Centres of Excellence

Our Centres of Excellence are the University’s pillars of research strength. They help us drive progress for our planet and its people – and inspire us to see that a challenge is only impossible until it's done.

Impossible until it's done

  • Video transcript

    [INTRO MUSIC: Anthemic inspirational music plays]

    On-screen text:





    Research at Sussex

    in new technologies, science, AI and data analysis

    environmental sustainability and climate change

    [Birds flapping with visuals of a flock of birds flying in slow motion]

    [slide project sound as the text People slides onto screen]

    helping people and communities to flourish

    Research at Sussex

    world firsts in quantum computing

    [Sci-fi clicks and beeps as laboratory visuals cut together]

    global policy changes on sustainability

    the world for international development

    [waves sounds with slow motion waves crashing]

    [whoosh as the camera zooms from space to planet Earth]

    “It’s only impossible until it’s done”

    Research at Sussex

    Progress for planet and people

    [END CARD: University of Sussex logo, with text ‘Impossible until it’s done’ and URL ‘sussex.ac.uk/impossible’]

Watch more videos about our Centres of Excellence

Explore our Centres of Excellence

Our Centres of Excellence each undertake highly innovative and potentially transformative research.

They have been created to provide an environment and culture where researchers can truly believe a challenge is only impossible until it’s done.

Explore our Centres below.

More from our Centres of Excellence

Hear from the world-leading researchers within our Centres of Excellence. Learn about the impossible challenges they are taking on and how each Centre is driving progress for our planet and its people.


  • Transcript for video one

    Driving progress in neuroscience, sustainability research and and rare disease treatment:

    Professor Keith Caldecott: Some things are impossible, but if they're seemingly impossible, there's usually a way around it and you just have to find out what the best way is.

    ​​[Intro MUSIC: Light and upbeat instrumental]

    [TITLE CARD ‘Impossible until it’s done’]

    Professor Louise Serpell: Impossible is a challenge. It makes us want to work harder to try and overcome that.

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: It's a word that people use who are sceptical of the fact that we can have a positive future.

    [MUSIC: Whooshing]

    [Camera shutter noise]

    [TITLE CARD: ‘Sussex Neuroscience’]

    Professor Louise Serpell: Our great strength within Sussex Neuroscience is that we're working together in complementary ways to understand brain processes.

    [MUSIC: Whooshing]

    [ON SCREEN TEXT: ‘Professor Louise Serpell, Co-Director, Sussex Neuroscience’]

    Professor Louise Serpell: There's people from all different disciplines who are developing new methods to try and understand diseases -

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Louise Serpell: And how the brain works.

    Professor Louise Serpell: We can build on those developments -

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Louise Serpell: So that we can then go on to create better treatments.

    [MUSIC: Pulsing into electronic buzz]

    Professor Louise Serpell: We're at an amazing stage of developing drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease.

    [MUSIC: Uplifting strings]

    Professor Louise Serpell: Our work involves targeting a protein called tau -

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Louise Serpell: Which is involved in the process that destroys brain cells.

    [MUSIC: Strings intensify]

    Professor Louise Serpell: There's been a lot of excitement about the first anti-tau disease modifying drug. We're still a way off from being able to prevent or completely cure Alzheimer's, but the future is looking positive.

    [Camera shutter noise]

    [TITLE CARD: ‘Sussex Sustainability Research Programme’]

    [MUSIC: Gentle strings]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: We believe that we can reach a sustainable future with a new approach to research.

    [Deep boom noise]

    [ON SCREEN TEXT: ‘Professor Joseph Alcamo, Director, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme’]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: Here at the University of Sussex, we combine development studies and environmental research into a dynamic program of sustainability research.

    [MUSIC: Strings intensify]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: It helps to bring the expertise together that we need in order to tackle one of the great challenges of our times -

    [Gritty noise with video footage of a person grasping a handful of dirt]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: Achieving the sustainable development goals.

    [Deep boom noise]

    [High-pitched click]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: We're beginning to see this payoff in projects from all around the world.

    [MUSIC: Light emotional chords]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: For example, in the woodlands of Ecuador, we have projects training young people to collect critical biodiversity data that's then used by Ecuadorians to contest in the courts, the destruction of their own woodlands by mining.

    [MUSIC: Slows]

    Professor Joseph Alcamo: In the drylands of Kenya and Tanzania, we're using the most advanced sciences to improve early warning of imminent droughts. And we're also working on the ground with pastoral farmers to make sure that these warnings reach them. This research is showing how science can advance the well-being of both people and planet.

    [Camera shutter noise]

    [TITLE CARD: ‘Genome Damage and Stability Centre’]

    [MUSIC: Gentle strings]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: When you realise that your discoveries can have a direct impact on people's health, it's incredibly rewarding.

    [Deep rumble]

    [ON SCREEN TEXT: ‘Professor Keith Caldecott, Co-Director, Genome Damage and Stability Centre’]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: My team's research in the Genome Damage and Stability Centre is focused on understanding how faulty DNA repair causes human genetic diseases.

    Professor Keith Caldecott: We're gene hunters -

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: Identifying new genes and their roles -

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: In maintaining genome stability.

    [Camera shutter noise]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: If your genome becomes damaged, it can cause cancer, it can cause neurodegeneration. So everybody in the genome centre is working on some aspect of how our genomes are maintained in a stable state and transmitted faithfully from one generation to the next.

    [MUSIC: Intensifies]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: It's having that critical mass that really makes us world leading and why we stand out on the international stage.

    [MUSIC: Light bubbly track]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: Our laboratory's research discovered a number of novel human genes that previously were not known to exist. And in identifying those genes and working out what they do, we've discovered a number of human genetic diseases that arise in people, particularly children.

    [MUSIC: Increases in volume]

    Professor Keith Caldecott: And so now, knowing which genes cause those diseases allows us to advise clinicians and also hopefully in the future find cures for those diseases.

    [END CARD: University of Sussex logo ‘Impossible until it’s done ’ with URL sussex.ac/impossible]

  • Transcript for video two

    Tackling challenges in Quantum Technology, planetary care and podoconiosis:

    Professor Gail Davey OBE: When I think about impossible, I think of lack of imagination.

    [Screen reads 'Impossible until it's done']

    Professor Winfried Hensinger: When people tell me something can't be done, I just love to try.

    Professor Alice Eldridge: Don't think anyone's ever told me something's impossible.

    Professor Gail Davey OBE: I don't usually see it as a a barrier. I just think there must be other ways of doing something.

    [Screen reads 'Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies]

    Professor Winfried Hensinger: Quantum physics is a theory that governs everything around us, every process in nature. Quantum computers will enable us to investigate the fabric of reality to create a better future. 

    [Caption reads Professor Winfried Hensinger, Director of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies]

    Professor Winfried Hensinger: I've spent 20 years working with colleagues to understand and develop the science. Now we are building a full scale quantum computer that will be able to find the answers to some of the most urgent technical challenges of our time.

    From designing drugs for healthcare to making aircraft engines more fuel efficient. University of Sussex has become a powerhouse for quantum technology. We've launched the world's first quantum technology undergraduate degree, where students carry out research from day one, and we have vital links with industry to make amazing things happen.

    [Screen reads: Sussex Digital Humanities Lab]

    Professor Alice Eldridge: We are entering the sixth great extinction. We need to know what is happening in our forests, our farmland, our oceans, and our soil and ecosystems.

    [Caption reads 'Professor Alice Eldridge, Co-director of Sussex Digital Humanities Lab]

    Professor Alice Eldridge: Our work in ecoacoustics aims to develop tools to listen into the soundscape that emerges from an ecosystem as a way to understand its health.

    Listening to these soundscapes we find helps people connect with nature and remember that they're a part of, not apart from the rest of the living world. Our research centre brings together experts from arts and humanities, computing and social sciences, remixing those disciplines to solve the challenges that we are facing.

    The next generation of tools for planetary care will be co-created with scientific and traditional ecological knowledges. We hope to create a world where people and planet thrive as one. 

    [Screen reads 'Centre for Global Health Research']

    Professor Gail Davey OBE: Podoconiosis can lead to an inability to walk, to work, and to being ostracised by others. It's a disease that affects four million in some of the world's poorest countries. 

    [Caption reads 'Professor Gail Davey OBE, Co-director of Centre for Global Health Research]

    Professor Gail Davey OBE: Podoconiosis is fundamentally about health inequity around the world. The great challenge has been raising awareness, so governments know this condition exists.

    When you realise that a young teenager is about to commit suicide because of a disease that could have been prevented, had she had access to shoes, then you realise there's something wrong with the world. And I think that is a huge motivation to put that right. Within the Centre for Global Health Research at Sussex, we have an aim, which is to eliminate podoconiosis within our lifetimes.

    That is achievable and I'm committed to continuing work until that goal happens.

    [END CARD: University of Sussex logo, with text ‘Impossible until it’s done’ and URL ‘sussex.ac.uk/impossible’]



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