Cardiovascular and diabetes research appeal Spring 2014

Frequently Asked Questions


Professor Kearney's research and the Making a World of Difference campaign

Why should I support this research through the University's Campaign, rather than give to a medical charity?

Education is one of the oldest charitable causes in this country. The University as it is today has only been possible thanks to generations of charitable support. Our research is supported by a number of medical charities, but through the Campaign you can direct your donation more specifically towards causes or areas of research, such as Professor Kearney's potentially life-saving research.

If you give a gift to help fund cardiovascular and diabetes research at Leeds, 100% of it will go to this specific research area.

Why are you asking for alumni support? Why not seek commercial investment?

The simple answer is that because this project will hopefully lead to a life-saving new procedure, not a marketable drug, it won’t meet pharmaceutical companies' criteria for investment. That’s why the University of Leeds is funding this research with support from the British Heart Foundation.

We're always reading about medical research. When will some of these advances actually start to benefit patients?

Each of these projects brings together academics and clinicians. This is a potent combination of expertise with a real interest in making things happen, and in bringing these new treatments from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside. We are very fortunate to have such a close working relationship with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. The fact that many of the academics leading our research are also clinicians, means that they see on a daily basis the effects that these conditions have on patients and their families. This drives forward their work towards finding new treatments and cures.

How has the research been received in the scientific community?

We’re thrilled that the team’s latest paper on the initial stages of the work has been accepted by the prestigious scientific journal, Stem Cells. It was also named one of the top five submissions to the British Cardiovascular Society’s Annual Conference in 2012, making it one of the most exciting and promising research projects in its field.

What are endothelial cells?

Vascular endothelial cells line the entire circulatory system, from the heart to the smallest capillaries. They filter fluids that come into the bloodstream. Often they will become damaged in people with diabetes. This can lead to potentially fatal heart attacks.

What is the difference between cell-based treatments and pharmaceutical treatments?
What are the benefits of developing a cell-based treatment?

A pharmaceutical treatment uses drugs to treat a disease or ailment – if you have a headache and take a painkiller, that’s a pharmaceutical treatment.

A cell-based treatment involves taking cells from a patient and altering them so that they’re better equipped to fight disease or repair damaged tissue, before inserting them back into the patient.

Because they avoid the bureaucracy of working with pharmaceutical companies, cell-based treatments are often much cheaper and quicker to develop.

How long will it be before Professor Kearney’s research can start being used on patients?

Professor Kearney is confident that one of the treatments he and his team are working on will reach clinical trials – and start saving lives – in the next five to ten years. As with any medical research, he can’t make firm promises as it is impossible to predict how things will transpire with any certainty. But he is very optimistic.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are the final stage of testing for a new treatment. In a clinical trial, a group of patients with a medical condition are given a newly developed treatment and their progress is monitored. Countless people’s lives have been saved by taking part in a clinical trial.

If you have any questions about any other aspect of the Making a World of Difference Campaign, please visit our About the Campaign page. Or if you’d like to share a memory of your favourite lecturer from your time at Leeds, you can do so here.

How can I make a gift?

You can make a gift here, or, if you live in the USA you can do so here. Thank you!

Problems with donating?

Please contact Adrian Salmon on +44 (0)113 343 2499 or Katie Siddall on +44 (0)113 343 9168 and they'll be only too happy to help.