This year at the Imperial Festival, Professor Roger Kneebone (Surgery and Cancer) and his team presented a realistic simulation of how a new surgical tool developed by Dr Zoltan Takats and team from Imperial College London could revolutionise the way surgeons decide what tissue to remove during an operation. The Intelligent Knife or iKnife can precisely identify tumour tissue while an operation is underway, thus making the surgery more reliable and faster. Visitors met and spoke with practicing surgeons, doctors, paramedics and scientists to find out more about how this new technology could become an everyday practice and who this technology is actually benefiting.
The performance started with a patient arriving by ambulance with lower abdominal pain. After handover, he was taken in to the pop-up operating theatre where the simulated open bowel procedure went underway using the iKnife. In between performances, visitors were encouraged to try out the iKnife themselves to identify the sources of different samples of animal liver.
The Itchy Sneezy Wheezy project, or ISW, is a primary care led project funded by CLAHRC to develop case management of patients with chronic diseases such as asthma and allergies. ISW is coordinated and administered by Professor John Warner (Professor of Paediatrics at Imperial College) and Rachel Griffin (Children’s Advanced Nurse Practitioner – Integrated Care), who has been seconded to Imperial College by CLAHRC to run the integrated care pathways project.
ISW’s work was recently profiled in the London Evening Standard, where one parent, Mrs Blagg-Reeves, was quoted as saying: “I’m just so glad the clinic was around. If it can help other mothers not feel like a disappointment to their child because they can’t help him or her, then that’s good.”
ISW was also shortlisted for Child Health Team of the Year in the 2013 BMJ Awards, which took place on the 9th May.
Bill Gates talks school feeding with Ghanaian farmers, teachers and caterers
During his first ever visit to Ghana, Bill Gates joined the Partnership for Child Development to talk with smallholder farmers, teachers and caterers to better understand the issues and opportunities presented by Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationhave been supporting the development of government-led, HGSF programmes since 2009. These nationally owned programmes enable schools to procure the ingredients for their school meals from local smallholder farmers. The benefits of programmes, such as Ghana’s School Feeding Programme (GSFP), are felt by the school child and farmer alike with school children getting free nutritious hot meals whilst the farmer gets access to a regular market, providing a win-win for both education and economic development.
PCD recently accompanied a Dubai Cares team visit to Ghana who carried out a number of field visits to monitor and evaluate aspects of the GSFP they are supporting through PCD. This support is focused on improving the nutritional quality of food in school meals and consists of three key components: community sensitization, providing advice to farmers and a deworming programme.
The second annual School Health and Nutrition (SHN) course in Southeast Asia
The second annual SHN course was held in Laos between 13–20 February 2013. Hosted by the Laos Ministries of Health and Education and supported by PCD, the Japan Consortium for Global School Health Research and Mahidol University, the course trained 40 participants drawn from governments, development partners and SHN organisations from 11 Asian countries in the region.
Dental health and hygiene programme, Osun State, Nigeria
A total of 90 school health promoters and 966 teachers from 322 schools were trained as part of a pilot programme to improve the hygiene, dental health and nutrition practices of 90,000 children in Osun State. The programme is being implemented by the Osun State Government, in partnership with PCD and UNILEVER.
Are school food programmes in low-income settings sustainable? accepted for publication
A PCD paper, “Are school food programmes in low-income settings sustainable? Insights on the costs of school feeding compared to investments in primary education”, was recently accepted for publication by the Food and Nutrition Bulletin. The paper analyses the costs of school feeding and the cost relative to education expenditure and other measures of economic growth using data from high, low and middle countries.
“Absolutely fantastic!” said one mother after visiting the Strictly Science exhibition. “My daughter thinks it’s ‘the best museum ever.’ She got bored of the Science Museum, because there is not enough interactive stuff for kids.”
From 4-14 April, the main foyer of Imperial College was transformed into a series of live and cinematic installations showcasing science past, present and future to commemorate the 100th birthday of the Medical Research Council. The exhibition saw around 5000 visitors.
Visitors sampled vitamin-rich recipes to cure rickets, learned how a clockwork kymograph was used to discover the first neurotransmitter, and how a spiky test-tube helped improve treatment for war wounds, all within a laboratory from 1913. “People have been finding the experiments quite fascinating, even if they didn’t necessarily understand everything,” said Jan Huisman (University Museum Groningen), who brought the kymograph from the Netherlands. “We’ve had a lot of interaction from the audience.”
Guests got to play with interactive tools used by neurotechnologists to study the brain. Balance boards were used to engage young and old in the effects of ageing on movement. People played classic computer game, Pong, using only their eyes. And experiments using a full body motion capture suit were happening live throughout the exhibition. “My favourite part was playing Pong on the Blink interactive,” said one young visitor. “My favourite part was when you were on the balancing thing and you had to see if you could move the ball,” commented another.
“It was very interesting hearing all the famous people and children saying what they think the future will be like in 100 years time. Very soothing. I could quite happily sit there all day just listening to those voices.” commented one lady shortly after experiencing a 3D sound sculpture, which united the future hopes and fears of professionals and primary school children for 2113.
Over 70 posters were displayed by research students in their 2nd and 3rd years from across the Department. Two Departmental panels of judges, comprising academic staff (Dr Kevin Murphy, Professor Julian Dyson and Dr Ramesh Wigneshweraraj) and Student Reps (Nathali Grageda, Lauren Capron, William Jackson and Ming-Shih Hwang), judged the posters.
The event was formally opened at 1400 by Professor Shiranee Sriskandan. Professor Sriskandan informed everyone of recent grant successes of the Department’s PhD students and Post Docs as follows:
3 successful Junior Research Fellow (JRF) applications, 2013:
2 MRC Centenary Awards, 2013:
Paul Turner (Post Doc), Paediatrics, successful in acquiring an MRC clinician/scientist award
Kelsey Jones (PhD student), Paediatrics, currently in the 3rd year of his PhD research based in Kenya, obtained a Gates foundation grant. This is to institute a trial of an innovative nutritional reconstitution formula for severely malnourished children.
Ben Bleasdale, PhD student, Virology, won 1st prize for his scientific essay in the Royal College of Science Unions Science Challenge, 2013. He was presented with his prize at the House of Lords by Lord Winston.
Moira Cheung, PhD student, Molecular Endocrinology, won the 2013 International Conference on Children’s Bone Health New Investigator Award
Apostolos Gogakos, PhD student, Molecular Endocrinology, won the 2013 British Endocrine Societies British Thyroid Association Prize
John Logan, Post Doc, Molecular Endocrinology, awarded a £10,000 Society for Endocrinology Early Career Award in 2012/2013
Professor Barclay expertly Chaired the afternoon, introducing the postdocs’ high quality scientific presentations. The floor was handed to five postdocs who had been selected to orally present their research:
Nicki Lynskey, Division of Infectious Diseases:
A Molecular Basis for Group A Streptococcal Hyper-encapsulation
David Bernardo Ordiz, Division of Infectious Diseases:
Immune compartmentalization in the gastrointestinal tract: differences between ascending and descending human colon
Ana Cehovin, Division of Infectious Diseases:
Specific DNA recognition mediated by type IV pilins
Anna Herasimtschuk, Division of Immunology:
Therapeutic immunisation in conjunction with IL-2, GM-CSF and rhGH improves CD4 T-cell counts and reduces immune activation in cART-treated HIV-1+patients: a phase I clinical study
Amy Birch, Division of Brain Sciences:
The ablation of reactive astrocytes in APP23 mice induces spatial memory decline & increases amyloid plaque load
Following the above oral presentations, Ms Katie Anders, from the Postdoc Development Centre, drew everyone’s attention to the Postdoc Development Centre and the ongoing support and development opportunities it offers to postdocs. Dr Claire Turner, recently awarded a JRF, then joined Professor Barclay at the poster and oral presentation prize announcement as follows:
Prizes were given to all Post Docs who had been selected to give an oral presentation.
1st prizes for posters were given to Ian Harrison, Katherine McCullough, Mark Reglinska and Korina Li
2nd prizes for posters were given to Yuliya Nigmatullina and Catherine Ong
At the end of the afternoon, refreshments were served in the breakout space providing an opportunity for networking and poster viewing. Thanks go to everyone who supported this event. Special thanks to the Postdoc Development Centre for financially supporting the event. Plans are now underway to build on its strengths to ensure its continuing success on an annual basis.
Following six months of closure the St Mary’s Campus Library reopened on Monday 15 April as the Fleming Library. An official opening ceremony, hosted by Vice Dean and Director of Education in the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Jenny Higham, took place on Tuesday 14 May.
The group intends to create a wearable bio-artificial lung; AMBULUNG, for long term application in an outpatient setting. Their aims include miniaturisation of the existing device, cellularisation of the diffusion membrane with endothelial cells to reduce thrombus (blood clot) formation, and inclusion of peripheral lung cells to increase gas exchange.
Imperial College will receive a portion of the funding, which together with the generous support from the Rosetrees Trust, will unable to creation of a strong group of scientists doing both basic and translational research on lung regeneration.
The HELIX project consortium (The Human Early-Life Exposome – novel tools for integrating early-life environmental exposures and child health across Europe), which officially began on 1st January 2013, have met for its official kickoff meeting at CREAL (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology), Barcelona. This EU FP7 project will exploit novel tools and methods, including omics and smartphone-based personal exposure monitoring, to characterise early-life exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards, and integrate these with data on major child health outcomes.
Researchers at Imperial, led by Dr Muireann Coen of the Department of Surgery and Cancer, will contribute to the metabolic profiling (metabonomics/metabolomics) in the project. This using high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS) analyses of biospecimens collected from multiple mother-child cohorts across Europe.
At home, we are all used to recycle different items, by separating them into distinct containers and sending to specialised places to be destroyed into raw materials. Cells also do the same: they destroy unwanted material into small components that can then be recycled to obtain energy and building blocks for proteins and lipids.
A recent paper published in Developmental Cell by my group (The Braga Lab) in NHLI, investigates the mechanisms of degradation of intracellular material leading to cell survival in the absence of nutrients.
This process is called autophagy and is important in a number of pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases (where misfolded proteins are cleared out) and survival of cancer cells inside tumours. Stopping tumour cells from doing this would improve the effectiveness of treatments and the survival of cancer patients. However, specific inhibitors of autophagy are still being developed that could be used in clinic.
Our lab has identified a novel regulator of autophagy named Armus. Armus facilitates the delivery of unwanted material found in specialised packages (autophagosomes) for degradation in organelles called lysosomes. Blocking Armus function considerably delays clearing out cellular components and autophagy progression. Armus does so by interacting directly with LC3, a protein found at autophagosomes, which then localizes Armus at the right place and time.
Inhibiting autophagy has been shown to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for lung and pancreatic tumours.. We found that if you stop Armus from working, the unwanted intracellular components don’t get broken down. Cells thus cannot obtain extra energy from recycling parts that helps their survival. This opens the door to developing novel drugs that targets Armus and helps conventional therapies kill cancer cells more efficiently.
The Faculty of Medicine will be piloting a project issuing iPads to students in years 5 and 6 of the MBBS course at the beginning of the 2013/14 academic term.
The main learning and teaching activities planned to be delivered on iPads are:
All the course learning materials will be accessed via Blackboard Learn.
Students on placements will be able to readily and easily access learning materials and their own notes, and be able to add reflections, etc.
Some sign-off forms (DOPS) will be available electronically on the iPads allowing clinical teachers to assess students and submit the DOPS to the Faculty Education Office electronically, keeping a record on the students’ iPads.
Students will be able to participate during lectures using virtual clickers hosted on their iPads.
Students will access interactive iBooks in the area of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
Students will be able to receive updates from different sites directly on their iPads providing a direct communication channel with clinical sites.
The iPad pilot launch event took place on 15 May 2013 .
Professor Salman Rawaf and Marion Chaix both recently attended the Medhealth Cairo 2013 Conference to support the healthcare sector in the Middle East. It featured workshops and lectures on various topics from leadership to quality, safety risk management & IT.
The Arab Hospitals Federation hosted the event, gathering 9 Ministers of Health on the AHF panel and discussing the “Investment in the adolescent health is the future of healthcare”. It was held simultaneously with the Arab Health Ministers Council. With participants from 16 different countries, 25 local and regional respected speakers, key decision makers and policy makers sharing expertise and experience with the attendees, the conference was a success allowing some of the biggest buyers and users to share experiences.
The conference included workshops and interactive panel discussion in addition to keynote speeches delivered by regional and international experts. Professor Salman Rawaf delivered two workshops on situational leadership and on hospital management which were highly successful.
During Medhealth Cairo 2013, the Arab Hospitals Federation has granted awards to several personalities who have contributed in developing the healthcare sector and implemented efficient strategies aiming to raise awareness and provide the Arab citizens with high quality healthcare services.
A closing ceremony followed.
Imperial College London and WHOCC welcomes King Saud University (KSU) delegation visit, 21-22 March 2013
On the 21-22 March, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training at Imperial College London had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Dr. Badran Al-Omar, the King Saud University (KSU) Rector and his accompanying senior delegation: Prof. Dr. Ahmed Bin Salem AlAmeri – Rector for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research; Dr. Abdurrehman Al-Moammar – Vice Rector for Health Specializations; Prof. Dr. Moaddi M. Almethhib – Dean of College of Business Administration; Prof. Dr. Khalid Ibrahem Alhumaizi – Dean of College of Engineering; Prof. Dr. Suleiman Alshammari – Deputy Chairman of Scientific Council of Family Medicine, Examination Committee and Health Education Center as well as Consultant of Family and Community Medicine; and Dr. Mezyad M. Alterkawi – Director of International Relations and Twinning Program at KSU, CEO of Riyadh Technology Incubation Centre as well as Associate Professor, College of Architecture and Planning.
British Federation of Women Graduates
The British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) holds a ‘Research Presentations Day’ each year where women postgraduate students are invited to give short presentations of their research work. Doctoral Researcher, Elizabeth Dubois, from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, was one of eight women selected to present on her PhD thesis “Health Checks in Primary Care: Steps to Improve Population Health”.
Elizabeth was also chosen to present a poster of her PhD thesis to this year’s 42nd Annual Conference Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) to be held at the University of Nottingham, July 2013. The SAPC, a medical teaching society, supports high quality primary care research studies undertaken in the UK.
On the 22April 2013 the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, welcomed a group of senior academics from across Iraq to Imperial College London.
Ranging from medicine, pharmacy, nursing and veterinary science, 14 university staff were invited, in conjunction with the Iraqi Cultural Attaché and Ministry of Higher Education for Science and Research (MoHERS), to undertake an intensive four-week training programme. The aim of the programme was to strengthen current skills and teaching methods at an international level. The important visit also establishes opportunity for greater collaboration between MoHERS Iraq and Imperial College.
Sourced in a rich history of medical education, Iraq was once described by the UN and the World Bank as having “first class medical facilities including well-established public health services, hospitals, primary care facilities and ample production and supply of medicine and medical equipment” (2003). Medical education in turn, was well developed with 12 established medical schools. Today there are now 20.
With planned visits to NICE, the BMJ/BMA, the Faculty of Public Health, PBL Learning, the Centre for Clinical Practice, St George’s Hospital and Chelsea Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, this specially tailored training programme was designed to meet their needs and offered the visiting academics a useful insight into standards of good practice to share with academic colleagues back home in Iraq.
The 1st Arab World Conference on Public Health “Towards Excellence in Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges in the Arab World”, 4-6 April 2013 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Doctoral Researcher, Elizabeth Dubois, and Research Assistant, Dr Sondus Hassounah from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, WHO Collaborating Centre were chosen to present their posters at the 1stArab World Conference on Public Health held in Dubai this past April. Their topics were: ‘Health Checks in Primary Care: Steps to Improve Population Health’ and ‘Challenges & Solutions: The Case of Egypt’s Health System Performance’ respectively.
Staff satisfaction at hospitals may affect the quality of patient care
The satisfaction levels among a hospital’s staff are closely linked to the quality of healthcare it provides, say a team of doctors from Imperial. In the first study of its kind, Dr Richard Pinder (School of Public Health) and colleagues found that hospitals in England with lower mortality rates were more likely to have members of staff satisfied with the quality of care they provide. The findings suggest that staff satisfaction could be used as an early warning system to help spot more serious institutional failings, reported The Daily Telegraph. “If you want to choose between two hospitals, knowing that 98 per cent of doctors and nurses working there would recommend their hospital, compared with 60 per cent elsewhere is a useful thing to know,” said Dr Pinder.
On 10 April, Academic GPs from the Department of Primary Care & Public Health met with senior staff from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), including Mark Davies (Chief Executive), Brendan Farmer (Director of Strategy) and Chris Harrison (Deputy Medical Director).
The aim of the meeting was to discuss closer working between the department and ICHT in areas such as primary care service redevelopment, specialist GP training, continuing professional development for established GPs in NW London, GP liaison, and primary care research.
Prepared by Jenna Mollaney, Department of Primary Care and Public Health
We received over 700 responses to the Faculty Communications survey – thank you to all of those that responded! Your contribution is very much appreciated.
Richard Colquhoun (Neonatal Data Analysis Unit Manager, Department of Medicine) and Jocelyn Elmes (Research Assistant, School of Public Health) were each a recipient of a £50 amazon voucher.
The data from the survey is being analysed – we will be working to identify some key activities to improve communication across the Faculty and in particular improve communication across the campuses which appeared to be a concern for a lot of those that responded. It also appears that information flows across all areas in the Faculty aren’t ideal at present so again, we will be looking at what could be done to improve this.
If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions, please post a comment below, contact James Moore or Neil Young. We’d be really interested in hearing anything you have to share.
We’ll be providing a summary of the results in the coming weeks.
Here are a few links to information which appeared to be a common bug-bear amongst a number of people that completed the survey:
We were all extremely proud to see more than 400 of our incredibly talented postgraduate students from the Faculty of Medicine graduate at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday evening.
It was fantastic to witness such an excellent turn out from our staff members to help in congratulating all of the hard work and dedication of our new graduates. Such a coming together of people in celebration of achievement was a wonderful sight.
Unfortunately due to illness the Chair of the Court and the Council, Baroness Manningham-Buller, was unable to attend. The Dean of Natural Sciences, Prof Dallman stood in and was on stage to receive and congratulate the students, ably assisted by the Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Prof Dermot Kelleher.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Dr Mick Jones, from the Department of Medicine, who was presented with a Rector’s Medal by Sir Keith O’Nions for excellence in pastoral care.