Previously funded projects

Over 80 projects were successfully funded during the ISSF round 2 award, spanning five disciplines; transition funding, inter-disciplinary secondments, pump priming, infrastructure and public and patient engagement.

A number of female project holders are currently on maternity leave and in compliance with our Athena SWAN bronze award, we provided flexibility and continual support with their project and future progression. These initiatives enhance our commitment to support the careers of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and support innovative ideas for public engagement.

From the £1.972m currently committed, some highlights and wide-ranging outcomes include promoted innovation, increased competitiveness and translation. Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) funding has enhanced strategically important research infrastructure, early career researcher support and forged new collaborations.

Fellowship updates from successful applicants January 2017 

The following people were successful in their applications for fellowships in January 2017. Here is an update from the successful applicants, about how they will use the fellowship and develop future plans within their chosen field.

Dr Ryan Sweet - School of English

During my fellowship, I will develop a project that explores the entangled histories of animals and disability in literature and culture from 1800 to 1914. The project will investigate not only relationships between disabled humans and nonhuman animals but also the problematic use of animality in disability discourses as well as human attitudes to impaired animals.

In doing so it will make a significant contribution to knowledge, adding to our understanding of disability and animals in nineteenth-century Britain—a period that historians have shown was seminal in terms of shaping current attitudes to both. My aims are to provide new ways of thinking about animal and human health, revising tendencies to use disability and animality as negative points of comparison, and to uncover historical examples that can be used by animal studies, disability studies, and posthumanist scholars developing new, more inclusive ethical models.

The activities that I will be involved with during my fellowship include writing an article on cattle with wooden legs in nineteenth-century periodical literature; conducting archival visits at the Norfolk Record Office, National Fairground Archive, and Thackray Medical Museum; setting up planning meetings with outreach coordinators from potential partner organisations; organising a one-day event in the Centre for Medical Humanities on the theme of disability and animality; and applying for external funding from the Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, and the AHRC.

Jane Blackwell - School of Psychology

I was delighted to be awarded a Wellcome Trust ISSF Early Career Researcher Fellowship which will enable me to stay on at The University of Leeds following my PhD. This fellowship will provide an invaluable opportunity for me to continue the research programme I designed during my PhD called “The Paediatric Narcolepsy Project”.

This study examined the relationship between sleep, activity, school performance and well-being in children with narcolepsy. I visited 23 children with narcolepsy and 23 healthy gender and age matched controls and during my visit the children underwent standardised neuropsychological assessment, a full home sleep recording and wore an actigraphy watch to measure activity levels for 7 days. During my fellowship, I plan to follow up this unique cohort of children (who have taken part in my doctoral research) in order to measure cognitive function and psychological well-being two years after their baseline data was collected.

I plan to use the time during my fellowship to develop my skills as researcher, to build new collaborations and to apply for an external post-doctoral fellowship.

Dr Kat Rawling - Medical Humanities

The current fascination and concern with self-image, photographic mis-representation, and over-exposure to inappropriate images was foreshadowed by anxieties in the Victorian age. While most of the discourse on photography focuses on the democratization of the image or the camera as opening up new worlds and experiences, less attention has been paid to the anxiety that accompanied its invention and the perceived damage it could do to both individual and societal health.

My research project Photomania: Anxiety, The Camera, and Diseases of Modernity in Britain addresses this gap by examining the relationship between photography and health and well-being from 1850 onwards, to explore the ways photography itself (the practice, the consumption, and the concept of it) was seen as a disease of modernity, that could damage both the individual and society at large.

Anxieties over photography will be examined across six areas: pornography and indecency; obsession with self-image; photographic mis-representation; machines and technology versus traditional ways of life; experiencing the ‘real’; and photography, patients, and doctors. The project will show the many continuities between the ‘photographic’ and ‘digital’ ages and provide a counterpoint to celebratory narratives of progress and positivity. The result will be a discussion in which the camera, science, medicine, and technology are closely connected to examine the perceived damaging effects of photography on modern society and culture.

Dr Charlotte Scarff -  School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

My fellowship will be used to develop new methods that couple mass spectrometry with cryo-electron microscopy. These methods will allow structural determination of complexes with both compositional and conformational heterogeneity –heterogeneity that is often critical in defining the various roles of a complex in health and disease.

James Hitchcock - School of Chemical & Process Engineering

Cancer therapeutics have dramatic side effects on healthy tissues. A prominent research area focuses on encapsulating cytotoxic drugs for targeted delivery to cancer tissues and for reduction of off-tissue side-effects.
Recently, we have demonstrated the efficient manufacture of impermeable metal-shell/liquid core microcapsules) that permit localised delivery of active (pharmaceutical) ingredient high doses by triggering release with ultrasound at the target location. This delivery method has the potential to be superior to all previously developed encapsulation strategies because:

1. Capsules can easily be manufactured at industrial scale,
2. High drug content can be achieved within capsule cores,
3. No drug leaching occurs, thus preventing any side-effects prior to release activation via ultrasound treatment,
4. Complete release of high drug concentrations can be achieved in cancer-affected areas only
With help from the ISSF fellowship we are now working on demonstrating in vitro remote release of a drug from sub 150nm capsules. 

Dr Kasia Szymanska

In my ISSF I will be looking at post-translational modifications of ciliary proteins. Cilia are small hair-like structures on the surface of most of the cells in human body. They are crucial for embryonic development and maintenance of cells homeostasis. Defects in their structure and/or function leads to series of conditions collectively called ciliopathies, including Polycystic Kidney Disease.

During my ISSF project I will be looking into ciliary proteins ubiquitination, SUMOlyation and glycosylation. Joining Dr Elton Zeqiraj’s group would allow me to learn new techniques in investigating those modifications and acquire new collaborations with scientists based on the University of Leeds main campus site.

Examples of the previous projects awarded within the Public and Patient Engagement theme include:

Be Curious Festival 2017

The second annual research open day was held at the University of Leeds in March 2017.  More details can be found here:  Be Curious 2017

Below is a full list of all the previous successful projects:

Non clinical transition funding

  • Laura Knight (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Investigating the first identified reversible RNA modification and its implications in Merkel cell polyomavirus virus replication in order to gain essential insights into how this modification regulates viral gene expression.
  • Morgan Herod (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Investigating the transient viral protein precursors formed during norovirus infection.
  • Charlotte Blease (Faculty of Arts) - Common Representations of Depression in Literary Memoirs: The Value of Illness Narratives in Medical Education.
  • Gemma Angel (Faculty of Arts) - The impact of the 2004 Human Tissue Act (HTA) on professional and public attitudes towards human remains in the heritage and medical sectors, and the effects of this legislation on the professional practice of pathologists, anatomists and curators of medical collections.
  • Lizzie Oliver (Faculty of Arts) - The impact of captivity on the health of allied prisoners of war in Southeast Asia during the Second World War.
  • Katie Simmons (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Identification of modulators of IR/IGF1R hybrid formation.
  • Jacobo Elies Gomez (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Investigating the physiological role of heme-oxygenases in connective tissue diseases associated to pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Tom Quick (Faculty of Arts) - Mediating the Laboratory: communication in the work of C.S.Sherrington (c. 1890-1930).
  • Lydia Young (Faculty of Biological Sciences) – The search for therapeutic agents that bind specifically to precursor protein confirmations and inhibit assembly into amyloid is a significant challenge given that many precursors of aggregation are partially folded or intrinsically disordered and therefore not amenable to structure-based drug design.
  • Nikesh Patel (Faculty of Biological Sciences) – Positive-sense ssRNA viruses are major human pathogens for which novel forms of anti-viral therapy are urgently required.
  • Michelle Morris (Faculty of Environment) – Develop models which can be used to better understand the risk factors associated with poor diet, obesity and related comorbidities. Arthur Rose (Faculty of Arts) – Focus on the phenomena of breathing pathologists related to the mining industry in South Africa and beyond.
  • Fran Bigman (Faculty of Arts) - Technophobia, and Reproduction in British Women’s Writing, 1918-2018.
  • Duncan Wilson (Faculty of Medicine and Health) – Complex interventions are those which involve two or more potential interacting components, and are commonly used in the treatment of stroke, mental health and older people.
  • Laura Wetherill (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Fundamental control mechanisms of DNA replication and repair in lymphocytes.
  • Antonia Melechi (University of York) – Laboratory and commercial instruments, have transformed scientific and popular conceptions of ‘the unconscious.
  • Nick Preston (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Transform health service provision for children with motor neurone problems by enabling teachers to deliver evidence-based programmes with school setting.
  • Sophie Jones (School of Arts, University of London) - Attention, ADHD and American Literary Minimalism, 1980 – Present.
  • Antonio Calabrese (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Non-covalent mass spectrometry (MS) to study the stichiometries and architectures of complexes of Skp with OMPs of various sizes, proposing a model for how Skp accommodates its substrates.
  • Marlous Hall (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Undertake a comparison of UK (MINAP), Swedish (SwedeHeart) and French (FAST-MI) quality indicators for AMI.
  • Claire Smith (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Detailed phenotyping of affected teeth from AI patients and compare with murine AI models.
  • Jennifer Tomlinson (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Elucidate the molecular mechanism of resistance to fusidic acid (FA), a clinically-important antibiotic that inhibits bacterial protein synthesis by preventing release of elongation factor-G (EF-G) from the ribosome.
  • Hannah Proctor (Department of English & Humanities, Birkbeck) - Postdoctoral research on the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System (HPSSS).
  • Esther Martin (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - The orientation of NAC on the ribosome is unclear, as is any binding site for substrates.
  • James Robinson (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Activating FcyRs are key mediators of antibody-driven inflammation in autoimmune diseases.
  • Shaun Rawson (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Optimisation of cryo-EM grids for high resolution structures of NPC1L1 and building an atomic model of NPC1L1 and an Exetimide/NPC1L1 complex.

Transition funding (clinical)

  • Katie Spencer (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Variation in the use and outcome of palliative radiotherapy across England
  • Begonya Alcacer-Pitcarch (Faculty of Medicine and Health) – Systemic sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease characterised by vasculopathy, inflammation and fibrosis.
  • Lara Morley (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Piezo1 as a mechanical sensor in placental vascular endothelium.
  • Peter Day (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - To examine modifiable early-life risk factors of severe dental caries in young children participating in BiB.
  • Emily Clarke (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Generation of high quality pilot research data to form the basis of an externally funded PhD fellowship in digital pathology.
  • Kathryn Griffin (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Novel imaging technique to support and develop research into vascular regeneration in the context of Diabetes Mellitus.
  • Yazan Khaled (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Develop a multifunctional nanoparticle that incorporates a photosensitiser for combined diagnostics and photodynamic therapy in CRC.

Interdisciplinary secondments

  • Richard Cleminson (Faculty of Arts) - Seconded to Laboratory of Applied Genetics, Dept. of Biology, University of Aveiro, Portugal.
  • Gordon Hutchins (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Seconded to Maastricht Multimodal Molecular Imaging Institute Stephen Evans (Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) - Seconded to Leeds Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, St James's University Hospital, Leeds.
  • Sonny Gunadi (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - Seconded to Princess Margaret Cancer Center at University of Toronto and then Department of Radiation Oncology in Smilow Center for Translational Research at University of Pennsylvania.
  • Danielle Miles (Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) - Seconded to JRI Orthopaedic Ltd. Michelle Peckham (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Seconded to NIH, Bethesda Maryland.
  • Guiseppe Tronci (Faculty of Arts) - Seconded to University of Michigan (School of Dentistry and Department of Chemical Engineering.
  • Claire Brockett (Faculty of Engineering) - Seconded to Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark.
  • Stuart Murray (Faculty of Arts) Pete Culmer (Faculty of Engineering) - Seconded to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Annie Jamieson (Faculty of Arts) - Seconded to ACS Custom, Banbury.
  • Anne King (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Seconded to Brain Vision UK and Rambam Medical Centre, Israel.
  • Ali Alazmani Nodeh (Faculty of Engineering) – Seconded to ETH Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
  • Michael Webb (Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) - Seconded to Microbial Genetics Laboratory, Genetic Strains Research Center, National Institute of Genetics, Shizuoka, Japan.
  • Alastair Curd (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Seconded to National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
  • Matthew Allsop (Faculty of Medicine and Health) – Seconded to Kenya Hospices & Palliative Care Association.
  • Glen McConkey (Faculty of Biological Sciences) – Seconded to Covance, Harrogate.

Pump priming

  • Al Benson (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Influence of age on cardiac arrhythmia susceptibility.
  • Philip Conaghan (Faculty of Medicine and Health)
  • R Elwyn Isaac (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Topoisomerase II (Top2) induces transient double strand breaks (DSBs) in DNA to relieve topological problems arising during chromosome metabolism.
  • Isuru Jayasinghe (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - “Unlocking the loss mechanism of membrane tethers in heart pathologies
  • Glenn McConkey (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - Methyl-seq data to assess global DNA methylation changes in neuronal cells during infection.
  • Andrew Smith (Faculty of Biological Sciences) - novel chemical tool to carry out cell surface ‘biopsies’ from living cardiac cells, thus allowing characterisation of membrane-bound protein complexes without disrupting normal function
  • Julie Aspden (Faculty of Medicine and Health) - existence of specialised ribosomes with testis-specific components that permit the regulation of specific mRNAs at defined times during spermatogenesis
  • James McLaughlan (Faculty of Engineering) - High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) as a microsurgery took for the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Richard Foster (Faculty of Engineering) – Novel depthwide analysis, quantitative relationships between biological constituents, mechanical properties and MRI data.
  • Emma Tomalin (Faculty of Arts) – The role of religion in public health amongst Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in the UK.
  • Susan Deuchars (Faculty of Biological Sciences) – To demonstrate that we can undertake RNA-seq of single cells, in particular from neuronal tissue.

Public and patient engagement (PPE)

Leeds shines at National Award Ceremony

A PPE project that was supported by ISSF2 has won a national completion


Pepnet is a network for everyone involved or interested in public engagement, events, patient involvement, partnership working, co-creation and pathways to impact activities. An open, friendly group which staff can join for regular learning and networking opportunities, pepnet also welcomes champions of engagement to join us to help shape our direction and future topics.

Find out more 

University of Leeds Be Curious Festival 2016: Health and Wellbeing theme

On 19 March 2016, in Parkinson Court and across the central university campus involving all Faculties and Schools, a public open day was held adopting a health and wellbeing theme. This involved exciting hands on displays and exhibitions, talks and tours to engage the public with the exciting research that takes place at the University of Leeds.

Find out more

Medical Humanities Touring Pods ‘Health: look at life from cradle to grave’

In early 2016, an exhibition pod is being coordinated by Dr Iona McCleery, School of History, bringing together the research of historians of medicine in the School of History and the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. Based around the themes of birth, illness and aging, it is anticipated that this display of images and artefacts will go on tour around local libraries and other venues in Leeds and Wakefield districts over the next two years. Further details of the dates and venues of display will be available shortly.

Anatomical Artefacts Restoration Programme

A team of staff and students visited the Hunterian Museum in London to learn skills in repairing and restoring wet and dry human tissue specimens. These skills were then put to work in conserving specimens currently held within the University of Leeds, which will in turn be used to develop a series of public and school sessions, as well as displays that will help explain and remove the stigma around human tissue collections by allowing people to understand their history and human value.

History of Science in 20 Objects

A public lecture series was held in January 2016, organised by Dr. Mike Finn and Prof. Greg Radick. Over a two-year period, monthly lectures (excluding July and August) will take place on campus, with each lecture given by an academic from the Centre for HPS at the University of Leeds, and taking as its starting point an object from the collection held by the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

For more details, including dates, see the project page

Small Grants Scheme (March 2015): Inspiring the public about biomedical and medical humanities research

  • A small grant scheme was made available in March 2015 to provide funding for novel public engagement activity from the University of Leeds, details provided by the eight successful applicants can be found below.
  • Dr Anke Bruning-Richardson – Meet, greet and brainstorm with the researcher: an interactive event – a project to raise awareness of brain tumours and research with the public. Dr Kerry Baker – Nature’s Engineers – This project aims to highlight what it means to be an engineer, what engineers work on and how engineers’ main role is to help mankind live healthier, safer and more fulfilling lives.
  • Rose Bavage – How do we use DNA today? – Purchase of portable biotechnology kit is allowing the University to bring research-level science into schools at ‘key decision points’ for pupils (before they choose A-Levels and before they apply for University), to encourage them to continue choosing science.
  • Dr Maria Bryant – The Child Cosmos Sculpture Project – This project aims to raise community awareness of a complex programme of work designed to improve children’s social development, health, communication skills and emotional wellbeing, through artistic interpretation.
  • Cheryl Harris – Raspberry Spine – The aim of the Raspberry Spine is to give the general public more understanding of what happens when a disc is replaced in the spine.
  • Dr Jennifer Edwards – Biomedical Engineering: from tissue to cell – Biomedical Engineering: from tissue to cell’ is about the structure of the extracellular matrices which make up our tissues and how these provide strength and function in the body.
  • Dr Laura King – HIStory: Experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a father by fathers on probation – In part thanks to this grant, we have now nearly completed work on our planned film. This is a c.40 minute film documenting the experiences of ex-offenders of becoming a father.
  • Dr Mike Finn – Victorian Medicine School Workshops – Museum volunteers will work with a local artist and sculptor, Lawrence Molloy, to develop activities and tools for interactive sessions run by the Museum of the History of Science, Technology & Medicine.