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Universities celebrate 100 discoveries that have changed the world

Universities UK today celebrates 50 years of life-changing research with the launch of a new publication, ‘Eureka UK’, which highlights 100 major discoveries, developments and inventions by academics at universities throughout the UK.

Diana Warwick, Chief Executive of vice-chancellors' organisation Universities UK, said: “Universities UK has worked with universities across the country to produce a lasting testament to the brilliant thinkers whose contributions have changed lives around the world.

“Who can imagine a world now without CDs and DVDs, test-tube babies, or computers? None of these would have been possible without the work and dedication of academics in the UK.”

Eureka UK sets out some of the most inspiring and dramatic breakthroughs in academic research, from unlocking DNA to the discovery of pulsars, from the first programmable computer to the artificial cows combating disease in Africa. The examples span the medical, physical and social sciences as well as the arts and humanities - and demonstrate both the unpredictable nature of research and the length of time it can take to measure its success.

Diana Warwick added: “The things we take for granted today offer a salutary tale for those responsible for research budgets. This Government has done much to support high-level research but we want to see the UK catching up with other major industrialised nations in terms of spending.

“Eureka UK is launched at a key time - we are approaching a Comprehensive Spending Review, and discussions continue over the future shape of research assessment and funding. We need continued investment from Government and industry if we are to maintain our high standards and see similar groundbreaking discoveries at our universities over the next 50 years.

“We also hope Eureka UK will inspire young people to go to university and spark an interest in discovery.”

Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, said: "UK research is one of our greatest national assets. However, we will not be able to take advantage of our amazing record of discovery unless we convey to young people the excitement and opportunities which modern science and technology open up. This publication showcases some of the important discoveries and development which have changed the way we live, and should enable us to communicate this message more effectively.

"The Government's aim is to make the UK the best place in the world to carry out research. By providing the best possible environment for discovery and innovation I hope we may look forward to even more UK research successes in the next 50 years."

Universities UK will be distributing the publication to secondary schools across the country at the beginning of the next school year.

Ian Morton | alfa
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