Proximity to Discovery: Transforming Industry Engagement Capability at the University of Bristol

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Technical Summary

The MRC Proximity to Discovery scheme awards universities funds to help develop new collaborations, and ways of exchanging knowledge and skills.  The awards can be used to support activities that promote the value of academic-industry partnership, and enhance academic and industry researchers’ understanding of each other’s needs and capabilities.  This may be through people exchanges, creation of technology demonstrators, showcase events, commercialisation workshops and ‘entrepreneurs in residence’ schemes.  Such exchanges of knowledge and skills will boost the most fruitful collaborations between UK universities and life science companies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description BBSRC IPA (Emma Robinson)
Amount £573,135 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 12/2020
 
Description BBSRC IPA (Richard Apps)
Amount £411,555 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2019
 
Description Innovate UK Investment Accelerator (Adam Perriman)
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 02/2019
 
Description Innovate UK KTP with UCB (Moin Saleem)
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2021
 
Description NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Fellowship
Amount £267,592 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 05/2020
 
Description Big Data in Neurophysiology (Ullrich Bartsch) 
Organisation Eli Lilly & Company Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Big Data in Neurophysiology: hosting a workshop
Collaborator Contribution Big Data in Neurophysiology: industry perspective
Impact - Has created a network of industry and academic partners who are exploring further opportunities for collaboration - Eli Lilly have funded a PhD studentship across the work of Matt Jones and the EPSRC SPHERE project
Start Year 2017
 
Description People Exchange Project with BT and Nokia (Helen Baxter) 
Organisation BT Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This is a unique opportunity for researchers working in the area of urgent care within the Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) to understand more about the implications of the involvement of the telecommunications industry and how we may be able to work in partnership with them to improve healthcare in the broadest sense. Within the department we have very little knowledge of this industry and how the technologies are designed and piloted, which has prevented us from being able to interact with such industry partners. Potential areas for collaboration could be in the use of sensors for diagnosis, pre and post treatment in terms of how data can be managed and collected. How urgent care clinicians use existing technology and how this could be improved upon using by understanding some of the advances coming on to the market. There may be also potential to undertake small studies using our research methodologies to inform the development of some of the technologies being considered or feedback the research evidence to date.
Collaborator Contribution EE has been selected by the Home Office to provide Britain's Emergency Services with a resilient national mobile network, giving 300,000 critical emergency workers access to 4G voice and data for the first time. Thus the telecommunications industry is now a pivotal part of urgent care system across the country. The Government's £1 billion Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) will ensure that Britain is a world leader in Emergency Services communications, and a 4G pioneer. EE already has the UK's biggest and most mature 4G network, and will expand coverage and enhance resilience to meet the Emergency Services' critical communications requirements. One of the applications that the new network will enable for Britain's Emergency Services is for an ambulance crew sending vital patient data on to the hospital to allow staff to make the best preparations for a patient's arrival. British Telecom has recently acquired EE and will be supporting the network for the Emergency services. This company is keen to understand where the telecommunications industry can further assist in the area of healthcare and is keen to work with university partners to understand better the evidence on what the major challenges are. Nokia is a global leader in telecommunication technologies and includes the research and innovation company Bell Labs with UK bases in Cambridge and Dublin. Nokia is currently developing and testing technologies that have the potential to transform how we communicate with each other and how we share information.
Impact NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Fellowship for Helen Baxter
Start Year 2017
 
Description People Exchange Project with Cerevance (James Uney) 
Organisation Cerevance Ltd
PI Contribution Cerevance has worked to optimise and refine the FACS based TRAP technique so it can be applied effectively and reproducibly to human tissue. Furthermore, work on control human samples has also established the tissue requirements for the application of the technique across brain areas that may sometimes contain only a rare representation of the cell type of interest. We wish to work with Cerevance to learn this powerful but technically difficult technique and begin to establish a shared, control set of cell type specific transcriptomic data. To achieve this Cerevance have agreed to host and teach Dr Helen Scott the technique, they will also cover the costs of the reagents for the initial study, which will be carried out on human control PM tissue (already in the Uney Laboratory). From our experience of transferring the previous TRAP technology to Bristol we anticipate Dr Scott will initially spend approximately two, one-week periods at Cerevance Cambridge. During the first visit, she will learn the huTRAP technique at Cerevance and then establish the technique at Bristol. This will entail the purchase of a number of reagents and a new homogenisation system. Once the method has been trialled at Bristol (on animal tissue) she will return to Cerevance Cambridge to complete the analyses on a second set of human control tissue. Together, this will allow us to expand and cover an appropriately powered healthy control cohort across all ages of adult brain from both sexes. We have developed techniques that enable us to evaluate genetic markers of disease in PM disease tissue. Hence, Dr Steven Sheardown from Cerevance will spend time in Bristol, using these techniques to analyse the expression of genes of interests in the PM tissue on rare SCA 1 patients. At the end of this exchange we will isolate and analyse cells from areas of the brain known to be affected in major neurodegenerative diseases from brains donated by patients (with SCA1, Huntington's Chorea and Parkinson's disease) and compare with data obtained from the same area of controls. This will allow us to to identify genes or functional gene networks that lead to the pathological features, symptoms and disease. Ultimately, it is hoped the work will offer a platform for researchers and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole to identify new targets for focused therapies designed to treat major human disease.
Collaborator Contribution Cerevance has worked to optimise and refine the FACS based TRAP technique so it can be applied effectively and reproducibly to human tissue. Furthermore, work on control human samples has also established the tissue requirements for the application of the technique across brain areas that may sometimes contain only a rare representation of the cell type of interest. We wish to work with Cerevance to learn this powerful but technically difficult technique and begin to establish a shared, control set of cell type specific transcriptomic data. To achieve this Cerevance have agreed to host and teach Dr Helen Scott the technique, they will also cover the costs of the reagents for the initial study, which will be carried out on human control PM tissue (already in the Uney Laboratory). From our experience of transferring the previous TRAP technology to Bristol we anticipate Dr Scott will initially spend approximately two, one-week periods at Cerevance Cambridge. During the first visit, she will learn the huTRAP technique at Cerevance and then establish the technique at Bristol. This will entail the purchase of a number of reagents and a new homogenisation system. Once the method has been trialled at Bristol (on animal tissue) she will return to Cerevance Cambridge to complete the analyses on a second set of human control tissue. Together, this will allow us to expand and cover an appropriately powered healthy control cohort across all ages of adult brain from both sexes. We have developed techniques that enable us to evaluate genetic markers of disease in PM disease tissue. Hence, Dr Steven Sheardown from Cerevance will spend time in Bristol, using these techniques to analyse the expression of genes of interests in the PM tissue on rare SCA 1 patients. At the end of this exchange we will isolate and analyse cells from areas of the brain known to be affected in major neurodegenerative diseases from brains donated by patients (with SCA1, Huntington's Chorea and Parkinson's disease) and compare with data obtained from the same area of controls. This will allow us to to identify genes or functional gene networks that lead to the pathological features, symptoms and disease. Ultimately, it is hoped the work will offer a platform for researchers and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole to identify new targets for focused therapies designed to treat major human disease.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2017
 
Description People Exchange Project with Eli Lily (Mike Ashby) 
Organisation Eli Lilly & Company Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our aim with this short-term funding is to facilitate a new combined experimental approach that brings together different expertise that is separately within University of Bristol and within Eli Lilly. By spending time at Lilly, James Johnson will learn tissue clearing and imaging approaches and transfer that knowledge back to Bristol, so it can be established here as new research strand for the University. The transfer of technical expertise will then open a new collaborative pipeline between Bristol and Lilly that can be used for various ongoing (in the Ashby lab and others and new projects related to our mutual interests in dementia research.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators at Eli Lilly have recently established the tissue clearing technique, named CLARITY, at their Erl Wood site. This has allowed them to optically clear entire mouse brains (Figure 1A), meaning that it is possible to image fluorescently labelled neuronal structures (eg axons - Figure 1B) deep within the intact brain. This confers the unique advantage of preserving the neuronal structures over the large distances that are covered by axonal tracts. In Bristol, James has optimised the labelling the axonal pathway that links motor to sensory cortex Major sections of these axons are buried deep inside the brain. As such, we have been unable to assess the integrity of these long-range fibres. However, by pairing our labelling techniques with Lilly's clearing techniques, we aim to image these deep structures and assess the axonal pathway degeneration associated with dementia progression.
Impact - Achieved proof of principle for ability to monitor the structure of long-range axons as they travel across the brain within deep axonal tracts
Start Year 2017
 
Description Travel award to visit Evotec 
Organisation Evotec
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The mainstay of Bristol Renal's research are specialised resources to investigate these, including state-of-the-art imaging techniques, in vivo models and potential in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo screening assays to help identify novel therapeutic targets.
Collaborator Contribution The cornerstone of Evotec's in vitro and in vivo pharmacology function is disease and target biology expertise coupled with state-ofthe- art technology platforms. Evotec have a strong focus on acute and chronic kidney disease and diabetic nephropathy.
Impact - £500,000 investment from Evotec into the National Unified Renal Translation Research Enterprise (NURTuRE) unique kidney biobank for chronic kidney disease and nephrotic syndrome covering England, Scotland and Wales. - A strategic collaboration on microfluidics technology including induced pluripotent stem cell ("iPSC") differentiation to accelerate the discovery of novel drugs to treat kidney diseases called NEPLEX. The financial value of this collaboration is confidential.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Travel award to visit GSK Vaccines (Darryl Hill) 
Organisation GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Pathogenic neisserial species, Neisseria meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae, cause a range of focal and disseminated infections which lead to serious morbidity and all too often morality. Unlike the situation with other serogroups of meningococci, the lack of immune response to the capsule of serogroup B strains, the most prevalent meningococcus serogroup in Europe and America, has led to development of Bexsero® by Novartis/GSK Vaccines, a protein- and outer membrane vesicle-based vaccine. Whilst significant progress has been made towards the eradication of meningococcal disease it is accepted that no current vaccine can completely prevent all forms of the disease due to the variable nature of the antigens in existing vaccines. To this end our research group has identified two meningococcal surface proteins, Msf and Opc which enable bacteria to bind to vitronectin and in doing so avoid killing by the immune system. Our studies have shown that immunising with recombinant form of the vitronectin binding region of both Msf and Opc leads to the production of antibodies which are both function blocking and bactericidal. Our current studies are examining the population structure of Msf and Opc in order to inform vaccine design. Strains within N. gonorrhoeae are even more variable than those within N. meningitidis meaning we are still many years from a gonococcal specific vaccine, a concern given the evolution of multi-drug resistant gonococci. Given that Bexsero® contains antigens which are also expressed by gonococci it is possible that this vaccine may offer some cross protection against gonococcal infection.
Collaborator Contribution to explore the possibility of establishing 2 arms of collaborative research, the first being the inclusion of our vaccine targets in the next generation meningococcal vaccine under development at GSK Vaccines, Siena. Second, we are building our gonococcal research programme in Bristol and would like to run a study evaluating the impact of Bexsero® on gonococcal carriage and disease.
Impact GSK have co-funded two PhD studentships. Value is confidential
Start Year 2017
 
Description Biomedical and Health Industry Day 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact - This showcase event contributed towards the developing culture
change in our academic community in relation to industry
engagement. It also demonstrated the rich translational
potential of our health research to prospective industry
partners.
- 147 delegates attended including 54 from industry, investors
and funders
The event directly led to the following collaborations:
o £573,135 BBSRC IPA with Boehringer Ingelheim; PI Emma Robinson
o £411,555 BBSRC IPA with Takeda; PI Richard Apps Bristol Bridge Bridging the Gaps between
Academia, Translation and Commercialisation
£1,056.25
2016 award
- The projects funded by our EPSRC BristolBridge project on
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016