pillar of the community. He was very easygoing and lived every day to the full. He’d been into farming all his life and said at the time that he’d had 74 years of doing absolutely everything that he’d wanted.

“The consultants said it was a very aggressive cancer. It had already spread to his liver and lungs. Andrew didn’t have long “We raised just over £3,000 in memory of Andrew for to live. At the end of August, he passed away. Prof Cooper’s work. Lots of people who had worked with him over the years were very generous, as well as our “It was just such a shock to all the family. When we’d seen local community.” him working through January and February, we thought


there was nothing wrong. To lose Andrew less than six months later was horrendous.”

Everyone at UEA is deeply grateful to those who left a gift in memory this year. Thank you all so much.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE, TOGETHER “It was a few days after that we saw a magazine article about Professor Cooper at UEA, which is local to us. We said,

If you are considering giving to support work that was close to the heart of a loved one, please get in touch with the Development Office for their assistance.

Dr Joyce Morris OBE

A GIFT TO INSPIRE THE WORLD All gifts to UEA make an enormous difference and can support any area of the University’s work, as shown by one extraordinary couple’s wishes to support work in their fields of expertise at UEA. A bequest in the will of renowned educationist Dr Joyce Morris OBE will support UEA’s School of Education and Lifelong Learning. And, before his death in 2009, it was the wish of her art collector husband, Michael, that their art collection would also be donated. One of the foremost experts in phonics during her lifetime, Dr Morris worked on BBC educational television programmes Look and Read and Words and Pictures. She helped establish the UK Literacy Association and, in 1996, became a patron of the Queen’s English Society. Her passion will live on through a gift to fund the Joyce Morris Research Fellowship. Academics will study early literacy skills and continue to uncover the secrets of how children learn to communicate. In a single swoop, the Joyce and Michael Morris Art Collection will also make the Sainsbury Centre the most significant holder of British Constructivist art in the world. The collection of over 200 works by British Abstract and Constructivist artists will be made available for students, academics and the public to enjoy. Ghislaine Wood, Acting Director at the Sainsbury Centre, said, “I really can’t overstate the significance of these gifts. The Morrises have our deepest thanks.”

A staircase on the UEA campus, designed by renowned architects Rick Mather Associates in 1993.



Scholarships annual fundraising target

Chloe Page enjoys the ‘Silent Space,’ a peaceful garden area outside UEA’s Earlham Hall.

A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER Chloe Page (LAW19) is a second-year law student and UEA scholar. She talks about her scholarship experience and what changed during the pandemic.

When I received my scholarship, it brought a tear to my eye. That transformational moment was like a door being unlocked. I loved my first year. I found a brilliant group of friends and really enjoyed Law Society events throughout the year. Having the scholarship meant I could throw myself into University life. Even on the days I felt less confident, I’d remember that Victoria Phillips (LAW80), my scholarship donor, believed in me. That was priceless. The pandemic meant my second year looked very different. We couldn’t meet friends or lecturers every day in seminars, discussions or the library. Yes, there were barriers – but, together, we adjusted. The biggest difference, naturally, was online learning. We had to recapture the energy and

thought-provoking atmosphere of a lecture theatre over the internet. I formed a study group with friends, and we used video calls to feel like we were in the library together. We’d move through the pre-recorded lectures at the same time so we could see each other working hard and share support if needed. If I needed help, I emailed or called my advisor. She would always ask how things were. I’m immensely grateful to Victoria. Without her, I wouldn’t be doing what I love – following my childhood dream of studying Law at university. Her support has kept me going and, in return, I want to make her feel glad that she is backing me. When many students lost their part-time jobs during the pandemic, I was so grateful not to have that extra worry. This scholarship is something I will treasure forever.


SCHOL ARSHIP HIGHLIGHTS IN 2020-21 Gifts worth £660,000 from our wonderful community of donors brought 70 students to UEA in 2020-21. Thank you to all our scholarship donors.

UEA scholars chat outside the Julian Study Centre on campus.

01 NEXT GENERATION OF NURSING The year’s highlights include the Lesley Williams Postgraduate Scholarship in Nursing, created by UEA alumna Lesley Williams (ARE85) to mark her 60th year in nursing. Lesley hopes to inspire and empower the next generation of nurses and share her wisdom with those entering the profession. 02 BACKING BL ACK STUDENTS The new Cowrie Foundation Scholarship will bring Black British undergraduate students to UEA as part of a commitment to fund 100 Black British students through UK universities over the next decade. 03 GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH Two PhD scholarships will support work funded by The Difference Campaign. The Norfolk Medical and Dental Education and Research Trust fund a scholar to support

04 21

Professor Colin Cooper’s revolutionary new prostate cancer tests, while the Earle and Stuart Charitable Trust’s scholarship will drive forward Prof Michael Hornberger’s research into dementia detection, treatment and care. 04 GENEROSIT Y THAT ADDS UP Do your regular monthly or annual donations help fund UEA’s Difference Scholarships? If so, you will be pleased to learn that your support has helped bring four undergraduate scholars and five postgraduate scholars to the University in 2020. Courses included Medicine, Ecology and Conservation, and Marketing and Management. 05 A WONDERFUL DIFFERENCE Thank you to everyone who has supported UEA scholarships this year and throughout The Difference Campaign – during which an astounding 700 scholars have been supported to follow their passion.

STOPPING THE SPREAD Highly contagious. Yet symptom-free. The Norwich Testing Initiative helped identify the silent spreaders of COVID-19.


ince the emergence of the pandemic, UEA’s world-leading experts have been at the forefront of the local and national response to prevent the spread of the virus, support key workers and, ultimately, save lives. The Norwich Testing Initiative (NTI) aimed to slow the transmission rate in the Norwich area by testing students on their return to University for the 2020 autumn term. NTI testing was key in helping over 1,200 people to isolate at the earliest stage of infection – reducing the spread to fellow students, family members and the wider community, and allowing virus-free students to continue their education during a global pandemic. Unlike NHS tests, most participants were asymptomatic when tested. They could unknowingly have spread the virus to other people on campus and beyond. Around 40% went on to develop symptoms following their test. The study has provided a template for others looking to introduce testing programmes for those who may be asymptomatic. UEA is sharing these learnings with other universities and public health bodies through a new online resource hub, academic papers, conferences and briefings for MPs and local fire services. Prof Dylan Edwards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of UEA’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said, “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who donated to support the NTI and wider COVID-19 research at UEA. Their generosity allowed us to act swiftly and decisively to safeguard our students, staff and local community and share our vital knowledge and resources with other universities across the UK. It saved lives and will continue to do so. Thank you.”


A CONTINUING IMPACT Readers of last year's Pioneer may recall that philanthropic support helped increase production of a COVID-19 antibody test developed by Prof Bill Fraser, Head of Norwich Medical School at UEA, and his team. The specialist equipment purchased with this support has allowed the team to turn their research to support the World Health Organization in providing industry standards for antibody testing. Currently, the equipment that researchers use to study antibodies can produce vastly different results, even from the same samples. UEA academics have fully validated four biological testing procedures and are working to harmonise them. This will make data more accurate and accelerate future research. Thank you again to the donors who made this work possible.



Childhood Bone Cancer fundraising target

Dr Darrell Green and his team are making revolutionary breakthroughs in childhood bone cancer.

CONFRONTING CHILDHOOD CANCER Exciting new UEA research could transform our understanding of childhood bone cancer and save lives.

diagnosis of primary bone cancer is a frightening prospect. Each year, around 52,000 people worldwide will endure a disease that disproportionately affects children, is poorly understood, can only be fought with brutal treatments and from which there is little hope of survival. It takes an average of eight visits to a healthcare professional before a child with bone cancer is diagnosed. Frustratingly, this gives their tumour the time it needs to spread and become more deadly. Chemotherapies are debilitating and carry long-term side effects. If possible, doctors will attempt to replace affected bones with a metal rod. If not, they will be forced to amputate entire limbs. The five-year survival rate for bone cancer stands at just 40%. That means 3 in 5 children diagnosed will not live to see out their childhoods. NEW TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED “We aim to develop a treatment that specifically targets cancer cells and leaves the rest of your body alone,” explains Norwich Medical School’s Dr Darrell Green (BIO06). “This new, targeted approach would prevent children from losing their hair, being sick,

having their heart and kidneys damaged, and being left permanently disabled. “Many children go through all these demanding treatments, only for them to be unsuccessful. The child will still pass away. “We recently made one of the biggest primary bone cancer discoveries in a generation. With what we’ve learned, we can press forward to save more lives and change childhoods. But we’ll need support to do it.” EXCITING NEW RESEARCH Dr Green first came to UEA as an undergraduate student before returning to complete his PhD. Now in a research and teaching role at Norwich Medical School, his genetics and molecular biology expertise is behind the most significant breakthroughs in understanding and treating the disease in more than 40 years. “I run a laboratory that focuses on research into gene pathways separate to your DNA,” he explains. “My field is the mechanisms your body uses to regulate how genes are switched on or off. “In the womb, a baby develops thanks to embryonic genes. When you are born, these genes are typically no longer needed and u


u switch off. But when it came to bone cancer, we discovered that these embryonic genes are wrongly switched back on.

“Together with support from donors, we pioneered an experiment where genetically engineered human bone cancer cells had certain features deactivated. The result? In laboratory conditions, we were able to stop tumours from spreading to the lungs – which is the biggest killer of our patients. “The media billed our discovery as the biggest breakthrough in 40 years.” CUTTING-EDGE SCIENCE “We developed new technology to isolate circulating tumour cells in the blood of patients. Our challenge was that in any blood sample, there is just one of these cancer-spreading cells for every billion normal blood cells. It took over a year to develop, but we cracked it. “We demonstrated that faulty genes in cancer cells hijack some immune system cells. The body is left defenceless, and the bone cancer can spread unimpeded. “I’m confident we’ll make fast progress as we recapture our results in human patients. The technology that we used to silence the gene is very similar to that used in the COVID-19 vaccine, which was accelerated to tackle the pandemic. We can harness this momentum to develop our new treatment faster, too.” Prior to this project, Dr Green first came to UEA as an undergraduate and then a PhD student.



A PERSONAL CONNECTION At secondary school, Dr Green lost his best friend to bone cancer. He was just 13 years old. It had a huge impact. “I had to watch my friend, Ben, go through treatment. I took him to the toilet when he was being sick. Those memories inspired me to keep going on those nights I stayed back late in the lab. “At the same time, I feel a deep sense of injustice. I finished secondary school. I went to college and then university. I started working at a hospital and then got into research. “You’d think things would have moved forward in that time. But nothing has changed! Patients today receive those same horrible treatments that Ben did. I just find it completely and utterly wrong. “Stopping bone cancer spreading to the lungs would tackle the single biggest cause of death for primary bone cancer patients. Finally, we have a chance to do better than we could for children like Ben, and Sophie, who you’ll read about opposite. “With this new knowledge, significant changes will start picking up pace. Philanthropists who join us now will be able to watch their money change the landscape of childhood bone cancer and see a radical increase in children who survive the disease by the end of this decade.”

Sophie Taylor, whose vital contributions to our research are just part of her inspiring legacy.

COLL ABORATING TO SAVE LIVES “Bone cancer is a bit of a specialist area, so sharing resources benefits us all. One of my collaborators in Manchester has shown that the gene we identified in bone cancer is also involved in the spread of skin and lung cancers. A common feature between the cancer types presents the potential for a blanket treatment approach. “If you’d have asked me a few years ago, I’d have said I don’t think there’s ever going to be a single cure for all cancer types. The potential here is just enormous.” AN APPEAL FOR SUPPORT “I am inviting people to contribute to our life-saving projects,” Dr Green continues, “because I understand I can’t do it alone. “Bone cancer is a rarer form of cancer, yet one of the most brutal. Support at this crucial stage will make a huge difference at speed. “Philanthropy makes or breaks my research. I don’t make any secret of the fact that, without our loyal donors, we quite literally wouldn’t be in the position we are now. Thank you all, because we’ve seen that funding through the normal channels is almost impossible for childhood bone cancer. “We are all an equal part of this puzzle,” concludes Dr Green. “Together, we will see the big picture and save more lives. It’s as simple as that.”

SUPER STRONG SOPHIE Four-year-old Sophie Taylor was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2018. By the time doctors diagnosed her cancer, it had already reached her lungs. Despite this, her father Alex explains, Sophie’s bravery was inspiring. “When we heard about Dr Green’s research happening at UEA, we did not hesitate in offering Sophie’s tumour for research. It gave us hope. “Sophie was a child from out of this world. She demonstrated strength and courage beyond comprehension and deserved a much better outcome. She had her leg amputated, months of hard chemotherapy, nursed an awful wound from surgery and just got on with it. We are so proud of how she fought. “We are delighted that Darrell’s work is being recognised and are grateful for his support, both during treatment and since Sophie’s passing. We are so proud that she has contributed to research that will be life-saving for future children. We will add this to her legacy.”

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BOOKS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD UEA philanthropists are harnessing the power of writing, explains Prof Jean McNeil.


he 50th anniversary year of Creative Writing at UEA also happens to coincide with the final year of The Difference Campaign, the University’s fundraising campaign to create pioneering change in the world. This was always going to be time to reflect. But we are also overjoyed to be looking forward – because the campaign has recently seen us appoint UEA’s first International Chair of Creative Writing (ICCW). This is a post that will radically expand the University’s ability to reach writers in every corner of the globe, thanks to one visionary philanthropist. It is our enormous pleasure to welcome Tsitsi Dangarembga as our first International Chair, representing the region of Africa. THE CREATIVE L ANDSCAPE Increasingly, we see the appetite for writing that questions, evaluates and makes sense of our civilisation and society. Climate change, the pandemic, inequality, a polarised political arena – writers can’t shy away from unanswerable questions. With Tsitsi’s help, we will reach African writers and inspire them to produce groundbreaking work. Tsitsi has decades of experience mentoring young writers. It was tremendously exciting to see her nominated for the Booker Prize. 27

The early feedback from those who have had the chance to hear from Tsitsi is highly impressive. She has the ability to make clear the transformational nature of creative potential. Tsitsi is deeply passionate about building capacity for creativity in African countries. She is undoubtedly the right person to see our vision through. We are now working together to actively plan the year. WRITING IS POLITICAL Tsitsi said, “The idea that you can write whatever your background is a rather new thought – one that has resulted from activists in the creative industries speaking up. Your creativity and personal expression contribute towards what it is to be human. And so every act of expression is political. “Personally, this role gives me access to resources that will allow me to make a far greater impact than anyone could alone. We are envisioning a series of workshops and I am very much hoping there will be a volume of creative work to show at the end of it. “As a writer, it is important to me to instil discipline of expression in upcoming artists and creative voices. If we want to continue to have the privilege of expressing ourselves, we must make sure audiences have the opportunity to hear our words. I hope the writers we reach will one day be able to say, ‘I am published. I did that.’ ” u

We are pleased to announce Tsitsi Dangarembga is our first International Chair of Creative Writing.

A HEARTFELT THANK YOU Support for creative writing has the potential to change literature, culture and even history itself – because the more people are writing history, the better it represents us all.


The International Chair project’s first year is underway, but four more years are left to fund. It’s a very exciting prospect – just imagine a total of five Chairs like Tsitsi! We would be excited to hear from philanthropists who share our vision for ICCW and wish to help create 50 Global Voices scholarships.

£2.25m Global Voices and ICCW fundraising target

Unfortunately, the University does not have the resources itself to fund programmes of these ambitions. It has fallen to generous philanthropists to make these life-changing differences in people’s lives. Thank you so much. As Tsitsi said, if you change the nature of the people who can go to university, develop their talent and express themselves, you change society. It’s a profound enterprise.

A gift in memory of Sonny Mehta, revered publisher, will support many scholarship students at UEA.

EXTRAORDINARY GENEROSIT Y. LIMITLESS POTENTIAL. An exceptionally generous endowment gift in memory of the revered editor Sonny Mehta will provide fully-funded scholarships in perpetuity for writers from India, the Indian sub-continent, North Africa, the Middle East and those who self-identify as Roma. Endowed by his wife, Gita Mehta, the Sonny Mehta Scholarship programme will pay the tuition fees, travel and living costs of MA Creative Writing students at UEA. Mr Mehta, who sadly died in 2019, was editor-in-chief of US publishing house Alfred A Knopf and chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Group. In his long and celebrated career, he published some of the most successful and influential authors of all time. They included literary giants Toni Morrison, John le Carré and UEA graduate Sir Kazuo Ishiguro OBE, in addition to popular titles such as Jurassic Park and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Professor McNeil said, “Sonny Mehta oversaw one of the top publishing houses in the world. He was widely respected and known for supporting emerging writers. We consider it a great honour to be able to offer two scholarships in his name for the next ten years, after which they will be combined into one permanent scholarship. What an extraordinary gift.”

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£100m The Difference Campaign fundraising target

THE L AST WORD Professor David Richardson reflects on your generosity in the year of COVID-19.

It’s been an unprecedented year for The UEA Difference Campaign, as our ambition continued to grow – even through a world event likely to go down as the most significant since the Second World War. Your generosity is symbolic of the shared values that make us a society. By giving to UEA, you are creating the change you wish to see in the world. Incredibly, The Difference Campaign finds itself in its final year. Since its launch in 2013, our community of alumni, friends and supporters have shown the most extraordinary generosity – and this last year was no different. Next year, we very much hope to be looking back on a campaign successfully concluded. But there is still

much to be done and millions to be raised to reach our target. When we look back, many of our friends will remember this as a time of great tragedy. I urge you then to revisit your copy of Pioneer. This is your proof that, despite the grief for lives lost too early, there was also hope to be found through giving. Thank you so much for your priceless gift of hope to UEA. Professor David Richardson Vice-Chancellor and President, University of East Anglia

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MAKING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE AT UEA The Difference Campaign enables UEA to create pioneering change in the world. We are using the power of philanthropy to fund and further the University’s groundbreaking work – adding global reach and significance. Together with our donors, we are tackling the world’s greatest challenges and transforming lives. The money you give is put to work in four distinct areas; Creativity, Environment, Health and Opportunity. Thank you for helping to make a difference.

HOW TO GIVE If you would like to support The Difference Campaign, please donate online at Or, to discuss your gift, please get in touch with the Development Office. Telephone: +44 (0)1603 592 945 Email: Development Office University of East Anglia Norwich Research Park Norwich NR4 7TJ

This publication is printed on FSC certified paper. The contents of this magazine are protected by copyright belonging to the University of East Anglia and may not be reproduced without permission. Cover images: (clockwise from top left) Estella Brown, recipient of the Will Jordan Memorial Scholarship 2020. Student footballers, UEA FC and WFC. Prof Corinne Le Quéré, School of Environmental Sciences. Dr Darrell Green, Norwich Medical School. UEA is an exempt charity: HMRC reference number XN423