Tuesday 23 October 2012

Welcome to the first newsletter from The University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS). The development of the School is progressing well. As always when there are governance changes, there are many questions. I hope that we will be able to answer most of these in this and the following newsletters. The development of UEMS provides us with a single governance structure that, I am confident, will enable us to remain a top flight Medical School and we will be able to benefit from the excellent support structures within the University of Exeter. However, exciting as this is, at the same time as we develop, we must also continue to provide the highest quality training for our joint students. I know that this is a priority for all of us that are involved in education.

Our identity
I have been asked a number of times about when individuals should start to use their affiliation as the University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS). Our researchers should already be using UEMS as their address and affiliation. All staff should now start to use UEMS, although this should not prevent collaborative working with our colleagues in Plymouth whether this be related to our joint students, development of the new schools or high quality research. A logo has been produced by the University of Exeter's Communications and Marketing department who will be producing all of our publicity material. If you need advice on logo use or design more generally contact Carole Fitzgerald: c.a.fitzgerald@exeter.ac.uk

Launch events
A series of regional and national launch events for UEMS are being held in November/December. The aim is to engage with leading clinicians and healthcare administrators. The events take place from 7-9pm on 12 Nov (Exeter, The Forum), 20 Nov (London, UUK Offices), 21 Nov (Truro, Knowledge Spa) and 3 Dec (Torbay Hospital, Horizon Centre). The aim is to engage with colleagues working in the NHS and other health bodies, give them a clear understanding of our strengths, and identify people who wish to work with us. We would like as many staff as possible to attend. Please RSVP to Millie Shuter on millie.shuter@champollion.co.uk or 0203 5444952. A hot buffet will be served and other refreshments will be available.

New academic appointments
Professor Jon Mill has joined us from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. His research interests are in the field of psychiatric epigenetics. Professor Andy Randall has joined from the MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity at the University of Bristol. His area of research is neurophysiology in health and disease. Dr Jon Brown will be joining in early 2013 from the School of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Bristol. His research interests are in neuronal dysfunction in ageing and disease. Professor Robert Pawlak joined in April from the University of Leicester Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology. His research interests are in cellular mechanisms involved in experience-induced neuronal plasticity underlying learning, fear and anxiety. Professor William Henley has now joined UEMS full-time from Medical Statistics at the University of Plymouth.

Senior Professional Services team appointments
A number of key appointments have been made to our PS team, which is led by Chris Lindsay. The finance and research support teams are in place, led respectively by the Assistant College Manager (Finance) Catherine Serjeant and Assistant College Manager (Research) Nick Church. We have also appointed an Assistant College Manager (Infrastructure), Pete Biggs, an Assistant College Manager (Education), Samantha Briggs, who is supported by an Education Support Officer (James Mitchell) and an Academic Policy and Standards Officer (Claire Shimmin).

Other key PS appointments
We have strengthened the education team to support the BClinSci and postgraduate taught programmes, and we will be making a further appointment to support our postgraduate research students. These posts, working with our established locality teams in Exeter and Truro and the UEMS project support team, will be key in supporting the development of the new School.

University of the Year
You will have seen that Exeter has been voted Sunday Times University of the Year and we have the opportunity to use this in our branding for the next 12 months. We would ask staff to add the University of the Year logo to their email signature if appropriate and instructions on how to do this can be found on the Communications and Marketing Service website.

The UEMS website has been up and running for some time and is currently being updated with details of our research. We have just appointed a new Web Officer, Sally Cowling: s.j.cowling@exeter.ac.uk. She will be responsible for updating and developing the site. It is important you tell her about any changes in your areas which need to be reflected online.

We will shortly be interviewing for a Marketing Manager who will support our recruitment and the development of new academic programmes. We are also looking to appoint someone to cover media relations, internal communications and stakeholder management.

Project website
The UEMS Project website is being developed separately at: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/spc/aboutus/uems/ This is where you will find information, like the staff directory, to assist you during the transition.

UEMS Project Team
The project team manages the activities associated with the disaggregation from Plymouth and supports the College management in developing UEMS for the future. The team are: Debbie Brett, Principal Project Manager; Deborah Welland, Senior Project Manager; and Anne Greenway and Lara Whiteman, Project Assistants. The project team are keen to hear your ideas, feedback and any concerns and can be contacted at uemsproject@exeter.ac.uk

Research findings - controlling fear
Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School have for the first time identified the mechanism that protects us from developing uncontrollable fear. Our brains have the extraordinary capacity to adapt to changing environments – experts call this ‘plasticity’. Plasticity protects us from developing mental disorders as the result of stress and trauma. The study was led by Professor Robert Pawlak.

Exeter 10,000 project
Firefighters from Devon and Somerset Fire Service Red Watch have taken part in the Exeter 10,000 project, run by the National Institute for Health Research Exeter Clinical Research Facility (CRF), University of Exeter Medical School. The project aims to compile a research register of 10,000 individuals from the Exeter and East Devon area. This will enable researchers to investigate common diseases such as diabetes and help improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention.