Lay Communication Prize - 2022

This year’s winners were announced at the William Harvey Annual Review Day in June  2022.  Congratulations to the £500 Lay Communication Prize Winner, Sara Caxaria, with her topic:  An unexpected player in chronic pain.

Competition was tough and the standard of submissions was so high that the Foundation awarded an additional travel grant this year.  The two runners-up each received a £400 travel grant:

Kaya Olczak - Understanding blood pressure one gene at a time

Michelle Sugimoto - We need a commander! Developing drugs that keep the inflammatory army under control


Congratulations to all involved!  Check back here soon for more from our winners.

Winner Sara Caxaria receiving her certificate from Chair Justin Tigue


WHRF Newsletter December 2021



At this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Nikita Patel, a PhD student funded by the William Harvey Research Foundation (supervised by Prof Chris Thiemermann, Centre for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics) co-hosted a youth panel event organised by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) focusing on the themes of Fuels of the Future, Turning Waste into Gold and Engineering Nature. The event gave delegates the opportunity to discuss, query and challenge the climate change solutions proposed by the panellists.

Watch SCI's COP26 event - Countdown to Planet Zero: Combating Climate Change with Chemistry

Nikita became involved in the event following her success at the STEM for Britain competition where entrants present their research in a lay format.

As a result, SCI invited Nikita to co-host the panel event and use her science communication skills to field questions from the audience and ensure they are understood by all. 

Radio interview with Nikita Patel after the event (listen from 21:49)

Podcast recorded by Nikita Patel with The Periodic Fable, including details of her PhD:

on Spotify

on Apple Podcasts

Society of Chemical Industry announce Nikita Patel as a co-host at its COP26 event


BPS Best Oral Communication Prize winner

At this year’s BPS 90th Anniversary Pharmacology 2021 conference, Nikita Patel, a third-year PhD-student funded by WHRF (supervised by Prof. Chris Thiemermann, Centre for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics) received the Best Oral Communication Prize for her talk entitled ‘Inhibition of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase reduces organ injury and dysfunction in a rat model of severe haemorrhage’ (Cardiovascular & Respiratory session).


RSM President's Gold Medal in Cardiology

Former winner of WHRF's Lay Communication prize, Dr Zahra Raisi-Estabragh wins prestigious RSM President's Gold Medal in Cardiology.


EULAR 2021 Poster Prize

Former WHRF Lay Communication Prize runner-up and project-grant award winner, Dr Anne-Sophie Thorup wins Poster Prize at EULAR 2021, the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology.


Lay Communication Prize 2021

Congratulations to Camilla Davan-Wetton, who has won the William Harvey Research Foundation Lay Communication Prize 2021, with her presentation, 'Another day to spend in bed'!

“Entering the Lay Communication Prize was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a great challenge. Being able to explain your research to non-scientists is an invaluable skill, which we have seen highlighted more than ever in the last 18 months, and participating in competitions like this provides an excellent opportunity to test your ability to do this. A big thanks to the William Harvey Research Foundation!” 

See also 'Senescence under appraisal: hopes and challenges revisited' PubMed (

And, congratulations also to Michelle Allan on her highly commendable presentation in the competition, winning the runner-up travel award!

"The Lay Communication competition was a great opportunity for me to consider how research is perceived by the general public and how best to convey 'key messages'. Engaging the general public is vital for researchers - we need their support and their participation, and ultimately all of our work contributes to our pool of knowledge as a society. Being able to talk about research clearly to non-academics is a really important skill and I had great fun practising for the competition!"

Competition Chair and Foundation Trustee, Steve Bates, reiterated the importance of communications to secure sustainable research funding:

“Medical science has become increasingly complex even as our understanding of the systems which govern human life have improved. The ability to explain to non-experts why and how particular fields of research are important is more vital than ever in reaching potential donors and in raising the level of the scientific debate generally.”


WHR Professor Sir Mark Caulfield

appointed CEO of Barts Life Sciences



WHRF Newsletter June 2021


John Vane Academy

Anna Majkowska, PhD researcher in Dr Egle Solito’s lab at WHRI, part-funded by WHRF, is developing a bioengineered system (an in vitro 3D blood brain barrier (BBB) microfluidic model) for the study of drug discovery in the brain in neuroinflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Very excitingly, Anna has been accepted recently to Conception X, a venture programme that helps PhD students launch deep-tech start-ups based on their research and receive enterprise training designed for scientists and engineers. 



Lady Daphne Vane RIP

WHRF was very saddened to learn early in 2021 that Sir John’s widow, Daphne, had died. She was an indefatigable supporter of everyone at William Harvey Research, in memory of all that her husband had achieved and championed. She will be sorely missed.



WHRF Newsletter December 2020


Impact of WHRF funding - ROR2 blockade as a therapy for osteoarthritis

In a new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers from the William Harvey Research Institute have developed a prototype drug that can heal cartilage and simultaneously help with pain. In this research Q&A Dr Anne-Sophie Thorup from the Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology explains why the findings are significant. Bringing this research closer to becoming a medicine is the result of a large grant from FOREUM, which followed on from work enabled by the William Harvey Research Foundation. 

Dr Anne-Sophie Thorup Q&A

Science Translational Medicine


Lorna and Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation grant award

Title: ‘New therapeutic targets for treating the failing heart in arthritis.’

Supervisors: Professor Mauro Perretti and Dr Dianne Cooper

Location: William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London.

Cost: £94,008

Duration: 3 years

Start date: Autumn 2020  

Partner: William Harvey Research Foundation

Why study this?

People with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease.  They are particularly susceptible to a type of heart failure, which means their heart does not relax and refill properly after beating. It is not clear whether current successful treatments for alleviating joint problems reduce the risk of developing heart failure.

What will the student be doing?

The student will identify the link between the systemic inflammation that arises as a result of rheumatoid arthritis and alterations in cardiac structure and function that lead to heart failure. The student will be using a newly developed arthritis model with similar heart failure features as those seen in humans to assess the effects of anti-inflammatory biological therapies on the heart at different stages of disease development and identify new targets for treatment through genetic screening.

What do they expect to achieve?

Heart disease in rheumatoid arthritis has not been a major focus of research in the past, but this study aims to identify whether heart failure can be prevented by existing treatments, as well as identification of potential new targets for drug development.

What could be the impact?

Identifying existing treatments that can help heart disease in rheumatoid arthritis would provide an immediate help for people with rheumatoid arthritis. New targets could open avenues for future treatments specific for the heart failure that typifies rheumatoid arthritis.


Laura Deelen wins William Harvey Research Foundation Lay Communications Prize 2020

Laura Deelen has won the William Harvey Research Foundation Lay Communications Prize 2020.  Laura successfully engaged our panel of expert judges in her persuasive written submission and final presentation on, “The development of stem cell therapy for heart failure”.  Laura is a British Heart Foundation Research MRes Student at the Centre for Microbiology under Professor Ken Suzuki.

On finding out she had won Laura said:

“I found the Competition a great opportunity to communicate my work to a wider audience. It allowed me to practice and support public engagement, and gave me a better insight in how our society perceives our research. As the need for improved treatments, knowledge and services increases, this way of communication hopefully underlines the importance of investing in medical research.”

Post-doc, Chris Smith from the Centre for Endocrinology, came close second with his creative poem, “Skin; Lets Break It Down.”

“I really enjoyed rhyming words with complex biological processes but my research itself and sharing it in an understandable way is very important to me and why I took part in the competition. Without investment in medical research, not only would I not be able to discuss my work in rhyming couplets, but my findings wouldn’t help those who live with the disease every day, and that’s the real importance of investing.”

Professor Rod Flower FRS, WHRI Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Competition Judge observed:

“Overall I thought that the standard was high.   It was difficult to pick the winner because of the excellent quality.  I think that one area where there was some confusion was exactly how much ’science’ to put into the presentations.  Some students grit about right, others either had too much or too little.”

In its second year, the popular WHRF Lay Communications Prize tasks WHRI competitors to submit a description in lay language of work they involved in at WHRI such that it can be understood by and enthuse somebody with no more than high school science education.  Finalists then delivered a two-minute elevator pitch to the judges as if trying to convince Bill Gates to fund their research.

Competition Judge Clare Parsons, Chair and Co-Founder of international PR and Communications agency Lansons was highly impressed by the WHRI entrants:

“I am always swayed by a well-structured submission, with a strong headline, a compelling introduction, the big picture that sets the scene, some drama or tension in the writing, and a conclusion that excites me. We had some interesting submissions that achieved this.  The candidates remind us that just around the corner in a hidden part of London, are the best of global health researchers, talented PhD students conducting exceptional work, in ground-breaking areas.  The shortlisted candidates were concise, compelling and deserve the investment, they are now well-briefed to find a Bill Gates to meet in a lift and pitch to them!”

All five finalists will have professional produced short films added to the Foundation website and used for marketing and development purposes.

As winner, Laura will receive £400 towards scientific meeting expenses and a certificate confirming the award of the Prize, and Chris as runner-up collects £300.  Laura will be awarded her prize at the WHRI Annual Review on 24th June 2020.

William Harvey Research Foundation Lay Communications Prize Finalists 2020:



WHR Professor Mark Caulfield, awarded knighthood in Queen's birthday honours


WHR Researchers in top 1% 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list


WHR Professor Christoph Thiemermann presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who's Who


Genomics project reaches goal of 100,000 genomes sequenced from NHS patients

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