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Ziggurat - The e-Newsletter of the UEA Alumni Association July 2019 View in browser
UEA in the news
Norwich Medical School

UEA researchers develop another groundbreaking cancer test

Researchers at UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have developed a urine test to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer and predict whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.

The experimental new test called ‘PUR’ (Prostate Urine Risk) is a breakthrough that could help large numbers of men avoid an unnecessary initial biopsies and repeated invasive follow-ups.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men.

Lead author Shea Connell from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Prostate cancer is more commonly a disease men die with rather than from. Unfortunately, we currently lack the ability to tell which men diagnosed with prostate cancer will need radical treatment and which men will not.”

The research team was led by Prof Colin Cooper, Dr Daniel Brewer and Dr Jeremy Clark, all from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, with the support and expertise of Rob Mills, Marcel Hanna and Prof Richard Ball at the NNUH.

They developed the Prostate Urine Risk (PUR) test using machine learning to look at gene expression in urine from samples collected from 537 men. By examining the cell-free expression of 167 genes in urine samples, the team found a mathematical combination of 35 different genes that could be used to produce the PUR risk signatures.

The research was funded by the Movember Foundation, The Masonic Charitable Foundation, The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, the King family, the Andy Ripley Memorial Fund and the Stephen Hargrave Trust. PUR is part of UEA’s research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer to benefit men across the globe.

If you’re interested in supporting prostate cancer research at UEA you can donate now or contact for more information.

Find out more  
Cycling Festival 360

Cycling festival comes to Norwich

Staff, students and local residents cycled for Team UEA at the event in June.

The Great British Cycling Festival was held in Norfolk this year, with elite races, a 100-mile sportive and family-friendly cycle events held in Norwich city centre.

A team of UEA riders took up the challenge, among them the tandem team of Thomas Levy, a GB triathlete from UEA, and Iain Dawson, a seasoned para-triathlete who competed in the 2000 Sydney Summer Paralympics, and is registered blind.

Ben Swift (Team Ineos) and Alice Barnes (Canyon / Sram Racing) both won their maiden national road race titles in the National Road Championship elite races.

Watch the video  
UEA coding comp

Coding comp returns to campus

School children show off their coding skills at UEA’s annual competition.

The annual Scratch Off competition returned to campus on Thursday 20 June, giving young people from 27 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk the opportunity to explore the world of computer science and design, and encouraging young girls to consider a career in a typically male-dominated industry.

Coding, a fundamental component behind most modern-day technology – from Space Race-era moon landings to the edition of Ziggurat that just landed in your inbox – is a “skill that can benefit everybody as we live in a world surrounded by computers,” said Dr Pam Mayhew, a senior lecturer in the School of Computing Sciences, who organised the event.

“I’m sure many people would be surprised at how advanced children are at coding; they’ve grown up around so much technology, it’s mainly second nature to them.”

News in brief
New students coming through clearing

Know someone who is having second thoughts about their university or course, not sure they’ll get the results they were expecting or starting the process of deciding whether they want to go to university, and where? Sign up and be the first to hear about UEA course vacancies and receive valuable support and guidance throughout the clearing and adjustment journey.

Quicker diagnosis will improve patient care

Scientists at UEA and the Quadram Institute have developed a new, speedier way of diagnosing lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. Current diagnosis can take two or three days, during which time patients are given broad spectrum antibiotics, which may not work effectively. This new diagnosis is faster – taking just six hours – and can help control the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Lower respiratory infections account for around three million deaths worldwide each year.

Making lettuce-growing woes a thing of the past

UEA lab has proposed new ways to resolve lettuce-growing challenges for farmers across the UK. The study is of particular interest to East Anglian farmers, as the region grows a large proportion of the UK’s annual 122,000-ton output. Ji Zhou's lab have developed a learning platform called AirSurf-Lettuce which uses aerial photography and ‘deep-learning’ to make “prompt and reliable crop management decisions.”

UEA alumni news
Global Gathering

Fancy hosting a Global Gathering event?

It’s easy! And we’re here to tell you how it’s done.

At last count, 31 events across the world have been organised for Global Gathering 2019, which sees alumni come together, celebrate UEA’s anniversary, network, and generally have a jolly time.

This year’s events take place in September and October, so there’s still plenty of time to organise your own celebration if there isn’t already one going on where you live.

All you have to do is pick a day, time and place, tell us about it, and sit back and relax as we email all the UEA grads living in your country or region and invite them along. We’ll then send you bundles of free goodies in time for the event.

If you’re interested in hosting your own event, or want to find out more, email Global Alumni Officer Rose Kemmy on

View photos from last year's events  
Women's Alumni Network

Women's Alumni Network Summer Social

UEA Women's Alumni Network are celebrating the summer with a social for women graduates in London.

Whether you're a new graduate just moved to London, or someone who's been in the city for a while, come along for a drink and chat, and find out more about the mentoring service that's beginning again in September. Taking place 6.30 - 9pm Thursday 15 August in London, the event's free but booking is essential.

The network are also looking to expand their committee, who run the network on a voluntary basis. If you'd like to hear more about this, get in touch at

News from our network
FLY 2019

Young people's lit fest returns to UEA

A stellar line-up appeared at this year's Festival of Literature for Young People (FLY), encouraging school children to "enter the wonderful world of words."

This year's festival was packed with talks, poetry readings, workshops and book signings designed to inspire local 11 to 16 year olds from over 30 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk. 

FLY is part of the University’s commitment to widening participation to higher education and featured Greg Jenner, who works on the BBC’s landmark Horrible Histories series.

UEA staff and alumni were out in force and central to this year’s event, including Kate Moorhead, who ran a workshop on using your own story, author and poet Tim Clare, who talked about creating new worlds, and James McDermott, who delivered the Mal Peet Memorial Lecture.

Study UK

Study UK awards for UEA alumni

Two alumni have been recognised in global achievement awards by Study UK, a British Council initiative. 

Author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ was named as a finalist in Study UK’s Global Professional Achievement Alumni Award 2019.

Ayọ̀bámi first novel, Stay With Me, was published to critical acclaim soon after she completed the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Its examination of sickle cell disease has led to critical discussion of its impact in her home country of Nigeria. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Muhammad Atif, a Chevening scholar and Executive Director at the Special Talent Exchange Programme, was a finalist for Study UK’s Social Impact Award in Pakistan.

Congratulations to them both!

Masters and PhD study

Considering a Master's or PhD? 

Academic study doesn't have to stop here.   

From applied ecology and conservation to brand leadership, from data science to history of art, there are a host of Master's courses to get your brain around at UEA. Plus a wide range of postgraduate research opportunities.

If you’ve already decided to further your study with a postgraduate degree you can check your eligibility for our Alumni Scholarship. The UK Government’s Postgraduate Loan scheme also offers up to £10,609 to support Master's study, and up to £25,000 to doctoral students.

Any questions? Email UEA’s Admissions Team on, or call them on 01603 591515.

Owen Nicholls

Grad's summer debut

A love story set in the glow of the silver screen, Owen Nicholls' new book is out in August.

Love, Unscripted follows the story of a film projectionist as he tries to understand love in cinema and in real-life.

Owen, who graduated from the Screenwriting MA in 2009, told Ziggurat: “It was borne out of wanting to create a story that looked at film and relationships, and our relationship with film. And to, hopefully, make it funny.”

You can listen to the audiobook and download the eBook today. The hardback will be available in August.

Listen and download  
Future Leader

Leading the way in addictions science 

Dr Caitlin Notley has been nominated as one of the Society for the Study of Addiction 'future leaders' as part of the Women in Addictions science initiative.

Caitlin is senior lecturer in Mental Health at Norwich Medical School, and the first Fellow of the UK Society for the Study of Addiction.

She told Ziggurat: "I am delighted and honored to have been nominated as a future leader for this project. There are important issues faced by women in addictions science, some of which apply to women in academia more generally.

“This project is an important step to raising awareness in our efforts to strive for equality in research environments."

UEA Stories

From UEA to the NBA

Dan Moriarty graduated from UEA in 2006 and is now Digital Director at the Chicago Bulls, one of the world’s most recognisable and respected sporting brands.

He tells us how starting his own business sparked his interest in digital marketing, why UEA stood out for him and why “you don’t have to work in cultures you don’t like and you should always align yourself with companies that are growing as that creates opportunity.”

Want to share your story? Then we’d love to hear from you. Simply contact us or send us a message on Twitter @UEAGrads.

Read DAN's STORY  

Grad wins Yale scholarship

Michael Preedy has recently received a Fulbright-British Heart Foundation Scholarship to begin post-doctoral research at Yale University.

The award provides an opportunity for a "postdoctoral academic researcher to pursue a period of research into biomedical or clinical aspects of cardiovascular disease at any higher education institution in the US."

Michael said: “My career began at UEA. The outstanding teaching I received and the incredible friendships I forged motivated me to pursue a life in science.

"I am honoured to have this opportunity to participate in one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world. It’s a dream come true.”

News from our network
Latitude 2018

Doing different at Latitude festival

Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 July
Henham Park, Suffolk

UEA will be at the east of England’s leading music festival later this month, with a host of events throughout the weekend. Talks and discussions will explore our digital footprint, the potential for gigs to change the course of history, and doing democracy differently, among other things. 

Some of our archive of over 50 years of gigs will be there for festival goers to peruse. They can then share their own memories with Ruth Selwyn-Crome, the brains behind the UEA Gig History Project, who’ll be there throughout the weekend.

Buy tickets  
Doris Lessing 100

Doris Lessing at 100

Thursday 12 September, 7pm
Modern Life Café, Sainsbury Centre

As part of a series of events to mark the centenary of Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing’s birth, the author’s authorised biographer Patrick French will be in conversation with UEA’s Christopher Bigsby.

Following the talk the speakers will answer questions, and ticket-holders will have the chance to view an exhibition of Lessing’s letters, drawings and manuscripts, the largest such collection of her personal materials in the world (Doris Lessing 100 at the Sainsbury Centre, Friday 13 September to Sunday 9 February 2020).

Other events during the centenary celebrations include a conversation with Margaret Drabble and Rachel Cusk, among others (Saturday 26 October), and the Writer’s Quest conference (Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 September).

Find out more  
Noirwich 2019

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival 2019

Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 September

The region’s largest annual celebration of crime writing returns for its sixth outing this autumn, with a roster featuring some of the genre’s most celebrated writers – established and new to the scene – coming together for a four-day spectacular.

Noirwich, one of the UK’s fastest growing literary events, will put place and the environment at the heart of talks, discussions, workshops and film screenings, with sessions on the similarities between ornithology and detective work and crimes against nature with Dr Ben Smith from the University of Plymouth and Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at UEA.

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