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Life’s onsite partners leading the field in research and care – 2023/24 highlights 

Life's iconic logo is featured at the entrance to the science centre.

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Life is home to several partner organisations. These include Newcastle University, the NHS Northern Genetics Service and the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre.

More than 30 research groups, with over 200 research staff and postgraduate students, continue to do cutting-edge research at Life.

The work of the researchers and clinicians at Life continue to pave the way for a number of exciting advances, including new ways to treat life-threatening conditions.

Eye research

Here are just a few highlights from the past year:: 

  • The Human Developmental Biology Resource (based at Life) has been awarded £4M by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust. The HDBR has become the primary resource, worldwide, for studies into human embryonic development.
  • The team at the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre obtained significant funding to continue its pioneering rare disease studies, collaborating with partners across the world. This will allow them to accelerate the development of effective treatments and to establish best practice diagnosis and care for neuromuscular patients worldwide.
  • The Centre has also been awarded Centre of Excellence status by Muscular Dystrophy UK, for outstanding research and care for patients with neuromuscular diseases. Muscular Dystrophy UK is the largest patient advocacy group for patients with these rare and devastating conditions.
  • Cardiovascular researchers working at Life have set-up a new home for heart research on Teesside, working with the South Cleveland Heart Fund. This enables more patients to access and be part of academic research studies and trials.
  • Dr. Stephen White, a new Reader in Cardiovascular Biology, was recruited to the Life site to study the biological mechanisms that cause heart attacks.
  • Professor Majlinda Lako, based at Life since 2003, was awarded a prestigious ERC advanced grant to generate photoreceptor cells for transplantation in animal models of retinal degeneration. If successful, this will pave the way for efficient, scalable and cost-effective transplants into patients suffering from retinal blindness.
  • Professor Heather Cordell, based at Life since 2006, was awarded the 2023 Leadership Award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and her senior author paper was awarded the Robert C. Elston Award for Best 2022 Paper in the journal Genetic Epidemiology.
  • Pioneering genetics research ongoing at Life received a boost with the arrival of a ‘long read sequencer’, which will allow new DNA and RNA (a nucleic acid present in all living cells that has structural similarities to DNA) studies, funded by the Medical Research Council.
  • The Vascular Biology and Medicine team at Life has been awarded more than £2M in funding from sources including the British Heart Foundation, Heart Research UK and Royal Society, to undertake projects investigating cardiovascular disease and potential treatments.
  • The Newcastle Reproductive Genomics Consortium was established this year. This is a unique collaboration between NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life researchers from Newcastle University based at Life, to research the link between genetic factors and fertility issues in men and women.
  • The NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, in a collaboration with Prof Anil Namdeo from Northumbria University, is assessing the influence of air pollution on IVF success rates.
  • Fertility experts, Dr Meenakshi Choudhary and senior nurse, Gillian Redhead from Newcastle Fertility Centre took part in the Science Speak Easy event, ‘Fitting into our genes’, organised by Life Science Centre in October 2023.

Dr. Meenakshi Choudhary, Consultant Gynaecologist and Sub Specialist in Reproductive Medicine at Newcastle Fertility Centre

“Newcastle Fertility Centre recently celebrated 25 years of being part of the Centre for Life hub. For over two decades, Newcastle Fertility Centre has been at the forefront of creating modern families.

“We celebrate the invaluable contribution of egg and sperm donors from the North East. Their selfless acts have given countless individuals the opportunity to experience the joy of parenthood.

“Egg donors play a crucial role not only in family building but also in advancing research. Their donations enable us to develop innovative Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and potentially eliminate the inheritance risk of specific diseases.

“We currently face a shortage of donors. We warmly welcome any women and men considering this noble act to contact us. Together, we can continue the miracle of life.”

Dr Meenakshi Choudhary is a panellist at Life Science Centre's Fertility Speakeasy.

For more information about the partners at Life that do amazing work every day, go to our partners page.

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