Media Relations

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The UCL Media Relations team is the university’s central press office.

We connect journalists to expert academics and promote UCL research and teaching throughout the global media.

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Voicebox transplant

Media research stories often involve a number of universities, hospitals and other interested parties such as funding bodies. UCL Media Relations are experienced in working with multiple organisations to plan for high profile stories and highlight the role UCL scientists have played.

Patient with voicebox transplant

In January 2011, Professor Martin Birchall (UCL Ear Institute) was part of an international surgical team who announced that they had carried out an operation to restore the voice of a US woman who had been unable to speak for more than a decade.

The team replaced the larynx (voicebox), thyroid gland and trachea (windpipe) in the 52-year-old woman, who had lost her ability to speak and breathe on her own. The 18-hour operation was one of the most complex transplant surgeries ever performed.

The announcement was made at UC Davis in California at a media briefing attended by Professor Birchall. An interview with him was filmed in advance by UCL Communications and edited together with footage of the patient. We then worked to highlight his role in the operation to the UK media.

The story attracted significant media coverage worldwide, and the UCL video was used by a number of media outlets. UK media highlights included:

BBC News Online, The Guardian, New Scientist, Daily Telegraph, Sky News, ITN News, Daily Mirror, PA, The Times, Daily Mail, Metro

Professor Birchall said: "The story got a huge amount of coverage all over the world. I was very grateful for the support of UCL Media Relations in terms of promoting this story and co-ordinating interest and requests from UK media."