United Kingdom News and Activities
Rebranding NPIMR to The Griffin Institute
October 29, 2019
The Founder and Emeritus Scientific Director of NPIMR , Colin Green, is delighted to report that after 25 years since it opened in 1994, NPIMR has been supported so generously by the philanthropist John Griffin that it can build up on past achievements and expand its programmes in research and training. He is pleased that it is to be rebranded The Griffin Institute. The CEO of the Institute, Alison Rosen, announced the rebranding publically today as follows:
‘It gives me great pleasure to announce the rebrand of Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research as The Griffin Institute. This is in no small measure and tribute, in honour of, John Griffin, our Honorary President, who has funded our new state of the art laboratories and offices providing a fantastic environment for the sharing of ideas and bringing together specialist scientists from all over the world.
We remain, a not-for-profit, charitable research institute with a vision to transform and restore patient quality of life and an ambition to be a leader in biomedical research and training. 2019 has seen a time of great change, we have a visionary Board headed up by Professor Robin Kennedy as well as a new professional Directorate including Professor Nader Francis, Director of Training and Professor Jia Hua, Director of Science. Our aim is to create innovative clinical solutions underpinned by compelling science and to train the next generation of medical professionals.
We will be obtaining grants to continue and expand research on regenerative medicine, wound healing and orthopaedics. We will be increasing our preclinical contract research where we can offer both our skilled surgeons and GLP facilities, and we will be expanding the training we offer, in particular looking to establish a cadaver unit to complement our facilities.
Please take a look at our new website http://www.griffininstitute.org.uk.’
The Comedy Extravaganza on HQS Wellington a Huge Success
October 17, 2019
Thanks to the amazing efforts of our Patron Mark Thomas and Events Director Harriet Paul in organising a big fundraising event in only six weeks, the IMET2000 Comedy Extravaganza held on the ship HQS Wellington yesterday evening (October 16 th)was a huge success. The audience of over 140 guests were treated to a programme of six stand- up comics ( Mark Thomas, Shazia Mirza, Josie Long, Alexei Sayle, Bridget Christie and Imran Yusuf) which they enjoyed greatly. Many have said that it was the best evening of fun they have ever experienced. IMET2000 hoped to raise at least £40,000 to fund four projects where we particularly need help , three of them in Gaza and one in the West Bank. Project One was for our Child Accelerated Trauma Technique (CATT) in Gaza, Project Two for support of Gazan surgeon Dr Ehab Balawi's training in neurosurgery in China, Project Three was for the PalMusic UK Long Distance Learning Project in Gaza and Project Four was for the Jenin Comedy Club in the West Bank. We will not know for several weeks the financial outcome but are optimistic that our target might even be exceeded.
Meeting in London with Professors Roberta and Roberto Motterlini
October 8, 2019
Colin Green met up with Professor Roberta and Professor Roberto Motterlini in London on October 3 rd to discuss possible collaborations in future between their laboratories in Paris and the Griffin Institute at Northwick Park.
Both are world leaders in their field of research which started in1992 when they joined NPIMR from the USA. They have a long-standing interest in the regulation, activity and biological significance of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a ubiquitous defensive protein that degrades heme to carbon monoxide (CO) and bilirubin. They have focused their research on understanding the physiological role of CO and bilirubin in cardiovascular biology as well as their protective action against stressful stimuli. Their work has been instrumental in uncovering the vasodilatory, anti-ischemic and anti-inflammatory properties of CO. Among their major achievements is the development of novel drug candidates that specifically target the heme oxygenase/CO pathway. As part of this strategic plan, Dr. Motterlini and Dr. Foresti have discovered and characterized CO-releasing molecules (CO-RMs), which are able to carry and deliver controlled amounts of CO to cells and tissues. These compounds have been shown to exert important pharmacological actions to counteract vascular dysfunction and inflammation. More recently, Dr. Motterlini and Dr. Foresti have designed and synthesized a new class of hybrid compounds, termed HYCOs, that have the ability to induce HO-1 and simultaneously release CO. These “dual function” molecules have been tested with promising results in inflammatory models of disease such as skin wound, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.
Professor Motterlini, who is currently Director of Research at INSERM in Paris, has published over 180 peer-reviewed articles on the biology of HO-1/CO, co-founded and was Scientific Director of the biopharmaceutical start-up company HemoCORM Ltd. He currently serves as Member of the Editorial Board of Pharmacological Research. Roberta Foresti is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Paris Est, has published over 90 scientific articles and is currently responsible of the International Relationship at the Institute Mondor of Biomedical Research. They both hold several patents. They are regularly invited to present at international meetings and are both members of the organizing committee of the Heme Oxygenase Conference, which is held every two years. The Motterlinis are actively involved in several collaborations having created a multidisciplinary network with chemists and biologists to unravel the therapeutic potentials of CO and the physiological function of HO-1.
Inaugural Lecture of Professor Nick Lane in University College London
October 3, 2019
As the original Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research (NPIMR) celebrates its 25 th Anniversary and changes its name to ‘The Griffin Institute’, it was appropriate that one of its stars from the early days, Professor Nick Lane, gave his Inaugural Lecture in University College London on October 3 rd. His talk was entitled ‘Living History: How Energy Shapes Life’. Colin Green, who had helped supervise Nick’s PhD studies way back in 1993 was an invited guest and said afterwards that it was the best lecture he had ever heard in his long life in science. As Nick has been awarded the title of Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry in the UCL Department of Genetic, Evolution and Environment, it was no surprise that he described in brilliant style a narrative ranging from the deep-sea origins of life in which just the right combination of geological space, temperature and biochemistry allowed basic cells to form and thence evolve over time into bacteria and from that platform into more complex forms of life until apes dominated the globe. At the end of an hour long talk he grappled with the evolution of consciousness in front of a packed and enthralled auditorium. It could only be described as remarkable.
Nick Lane graduated from Imperial College London with a BSc in Biochemistry and started his life in science in NPIMR as a laboratory technician. He met his wife Dr Ana Hidalgo- Simon (herself a PhD student then and another NPIMR success story in her own right) in those laboratories. He completed an excellent PhD in 1995, won a national prize for young scientific writers whilst still in NPIMR and then joined an Oxford Medical publishing group for a year. Thus started his stellar scientific writing career resulting to date in four award winning and best- selling books (‘Oxygen; The Molecule that Made the World’ in 2003; ‘Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life’ in 2005; Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution’ in 2009; and ‘The Vital Question: Why is Life the Way it Is?’ in 2015). Nick became an Honorary Researcher in UCL in 1997, was promoted to Honorary Reader in 2006 and now is full Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry in UCL and a world authority on the beginning of life on Planet Earth. We regard this as one of our greatest successes in the 25 year history of NPIMR.
IMET2000 Board Remembers Trustee Professor David Pegg
September 24, 2019
David graduated from Westminster Medical School MB,BS in 1956, served in the Dept of Pathology there from May, 1956 to August 1967 and was awarded his MD in 1963. Experimental pathology then formed the foundations and backboneof all his subsequent wonderful career as a clinical scientist and academic. He was awarded MRC Path in 1967, the William Julius Mickle Fellowship in 1968 and FRC Path in 1998. Whilst in Westminster he first became intrigued by all the possibilities of organ transplantation working alongside the pioneer Roy Calne. They were both faced by two big problems to overcome, one how to prevent rejection and the other how to prevent or slow ischaemic damage to an organ once a potential donor had died. Roy was most interested in rejection and David set off on a career in low temperature biology. He joined Dr Audrey Smith in September 1967 in the Division of Low Temperature Biology, MRC Clinical Research Laboratories, Mill Hill as a Senior Scientist. In September 1970 he was promoted to Head of Division of Cryobiology in the newly built MRC Clinical Research Centre , Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow and remained there until attracted to Cambridge by Professor Calne and became Head of the MRC Medical Cryobiology Group, University Dept of Surgery in August 1978. In 1992 he set up the East Anglia Tissue Bank in the National Blood Service in Cambridge and was Director for a year. He then moved to York and was Director of the Medical Cryobiology Unit in the University from 1993 to August 2006. He was an Honorary Professor in the Biology Department from 1999 to 201
This tells you little about his achievements. In a nutshell he had the capacity to pioneer new freezing techniques such as vitrification and a total comprehension of the biochemistry and biophysics involved yet at the same time the wider understanding of the overall importance of preservation of different cells for medical benefit, fish reproductive cells for fish farming , plant cells, seeds and meristems for agriculture and horticulture and cells from endangered species whether flora or fauna. He had the vision to see the value of these preservation techniques long before the public had heard of environmental catastrophe and a sixth mass extinction. In the whole field of low temperature biology, he was unique in his eclectic understanding. To add to his own intellect he had a great capacity to inspire and support young scientists in the field and many hundreds owe their own careers to him.
David was too a true internationalist. We recall well him telling us excitedly in about 1972 about his visit to Kharkov to explore see whether worth research collaborations with the Institute there in low temperature biology. That in turn led to other invitations from the Ukraine which Barry Fuller and Colin Green and others took up and have shared ever since 1983 with enormous interest and pleasure. David then made more international connections with Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Denmark. The more senior and well known he became for his encyclopaedic knowledge the more he was invited overseas to Europe, North America and Japan. He was President of the Society for Cryobiology for years and Editor in Chief of its journal ‘Cryobiology for a decade and made huge contributions in each role.
Perhaps less well known is how deeply he and Monica were (and are) seriously committed to human rights and zero -tolerance of any form of racism. IMET2000 will always be indebated to them for all their support for our work in Palestine in dealing with the training of surgeons, nurses, physicians and others dealing with the child victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. David was a wonderful Trustee of IMET2000 and served loyally with sane advice until too ill to go on last year. He and Monica also joined up another NGO called British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and started up and edited monthly newsletters (David edited the first 106 issues) full of accurate and factual information. This goes out to over 800 academics and supporters worldwide. David and Monica were founder members of York Palestine Solidarity Campaign just after the last Iraq war and have worked tirelessly for it ever since. Both have also actively supported the Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and David went with Prof Jeff Halper to Brussels to inform the EU about the war crimes being committed by Israel in Palestine. We celebrate and thank David for a momentous life and for years of loyal friendship.
Palestinian Musicians on UK Tour
August 1, 2019
On Sunday, 30th June, the PalMusic Quartet played to a sold out audience in St Andrews Church in Caversham an eclectic mix of classical Mahler and Mozart music and arranged Arabic Folk Songs. Colin Green is a Trustee of the UK charity Palmusic UK and in the interval said a few words about the musicians and the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in the West Bank and Gaza. The whole concert was a great success and the audience loved it in particular the Arabic music. At the end, many were keen to talk to the musicians and hear about the difficulties they faced in getting trained to such a high standard. The Ensemble comprised Iyad Sughayer on piano, Lourdina Baboun on violin, Omar Saad on viola and Tibah Saad on cello and voice. The latter three are all Palmusic UK scholars studying at an advanced level in the UK after starting their studies in the Edward Said Conservatory. The UK tour comprised four venues in the West Country and another four in Scotland. IMET believes that high quality cultural events like this are vital to the psycho-social fabric of stressed societies like Palestine and are important in prevention of mental health problems so it has made grants to Palmusic UK to support this tour and in 2016 the UK tour of the Palestinian Youth Orchestra.
The NPIMR Wound Healing Research
July 31, 2019
Wound healing after physical trauma and severe burns has been at the forefront of the research programme at NPIMR and it is planned to expand the programme in the very near future. Dr Karin Greco (photo attached) is currently leading a small group creating new dermal substitutes in the form of pastes or gels which can be spread over a lesion and after revascularisation accept epidermal cells either as keratinocyte sheets or sprayed on mixtures of cells including pro-genitor cells.
Our New Member of Board of Trustees Dr Rebecca Inglis
July 28, 2019
IMET are delighted to welcome to our Board of Trustees Dr Rebecca Inglis who specialises in healthcare education and designing bespoke curricula for less advantaged countries. As part of her field studies for her PhD, she is currently in Laos designing courses for nurses and doctors in management of critically ill patients in a low resource setting. She knows Gaza well and has a serious interest in Palestine. As we develop our other overseas interests in for example India and Uganda, we are sure she will be immensely valuable to our main objectives in training and education of young health workers.
Restructuring Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research (NPIMR)
July 20, 2019
The Founder Director of NPIMR Colin Green in 1994 has been honoured by the current Board of Trustees with the title Emeritus Scientific Director. This reflects the huge amount of hard work put in by the small team of dedicated scientists and technicians that helped to build it up with no government support and no major grants to fund their work. It survived under Colin’s leadership and an incredibly supportive Board of Trustees until 2006 when he retired. In 2007, Dr Paul Sibbons took over the reins and built it up still further as a research, contract work and training centre attached to Northwick Park and St Marks Hospitals.
Paul recently retired as Director and the Board have decided to restructure NPIMR with financial help from the philanthropist John Griffin. This entails reconfiguring the existing internal laboratories, waterproofing the roof and building on to one side of the existing block a two story building which could with new equipment cope with all the contract work. It also entails upgrading and re-equipping the training areas such as those used since 1979 to run world famous microsurgical courses as shown in the photo below. As for research, now that Dr Jia Huw has been appointed part time Director of Research, it will concentrate its efforts on wound healing both of the bony skeleton and of soft tissues. Colin Green has been invited to advise and consult on the research programme and is keen to involve IMET in the training and education programme especially where this involved overseas development.
Our Wonderful Patron Jeremy Hardy Died Yesterday
Although we have known that our wonderfully loyal Patron and supporter of all our projects in Palestine Jeremy Hardy was seriously ill with cancer and he had warned us he did not have long to go, it is still hard to report that he died yesterday. Aged only 57 it was far too early to go. He had so much to give. As a charity we have met and been associated with many great people but Jeremy has to be right up there as one of the best. His combination of humour, wit, subtlety and uncompromising honesty and integrity was unique. He had to be the near funniest man on the entertainment circuit yet hold strong and serious political views which escaped all humbug and exuded compassion for his fellow humans. If he had ever been an MP he would have been dubbed as ‘hard left’ in our corrupt media when in fact all he asked was a level playing field for all, justice and fairness for all and an end to grotesque inequality. His greatest quality as a comedian was his ability to prick the hypocrisy and self-regarding bubble in so many of the supposed elite.
As an entertainer, Jeremy excelled in any medium he worked in. He loved best live audience participation and he never hesitated to accept an invitation to do a stand up set for many charities working in or for Palestine and not only refused a fee but made generous donations to those of us lucky enough to know him and attract his support. Of course he was best known to the public for his extensive radio and TV work. In 2002 he travelled to Palestine to make the film ‘Jeremy Hardy Versus the Israeli Army’ a documentary directed by Leila Sansour and thereafter devoted a lot of effort to the Palestinian quest for freedom and justice. This struggle was perhaps the core of his internationalist politics. More recently he went back to Palestine with fellow comedian Imran Yusuf and together they have influenced many other entertainers about the reality of the conflict. He made a nonsense of the now fashionable habit of describing any criticism of Israel as anti-semitic and was lauded by many UK Jewish humanitarian groups as an honorary member of their community.
We will miss Jeremy badly but will try to emulate and match his intense need to help those less fortunate than himself and bring peace to others at war. We must now do the same.