News in brief

27 July 2015

Major funding boost to help bladder cancer patients in Yorkshire

Dr James CattoScientists from the University of Sheffield have been awarded £750,000 for a pioneering project to help bladder cancer patients across the county.

The major investment by Yorkshire Cancer Research marks Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.

Researchers from the University will carry out both a major survey of all patients diagnosed with bladder cancer in Yorkshire – estimated to be more than 5,000 people - and a clinical trial to discover the best way to treat aggressive bladder cancer that has been found at an early stage.

The survey will be focused on discovering what matters most to patients, identifying gaps in care and establishing methods to improve their quality of life. This will be the first survey of its kind to target bladder cancer patients. The results, known as ‘patient reported outcomes’, could help patients choose their most suitable treatment option, guide future care by identifying the likely outcomes of specific treatments, and improve services by recognising good practice and areas where improvement is needed.

The clinical trial will compare two different kinds of treatments for aggressive, but not yet invasive bladder cancer. Patients with this cancer are usually treated by either immediate bladder removal, called a cystectomy, or a bladder-preserving therapy.

Bladder-preserving therapy is the standard approach and involves a three-year treatment plan, but only a third of patients complete the three-year course due to side effects and a quarter go on to need a cystectomy anyway, with worse outcomes.

Bladder cancer is particularly common in places like Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, where incidence and mortality rates are higher than the national average. In 2014, the county had the lowest survival rate nationally, and there are also huge variations in outcomes across healthcare providers in Yorkshire.

Professor James Catto, Professor of Urology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Bladder cancer is a huge problem in Yorkshire. This funding will allow us to carry out two vital studies that will help us ensure patients have the very best possible experience after they are diagnosed, and ultimately help more people survive the disease.”

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20 July 2015

Sheffield is first university to receive prestigious accreditation for counselling service


The University of Sheffield’s Counselling Service (UCS) is the first university counselling service, and one of only seven organisations nationally, to be awarded a new quality assurance accreditation badge.

The free, confidential service, which is available to all students at the University, has been honoured through the Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapy Services (APPTS) – a partnership between the Centre for Quality Improvement at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society.

It has been awarded an accreditation mark following a rigorous, externally audited process that included a self-review workbook with an audit of 56 quality standards, feedback from service users and therapists and an on-site peer review involving interviews with service users and staff.

UCS scored 100 per cent in all type one standards, which are considered to be essential for the safety and dignity of service users. The service also scored very highly in other areas, with 93 per cent overall for type two standards, which are more aspirational in nature.

This is a formal recognition of the high quality service which UCS offers, sitting within a broader framework of other excellent student services at the University, which has won a hat trick of Times Higher Education awards over the last few years for Outstanding Student Services Team, Outstanding Student Admissions Team and Outstanding Administrative Services Team.

Louise Knowles, Head of UCS, said: “The APPTS accreditation is a real achievement for our service and will increase the confidence of our student population in the clinical rigour of the service.

“At UCS we are committed to continually improving the quality and standard of the service we deliver, balancing this against increasing numbers accessing our service and looking at new and innovative ways of working with the student population. This accreditation mark recognises both the extremely short wait times, as well as our talented and clinically robust team who offer a varied range of treatments and interventions in a challenging environment.

“It is a privilege to be amongst a select few national psychological providers.”

UCS had a 100 per cent return rate from the 50 service users selected randomly to give feedback on the service, with a significant number of positive comments.

The audit report said: “The service is very patient-led, and received positive feedback on its flexibility, and compassionate approach. There is a short waiting time target of 10 days, which the service is usually able to meet. Work has gone into ensuring that the venue is pleasant and the waiting area is well stocked with self-help materials and information about local organisations and services which may be of interest to service users. A lot of helpful information is also available on the service's website.”

9 July 2015

Out of this world science lesson with Nobel Prize winner creates a big bang

KrotoScientists of tomorrow will venture on a voyage of discovery in an enthralling workshop hosted by an internationally renowned Nobel Prize winner and University of Sheffield graduate.

Professor Sir Harry Kroto, who is known world-wide as both a scientist and a charismatic motivator of young people, will present his innovative Buckyball Workshop to more than 50 pupils from the Yorkshire region next week.

Sir Harry was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his discovery of a new form of carbon: Buckminster Fullerene or more affectionately referred to as a Buckyball. Shaped like a traditional football, these carbon fullerene molecules are made of pentagons and hexagons. The breakthrough has previously been named by fellow academics as one of the ten most important discoveries made by their peers at UK universities in the past 60 years.

During the innovative workshop, the budding scientists of the future will make their very own models of the Buckyball using a specially provided kit. The aim of the activity is to give pupils the chance to learn about the Buckyball's interesting properties and relate these to properties of other structures made from carbon, including graphite which is used in pencils, diamond necklaces and rings.

Later in the day pupils, from schools including: Holy Trinity School, Royston St John the Baptist School and Carlton Primary School in Barnsley will don lab coats and roll up their sleeves in a wacky Polymer Slime workshop, hosted by the University's Department of Chemistry. The youngsters will create brightly coloured polymer slime to demonstrate the idea of joining small molecules together to form long chain polymers.

Dr Sara Bacon from the University's Department of Chemistry said: "This is a fantastic event for primary school pupils. They get the chance to make polymer slime in one of the Chemistry Department laboratories during one session. In the other session, Sir Harry Kroto guides them step by step to make their own Buckyball which they get to take home with them.”

Kirsten Fretwell, Outreach Activities Officer at the University of Sheffield, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for primary school pupils to meet the renowned scientist, and Noble Prize winner, Professor Sir Harry Kroto and take part in an enjoyable day of hands-on science activities. We hope the day will spark their interest and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

16 June 2015

Appeal for pregnant volunteers to help with revolutionary scan study

ThumbnailThe University of Sheffield is looking for volunteers across South Yorkshire to help with a pioneering study looking at the role of MRI scanning during pregnancy.

Expectant mums, who are over 16 years-old and at least 18 weeks pregnant, are invited to take part in the research which has been running across the country since 2011 and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme.

Volunteers will have an MRI scan, performed by an expert consultant, to look at the baby’s brain. Some volunteers may also be invited for a detailed ultrasound scan.

Neither of the scans carry any risk to your baby and participants will be given an MRI picture of their baby to keep and a £10 voucher.

For more information or to register your interest in the study please contact 0114 271 3584 or email

15 June 2015

Castlegate Festival celebrates past and future of oldest part of Sheffield

A new festival will celebrate the rich history of one of the oldest parts of Sheffield and provide inspiration for its future.

The University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council, Yorkshire Artspace, Bank Street Arts and the University’s School of Architecture are working in partnership to host the first Castlegate Festival from 21-22 June 2015.

Castlegate is one of the most historic areas of Sheffield, where early populations settled around the River Don to live, work and build the city as it is today.

The inaugural festival aims to reveal its vibrancy through showcasing the work of artists from an emerging Castlegate community, alongside work by students from the University’s School of Architecture.

There will be three sites to visit over the weekend: Castle House, Yorkshire Artspace’s Exchange Place Studios and Bank Street Arts, where people can visit pop up art shops and exhibitions, create their own art, watch films and chat with experts from the area, including the Friends of Sheffield Castle.

On Castlegate’s streets, people are invited to take a walk with the Friends of the Old Town Hall, stroll through the hidden delights of Sheffield’s Canal Basin, and join in ‘flora and fauna’ tours.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said: “Over the two days, we will highlight the area’s historical importance by hosting a range of activities, brought together by a group of individuals and organisations who either reside in or have a love of Castlegate.

“All of us have found inspiration in Castlegate, so we invite everyone to explore the sights, take part in the festivities, tell us their stories and celebrate with us”.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development at Sheffield City Council added: “I hope this festival will encourage many more people to visit the Castlegate area and get a taste of what Castlegate has to offer now, and increasingly so in the future.

“Our aim is to raise awareness of the area’s place in the city’s history and also make Castlegate a vibrant destination once again.”

Rachael Dodd Programme Manager at Yorkshire Artspace said: “We are delighted to be a part of the Castlegate Festival. It’s a great way for us and our artists to get to know the area and our new neighbours. In the last year since taking on the Exchange Place Studios building in Castlegate we have been overwhelmed by the interest from artists, makers and designers who want to locate themselves and their creative business in this area of the city. We are now almost full but there is still room for a few more.”

Most of the events are free and full details can be viewed and downloaded at:

The festival is funded by Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Sheffield.

9 June 2015

Burglaries in Sheffield student houses halved

The number of students in the city that have been the victims of burglaries has halved in three years.

Latest figures from South Yorkshire Police show burglaries against students in Sheffield have fallen by 52 per cent, from an annual figure of 381 in 2011-2012 to 182 in 2014-2015

Richard Yates, Head of Security Services at the University of Sheffield, who co-chairs the city wide strategic burglary group, said he was delighted with the latest statistics.

“We know that Sheffield is safer than other big cities* but it is always pleasing to see figures showing such a significant drop in crime,” he added.

The figures are reflective of overall rates in the city which show burglary is at the lowest level in nine years.

In April 2015, the number of burglaries recorded in Sheffield was 211, the lowest number since 2006.

Increased home security, the vigilance of residents and a change in police operations to tackle burglary, have been credited as being responsible for this reduction.

Superintendent Scott Green, South Yorkshire Police lead for burglary, said: “We are committed to stopping burglars and have used ‘cocooning’ techniques, which involves the delivery of a police letter and burglary alert kit to surrounding properties, after a burglary has taken place in the area. This helps residents to secure their homes against the burglars who are targeting the area.”

On the University of Sheffield campus overall crime levels are now 49 per cent lower than they were in 2009-2010.

Every year in November the University of Sheffield’s Security Services joins forces with the Students’ Union and South Yorkshire Police for a Crime Prevention Week to spread important safety messages and useful advice. Burglary is one of the event’s key priorities.

PC Tom Goodhill, University Liaison Officer from South Yorkshire Police, said: “It’s very pleasing to see the number of student burglary victims continuing to fall and we hope annual events like Crime Prevention Week will help this trend to continue.

“If you are living in a student house, make sure the last person in locks the door overnight – whether you make a rota on your smartphones or just write a post-it note on the fridge door, things like this make a huge difference.”

He added: “Property marking and Smartwater kits are also an excellent way of protecting your property and ensuring it can not only be returned, but that those who have taken it from you are held to account for their actions.

“Don’t make your student home an easy target for thieves and burglars.”

26 May 2015

University lecturer named as rising broadcast star

A University of Sheffield lecturer has been named as one of the country’s top ten brightest minds with the potential to share their cutting-edge academic ideas through television and radio.

The newly announced New Generation Thinkers 2015Dr Catherine Fletcher, of the University’s Department of History, was selected from hundreds of applicants in a nationwide search to find broadcasters of the future in the annual New Generation Thinkers initiative by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The ten New Generation Thinkers 2015 were selected after a six-month selection process involving a series of day-long workshops at the BBC in Salford and London and were announced at Hay Festival on Sunday.

The winners will spend one year working with BBC Radio 3 presenters and producers to develop their ideas into broadcasts.

They will make their debut appearance on Radio 3's arts and ideas programme, Free Thinking, on successive editions beginning with a special edition of the programme recorded and broadcast on Thursday 28 May 2015 featuring four of the winners.

All of the New Generation Thinkers will be invited to make regular contributions throughout the year.

Dr Harris, who worked as a historical on BBC drama Wolf Hall earlier this year, said: “I'm very excited about working with BBC producers over the coming year to develop programmes based on my research for a wider public. Lots of people have heard of the Medici, or the Borgias, or Machiavelli, but behind the popular images are many hidden stories. I'm looking forward to bringing them to new audiences.”

Each New Generation Thinker will have an opportunity to develop their ideas for television, making short films for BBC Arts Online.

A selection of short films made by the 2014 intake are available at

20 May 2015

New Academy will improve the detection of rare life threatening disease

Scientists from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have joined forces with renowned researchers from across the globe to launch a pioneering facility that aims to improve the diagnosis of a rare life threatening blood disease.

The National Academy of Clinical Flow Cytometry, which will be based at the University, will help to train scientists in the detection and monitoring of Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria (PNH) to ensure the disease is diagnosed as early as possible.

PHN is a rare, life threatening, genetic condition that affects around two people in every million. The condition can occur at any age and is characterised by the destruction of red blood cells by part of the body’s immune system that leads to a high risk of thrombosis.

The National Academy, funded by Alexion UK, will be led by Professor David Barnett from the University of Sheffield and his internationally respected team from UK NEQAS for Leucocyte Immunophenotyping at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Barnett and his team will teach clinical healthcare scientists across the country how to implement best practices for PNH testing.

It is envisaged by improving both the knowledge and skills of healthcare scientists there will be a dramatic advancement in the diagnosis and monitoring of PNH leading to standardisation of testing procedures at a national and ultimately international level.

The Academy will also seek to address training where clinical flow cytometry is used in other diseases such as leukaemia diagnosis and HIV monitoring. As a result the Academy will have a positive benefit for the treatment and management of thousands of patients suffering from all these conditions across the UK and beyond.