Defining the utility of novel pre-clinical cohort model systems

The Student Perspective

by Huw Morgan, Cardiff University


The Project

The project that I am working on is in partnership with Tenovus. I am looking at the utility of a novel pre-clinical cohort model system, which is in relation to breast cancer.

The discovery and development of new drugs at any given time point is termed the drug pipeline and it can be broken down into four broad categories: i) discovery, ii) pre-clinical trials, iii) clinical trials and iv) marketing. The clinical trials component of the drug pipeline is separated into three phases (1, 2 and 3), unfortunately most new drugs fail in phase 2 and/or 3, which is quite late in the drug pipeline process. It is at this stage where you are testing on human patients and where the majority of the cost is incurred.

Patient care and prolonged patient life is the ultimate goal. The view was that my project would look at the pre-clinical trial work, much earlier on in the drug pipeline. The idea is that if you can develop a model that can more accurately recapitulate the disease that you see in humans, you can potentially increase the success rate later on in the drug pipeline.

Personal Development

I’ve been able to use some of the KESS skills budget to acquire and develop an in vivo element to my research; this is something that’s really important in my plans moving forward. Furthermore, this in vivo component was not something that was available at undergraduate level, and will help me with applying for a PhD.

This project has set me up for the future well, it’s helped me develop my skills, and I’ve been able to attend workshops to help develop my skills. These days I appreciate that when applying for funding and different research grants, being able to say that you’ve worked with a company partner and done public engagement work is very attractive.

What attracted you to Post-graduate study?

What attracted me to Post-graduate study was the specific offer by Cardiff University, the combination of taught modules with the KESS offering of practical and applicable research. I was particularly attracted to the data handling and statistics which is something that I’d not covered in my undergraduate studies. KESS offered me the opportunity to build those skills as well as a 7-8 month research project, that extra feather in my cap when I will be looking to apply for a PhD.

Future Plans

Personally what I would like to do is to remain in academia and to move on,
eventually progressing to PhD and then Post-doc research. I’d say that working with an industrial partner is beyond a shadow of a doubt the plus point to the KESS programme, KESS has given me the opportunity to work on a brilliant project.


Student: Huw Morgan
Company: Tenovus
Academic Supervisor: Dr Matt Smalley