Dr Shona Blair, Head of Research Strategy, Faculty of Medicine
Describe your job in a few words:
Develop and support strategic research initiatives
What’s the best thing about your role?
Supporting world leading researchers, and the team I work with.
What’s the most challenging thing about your role?
Understanding the depth and breadth of the research we do, the complexities of our structure and our engagement with the NHS.
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
Giving a key note address on my research, while the world leader in my field was in the audience, and receiving very positive feedback from him.
I heard that you’ve done some research on bees and honey – tell us a little about that:
As a former microbiologist, I’ve been involved in research into the antimicrobial and other therapeutic properties of honey, with a particular focus on manuka from Australia and New Zealand, for quite a few years. (more…)
As you may be aware, I am at home recovering from a spinal injury sustained in a car accident in Zimbabwe, where I was visiting one of our research units; I hope to be back after Easter. In the meanwhile, I am immensely grateful to Martin Wilkins who has stepped in as Acting Dean while I am away from College, and would also like to thank all of my colleagues for their well-wishes and their continuing support of the Faculty during this time. My enforced spell of reflection is, of course, very frustrating given the outstanding opportunities that currently stand before the Faculty, and the College as a whole. However, it has afforded me some time to reflect on how best to realise these emerging opportunities for Medicine.
In July 2018, not long after my appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, I wrote in the College Staff Briefing about the distinctive environment that medical science now enjoys at Imperial. I wrote of the extraordinary benefits of Medicine now being well-embedded within the wider ecosystem of excellent fundamental science at the College, while working translationally with our AHSC network of NHS partners. I also described the new opportunities that have been catalysed across the College by the development of our White City Campus, particularly through exploiting adjacency to the Hammersmith Campus. Since I wrote that piece, Novartis have announced their intention to relocate their UK headquarters to White City, elegantly demonstrating the ‘pulling power’ of our emerging life sciences cluster. (more…)
March marks the launch of our redesigned Faculty of Medicine internal newsletter, which is now being delivered to the inboxes of postgraduate research student members of our community as well as all Faculty staff members. The monthly email has taken on a new style and design following an extensive redesign project.
We in the Faculty’s Communications Team wanted to provide an insight into the redesign project and how changes made to the newsletter were driven by your feedback.
Why change the newsletter?
Although the Faculty newsletter scored positively in the 2017 Staff Survey – 70 per cent of staff agreed or strongly agreed that it was a useful communication channel – we were keen to review a structure that had remained largely unchanged for around five years. With the Faculty newsletter a crucial component of our internal communications, we felt there was a clear need to freshen the design and ensure it evolved to fit the needs of our community.
The newsletter was also designed at a time when it was the main piece of medicine-specific internal communications; necessitating a broad and varied remit. Since then, the Faculty’s departments have developed their own newsletters, which now cover a significant proportion of the newsletter’s original scope. (more…)
Joana Dos Santos explains a new short course for Master’s students, IMPACTS (Inclusive Module on Professional And Critical Thinking Skills):
IMPACTS is an elective, non-credit bearing short-course for PG students in the Faculty of Medicine.
What is the IMPACTS short course aiming to address?
As professionals, most of our skills have been acquired and refined through years of practice and interactions within our own scientific community. These essential skills to success notably include identifying key literature, critically engaging with different types of scientific publications, presenting data efficiently as well as interpreting and critically discussing complex data sets. Importantly, we might take some of these skills for granted and consequently expect our students to demonstrate them without having necessarily taught them, or taken into account the cultural, educational, linguistic or learning difficulties background of our students. (more…)
The HR Transformation Project will be transitioning the Faculty of Medicine’s HR departments into the new College HR Structure on Monday 4 March. This is the beginning of improving the HR services the Faculty receives, and will involve a change in how faculty staff can access HR services.
As the transition progresses, both the HR teams and Medicine departments will be adapting to a new way of operating. While I’m confident that service levels should improve quickly following the implementation of this change, we will need your feedback to understand how well it is working. We’ll monitor the HR service provided closely, and will address emerging issues as quickly as possible. To help us continuously improve the service we offer, you can provide feedback on your experience to Claudia Menichetti (for the Staff Hub), Jason Chambers (for the Recruitment Hub) or myself.
As part of our commitment to work with our neighbours in and around our new White City Campus, we are excited to announce the launch of a new fund which supports community-led science and technology projects. We are offering seed funding of up to £2,000 to local residents and community groups who wish to explore and share the wonder of science with their communities. You can read more about the fund on our website. (more…)
Could bird songs help boost engagement with hearing tests?
A new venture will explore the use of bird songs to encourage engagement with hearing tests. The idea was born out of a two-day workshop led by the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, developed to stimulate innovative ideas that could help improve communication for adults with hearing loss.
In a new study, Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) scientists will begin evaluating whether the Streams app can help both patients and healthcare staff by making important medical information more readily available.
Societal engagement at Imperial is for all members of staff and you can sign up to our exciting masterclasses now! They are a low-commitment, easy way to get familiar with engagement and kickstart your engagement activities.
Engagement activities have a whole range of benefits including:
Gaining new perspectives
Getting the public excited about STEM and your work
Imperial College London would like to recruit a postgraduate student representative for the NEW Science, Engineering and Technology Research Ethics Committee (SETREC). SETREC will focus on non-health related projects and will run alongside the ICREC which previously had oversight for all health and non-health studies.
A key aim of the Committee is to enable Imperial to maintain the highest ethical standards in all research relating to human participants.
SETREC will convene monthly on the third Tuesday of each month at South Kensington Campus. If you are interested in joining the Committee, please send a short letter outlining relevant experience and suitability. Please include an up to date copy of your CV.
No experience necessary. Applications must be sent to Nooreen Shaikh at the Joint Research Compliance Office. Information on ICREC can be found on the website.
The Public Affairs team is currently working on a new programme to support Imperial researchers connect with policymakers, including workshops with policymakers on specific themes, training, information and support to individual academics.
Seminars for Imperial researchers were introduced at the end of 2018 and will continue this year. These seminars aim to equip researchers with everything they need to initiate or continue their engagement with policy. The seminar will provide an introduction to policy-making and influencing as well as a practical guide on how to engage policymakers with research to achieve increased impact. It is suitable for all levels of experience and no preparation will be necessary.
The next dates are:
Thursday, 21 February: 13:45 – 16:00
Wednesday, 27 March: 9:45 – 12:00
Friday, 26 April: 13:45 – 16:00
Friday, 31 May: 13:45 – 16:00
Friday 28 June: 13:45 – 16:00
All seminars will take place in the Boardroom, Faculty Building, South Kensington Campus.
The College closes at your usual finishing time on Friday 21 December and reopens on Wednesday 2 January. If you need to undertake any essential work between these times when the College is closed, the College Access to College Buildings Out of Hours Policy applies. Please see the policy for more information on what is considered to be essential work.
The policy requires you to obtain written permission from your Head of Department (or, for the Department of Medicine only, your Head of Division). There is a link within the Policy to the form that you need in order to obtain such permission.
Heads of Department/Division must be satisfied that appropriate lone working arrangements are made in line with the College’s Safe Management of Lone Working Code of Practice, and that wellbeing implications are considered prior to out of hours access being granted.
Security staff are likely to check whether such permission has been granted if you are working at these times.
The College no longer subscribes to Research Professional and has moved to a new provider for research funding information, called Idox GRANTfinder 4 Education, offering a searchable database of funding opportunities and the option to subscribe to alerts.
GRANTfinder 4 Education allows academic institutions in the UK to service all their funding search requirements in one place: GRANTfinder for wider projects such as capital investment and spin-offs, RESEARCHconnect for research projects and POLICYfinder to keep track of relevant policy to support funding applications. This resource offers the ability to search for up-to-date funding opportunities and share information across defined groups and the wider communities at Imperial College and to deliver these in a cost-effective manner.
There will be a training session will be on 12 December. Antony McKay from Idox will deliver the training and there will be 3 sessions, all in room SKEM 315. Registration is via Eventbrite. The second session of the day will be tailored for research managers and the other two sessions are open to all College staff. Please register for the session you would like to attend. If you are unable to attend these sessions there will be more scheduled for the early part of 2019. (more…)
ICT Customer Services is currently undergoing a restructure led by the Head of Customer Services, Leigh Davenport. The new model is designed to allow us to focus more on the operational relationships with the faculties by giving the faculties a dedicated resource who will be their day-to-day interface. Whilst we are focusing on the customer relationship we are also going to improve the efficiency of service delivery, making better use of the staff we have by pooling our resources and continue our trend of improving resolution times whilst driving down Service Level Agreement breaches. The changes are due to take place in a structured and phased way, over the next 6 to 8 weeks.
New roles and changes to teams
A new function has been created called the Customer Services Management team, headed by Dawn Beaumont. Customer Services Managers will own the operational relationship with customer departments and manage customer satisfaction within ICT. As well as leading the new team, Dawn will also be the Customer Service Manager with responsibility for Medicine. Dawn has spent her entire career at Imperial providing IT support to Medicine, worked at all of the Medicine campuses and has for the last 15 years been the Faculty Support Manager responsible for the teams providing IT Support at the Medicine sites.
The ICT Digital Partners will still own the strategic relationships with the departments, initiating and guiding new projects and will work with the Customer Services Managers to champion the “voice of the customer” within ICT.
The Faculty Support team will report into a single Faculty Support Manager, Jamey Khan, who will oversee the services of resource teams providing deskside support in departments and via the ICT Service Desk in Central Library for South Kensington-based staff and existing local offices on remote campuses. This move should allow improved responsiveness of engineers to adapt to changing demands across the organisation.
Elmy Thompson, the current Site Manager for Hammersmith, Charing Cross and White City will be moving to take up the role of Departmental Operations Manager taking charge of the ICT’s Admin function. Dominic Spencer who currently covers St Mary’s, Chelsea and Brompton will have responsibility for managing deskside support teams across all the College’s remote campuses.
There are a limited number of FREE bursary places available for Imperial College London staff in healthcare professions outside of medicine to cover the course fee. Contact the CATO Team for further bursary details.
Revolutions in public health research and how to access UK Biobank data: An update for all Clinical Academics
Course date: The next Imperial CATO masterclass is on January 24 2019, 18:00hrs, at the Royal Marsden Hospital (Julian Bloom Lecture Theatre).
Course content: The focus will be on how clinical academics might use the increasing wealth of population and NHS data (including UK Biobank) in research studies, or work with epidemiologists and others in exploring research questions using their data and skills.
Target audience: This will be particular interest to those of you who are not public health researchers to learn about how you could potentially work with such academics, and learn what they are currently doing, and how to access data such as UK Biobank.
Speakers: this will include Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, Reader in Epidemiology, who uses UK Biobank data to explore genetic associations of inflammatory biomarkers (amongst others).
In 2017 the Medical Research Council and Imperial College London announced a joint project to build a new home for the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) on the former Cyclotron site. The location of the LMS at the Hammersmith Hospital campus has supported the delivery of multidisciplinary research at the interface of medicine and basic science. The new building will bring the Institute together in a state-of-the-art collaborative research environment with specialist research facilities.
This month the project reached a major milestone with the submission of planning permission to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The application will be live on the Council portal in a week’s time, with a planning decision expected in March 2019.
Alongside the development of the planning application, the procurement of the contractor for the project has begun. While the team await the planning decision the project has now moved into RIBA stage 4, the technical design stage. Our design team of Hawkins\Brown, Buro Happold and Abell Nepp are continuing to work with the LMS and our project team to develop these plans over the coming months. (more…)
Dallas Alexandrou, project manager for the Attributes and Aspirations module explains this new module:
In parallel to the ongoing curriculum review, the Faculty of Medicine postgraduate team has identified the need to develop high-quality tools and activities to help our Master’s students take ownership of their professional futures and develop their graduate attributes beyond the mastery of their chosen discipline.
As a result, the proposed Attributes and Aspirations (AA) module has been approved by the College Pedagogy Transformation Committee and is currently being developed. It will use interactive pedagogical activities based on a blended, inclusive, innovative and active approach to supporting our students.
Critical to the development of the AA module is that it meets both students’ and employers’ needs. Research has been undertaken to identify the relevant topics and skills our students are keen to develop, together with the skills and attributes identified by employers as being critical graduate skills for current and future employment. Areas including effective career guidance, practice of selection processes and skills such as adaptability, communication, critical thinking, problem solving and effective team work have been identified as priorities.
Subject to the College’s standard approval mechanisms, a pilot delivery of the AA module will commence from Autumn Term 2019-20 in selected Faculty of Medicine MSc/MRes programmes. AA will be non-credit bearing and elective, with much of the delivery online to avoid interfering with students’ timetabled teaching and lab sessions. Following evaluation of the pilot, there is an ambition to offer the module to students from all FoM postgraduate programmes and to students from Faculties across the College. (more…)
My appointment as Vice Dean (Education) was announced last month, and it is a great privilege to be asked to lead our community of creative and inspiring students and education staff. Since the Dean asked me to take on this role, I have been thinking about how I can best support those in the Faculty of Medicine involved in education.
We are in a time of great change and opportunity. As you know, we are currently involved in a comprehensive undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum review. We are also about to make a significant investment in our pedagogy and digital education capacity (initially funded through the Learning and Teaching Strategy). Furthermore, for the first time, there is a clear path to academic promotion based on a person’s scholarly and educational activity.
It is obvious that I cannot manage all this change alone. I propose two things: (more…)
Ahead of October’s Global Health Forum, IGHI spoke to Abellona U to discuss how far we’ve come in cancer technologies, their translatability to lower and middle income countries and her research on hepatocellular carcinoma.
Wellcome Trust/NIHR Imperial BRC/ICCIS clinical research fellowships 2019
‘4i’ programme, Immunity, Inflammation, Infection and Informatics
Applications are invited from exceptional medical graduates who demonstrate a commitment to a research career and aspire to become the next generation of clinical academic leaders to join our prestigious PhD Fellowship Programmes. Successful candidates will be selected on the basis of academic potential to reach the highest standards of scientific research, regardless of clinical specialty.
The Fellowships will be full-time and fixed term for three years. The funding covers clinical salary, PhD registration fees at the UK/EU rate, College fees, associated project costs and general training costs.
The Faculty of Medicine fundraising team has seen change and success since its inception but our mission remains the same, to raise as much philanthropic funding for Medicine as possible. We have recently grown to a team of four: Angela Bowen (Director of Development), Amy Propsting (Head of Development), Emily Pratt (Development Officer) and Ellen Becker (Executive Assistant to the Director of Development). As time has gone on, it has become clear that the more people we have going out and speaking to alumni and friends of the College, the more donations we have secured and our totals have increased year upon year. (more…)
The MBBS curriculum review coincides with a college-wide review of all taught programmes – MBBS, BSc, MSc, MRes. The college is dedicating resources to a learning and teaching strategy, with buy-out of academics’ time to plan their reviews, grants for new teaching initiatives, a promise to reward good teachers in promotion rounds, a seminar series on approaches to teaching, curriculum review workshops, and a heightened status for the Education Development Unit as a centre for research into teaching and learning. There are ambitious plans to encourage the diffusion of learning technologies throughout our programmes. For a research-based university, there is a surprising level of chatter about teaching, together with chances to influence (and be influenced by) the renewed emphasis on education. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see the Learning and Teaching Strategy. (more…)
From October to December 2018, the Faculty of Medicine will be running information and Q&A sessions for staff to accompany the launch of the Faculty’s new Codes of Practice for information governance and for handling health and social care research data.
These new codes of practice will provide practical guidance, processes and advice on how to comply with current key data legislation (GDPR) and to implement the College’s associated policies within the Faculty of Medicine setting.