skip to content

Centre of African Studies

 

Galaxy mergers solve early Universe mystery

University News - Thu, 18/01/2024 - 16:28

This has solved one of the most puzzling mysteries in astronomy – why astronomers detect light from hydrogen atoms that should have been entirely blocked by the pristine gas that formed after the Big Bang.

These new observations have found small, faint objects surrounding the galaxies that show the ‘inexplicable’ hydrogen emission. In conjunction with state-of-the-art simulations of galaxies in the early Universe, the observations have shown that the chaotic merging of these neighbouring galaxies is the source of this hydrogen emission. The results are reported in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Light travels at a finite speed (300 000 km a second), which means that the further away a galaxy is, the longer it has taken the light from it to reach our Solar System. As a result, not only do observations of the most distant galaxies probe the far reaches of the Universe, but they also allow us to study the Universe as it was in the past.

To study the early Universe, astronomers require exceptionally powerful telescopes that are capable of observing very distant – and therefore very faint – galaxies. One of Webb’s key capabilities is its ability to observe these galaxies, and probe the early history of the Universe.

The earliest galaxies were sites of vigorous and active star formation, and were rich sources of a type of light emitted by hydrogen atoms called Lyman-α emission. However, during the epoch of reionisation, an immense amount of neutral hydrogen gas surrounded these stellar nurseries. Furthermore, the space between galaxies was filled by more of this neutral gas than is the case today. The gas can effectively absorb and scatter this kind of hydrogen emission, so astronomers have long predicted that the abundant Lyman-α emission released in the early Universe should not be observable today.

This theory has not always stood up to scrutiny, however, as examples of early hydrogen emission have previously been observed by astronomers. This has presented a mystery: how is it that this hydrogen emission – which should have long since been absorbed or scattered – is being observed?

“One of the most puzzling issues that previous observations presented was the detection of light from hydrogen atoms in the very early Universe, which should have been entirely blocked by the pristine neutral gas that was formed after the Big Bang,” said lead author Callum Witten from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. “Many hypotheses have previously been suggested to explain the great escape of this ‘inexplicable’ emission.”

The team’s breakthrough came thanks to Webb’s combination of angular resolution and sensitivity. The observations with Webb’s NIRCam instrument were able to resolve smaller, fainter galaxies that surround the bright galaxies from which the ‘inexplicable’ hydrogen emission had been detected. In other words, the surroundings of these galaxies appear to be a much busier place than we previously thought, filled with small, faint galaxies.

These smaller galaxies were interacting and merging with one another, and Webb has revealed that galaxy mergers play an important role in explaining the mystery emission from the earliest galaxies.

“Where Hubble was seeing only a large galaxy, Webb sees a cluster of smaller interacting galaxies, and this revelation has had a huge impact on our understanding of the unexpected hydrogen emission from some of the first galaxies,” said co-author Sergio Martin-Alvarez from Stanford University.

The team then used computer simulations to explore the physical processes that might explain their results. They found that the rapid build-up of stellar mass through galaxy mergers both drove strong hydrogen emission and facilitated the escape of that radiation via channels cleared of the abundant neutral gas. So, the high merger rate of the previously unobserved smaller galaxies presented a compelling solution to the long-standing puzzle of the ‘inexplicable’ early hydrogen emission.

The team is planning follow-up observations with galaxies at various stages of merging, to continue to develop their understanding of how the hydrogen emission is ejected from these changing systems. Ultimately, this will enable them to improve our understanding of galaxy evolution.

Reference:
Callum Witten et al. ‘Deciphering Lyman-α emission deep into the epoch of reionization.’ Nature Astronomy (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-023-02179-3

Adapted from an ESA press release.

A team of astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, has used the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to reveal, for the first time, what lies in the local environment of galaxies in the very early Universe.

ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, S. Finkelstein (UT Austin), M. Bagley (UT Austin), R. Larson (UT Austin), A. Pagan (STScI), C. Witten, M. Zooming in on three neighbouring galaxies (NIRCam image)


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

New admissions tests for 2024

University News - Thu, 18/01/2024 - 10:11

Cambridge and Imperial will provide two sets of tests. The Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT) will be used for degree programmes in Engineering, Natural Sciences, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge, and Physics and most Engineering degrees at Imperial.

The Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) will be used for Economics and Computer Science degrees at Cambridge, and both the Economics, Finance and Data Science and Computing degrees at Imperial. A number of other UK universities will also use the TMUA for assessing applications for mathematically-based courses.

Pearson VUE is the certification and licensure arm of Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, providing assessment services to many institutions in the academic and admissions space. From October 2024 students will take a new computer based assessment at a Pearson VUE test centre, selecting from a global network of more than 5,500 locations in more than 180 countries. Mike Nicholson, Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Participation at Cambridge said “We are delighted to be able to provide computer based admissions tests from 2024, and in locations that take the burden off teachers and schools to act as test centres.”

Cambridge and Imperial will also be using the UCAT assessment for admission to their medical degrees from 2024, also provided through Pearson VUE, and Cambridge will continue to use the LNAT test for Law admissions.

Applicants will be required to pay an administration charge to take the tests, in line with other comparable institutions, but a fee waiver will be applied for UK-based applicants who are eligible for free school meals or who meet a number of other widening participation criteria. Nicholson added that “It is important that cost is not a barrier to participation, and the model we are using for the fee waivers has been successfully used for other admissions tests supported by Pearson”.

Lizzie Burrows, Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions at Imperial said “The applicant experience is at the heart of our ambitions. With the number of applications expected to continue to rise over coming years, universities need to find ways to fairly select the best candidates while minimising the burden on our applicants.”

We hope that these tests, operating through Pearson VUE’s well established test centre network  will encourage other universities to use the TMUA and ESAT as assessments and streamline the admissions process for students.”

To attract a wider range of applicants the TMUA and ESAT will run test-sittings in mid-October 2024 and early January 2025 to reflect the two main deadlines for courses in the UCAS admissions process. Applicants to Cambridge must take the Autumn sitting.

Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President EMEA and Asia at Pearson VUE, commented “As academic settings and admissions programmes continue to evolve in an increasingly digital world, computer-based assessments drive greater efficiencies. We look forward to collaborating with Imperial and Cambridge on this transition and supporting applicants to these world-leading universities in proving their potential.’’ 

More information can be found here.

The University of Cambridge and Imperial College London are to launch a new joint venture to deliver admissions tests for science, engineering and mathematics based degree courses. The tests, which will be delivered by global assessments leader, Pearson VUE, aim to improve the experience of students applying for highly competitive undergraduate courses while helping universities to fairly assess the skills of the brightest applicants. 

We are delighted to be able to provide computer based admissions tests from 2024Mike NicholsonSenate House


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

‘Mini-placentas’ help scientists understand the causes of pre-eclampsia and pregnancy disorders

University News - Wed, 17/01/2024 - 16:00

The study, published today in Cell Stem Cell, shows that it is possible to experiment on a developing human placenta, rather than merely observe specimens, in order to study major disorders of pregnancy.

Successful pregnancy depends on the development of the placenta in the first few weeks of gestation. During this period, the placenta implants itself into the endometrium – the mucosal lining of the mother’s uterus.

Interactions between the cells of the endometrium and the cells of the placenta are critical to whether a pregnancy is successful. In particular, these interactions are essential to increase the maternal blood supply to the placenta, necessary for fetal growth and development.

When these interactions do not work properly, they can lead to complications, such as pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia occurs in around six in 100 first pregnancies and can put at risk the health of both the mother and the baby.

Professor Ashley Moffett from the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge said: “Most of the major disorders of pregnancy – pre-eclampsia, still birth, growth restriction, for example – depend on failings in the way the placenta develops in the first few weeks. This is a process that is incredibly difficult to study – the period after implantation, when the placenta embeds itself into the endometrium, is often described as a ‘black box of human development’.

“Over the past few years, many scientists – including several at Cambridge – have developed embryo-like models to help us understand early pre-implantation development. But further development is impeded because we understand so little about the interactions between the placenta and the uterus.”

Professor Moffett and colleagues at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, Switzerland, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, have used ‘mini-placentas’ – a cellular model of the early stages of the placenta – to provide a window into early pregnancy and help improve our understanding of reproductive disorders. Known as ‘trophoblast organoids’, these are grown from placenta cells and model the early placenta so closely that they have previously been shown to record a positive response on an over-the-counter pregnancy test.

In previous work, Professor Moffett and colleagues identified genes that increase the risk of or protect against conditions such as pre-eclampsia. These highlighted the important role of immune cells uniquely found in the uterus, known as ‘uterine natural killer cells’, which cluster in the lining of the womb at the site where the placenta implants. These cells mediate the interactions between the endometrium and the cells of the placenta.

In their new study, her team applied proteins secreted by the uterine natural killer cells to the trophoblast organoids so that they could mimic the conditions where the placenta implants itself. They identified particular proteins that were crucial to helping the organoids develop. These proteins will contribute to successful implantation, allowing the placenta to invade the uterus and transform the mother’s arteries.

“This is the only time that we know of where a normal cell invades and transforms an artery, and these cells are coming from another individual, the baby,” said Professor Moffett, who is also a Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge.

“If the cells aren’t able to invade properly, the arteries in the womb don’t open up and so the placenta – and therefore the baby – are starved of nutrients and oxygen. That's why you get problems later on in pregnancy, when there just isn't enough blood to feed the baby and it either dies or is very tiny.”

The researchers also found several genes that regulate blood flow and help with this implantation, which Professor Moffett says provide pointers for future research to better understand pre-eclampsia and similar disorders.

Dr Margherita Turco, from the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland and co-lead of this work, added: “Despite affecting millions of women a year worldwide, we still understand very little about pre-eclampsia. Women usually present with pre-eclampsia at the end of pregnancy, but really to understand it – to predict it and prevent it – we have to look at what's happening in the first few weeks.

“Using ‘mini-placentas’, we can do just that, providing clues as to how and why pre-eclampsia occurs. This has helped us unpick some of the key processes that we should now focus on far more. It shows the power of basic science in helping us understand our fundamental biology, something that we hope will one day make a major difference to the health of mothers and their babies.”

The research was supported by Wellcome, the Royal Society, European Research Council and Medical Research Council.

Reference
Li, Q et al. Human uterine natural killer cells regulate differentiation of extravillous trophoblast early in pregnancy. Cell Stem Cell; 17 Jan 2024; DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2023.12.013

Scientists have grown ‘mini-placentas’ in the lab and used them to shed light on how the placenta develops and interacts with the inner lining of the womb – findings that could help scientists better understand and, in future, potentially treat pre-eclampsia.

Most of the major disorders of pregnancy – pre-eclampsia, still birth, growth restriction, for example – depend on failings in the way the placenta develops in the first few weeks. This is a process that is incredibly difficult to study.Ashley MoffettFriedrich Miescher Institute/University of CambridgePlacental organoid (circle in the centre). Trophoblast cells are invading out of the organoid, mimicking placental cells invading the uterus in the early weeks of pregnancy.


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Astronomers detect oldest black hole ever observed

University News - Wed, 17/01/2024 - 15:59

The international team, led by the University of Cambridge, used the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to detect the black hole, which dates from 400 million years after the big bang, more than 13 billion years ago. The results, which lead author Professor Roberto Maiolino says are “a giant leap forward”, are reported in the journal Nature.

That this surprisingly massive black hole – a few million times the mass of our Sun – even exists so early in the universe challenges our assumptions about how black holes form and grow. Astronomers believe that the supermassive black holes found at the centre of galaxies like the Milky Way grew to their current size over billions of years. But the size of this newly-discovered black hole suggests that they might form in other ways: they might be ‘born big’ or they can eat matter at a rate that’s five times higher than had been thought possible.

According to standard models, supermassive black holes form from the remnants of dead stars, which collapse and may form a black hole about a hundred times the mass of the Sun. If it grew in an expected way, this newly-detected black hole would take about a billion years to grow to its observed size. However, the universe was not yet a billion years old when this black hole was detected.

“It’s very early in the universe to see a black hole this massive, so we’ve got to consider other ways they might form,” said Maiolino, from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and Kavli Institute for Cosmology. “Very early galaxies were extremely gas-rich, so they would have been like a buffet for black holes.”

Like all black holes, this young black hole is devouring material from its host galaxy to fuel its growth. Yet, this ancient black hole is found to gobble matter much more vigorously than its siblings at later epochs.

The young host galaxy, called GN-z11, glows from such an energetic black hole at its centre. Black holes cannot be directly observed, but instead they are detected by the tell-tale glow of a swirling accretion disc, which forms near the edges of a black hole. The gas in the accretion disc becomes extremely hot and starts to glow and radiate energy in the ultraviolet range. This strong glow is how astronomers are able to detect black holes.

GN-z11 is a compact galaxy, about one hundred times smaller than the Milky Way, but the black hole is likely harming its development. When black holes consume too much gas, it pushes the gas away like an ultra-fast wind. This ‘wind’ could stop the process of star formation, slowly killing the galaxy, but it will also kill the black hole itself, as it would also cut off the black hole’s source of ‘food’.

Maiolino says that the gigantic leap forward provided by JWST makes this the most exciting time in his career. “It’s a new era: the giant leap in sensitivity, especially in the infrared, is like upgrading from Galileo’s telescope to a modern telescope overnight,” he said. “Before Webb came online, I thought maybe the universe isn’t so interesting when you go beyond what we could see with the Hubble Space Telescope. But that hasn’t been the case at all: the universe has been quite generous in what it’s showing us, and this is just the beginning.”

Maiolino says that the sensitivity of JWST means that even older black holes may be found in the coming months and years. Maiolino and his team are hoping to use future observations from JWST to try to find smaller ‘seeds’ of black holes, which may help them untangle the different ways that black holes might form: whether they start out large or they grow fast.

The research was supported in part by the European Research Council, the Royal Society, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

 

Reference:
Roberto Maiolino et al. ‘A small and vigorous black hole in the early Universe.’ Nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07052-5

Researchers have discovered the oldest black hole ever observed, dating from the dawn of the universe, and found that it is ‘eating’ its host galaxy to death.

It’s a new era: the giant leap in sensitivity, especially in the infrared, is like upgrading from Galileo’s telescope to a modern telescope overnightRoberto MaiolinoNASA, ESA, and P. Oesch (Yale University)The GN-z11 galaxy, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

YesLicence type: Public Domain

Role of inherited genetic variants in rare blood cancer uncovered

University News - Wed, 17/01/2024 - 10:03

Large-scale genetic analysis has helped researchers uncover the interplay between cancer-driving genetic mutations and inherited genetic variants in a rare type of blood cancer.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, Wellcome Sanger Institute, and collaborators, combined various comprehensive data sets to understand the impact of both cancer-driving spontaneous mutations and inherited genetic variation on the risk of developing myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).

The study, published today in the journal Nature Genetics, describes how inherited genetic variants can influence whether a spontaneous mutation in a particular gene increases the risk of developing this rare blood cancer.

This analysis has an impact on current clinical predictions of disease development in individuals. Further research is required to understand the biological mechanisms behind how these inherited genetic variants influence the chances of developing rare blood cancer. In the future, this knowledge could aid drug development and interventions that reduce the risk of disease.

Myeloproliferative neoplasms, MPNs, are a group of rare, chronic, blood cancers. There are around 4,000 cases of MPN in the UK each year. These occur when the bone marrow overproduces blood cells, which can result in blood clots and bleeding. MPNs can also progress into other forms of blood cancer, such as leukaemia.

In the population, there is a large amount of natural variation between individuals’ blood cells, which can affect the amount of blood cells a person has and their particular traits. This is because multiple different genes can influence blood cell features in an individual. During routine blood tests, researchers take known information about these genes and analyse the variation to give a genetic risk score, which is how likely that individual is to develop a disease over their lifetime.  

MPNs have been linked to random somatic mutations in certain genes including in a gene called JAK2. However, mutated JAK2 is commonly found in the global population, and the vast majority of these individuals do not have or go on to develop MPN.

Whilst previous studies have identified over a dozen associated inherited genetic variants that increase the risk of MPN, these studies insufficiently explain why most individuals in the population do not go on to develop MPN.

This new study, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and collaborators, combined information on the known somatic driver mutations in MPN, inherited genetic variants, and genetic risk scores from individuals with MPN.

They found that the inherited variants that cause natural blood cell variation in the population also impact whether a JAK2 somatic mutation will go on to cause MPN.  They also found that individuals with an inherited risk of having a higher blood cell count could display MPN features in the absence of cancer-driving mutations, thus, mimicking disease.

Dr Jing Guo, from the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute and first author of the study, said: “Our large-scale statistical study has helped fill the knowledge gaps in how variants in DNA, both inherited and somatic, interact to influence complex disease risk. By combining these three different types of datasets we were able to get a more complete picture of how these variants combine to cause blood disorders.”

Professor Nicole Soranzo, co-senior author from the University of Cambridge, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Human Technopole, Italy, said: “There has been increasing realisation that human diseases have complex causes involving a combination of common and rare inherited genetic variants with different severity.

“We have previously shown that variation in blood cell parameters and function has complex genetic variability by highlighting thousands of genetic changes that affect different gene functions. Here, we show for the first time that common variants in these genes also affect blood cancers, independent of causative somatic mutations. This confirms a new important contribution of normal variability beyond complex disease, contributing to our understanding of myeloproliferative neoplasms and blood cancer more generally.”

Dr Jyoti Nangalia, co-senior author from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “We have a good understanding of the genetic causes of myeloproliferative neoplasms. In fact, many of these genetic mutations are routine diagnostic tests in the clinic. However, these mutations can often be found in healthy individuals without the disease.

“Our study helps us understand how inherited DNA variation from person to person can interact with cancer-causing mutations to determine whether disease occurs in the first place, and how this can alter the type of any subsequent disease that emerges. Our hope is that this information can be incorporated into future disease prediction efforts.”  

This research was funded by Cancer Research UK and Wellcome.

Reference

J. Guo, K. Walter, P. M. Quiros, et al. ‘Inherited polygenic effects on common hematological traits influence clonal selection on JAK2V617F and the development of myeloproliferative neoplasms.’ Jan 2024,  Nature Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/s41588-023-01638-x

Adapted from a press release by the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Combining three different sources of genetic information has allowed researchers to further understand why only some people with a common mutation go on to develop rare blood cancer

Our hope is that this information can be incorporated into future disease prediction effortsJyoti NangaliaPhoto by Sangharsh Lohakare on UnsplashDNA


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

YesLicence type: Attribution-Noncommerical

Significant gaps in COVID-19 vaccine uptake may have led to over 7,000 hospitalisations and deaths

University News - Mon, 15/01/2024 - 23:30

The findings, published today in The Lancet, suggest that more than 7,000 hospitalisations and deaths might have been averted in summer 2022 if the UK had had better vaccine coverage.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise and a new variant strain recently identified, this research provides a timely insight into vaccine uptake and hesitancy and could inform policy-makers.

The research relied on secure access to anonymised health data for everyone in all four nations of the UK, an advance which has only become possible during the pandemic.

Co-author Angela Wood, Professor of Health Data Science at the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Heart & Lung Research Institute, University of Cambridge and Associate Director of the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre said: “This is the first epidemiological study to use individual-level anonymised health data covering the entire UK population. We have created a detailed, UK-wide picture of who is under-vaccinated against COVID-19 and the associated risks of under-vaccination.

“These results can be used to help create health policy and public health interventions to improve vaccine uptake. This approach could be extended to many other areas of medicine with great potential for new discoveries in the understanding and treatment of disease.”

Early COVID-19 vaccine rollout began strongly in the UK, with over 90% of the population over the age of 12 vaccinated with at least one dose by January 2022. However, rates of subsequent booster doses across the UK were not fully understood until now.

Scientists from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – led by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the University of Edinburgh – studied securely-held, routinely collected NHS data from everyone over five years of age during 1 June to 30 September 2022. All data was de-identified and available only to approved researchers.

Data from across the four countries was then pooled and harmonised, a feat that was not possible until now. People were grouped by vaccine status, with under-vaccination defined as not having had all doses of a vaccine for which that a person was eligible.

The findings reveal that the proportion of people who were under-vaccinated on 1 June 2022 ranged between one third and one half of the population – 45.7% for England, 49.8% for Northern Ireland, 34.2% for Scotland and 32.8% Wales.

Mathematical modelling indicated that 7,180 hospitalisations and deaths out of around 40,400 severe COVID-19 outcomes during four months in summer 2022 might have been averted, if the UK population was fully vaccinated.

Under-vaccination was related to significantly more hospitalisations and deaths across all age groups studied, with under-vaccinated people over 75 more than twice as likely to have a severe COVID-19 outcome than those who were fully protected.

The highest rates of under-vaccination were found in younger people, men, people in areas of higher deprivation, and people of non-white ethnicity.

Researchers say the study – the largest ever study carried out in the UK – also ushers in a new era for UK science by overcoming challenges in uniting NHS data that is gathered and stored in different ways between devolved nations.

Professor Cathie Sudlow, Chief Scientist at Health Data Research UK and Director of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Data Science Centre, said: “The infrastructure now exists to make full use of the potential of routinely collected data in the NHS across the four nations of the UK. We believe that we could and should extend these approaches to many other areas of medicine, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes to search for better understanding, prevention and treatment of disease."

Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh, Director of the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh, HDR UK Research Director and study co-lead, said: “Large-scale data studies have been critical to pandemic management, allowing scientists to make policy-relevant findings at speed. COVID-19 vaccines save lives. As new variants emerge, this study will help to pinpoint groups of our society and areas of the country where public health campaigns should be focused and tailored for those communities.”

Reference
HDR UK COALESCE Consortium. Undervaccination and severe COVID-19 outcomes: meta-analysis of national cohort studies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Lancet; 16 Jan 2024; DOI: 0.1016/S0140-6736(23)02622-3

Adapted from a release from HDR-UK

Between a third and a half of the populations of the four UK nations had not had the recommended number of COVID vaccinations and boosters by summer 2022, according to the first research study to look at COVID-19 vaccine coverage of the entire UK population.

These results can be used to help create health policy and public health interventions to improve vaccine uptakeAngela WoodKoldoyChris (Getty Images)Girl being injected with COVID-19 vaccine


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Accelerating how new drugs are made with machine learning

University News - Mon, 15/01/2024 - 10:05

Predicting how molecules will react is vital for the discovery and manufacture of new pharmaceuticals, but historically this has been a trial-and-error process, and the reactions often fail. To predict how molecules will react, chemists usually simulate electrons and atoms in simplified models, a process that is computationally expensive and often inaccurate.

Now, researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a data-driven approach, inspired by genomics, where automated experiments are combined with machine learning to understand chemical reactivity, greatly speeding up the process. They’ve called their approach, which was validated on a dataset of more than 39,000 pharmaceutically relevant reactions, the chemical ‘reactome’.

Their results, reported in the journal Nature Chemistry, are the product of a collaboration between Cambridge and Pfizer.

“The reactome could change the way we think about organic chemistry,” said Dr Emma King-Smith from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, the paper’s first author. “A deeper understanding of the chemistry could enable us to make pharmaceuticals and so many other useful products much faster. But more fundamentally, the understanding we hope to generate will be beneficial to anyone who works with molecules.”

The reactome approach picks out relevant correlations between reactants, reagents, and performance of the reaction from the data, and points out gaps in the data itself. The data is generated from very fast, or high throughput, automated experiments.

“High throughput chemistry has been a game-changer, but we believed there was a way to uncover a deeper understanding of chemical reactions than what can be observed from the initial results of a high throughput experiment,” said King-Smith.

“Our approach uncovers the hidden relationships between reaction components and outcomes,” said Dr Alpha Lee, who led the research. “The dataset we trained the model on is massive – it will help bring the process of chemical discovery from trial-and-error to the age of big data.”

In a related paper, published in Nature Communications, the team developed a machine learning approach that enables chemists to introduce precise transformations to pre-specified regions of a molecule, enabling faster drug design.

The approach allows chemists to tweak complex molecules – like a last-minute design change – without having to make them from scratch. Making a molecule in the lab is typically a multi-step process, like building a house. If chemists want to vary the core of a molecule, the conventional way is to rebuild the molecule, like knocking the house down and rebuilding from scratch. However, core variations are important to medicine design.

A class of reactions, known as late-stage functionalisation reactions, attempts to directly introduce chemical transformations to the core, avoiding the need to start from scratch. However, it is challenging to make late-stage functionalisation selective and controlled – there are typically many regions of the molecules that can react, and it is difficult to predict the outcome.

“Late-stage functionalisations can yield unpredictable results and current methods of modelling, including our own expert intuition, isn't perfect,” said King-Smith. “A more predictive model would give us the opportunity for better screening.”

The researchers developed a machine learning model that predicts where a molecule would react, and how the site of reaction vary as a function of different reaction conditions. This enables chemists to find ways to precisely tweak the core of a molecule.

“We trained the model on a large body of spectroscopic data – effectively teaching the model general chemistry – before fine-tuning it to predict these intricate transformations,” said King-Smith. This approach allowed the team to overcome the limitation of low data: there are relatively few late-stage functionalisation reactions reported in the scientific literature. The team experimentally validated the model on a diverse set of drug-like molecules and was able to accurately predict the sites of reactivity under different conditions.

“The application of machine learning to chemistry is often throttled by the problem that the amount of data is small compared to the vastness of chemical space,” said Lee. “Our approach – designing models that learn from large datasets that are similar but not the same as the problem we are trying to solve – resolves this fundamental low-data challenge and could unlock advances beyond late-stage functionalisation.”  

The research was supported in part by Pfizer and the Royal Society.

References:
Emma King-Smith et al. ‘Predictive Minisci Late Stage Functionalization with Transfer Learning.’ Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-42145-1

Emma King-Smith et al. ‘Probing the Chemical "Reactome" with High Throughput Experimentation Data.’ Nature Chemistry (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-023-01393-w

Researchers have developed a platform that combines automated experiments with AI to predict how chemicals will react with one another, which could accelerate the design process for new drugs.

A deeper understanding of the chemistry could enable us to make pharmaceuticals and so many other useful products much faster. Emma King-SmithBlackJack3D via Getty ImagesDigital Molecular Structure Concept


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Feeling depressed linked to short-term increase in bodyweight among people with overweight or obesity

University News - Wed, 10/01/2024 - 19:00

The study, published today in PLOS ONE, found that the increase was only seen among people with overweight or obesity, but found no link between generally having greater symptoms of depression and higher bodyweight.

Research has suggested a connection between weight and mental health – with each potentially influencing the other – but the relationship is complex and remains poorly understood, particularly in relation to how changes in an individual’s mental health influence their bodyweight over time.

To help answer this question, researchers at Cambridge’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit examined data from over 2,000 adults living in Cambridgeshire, UK, who had been recruited to the Fenland COVID-19 Study.

Participants completed digital questionnaires on mental wellbeing and bodyweight every month for up to nine months during the COVID-19 pandemic (August 2020 – April 2021) using a mobile app developed by Huma Therapeutics Limited.

Questions assessed an individual’s symptoms of depression, anxiety and perceived stress. A higher score indicated greater severity, with the maximum possible scores being 24 for depression, 21 for anxiety and 40 for stress. The team then used statistical modelling to explore whether having poorer mental wellbeing than usual was related to changes in bodyweight one month later.

The researchers found that for every increment increase in an individual’s usual score for depressive symptoms, their subsequent weight one month later increased by 45g. This may seem small but would mean, for example, that in an individual whose depressive symptoms score rose from five to 10 (equal to an increase from ‘mild’ to ‘moderate’ depressive symptoms) it would relate to an average weight gain of 225g (0.225kg).

This effect was only observed in those individuals with overweight (defined as BMI 25-29.9kg/m2) or with obesity (BMI of over 30kg/m2). Individuals with overweight had on average an increase of 52g for each increment point increase from their usual depressive symptoms score and for those with obesity the comparable weight gain was 71g. The effect was not seen in those individuals with a healthy weight.

First author Dr Julia Mueller from the MRC Epidemiology Unit said: “Overall, this suggests that individuals with overweight or obesity are more vulnerable to weight gain in response to feeling more depressed. Although the weight gain was relatively small, even small weight changes occurring over short periods of time can lead to larger weight changes in the long-term, particularly among those with overweight and obesity.

“People with a high BMI are already at greater risk from other health conditions, so this could potentially lead to a further deterioration in their health. Monitoring and addressing depressive symptoms in individuals with overweight or obesity could help prevent further weight gain and be beneficial to both their mental and physical health.”

The researchers found no evidence that perceived stress or anxiety were related to changes in weight.

Senior author Dr Kirsten Rennie from the MRC Epidemiology Unit said: “Apps on our phones make it possible for people to answer short questions at home more frequently and over extended periods of time, which provides much more information about their wellbeing. This technology could help us understand how changes in mental health influence behaviour among people with overweight or obesity and offer ways to develop timely interventions when needed.”

Although previous studies have suggested that poor mental health is both a cause and consequence of obesity, the research team found no evidence that weight predicted subsequent symptoms of depression.

The research was supported by the Medical Research Council.

Reference
Mueller, J et al. The relationship of within-individual and between-individual variation in mental health with bodyweight: An exploratory longitudinal study. PLOS ONE; 10 Jan 2024; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0295117

Increases in symptoms of depression are associated with a subsequent increase in bodyweight when measured one month later, new research from the University of Cambridge has found.

i yunmaiPerson standing on white digital bathroom scale


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

YesLicence type: Public Domain

Mysterious missing component in the clouds of Venus revealed

University News - Tue, 09/01/2024 - 10:05

What are the clouds of Venus made of? Scientists know they are mainly made of sulfuric acid droplets, with some water, chlorine, and iron. Their concentrations vary with height in the thick and hostile Venusian atmosphere. But until now they have been unable to identify the missing component that would explain the clouds’ patches and streaks, only visible in the UV range.

In a study published in Science Advances, researchers from the University of Cambridge synthesised iron-bearing sulfate minerals that are stable under the harsh chemical conditions in the Venusian clouds. Spectroscopic analysis revealed that a combination of two minerals, rhomboclase and acid ferric sulfate, can explain the mysterious UV absorption feature on our neighbouring planet.

“The only available data for the composition of the clouds were collected by probes and revealed strange properties of the clouds that so far we have been unable to fully explain,” said Paul Rimmer from the Cavendish Laboratory and co-author of the study. “In particular, when examined under UV light, the Venusian clouds featured a specific UV absorption pattern. What elements, compounds, or minerals are responsible for such observation?”

Formulated on the basis of Venusian atmospheric chemistry, the team synthesised several iron-bearing sulfate minerals in an aqueous geochemistry laboratory in the Department of Earth Sciences. By suspending the synthesised materials in varying concentrations of sulfuric acid and monitor the chemical and mineralogical changes, the team narrowed down the candidate minerals to rhomboclase and acid ferric sulfate, of which the spectroscopic features were examined under light sources specifically designed to mimic the spectrum of solar flares (Rimmer’s FlareLab; Cavendish Laboratory).

Researchers from Harvard University provided measurements of the UV absorbance patterns of ferric iron under extreme acidic conditions, in an attempt to mimic the even more extreme Venusian clouds. The scientists are part of the newly-established Origins Federation, which promotes such collaborative projects.

“The patterns and level of absorption shown by the combination of these two mineral phases are consistent with the dark UV-patches observed in Venusian clouds,” said co-author Clancy Zhijian Jiang, from the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge. “These targeted experiments revealed the intricate chemical network within the atmosphere, and shed light on the elemental cycling on the Venusian surface.”

“Venus is our nearest neighbour, but it remains a mystery,” said Rimmer. “We will have a chance to learn much more about this planet in the coming years with future NASA and ESA missions set to explore its atmosphere, clouds and surface. This study prepares the grounds for these future explorations.”

The research was supported by the Simons Foundation, and the Origins Federation.

Reference:
Clancy Zhijian Jiang et al., ‘Iron-sulfur chemistry can explain the ultraviolet absorber in the clouds of Venus.’ Science Advances (2024). DOI:10.1126/sciadv.adg8826

Researchers may have identified the missing component in the chemistry of the Venusian clouds that would explain their colour and 'splotchiness' in the UV range, solving a longstanding mystery.

FreelanceImages/Universal Images Group/Science Photo Library via Getty ImagesSunrise over Venus


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

New trial of 'pill-on-a-thread' brings screening for oesophageal cancer closer

University News - Tue, 09/01/2024 - 08:53

The capsule sponge, known as the pill-on-a-thread, is a quick and simple test for Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that can be a precursor to cancer. Heartburn is a common symptom of Barrett’s oesophagus, a changing of cells in the food pipe.  

The BEST4 trial launched at Addenbrooke’s Hospital today is the final step to see if the capsule sponge can prevent oesophageal cancer when used to screen or monitor those most at risk of the disease. If so, it could become a national screening programme across the NHS, in the same way mammograms are used to screen for breast cancer.

The first stage of the trial, BEST4 Surveillance, is for people already diagnosed with Barrett’s oesophagus. It will look at whether the capsule sponge test could replace endoscopies to monitor their condition. Participants will receive both examinations during the trial with results used to assess their risk of developing oesophageal cancer. 

The second stage of the trial, BEST4 Screening, opens in the summer and will recruit 120,000 people aged over 55 on long-term treatment for heartburn.

The multi-million-pound trial is jointly funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Research. It builds on decades of research led by Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald from the University of Cambridge. She and a team of scientists, clinicians and nurses at the Early Cancer Institute, University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, invented and refined the capsule sponge test.

Professor Fitzgerald said: “The capsule sponge, a quick and simple test for Barrett’s oesophagus, could halve the number of deaths from oesophageal cancer every year. Cases of oesophageal cancer have increased six fold since the 1990s.  On average only 12% of patients live more than five years after diagnosis. Most don’t realise there’s a problem until they have trouble swallowing. By then it is too late.

“The first phase of the trial looks at whether the capsule sponge can be used as a cancer early warning system for patients diagnosed with Barrett’s. Using the capsule sponge and a new set of lab tests, we will be monitoring patients to see if we can prevent more cases of cancer.”

Tim Cowper, 49, a brewer from Cambridge, has had acid reflux, or heartburn, every night since he was 16. A routine health check while he was at university resulted in the shock diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus. After his diagnosis, he has been monitored ever since.

Tim said: “I was alarmed when I was told that having Barrett’s meant having pre-cancerous cells in my gullet. Cancer is never a nice word to hear, especially when you are so young, but luckily, I’ve had my condition monitored.

“Since my diagnosis, I’ve been going for an endoscopy at least once every three years to monitor my oesophagus. It is not pleasant at all. Each time I have a thick tube pushed down through my mouth and I can feel every single one of the biopsies taken by the camera. Swallowing a capsule sponge is a much better experience and I now get the test before my regular endoscopy appointment.”

Barrett’s oesophagus is currently identified via an endoscopy and a biopsy in hospital following a GP referral. It is time-consuming, unpleasant, and quite invasive for patients, as well as being expensive for the healthcare system.

The capsule sponge is a small, easy to swallow capsule on a thread, which contains a sponge. The patient swallows the capsule which dissolves in the stomach and the sponge expands to the size of a 50p coin.

The sponge is carefully pulled back up using the string, collecting cells for laboratory testing. The test takes just 10 minutes and can be done in a GP surgery.

Cancer Research UK and others have funded several successful clinical trials to demonstrate that the test is safe, accurate and can detect 10 times more cases of Barrett’s oesophagus than standard practice.

The test is faster and cheaper than endoscopy, which is currently used to diagnose and monitor Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer. It has been piloted in health services in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland for patients who are currently on waiting lists for endoscopy because they have long-term heartburn or diagnosed with Barrett’s oesophagus.

Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK, Dr Iain Foulkes, said: “Around 59% of all oesophageal cancer cases are preventable. Yet endoscopy, the gold standard for diagnosing and treating this cancer, is labour-intensive. We need better tools and tests to monitor people most at risk.

“Backed by funding from Cancer Research UK, the capsule sponge has become one of the most exciting early detection tools to emerge in recent years. It’s a remarkable invention by Professor Fitzgerald and her team, and previous trials have shown how powerful it can be in identifying cancer earlier.

“There are 9,200 people diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK every year and the capsule sponge will mean they can benefit from kinder treatment options, if their cancer is caught at a much earlier stage.”

The future Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital will bring together clinical and research expertise, including Professor Fitzgerald’s work, under one roof.  It will enable the development and discovery of more non-invasive devices like the capsule sponge, to detect cancer earlier, and save more lives.

The BEST4 Surveillance Trial is led from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge, with trial design, coordination and analysis of results by the Cancer Research UK Cancer Prevention Trials Unit at Queen Mary University of London.

Further information about the BEST4 trial.

Adapted from a press release from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

A man from Cambridge is the first to join the surveillance part of a clinical trial that could see routine screening for oesophageal cancer introduced into the NHS, potentially halving deaths from this cancer every year.

The capsule sponge, a quick and simple test for Barrett’s oesophagus, could halve the number of deaths from oesophageal cancer every yearRebecca Fitzgerald


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified. All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Pioneering transplant surgeon Sir Roy Calne dies aged 93

University News - Mon, 08/01/2024 - 09:26

Professor Calne pursued a career as a transplant surgeon after his experience as a medical student at Guy’s Hospital in the 1950s, when he was told there was nothing that could be done for a man dying of kidney failure.

He was appointed to the position of Professor of Surgery at the University of Cambridge in 1965, where he remained until 1998. He established the kidney transplant programme at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, now part of Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust.

On 2 May 1968, Professor Calne performed the first successful liver transplant in Europe. Almost two decades later, in 1986, he would go on to carry out the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant together with Professor John Wallwork at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

Professor Calne was a pioneer in immunosuppression – the use of drugs to dampen the response of the immune system in order to prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs, a potentially fatal complication. This would go on to revolutionise transplantation. He was among the first to introduce the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporin into routine clinical care, for which he shared the prestigious Lasker Award in 2012.

Despite retiring from the Chair of Surgery at the University of Cambridge in 1998, he continued to perform kidney transplants until well into his seventies, and remained active in research into his eighties.

Professor Deborah Prentice, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “Professor Calne was a true pioneer, driven by the desire to help his patients. His work here in Cambridge as a scientist and clinician has saved many thousands of lives and continues to have a major impact worldwide. We are saddened by his loss and pay tribute to his extraordinary achievements.”

Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Cambridge, added: “Sir Roy was a brilliant man who made a series of major breakthroughs in transplant surgery. His work has transformed the lives of countless patients around the world.”

Professor Calne was a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, from 1965-1998. Following his retirement, he was made an Honorary Fellow. In 2018, he attended celebrations at the College to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his pioneering liver transplant surgery, where he was able to meet patients and colleagues from a career spanning six decades. To mark the anniversary, he helped launch a £250,000 appeal by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust to trial and run a new perfusion machine, which would allow more donated organs to be rendered suitable for transplantation. In 2021, the Addenbrooke’s Transplant Unit was named after him.

Dr Mike More, Chair of CUH, said: “Sir Roy leaves behind a truly amazing legacy and many of our staff will remember him with fondness for his vision and genuine kindness. We will all miss him very much.”

Professor Sir Roy Calne, the pioneering transplant surgeon who carried out the first liver transplant in the UK during his time at Cambridge, has died aged 93.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustProfessor Sir Roy Calne


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Reducing inequality is essential in tackling climate crisis, researchers argue

University News - Tue, 02/01/2024 - 10:32

In a report just published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers argue that tackling inequality is vital in moving the world towards Net-Zero – because inequality constrains who can feasibly adopt low-carbon behaviours.

They say that changes are needed across society if we are to mitigate climate change effectively. Although wealthy people have very large carbon footprints, they often have the means to reduce their carbon footprint more easily than those on lower incomes.

The researchers say there is lack of political recognition of the barriers that can make it difficult for people to change to more climate-friendly behaviours.

They suggest that policymakers provide equal opportunities for low-carbon behaviours across all income brackets of society.

The report defines inequality in various ways: in terms of wealth and income, political influence, free time, and access to low-carbon options such as public transport and housing insulation subsidies.

“It’s increasingly acknowledged that there’s inequality in terms of who causes climate change and who suffers the consequences, but there’s far less attention being paid to the effect of inequality in changing behaviours to reduce carbon emissions,” said Dr Charlotte Kukowski, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Cambridge Departments of Psychology and Zoology, and first author of the report.

She added: “People on lower incomes can be more restricted in the things they can do to help reduce their carbon footprint, in terms of the cost and time associated with doing things differently.”

The researchers found that deep-rooted inequalities can restrict people’s capacity to switch to lower-carbon behaviours in many ways. For example:

Insulating a house in the UK can be costly, and government subsidies are generally only available for homeowners; renters have little control over the houses they live in.

The UK has large numbers of old, badly insulated houses that require more energy to heat than new-build homes. The researchers call for appropriate government schemes that make it more feasible for people in lower income groups to reduce the carbon emissions of their home.

Cooking more meat-free meals: plant-based meat alternatives currently tend to be less affordable than the animal products they are trying to replace.

Eating more plant-based foods instead of meat and animal-derived products is one of the most effective changes an individual can make in reducing their carbon footprint.

Buying an electric car or an electric bike is a substantial upfront cost, and people who aren’t in permanent employment often can’t benefit from tax breaks or financing available through employer schemes.

Other low-carbon transport options - such as using public transport instead of a private car - are made less feasible for many due to poor services, particularly in rural areas.

Sometimes the lower-carbon options are more expensive - and this makes them less accessible to people on lower incomes.

“If you have more money you're likely to cause more carbon emissions, but you're also more likely to have greater ability to change the things you do and reduce those emissions,” said Dr Emma Garnett, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and second author of the report.

She added: “Interventions targeting high-emitting individuals are urgently needed, but also many areas where there are lower-carbon choices - like food and transport - need everyone to be involved.”

The researchers say that campaigns to encourage people to switch to lower-carbon behaviours have tended to focus on providing information. While this is important in helping people understand the issues, there can still be many barriers to making changes.

They suggest a range of policy interventions, such as urban planning to include bus and bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly routes, progressive taxation rates on wealth and income, and employer-subsidised low-carbon meal options.

The research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Wellcome.

Reference: Kukowski, C.A. & Garnett, E.E.: ‘Tackling Inequality is Essential for Behaviour Change for Net Zero.’ Nature Climate Change, December 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-023-01900-4

Promoting climate-friendly behaviours will be more successful in societies where everyone has the capacity: financially, physically, and timewise, to make changes.

People on lower incomes can be more restricted in the things they can do to help reduce their carbon footprint.Charlotte KukowskiRgStudio / GettyBusinesswoman commuting on electric bike


The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

YesLicence type: Attribution

Award winning author and former MPhil in African Studies student Mary Ononokpono talks about how her work has been inspired by our MPhil programme

 

CAS Mailing list