UCL launches new campaign to celebrate its disruptive discoveries

UCL is today launching the public phase of its major new campaign #MadeAtUCL to celebrate over 100 disruptive discoveries pioneered by some of the university’s leading researchers.

The list of breakthroughs demonstrates how UCL is at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries and is solving real-world problems.

#MadeAtUCL showcases stories such as how UCL is transforming the treatment and diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s; providing free legal advice for communities; changing perceptions of disability; creating greener and more inclusive cities; preserving our heritage and developing robotics that help everyone.

Examples of discoveries which are impacting on people’s lives every day include:

  • Using our immune cells to target and kill cancer: Researchers at UCL are pioneering groundbreaking CAR T-cell cancer treatments which reprogramme the patient’s own immune system to recognise and kill cancerous cells.
  • First water detected on potentially ’habitable’ planet - In a world first, UCL researchers detected water vapour in the atmosphere of a super-Earth with habitable temperatures.
  • HIV remission achieved in patient - UCL researchers led a breakthrough in HIV treatment by helping a man in London reach sustained remission from HIV after ceasing treatment.
  • Two people regain sight after pioneering eye therapy - Last year two people, whose sight had deteriorated due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), were able to see the world again, following ground-breaking stem cell based therapy pioneered at UCL.
  • Legacies of British Slavery - When slavery was abolished in Britain in 1834, the Government compensated slave owners the equivalent of 17billion but slaves received nothing. UCL have led the national debate around the long term impact of colonial slavery.
  • Restoring Brazil’s Atlantic Forest - An innovative UK-Brazil research project co-led by a UCL academic was awarded the prestigious 2018 Newton Prize for facilitating indigenous partnerships to restore lost biodiversity to large swathes of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.
  • UCL researchers set the record for fastest ever data rate - UCL researchers have achieved a data rate of 120 Terabytes per second in a single fibre that would allow the entire HD Games of Thrones series to be downloaded in just 1 second.

The #MadeAtUCL campaign is part of UCL’s new public engagement series UCL Minds - a programme of lectures, performances, exhibitions, podcasts and stories which showcase the brilliant and curious minds at UCL.

Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost, said: "UCL is committed to changing the world for the better. We continually pursue academic excellence, break boundaries and make an impact on real world problems.

"#MadeAtUCL celebrates how our discoveries, theories, inventions and solutions, have brought about significant change for the benefit of humanity and touch people’s lives everyday. We hope as many people as possible will take part by voting and visiting our events."

All the stories highlighted in #MadeAtUCL were nominated by students, staff, alumni, partners and were shortlisted using criteria co-designed with members of the public. The campaign is now open for members of the public to vote on their favourite discovery, with the winners unveiled at a special TEDX UCL event in March next year.

Members of the public are also invited to meet the minds behind #MadeAtUCL at UCL’s It’s All Academic Festival on Saturday 5 October, free and open to all from 10am - 4pm. A podcast series about the discoveries will also be podcast on SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Acast.

UCL’s campaign is linked to UUK’s nationwide #MadeAtUni campaign which aims to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

Independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks last year found that the public has little understanding of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings show that research is one of the key triggers to change opinion about universities but for many people, it is an abstract concept.

Other #MadeAtUCL discoveries include:

  • Cultural visits reduce loneliness and isolation - ’Museums on Prescription’ prescribes arts & culture visits and has significant potential to reduce isolation in older age.
  • UCL-backed students help to alleviate food poverty in Southeast Asia - Four UCL students won the $1million Hult Prize by creating Rice Inc to help farmers adopt more sustainable methods to dry their rice, cutting waste and guaranteeing a higher quality of rice grain.
  • The tumour hunters: Precision targeting for prostate cancer - UCL researchers are doubling cancer detection rates with SmartTarget which helps surgeons to better pinpoint prostate cancer in biopsies while MRI scanning.
  • Making the feeling of touch accessible to all - UCL researchers have developed touch technology, combined with 3D printing which could make simple ’bionic’ hands available to anyone in the world.
  • Predicting extinction risk from climate change - With around 20,000 species of animals and plants facing extinction in the wild, UCL researchers have played an instrumental role in identifying those species most vulnerable due to climate change and have helped develop new conservation guidelines used the world over.
  • Turning used coffee into clean energy - UCL start-up bio-bean, co-founded by UCL graduate Arthur Kay, turns used coffee grounds into clean energy, helping companies reduce their methane gas and CO2 emissions and preventing thousands of tonnes of waste each year.
  • Transforming lives and communities with legal aid - The most vulnerable members of our community are often the ones most in need of legal advice, yet struggle to get help. UCL’s unique advice clinic is changing that and transforming lives and communities.
  • Using innovative technology to protect older adults’ finances - UCL researchers have developed a personal finance platform to better protect older vulnerable people from scams and fraud.
  • Examining the future of referendums - UCL’s Constitution Unit is leading a rethink of the role of referendums in our democracy and how such votes should be conducted in future.

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