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Newcastle University recognised in UK’s Best Breakthroughs List

Published on: 6 December 2018

A campaign celebrating universities achievements of some of the world’s most important discoveries launches today with work at Newcastle University in the UK’s Best Breakthroughs List.

The research which has identified the cause of Type 2 diabetes and shown how the condition can be reversed is being celebrated for its transformational impact on patients and it has today been identified as one of the UK’s 100 best breakthroughs for its significant impact on people’s everyday lives.

Professor Roy Taylor is honoured in the ‘UK’s Best Breakthroughs list’ for his pioneering work which has shown that consuming a very low-calorie diet can reverse Type 2 diabetes. The simple, effective method of shedding around two and a half stone in weight, means that sufferers no longer have to take medication and can return to normal health.

NHS England has recently announced that the low calorie diets will be piloted by up to 5,000 people in the NHS for the first time, from next year.

Patients will be prescribed a liquid diet of just over 800 calories a day for three months and then have a period of follow up support to help achieve remission of their Type 2 diabetes.

This follows the DiRECT trial, led by Professor Roy Taylor and funded by Diabetes UK where almost half of those who went on a very low calorie diet achieved remission of their Type 2 diabetes after one year. A quarter of participants achieved a staggering 15 kg or more weight loss, and of these, 86% put their type 2 diabetes into remission.

This will not just improve the health of patients but also save the NHS money that can be reinvested in frontline care. Currently, the health service in England spends around 10% of its budget on treating diabetes.

Professor Roy Taylor
Reversinng type 2 Diabetes #MadeAtUni

UK universities at the forefront of discoveries

The list of breakthroughs demonstrates how UK universities are at the forefront of some of the world’s most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives, including the creation of the internet, work tackling plastic pollution, ultrasound scans to check the health of unborn babies and the establishment of the Living Wage.

It has been compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities, as part of the MadeAtUni campaign to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

It follows independent research undertaken by Britain Thinks which found that the public has little understanding of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching. The findings show that research is one of the key triggers to change opinion about universities but for many people, it is an abstract concept.

The list also highlights the less celebrated breakthroughs that transform lives, including a specially-designed bra to help women undergoing radiotherapy; a toilet that flushes human waste without the need for water; the development of a new scrum technique to make rugby safer; a sports initiative that aims to use football to resolve conflict in divided communities; - and even work to protect the quality of the chocolate we eat.

Benefiting society

Professor Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President of Newcastle University is on the steering group of the MadeAtUni campaign. He said: “I am supporting #MadeAtUni because universities are at the forefront of some of the most important discoveries and innovations. We are proud that Newcastle University has globally recognised strengths in Ageing and Health, Energy, Data, Cities, and Culture and Creative Arts.

“The things that we do here at Newcastle have enormous benefits for society as a whole whether it’s our teaching, which is providing graduates with the critical skills needed for the future workforce, or our research that is tackling some of the world’s most significant challenges.

 “By working in partnership with governments, industry, the creative and cultural sectors and community organisations, we are having a significant impact in the real world.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “Universities really do transform lives. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities and the important work being done by academics.

“The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list is a testament to the difference that universities make to people’s lives and we want everyone to join us in celebrating the work they do.”

The UK’s Best Breakthroughs list: 100+ Ways Universities Have Improved Everyday Life was put together in partnership with universities across the UK. As part of the MadeAtUni campaign, every university in the country was invited to nominate the one thing from their institution which they believe has had the biggest impact on people, lives or communities. The entries cover health, technology, environment, family, community, and culture and sport.

You can find out more about the UK’s Best Breakthroughs and support the MadeAtUni campaign here and by using #MadeAtUni

VC and President of Newcastle University, Prof Chris Day

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