Reasons to be proud: spring 2024

A pioneering DNA-based test to detect bladder cancer

Graphical illustration of a DNA strand

The current process for diagnosing bladder cancer involves inserting a camera into the bladder – an unpleasant experience for patients.

This could be set to change, thanks to research by donor-supported experts in Birmingham’s Bladder Cancer Research Centre, founded thanks to generous donations from alumni and friends of the University. The team have developed a non-invasive test that can detect bladder cancer based on the DNA that the cancer releases into the patients’ urine.

This test not only informs doctors of the presence of bladder cancer, but it also provides information on the mutations in the DNA that are causing the cancer. Using that vital insight, doctors can look for the same mutations in the patient’s blood to determine how advanced the cancer is and how much it has spread.

Around 20,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year in the UK. This new approach may streamline and improve the way bladder cancer patients are monitored and treated, encouraging more people to visit the doctor earlier and ultimately saving lives.

Read more about this work in the journal European Urology.

Global recognition for Business School partnership

Birmingham Business School picked up the award for Best Business School Partnership Award at the International AMBA Awards, in recognition of school’s longstanding partnership with Deloitte.

The partnership centres around the Birmingham MBA Deloitte Consultancy Challenge. The scheme, now in its 14th year, is unique to Birmingham MBA students who receive an in-depth consultancy training week with the global leaders in financial consulting.

Dr Cristina Sambrook, Director of the Executive MBA at Birmingham Business School says: ‘Our dedicated team has worked tirelessly throughout the years to enhance the student experience. Anticipate more exciting initiatives on the horizon!’

Find out whether a Birmingham MBA could be a good fit for you; enhance your career, skills and knowledge, studying full-time or part-time, with the option to study online or in person.

Campaign to attract 125 outstanding researchers to Birmingham

We will celebrate the University's 125th anniversary in 2025, and so a new campaign has pledged to further strengthen our research excellence with 100 new Birmingham Anniversary Fellows and 25 Birmingham Anniversary Chairs.

Birmingham will seek out diverse global talent for five-year positions across the University’s Research Challenge Themes:

  • Global Health
  • Thriving Planet
  • Connecting Cultures
  • Life Changing Technologies
  • Fairer World

Our Anniversary Fellows are likely to be emerging leaders in their field. For Anniversary Chairs, we are seeking individuals of exceptional academic standing, who are held in high esteem by their peers internationally, and who will make a significant personal contribution to our goal to become a global top 50 university.

To learn more about the opportunities available, visit the 125th Anniversary Fellows and Chairs website. Applications reopen later in 2024.

University of Birmingham is first choice for the UK's major employers

The University of Birmingham is the UK university most targeted by the country’s leading graduate employers. According to ‘The Graduate Market in 2024’, Birmingham attracted the most attention from employers featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list.

Compiled by independent research company High Fliers, the report (conducted in January 2024) reveals that the five universities currently targeted by the largest number of the UK’s leading graduate employers are Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Bristol.

Salwa Ali

Recent graduate Salwa Ali (LLB Law, 2022) says: 'Whilst studying at the University of Birmingham, leading law firms, across London and Birmingham, held careers events at the University. Firms ranged from Magic Circle law firms to international firms, as well as regional firms. This gave me the ability to network and gain insights into various firms, thus strengthening my applications. The law firms that attended specifically stated that they were interested in talent at the University of Birmingham.

'In my final year of university, I received a training contract offer from a Top 20 UK law firm. I am eight months into the graduate scheme and I love my role as a trainee solicitor. I have been able to work on high value deals, ranging from £40m to £1.5 billion. This is definitely a step in the right direction for my career. I am able to do a job that I thoroughly enjoy, whilst also being well compensated, which is super important to me as a first generation student.'

The report ranks UK universities which have attracted the most top graduate employers for university careers fairs, on-campus employer presentations, university-specific virtual events, careers service promotions and initiatives, and other locally-run publicity during 2023-2024.

The University of Birmingham’s Careers Network organises more than 300 employer events on campus each year, as well as subject specific graduate recruitment fairs and events. The network also develops a range of work experience opportunities and internships to enhance skills development and employability amongst students.

Trial gets inside patients’ heads

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are paving the way to improve brain tumour treatment in a revolutionary study that collects detailed information about a person’s tumour. These tumours remain difficult to treat, and more information is desperately needed about their genetic make-up to improve treatment choices.

More than 275 people are now enrolled in the Tessa Jowell Brain MATRIX trial and now for the first time all patients in the West Midlands are being offered DNA sequencing of their tumours as part of the trial.

This is where tumour DNA is compared to DNA taken from the same person’s blood to give a comparison and identify any mutations. This can help identify, personalise and improve that person's treatment, and also help researchers identify tumour subgroups, common mutations and discover new drugs that could improve treatment options for all brain tumour patients.

There are many ways you can support our life-changing research and student scholarships. Go to our Birmingham In Action website to see how you, companies, trusts and foundations can play a vital role.