Donations Change Lives: Research

Whether we’re improving cancer survival rates, ensuring that having safe water to drink is not a privilege, or creating a sustainable future, Manchester is changing lives.

Share Research at Manchester is saving lives every day #DonationsChangeLives Share on X From the first modern computer to the isolation of graphene, Manchester has a history of ground breaking innovations #DonationsChangeLives Share on X Safe drinking water from graphene is just one of many research breakthroughts supported by donations to Manchester #DonationsChangeLives Share on X

The University of Manchester has long had a reputation as a centre for research excellence. We have always been at the forefront of new technologies, discoveries and research that has had an effect locally and across the globe.

We split the atom, we created the first digital computer, and we isolated graphene; technological advances that have changed countless lives. But now we’re looking to the future.

The biggest challenges of our modern world never affect just one person. A medical diagnosis affects the patient and their loved ones, filthy water endangers whole communities, and climate change threatens life as we know it around the globe.

There are a huge variety of research projects at the University of Manchester funded by generous donations, which could change lives all around the world.

Medical Research

While we’ve made huge steps towards curing the world’s biggest diseases, there’s still so much work to do.

At the University of Manchester, our medical research is internationally renowned, and our partnerships with medical institutions, practitioners and researchers, allow us to fight the biggest healthcare problems of the twenty first century.

Every three minutes, somebody in the UK develops this Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the leading cause of death in England and Wales, and as the world’s population grows and life expectancy rises, so does the incidence of this disease.

Right now there is no cure, and Alzheimer’s research is still desperately underfunded and under-researched. But at Manchester, donor funding is allowing researchers to explore treatments and improve our understanding of the disease.

Manchester is also home to the only dedicated stillbirth research centre in the UK. 10 babies are stillborn in the UK every single day, but again research on preventing this is chronically underfunded.

Our research at St Mary’s Hospital has already led to a 19% decrease in stillbirths in Manchester since 2011, but we’re ambitious. We want to reduce stillbirths by 50% by 2020. Donations to research projects in this are vital to helping us achieve this goal.

It is estimated that 50% of people will develop cancer in their lifetime. In Manchester, this percentage is even higher. At the University, we have long been at the forefront of cancer research, pioneering inquiries into new drugs, and more recently, proton beam therapy.

Our findings have improved standards of treatment internationally. Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in women, affecting 1.7 million a year.

But today, more women are cured, spend longer in remission and live for longer after researchers at Manchester developed tamoxifen, and later anastrozole, a breakthrough treatment that is now the world’s major endocrine therapy.

Our goal is that more than two thirds of patients diagnosed with cancer in Greater Manchester will live for longer than five years by 2020. And as we take steps to personalise treatment to each individual person, we’re giving every single person their best chance to live.

Donating to medical research gives us the chance to not only change lives, but also to save them.

Climate change

Medical research is not the only way in which Manchester is changing lives. We also need to make sure that we have a future to grow old in.

Our world is changing dramatically. Sea levels are rising while the oceans heat up, droughts and floods are endangering crops, and natural disasters are becoming increasingly frequent. Climate change is fast becoming the single biggest threat to our planet.

Our society as we know it wouldn’t function without energy, so at Manchester we’re committed to finding a source that doesn’t threaten our planet.

We have championed nuclear research since before Rutherford spilt the atom in 1919. Manchester is recognised as a world-leader in the field, and we will be instrumental in plans to double nuclear power generation by 2035.

But our commitment doesn’t end there. We’re examining how retailers can cut their energy usage, we’re creating turbines powered by carbon dioxide and our researchers are ensuring that new fuels will be sustainable and economically viable.

At this moment, more than sixty core researchers at the University of Manchester are exploring the possibilities of creating biofuels from items found around the world. In the years to come you could be charging your phone through energy produced by discarded materials such as rice straw or coffee husks.

We’ve also pledged to reduce our own energy usage, and we’ll pursue every opportunity to find a fuel that will stop further damage by funding the most gifted postgraduate researchers to find solutions before time runs out.

Donations to the University are crucial in helping us solve the biggest problem currently facing the planet.

Global Development

Manchester is committed to social responsibility around the world. Our Global Development Institute (GDI) is a hub for world-class academics and postgraduate students. It is Europe’s largest dedicated global development research and teaching institute, and aims to promote social justice.

Our Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) is a pioneering institution for humanitarian teaching and research. HCRI is the UK’s leading specialist in life-saving humanitarian assistance, which is why when there is a disaster, for example the 2017 Ebola crisis, the UK government asks us to plan and coordinate a response.

Those in the poorest communities are usually those hit the hardest during a disaster, but thanks to research, we can save lives on the front line.

Of course, inequality is not an injustice reserved for the developing world. Right here in Manchester we want to level the playing field by tackling gender inequalities in the workplace, understand the boundaries of social class, and reduce local poverty.

The University of Manchester is situated in one of the most economically deprived areas in the UK. We want to understand and draw attention to the poverty and hardship experienced by people on our doorstep so that we can give something back to our local community.

When natural disasters strike or upheaval in our own society leaves increasing numbers living on the streets, the University of Manchester is ready to act. Donations to the University mean that we can change more lives for the better.


The University of Manchester has long been a creative hub, and one of the scientific successes we’re most proud of is graphene. Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim were experimenting with a pencil and some sticky tape one Friday night in 2004 when they discovered that they had isolated a material just one atom thick.

The Nobel Prize winning scientists are now part of a more than 300-strong team at Manchester currently investigating the possibilities of graphene.

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel, able to conduct heat rapidly, and is quicker to conduct electricity than any substance on earth. We’re exploring how it could improve fuel cell technologies, treat arthritis, and create flexible phone screens.

Donor funded research on the uses of this material has already begun at Manchester, and the possibilities are endless.

One of the most exciting uses could save countless lives. Two billion people, one third of the world’s population, face severe water scarcity for at least one month a year.

Current methods of removing salt and pollutants from water are extremely expensive, and therefore of little use to the communities in Asia and Africa who are most in need.

However, at Manchester we’re investing in a product that could solve this crisis, a graphene membrane that can sieve out the salt from seawater.

The world’s population is growing and so finding a way to increase the amount of safe drinking water is becoming increasingly crucial.

Climate change has already led to a sharp increase in the number and ferocity of natural disasters in recent years, and Manchester’s graphene desalination device could be crucial to ensuring that people can survive flooding, drought and the pollution of usual drinking sources.

Who knows what the future holds? At the University of Manchester, impressive facilities create the perfect environment for our world-class researchers to create life-saving products and make ground-breaking discoveries.

What’s discussed above barely scratches the surface of the world-leading research being conducted at Manchester every day.

Donations to the University are already making a huge difference to our research in all these areas and much more, and will continue to do so long into the future.

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