a woman entering an MRI machine

Future Leaders Fellowships boost ground-breaking research

Wednesday, 13 December 2023

Two researchers from the University of Nottingham have received a funding boost after being awarded UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships.

Dr Joanne Cormac from the School of Humanities and Dr Peter Harvey from the School of Chemistry and Medicine have been awarded funding, and are among 75 promising research professionals that will benefit from £101 million to tackle major global issues.

Dr Joanne Cormac, Nottingham Research Fellow, has been given a £1.1M funding award as part of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship for the project “The Cultural Legacies of the British Empire: Classical Music’s Colonial History (1750-1900).”

Dr Cormac’s fellowship addresses a crucial missing dimension of our understanding of the cultural legacies of the British Empire: Classical instrumental music. It examines how colonialism’s profits underpinned Britain’s musical infrastructure, the impact of colonised and enslaved musicians on its development, and it will trace the patterns of imperial trade underpinning the movements of musicians, ideas, and goods. It will also make data on colonial performances publicly available for the first time. All of this has pressing implications for British society today in coming to terms with its past.

The project team will work with teachers, community groups, and cultural and heritage organisations to promote access to Classical music education and will develop new immersive technology to encourage diverse audiences to engage with the UK’s musical heritage and understands its connections to global histories. Project partners include The British Library, English Heritage, the Royal College of Music Museum, and local community group the Legacy Makers.

I'm thrilled to have been awarded a future leaders fellowship. The scheme offers fantastic resources and opportunities and will enable me to undertake some exciting and important new research and to work with a fantastic group of project partners.
Dr Joanne Cormac, School of Humanities

Dr Peter Harvey of the School of Chemistry and School of Medicine has been awarded a UKRI Future Fellowship Award of £1.6m for a project titled “Illuminating Brain Diseases Using Smart Multiread-out MRI”.

Dr Harvey has developed a technique that greatly expands the range and sensitivity of multi-signal MRI by using carefully designed contrast agents in a process called PARASHIFT MRI. This approach allows much lower levels of compounds to be detected in the living brain with multiple readouts available. Having previously demonstrated its approach in the body, Dr Harvey now aims to focus on applying the technique to study markers of brain disease in much more detail than is currently possible.

This pioneering MRI technique will be supplemented by complementary cutting-edge techniques, such as mass spectrometry imaging, to further understand the brain in unprecedented depth. Dr Harvey will focus on stroke and brain cancer as exemplar model systems in the initial stage of his fellowship as they represent clinically vital examples of both acute and chronic inflammation, respectively.

His work will have key applications in neurodegenerative disease and across a broad spectrum of neurological disorders. By combining these new tools for comprehensively detecting, characterising, and monitoring brain disease markers, Dr Harvey’s approach will reimagine how we look at the diseased brain and retrieve untold levels of information to help us tackle this pressing societal burden.

Understanding the progression of disease and subsequent deterioration in the brain is one of the most pressing biomedical challenges. The Future Leaders Fellowship will allow me the freedom to tackle this complex problem, build and train a team of highly interdisciplinary early career researchers, and grow my own skills by working alongside world leading scientists at Nottingham and across the world.
Dr Pete Harvey, School of Chemistry and Medicine

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Jo Cormac on: or Dr Pete Harvey on

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

More news…

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798