On Wednesday 20 June, members of all departments across Hammersmith Hospital campus gathered for the “IC Biomedical Symposium” – an annual showcase of postdoctoral research which comprises work from departments of Medicine, Surgery and Cancer, NHLI and LMS.
After last year’s successful “Postdoc Knowledge Forum”, this rebranded second edition, ensured all members of the departments felt welcome to come and support the work of their postdocs, promoting multidisciplinary collaborations. In fact, a very positive turnout resulted from this rebranding with a 145-people registering, a quarter of which signed up on the day. Other than postdocs, Faculty members, PhD students and Master’s students also joined for the day, as well as members of other campuses, fulfilling the aim of a symposium that reaches a wider audience, brings the whole campus together, and facilitates collaboration across the different departments and divisions.
Prior to taking up the role of Vice-Dean (Education) for the Faculty you’ve held senior Faculty and College level roles as Campus Director for St Mary’s and as a College Consul. (How) do you think you will be drawing on this experience in your new role?
I was Campus Director (or Campus Dean as it was then called) for St Mary’s for just over 5 years and I learned a lot during that period about what really matters on the ground at an academic campus –in particular I learned that the drive to ensure a good educational environment for our students has always, ultimately, come right at the top of our priorities. Whilst Imperial as an organisation is often considered to be heavily research-focussed, the reality I encountered when working with colleagues at the campus is that the imperative of delivering a curriculum to a high standard of quality was always acknowledged and staff across academic and non-academic functions work hard to make that happen. That’s a great piece of insight for me to take into this new role.
From 2013, I served as Clinical Consul for three years. This is a College level role and undoubtedly the role has grown my knowledge of the functions and complexity of the College as a whole, and allowed me to get to know the academic leadership and senior management team much more broadly. I hope that this combination of experiences in these roles will enable me to marry an understanding of institutional level drivers for development and enhancement with real acknowledgement of local impacts at a delivery level – and hopefully to draw knowledge upwards from a local level to influence and enhance institutional level engagement with key developments.
What has impressed you most about the education activities you’ve seen underway in the Faculty.
There is an outstanding cadre of people in the Faculty who support the education mission. The support I have received from Martin Lupton, Jane Saffell and the senior leadership team has been immense as I have come into the role, but equally I can now point to individuals right throughout our Faculty – and indeed beyond our borders within the NHS itself – who are extraordinarily talented and committed educators and tutors. From the perspective of expertise and dedication there is no limit to what we can achieve in our educational programmes – a challenge for me and the central team will be to ensure we continue to support and channel these skills in the best possible way to effectively enhance and innovate in our programmes, develop strongly as educationalists and respond to students’ needs.
As the College’s lead in the collaborative LKCMedicine, what benefits do you feel both parties, and students, receive from such endeavours?
I’ve had the privilege now to visit Singapore a few times and to see the new school in action. The real joy of being involved in a project like LKCMedicine is being able to see benefits being generated from the interplay between Imperial’s rich history and expertise in medical education with the fresh approach and quality of engagement to be found among our partners (with NTU, with our Singaporean governmental and healthcare partners, and from the student-base itself). These early years of new educational developments are immensely exciting times – I was at Southampton at a similar point in the development of its medical school some years ago, and what I witnessed there (as with here) is the high level of enthusiasm and sheer determination to ‘get it right’ that accompanies a new venture. That enthusiasm drives a huge amount of creativity and innovation – and ultimately quality!
For Imperial, it seems to me that LKCMedicine has been a hugely valuable development. Among our academic faculty, it’s given us a space and a framework to take a step back and consider a medical curriculum in the round, and to identify where we should be harnessing Imperial’s strengths to offer every one of our students a distinctive and outstanding education during their time with us. Much of the experience we have gained from that process is also feeding on into our own UK course developments.
In addition, the project has generated huge amounts of innovative teaching tools, technologies and approaches that we are now harnessing within our UK programmes. Most recently we’ve seen the beginning of what I think will be a really valuable opportunity for our students to meet and engage with their LKC peers (and vice-versa). This offers our students a unique development opportunity to share common issues as well as key differences arising from practicing medicine in different healthcare systems and with distinct sets of health challenges. Our first cohort of students from LKC Medicine visited last month and I hope to see these sorts of opportunities to broaden and enrich the learning experiences among our students flourish.
In your clinical research you also act as lead for one of the themed specialty clusters for the NIHR Clinical Research Network. What, in your experience are the key benefits of broad collaboration between clinical research environments, and how have you sought to foster them?
The evolution of the clinical research network infrastructure has been hugely beneficial to UK clinical research. Collaboration through the national networks plugs gaps at both ends of the clinical trial spectrum, from facilitating the development of major (1000+) multi-participant trials right down to enabling the study of extremely rare disease through creation of study participant groups which are of a sufficiently critical mass to allow statistically meaningful conclusions to be drawn. The networks have broadened the spectrum of partners involved in the clinical research mission. Through their efforts, major academic centres such as Imperial are not reliant on pre-existing collaborative relationships with a small number of major academic medical centres. District hospitals and local clinics as well as major specialist centres are now all engaged in (and talking to each other as part of) the process of identifying and recruiting participants. This process is strengthening the evidence base for our studies and broadening the skill-base across the UK for delivering clinical research. I’ve also witnessed the opportunity the networks have afforded to enhance understanding in the academic and health service sector of the particular approaches and pressures encountered by Industry partners for industry-sponsored studies. Increasing interaction with industry is going to be key for UK and academic medicine going forward and so the sharing of understanding and experience generated by the CRNs is extremely helpful in developing the strength of interaction which will be critical to our future collaborative development.
Are there any differences in the approach you take to your external and internal leadership roles.
Obviously both are focussed on delivering excellence and benefit, but I do think there has to be a slightly different focus for internal versus external roles. In my involvement in NIHR CRN, the key need has been to build up the tools, evidence and strong relationships which enable us to reach out to professionals and patients from widely differing parts of the healthcare delivery system and demonstrate what the benefits of involvement in research (and indeed of collaboration itself) are for their own services and professional development. For internal leadership at Imperial, there has to be a much more heavy focus on day-to-day delivery and enabling that to be as effective for the organisation as possible. The real challenge for internal roles is maintaining a balance between that focus on detail and delivery and retaining a strong sense of the ‘big picture’ and the long term strategy for supporting the College to continue to excel.
Looking forward, what do you see as your greatest challenge for education in the Faculty, and where do you feel the most potential for excellence is?
With changes in the funding and fee landscape, and rising delivery costs, it is going to be absolutely vital to ensure that an Imperial medical and science education does not become a treasure that only the wealthiest bright young people in our society can enjoy. Extending our educational opportunities to the most able students wherever they come from, and ensuring our student population is as representative as possible of the wider populace it will ultimately serve, is critical – we must continually challenge ourselves in the Faculty to support and enhance our strategies to ensure this.
The other great challenge I see for us in the Faculty is also one of our greatest opportunities for excellence. The sheer pace of development of new health technologies and approaches (not least within our own research labs, centres and spin-outs) coupled with a constant drive towards effective dissemination and uptake is creating a continually shifting health landscape for which we need to prepare our students. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels in the educational mission: what equips today’s medic for practice may tomorrow be redundant; an area of interdisciplinary research which was unheard of when today’s final year students first entered the MBBS may already be the basis of new care models for our health service when this year’s freshers graduate in six years’ time. We are outstandingly placed at Imperial to draw on our own discoveries, academic collaborations and translational expertise to continually review and future proof our curricula, translate our discoveries into widespread understanding, create the innovative skill-base among our students to drive future development and ensure Imperial graduates are the very best at operating in the health and scientific environment into which they will emerge. I think that’s an extraordinarily exciting opportunity and challenge for everyone in the Faculty.
Preety Das is a Specialist Trainee in General Practice in the Department of Primary Care & Public Health. She joined the King’s Fund as part of an innovative training post at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Integrated care initiatives in England and elsewhere have paid insufficient attention to the relationship between physical and mental health. Our report draws on a review of published research evidence, qualitative interviews and focus groups with service users and carers, and case studies of 10 services in England. We conclude by arguing that overcoming the longstanding barriers to integration of mental and physical health should be a central component of efforts to develop new models of care that bring together resources from across local health systems.
The case for seeking to support physical and mental health in a more integrated way is compelling, and is based on four related challenges: 1) high rates of mental health conditions among people with long-term physical health problems, 2) poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’, which lack an identifiable organic cause, 3) reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness, largely attributable to poor physical health and 4) limited support for the wider psychological aspects of physical health and illness. Collectively, these issues increase the cost of providing services, perpetuate inequalities in health outcomes, and mean that care is less effective than it could be. The first two issues alone cost the NHS in England more than £11 billion annually.
Examples of innovative service models described in the report demonstrate that there are opportunities to redesign care in ways that could improve outcomes and may also be highly cost effective. These include various forms of enhanced support in primary care, integrated community or neighbourhood teams, comprehensive liaison mental health services, physical health liaison within mental health services, and integrated perinatal mental health care.
All health and care professionals have a part to play in delivering closer integration. Our research with service users and carers highlights the importance of professionals being willing and able to take a ‘whole person’ perspective, and having the necessary skills to do so. Integrated service models can support this by facilitating skills transfer and shifting notions of who is responsible for what. Equally, a great deal of improvement is possible within existing service structures. New approaches to training and development are needed to create a workforce able to support integration of mental and physical health. This has significant implications for professional education; all educational curricula need to have a sufficient common foundation in both physical and mental health.
My involvement in this project provided a unique opportunity to relate everyday clinical practice to the range of barriers that have prevented wider adoption of integrated approaches. These include: separate budgets and payment systems for physical and mental health; the challenge of measuring outcomes and demonstrating value; and cultural barriers between organisations or groups of professionals. The report describes several enabling factors and practical lessons, including the value of having a board-level champion for physical health in mental health trusts, and vice versa. New payment systems and contracting approaches offer commissioners various options for overcoming some of the financial barriers.
In recent years there has been a welcome focus in national policy on achieving ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health. Colloquially, this phrase has often been interpreted to mean that mental health services should be ‘as good as’ services for physical health. We argue that there is a greater prize beyond this, in which mental health care is not only ‘as good as’ but is delivered ‘as part of ’ an integrated approach to health.
Preety Das Specialist Trainee in General Practice Department of Primary Care & Public Health
Dr Beth Holder, a researcher in Imperial’s Department of Medicine, struck Bronze at a competition in the House of Commons, for the excellence of her biological/biomedical research, walking away with a £1,000 prize.
Beth presented her biology research to dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of the poster competition SET for Britain, on Monday 7 March.
Her research, which focuses on communication between the mother’s immune system and the placenta during pregnancy, was judged against 59 other shortlisted researchers’ work and came out as one of the three winners.
“It may surprise people that, despite it’s vital role in pregnancy at giving everyone the best start in life, the placenta is considered the least understood organ in the human body. My work aims to understand how the mother’s immune system communicates with the placenta and baby during pregnancy using microscopic ‘parcels’ called exosomes that send messages between cells in the human body. This communication between mother and placenta may be particularly important in cases when the mother’s immune system is altered, such as inflammation, infection or allergy. I was delighted to have this fantastic opportunity to communicate my research at SET for BRITAIN, and thrilled to win the bronze award. I hope that I raised the profile of placental research, and highlighted the importance of funding further research in this area.”
SET for Britain aims to help politicians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base and rewards some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK.
Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, sponsors of the Bronze Award for Biological and Biomedical Sciences, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.
“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”
Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Biology, said: “Scientists and politicians both have major roles in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from climate change to food security. SET for Britain is a rare opportunity for politicians to meet some of our most promising early career scientists and understand their work.
“It is important that MPs make policy decisions informed by evidence, and a greater mutual understanding between MPs and scientists will improve this. The Government needs to ensure the UK continues to lead the world in biological research where we have enormous strength”.
Prof. Richard Vaughan-Jones, President of The Physiological Society, said “The UK has an excellent biomedical research base for which physiology provides fundamental understanding and direction. SET for Britain provides a unique opportunity for parliamentarians to engage with the scientific research that government funds and recognise the skills of our scientists training and working in the UK. The Physiological Society is extremely pleased to continue its longstanding support for this event.”
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Society of Biology, with financial support from Essar, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), the Institute of Biomedical Science, the Bank of England and the Society of Chemical Industry.
We’ve seen some fantastic bakes that would make Mary Berry proud; including chromosome cupcakes and an entire lab cake! These science cakes will be entered into the national CRUK Centre Great Science Cake Off.
The winner of the Centre bake off and science cake off will be announced later this month.
Butterfly project at Clinic 8
Cancer Research UK has commissioned an art installation in an out-patient clinic at Charring Cross Hospital as part of renovation work.
The art installation will include ceramic butterflies and flowers demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between research and care, whereby patients receive care while simultaneously giving back to scientific research, allowing us to find newer and kinder treatments.
These pieces designed by artist David Marques will create a beautiful meadow, transforming the space for patients.
The butterflies, which each represent a patient coming to the clinic, fly over a healing meadow of flowers of different colours and patterns. These flowers represent the various treatment modalities and people patients meet on their care journey.
A selection of the ceramic pieces was displayed at the Imperial Design Fringe, and the public got the chance to do their own designs that may go on to be adapted by the artist for his work. The pieces will also be on display at the NCRI conference in November.
The installation will be in place by November 2015.
Research Engagement Manager- Imperial & ICR
Cancer Research UK
Rahul Ravindran took home the top prize at The University of London Gold Medal Viva – an annual competition organised by the University of London for institutions in the capital with medical schools. Fellow classmate Ashik Amlani also took home the Betuel Prize as the runner up.
Here Rahul and Ashik describe their successes, time at Imperial and hopes for the future.
I found out that I was nominated for the Gold Medal Viva in Muheza, a rural village in Tanzania, during my elective. To find this out by mobile in a place with no running water was surreal. It was a daunting task as I had been given around six weeks to cover most of what I had learnt over the past six years! My preparation consisted of reading medical journals and meeting with members of the Faculty of Medicine to practise answering viva questions.
The day of the viva was in the final week of my studies at Imperial. I was questioned on a very wide range of topics, ranging from the molecular mechanisms of colorectal cancer metastasis to my opinions on how to improve child health in the UK. After the grilling was over I enjoyed the sunshine and took some photos to remember the day (the photo here was taken after the viva before the results).
I knew I would discover the outcome on the same day and the wait was very nerve-wracking. I remember eating my lunch on the bank of the Thames by Tower Bridge when I received the result by email. I was shocked to discover that I had won the competition! I immediately called my parents and all the mentors and friends who had supported me through the process. I spent the rest of the day celebrating with friends in London.
I am now moving to Oxford to embark on an Academic Foundation Programme in order to develop a career which combines my two passions of clinical and academic work. Winning the London Gold Medal has been a truly special way to complete my time at Imperial. I owe my success to the constant encouragement I have received from my family and friends, as well as the remarkable staff from the Faculty of Medicine who have taught me over the past six years. I am very grateful and will be forever indebted to my teachers here.
When I received my nomination for the University of London Gold Medal Viva, my initial reaction was one of shock and incredulity. I could not believe that Imperial College School of Medicine had nominated me to represent the rest of my peers and the College at large in this most prestigious and enduring of competitions which has previously featured the likes of Sir Alexander Fleming. However, having eventually cast away any thoughts of a colossal mix up, these feelings gave way to immense pride and honour. I was desperately keen to do Imperial proud and continue the trend of success we have enjoyed over the past few years in the competition.
The format of the competition is simple. There are six eminent examiners asking questions within their chosen fields – medicine, surgery, clinical sciences, clinical pharmacology, obstetrics & gynaecology, and paediatrics – for five minutes each. A daunting prospect indeed! The viva included being asked about the mechanisms of cancer metastases and the various theories behind the recent trend in increasing asthma diagnoses in the UK. Even though the teaching and exam process at Imperial prepares us very well for viva questions, the viva was extremely difficult and I felt it did not go well.
Imagine, then, my delight and surprise to have been part of another Imperial clean sweep in the Gold Medal competition. Being awarded with the Beutel Prize was, apart from proving the existence of divine intervention, quite simply the best way to end my time here at Imperial. It has been the most wonderful six years of my life and I have cherished every minute of it. In particular I must thank our dedicated teachers and professors, especially my personal tutor Dr. Amir Sam, without whom my success would not have been possible.
In the future I will soon be starting an Academic Foundation Programme in nuclear medicine at Barnet and Royal Free hospitals as an FY1 doctor. I look forward to putting everything that I have learnt over the past six years to good use in order to provide the best care for my patients and aspire to an eventual career in radiology.
Imperial Innovations has recently launched Quicktech, its new online portal for the straightforward non-exclusive licensing of technologies developed at Imperial.
The system was put in place to reduce the amount of time spent negotiating licensing deals, by using predefined prices and Terms & Conditions.
Quicktech can be used to promote materials you develop during your research, such as antibodies, cell lines, disease models, plasmids, patient surveys, and software. We can also provide sales reports, detailing how many units have been licensed and to whom, to support your impact statements.
We have recently completed our first license through the platform for OneZoom, a data visualisation software developed by Dr James Rosindell (Life Sciences).
Professor Mitch Blair and Professor Michael Rigby from the Section of Paediatrics of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, together with European colleagues, have been awarded almost 7 million Euro by the European Commission – Directorate General for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 programme to study and evaluate models of child primary care in Europe.
The project: MOCHA Models of Child Health Appraised will see Imperial College project staff working with 19 scientific partners from 10 European countries, plus Switzerland, the United States and Australia; as well as with country agents in 30 European Commission and European Economic Area countries.
The project began on 1st June with a three-month preparation phase, including creating a project website, prior to an active research programme commencing on 1st September 2015 continuing until the late autumn of 2018.
Principal Investigator Professor Blair explained:
“Children are an important population group in their own right, but also are the future of Europe, its society and its workforce. Thus children’s health is vital to children and for a healthy Europe”.
“However, there is no consensus on the best way of providing primary health care for children. Different countries favour different models, of which two main ones are generalist general practitioners seeing the child in the family context, and primary care paediatricians with focused expertise. Until now there is no research which shows which model is most effective, which also implies that some children are likely to be receiving sub-optimal care.”
MOCHA will obtain and analyse key information on a range of child primary care topics, such as:
Models of primary care delivered to children (including urgent care)
Delivery of care across organisational boundaries (with secondary care, social care, education and so on) including complex care, and services for child protection
School health services, and direct access services for adolescents
Identification of innovative measures of quality and outcome
Identification of derivatives from large data sets to measure quality and outcome
Economic and Skill Set analyses
Ensuring Equity for all children
Use of electronic records in child health
An independent Expert Panel from 10 countries and 15 different organisations or paediatric and public health associations will validate the scientific enquiries made of country agents, and review the findings. Views of service users will be sought throughout the project, and there will be an active engagement and dissemination programme.
The project will be managed from Imperial College, coordinating the work of 11 separate work packages run by experts from European research institutions, including researchers from Imperial College.
This will be one of the largest and most ambitious project to look at child health services in Europe. Focusing on prevention and wellness, its results will demonstrate the optimal model(s) of child primary care. Alongside the results, the MOCHA project will analyse the factors (including cultural factors) which might facilitate the adoption of recommendations, and indications for policy makers of both the health and economic gains possible. Throughout its life, the project will have a strong dissemination programme, ensuring that dialogue with the public, professionals, policy makers and politicians is maintained and taken into account during the research.
Within its 42-month timescale, the MOCHA project will deliver major awareness and potential benefit for European children’s health and a healthy society.
By the end of March 2016 Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will be operating on digital patient health records and digital medications management using its Cerner IT system. This will be a big step towards the goal of paperless health records.
The approach has been piloted in gynaecology and elderly care at St Mary’s Hospital with good feedback from both staff and patients. It will now be rolled out site by site with St Mary’s complete by November, Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte’s by February, and Charing Cross and Western Eye by March 2016.
Experience from the pilots shows that classroom training is useful but people really learn a new IT system when they start using it in their working environment. Champions will have classroom training and other clinical staff will attend face-to-face demonstrations focusing on how the change will affect their work. They will then be supported at go-live by champions and floorwalkers.
For more information, contact Paul Harrison, Cerner Communications Manager.
On 24 January 2015, UCL Medical Society held their annual InspireMEdicine Conference, designed to celebrate variety and innovation within medical practice and broaden the horizons of current UK medical students. Throughout the day, delegates had the opportunity to attend workshops that explored key skills and gave a taste of the career paths on offer, as well as garnering advice from such renowned speakers as Professor Jane Dacre, President of the Royal College of Physicians, Miss Su-Anna Boddy, Council Member at the Royal College of Surgeons and Dr Christian Jessen of Channel 4 ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ fame.
Our team of three current 4th year Imperial students completed our audit entitled ‘Calling for Change’ in 2014, to assess the accessibility and efficacy of the call bell system at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey. We aimed to improve hospital safety and inpatient experience and having presented our ideas to the Chief Executive and Head of Nursing at the Trust with great feedback, we decided they held relevance on a broader scale within the NHS. As a result, we decided to enter our Clinical Quality Improvement (CQI) Project into both of this year’s InspireMEdicine Conference Competitions.
We were thrilled to be selected for the National Finals of both the Innovation Challenge and Poster Prize and are happy to report that on the day itself we placed 3rd in the Innovation Challenge. This gave us the opportunity to give an oral presentation to the 300 delegates, receiving a £150 prize and one-on-one mentoring with UCL Advances (UCL’s Centre for Entrepreneurship), to consider the social and economic impact of our proposals and form a business plan. Furthermore, we were excited to have won the Poster Prize Final, meaning that our Abstract will soon be published in the PubMed indexed journal ‘Annals of Medicine and Surgery’.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at the InspireMEdicine Conference and would like to thank all of those who supported our project, in particular Annette Stanley and Darren Pirson (our St Peter’s Hospital Teaching Coordinators) Adam Hunt (the Innovation Challenge lead) and UCLU Medical Society, for arranging such an incredible event. We’d strongly encourage current 3rd year students to consider entering their CQI projects next year!
Martin Bamford, Ishani Barai and Claire Brash
4th Year Medical Students
Imperial College London
Professor Kausik Ray joined Imperial College as Professor of Public Heath, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Public Health in Feb 2015. A clinical cardiologist by training Professor Ray received his medical education (MB ChB, 1991) at the University of Birmingham, his MD (2004) from the University of Sheffield, a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School (2004-2005) an MPhil in epidemiology (2007) from the University of Cambridge and was Chair in Preventive Cardiology at St Georges University of London from 2010.
Professor Ray’s research interests focus on the prevention of cardiovascular disease using observational methods and intervention studies including large trials. Recently Professor Ray has established the first global registry of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia in conjunction with the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) called the FH studies collaboration (FHSC) and is PI for the TOGETHER study looking at cardiometabolic risk factors and clinical outcomes in approximately 250 000 people using electronic health records in London.
Globally a child is born every minute with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) the commonest autosomally dominant condition known to man with a prevalence of about 1:200- 1:250. This results in lifetime elevations in low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) resulting in premature morbidity and mortality from vascular disease. This condition can be treated by screening and early treatment with statins and other lipid lowering therapies. At the European Atherosclerosis Society Congress 2015 in Glasgow (http://eas.org), Professor Ray will launch the EAS FHSC, a global registry to harness information on the detection, management and clinical consequences of current practice on clinical outcomes. The mission statement is outlined below and for full details of the FHSC activities please see http://www.eas-society.org/fhsc.aspx
“The mission of the EAS FHSC is to empower the medical & global community to seek change in their respective countries or organizations regarding how FH is detected and managed, with a view to promoting early diagnosis and more effective treatment of this condition. Through international collaboration of stakeholders we aim to generate large scale robust data on how FH is detected, managed and the clinical consequences of current practice on outcomes.”
On the afternoon of Wednesday 17 June we are hosting a half day conference Reciprocal Illumination- making patient and public involvement meaningful at St Mary’s Hospital.
The conference is for health professionals, scientists, patients and educators, both those already engaged in involving patients and the public in healthcare delivery, research and healthcare education, and those who would like to find out more.
We already have some speakers, including Prof Roger Kneebone, and are currently in the process of putting together the remainder of the programme. We would like to know if you would like to make a contribution to the conference yourself and, if so, in what area? If not, are there any specific topics you would like to have discussed?
The conference is jointly hosted by HENWL and Imperial College and is a free event – so please save the date and we will be in touch with further details in due course.
Professor Neena Modi has been elected President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, taking up the role on 29 April 2015.
Neena is currently Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial College London and also has clinical duties as a Honorary Consultant in Neonatal Medicine at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust where she is the senior consultant in a team providing neonatal care for a tertiary referral medical and surgical perinatal service for north-west London. She is also Chair of the BMJ Ethics Committee, leads a neonatal research group and has published many original research papers. Whilst Vice President for Research at the RCPCH, Professor Modi was the lead author on the RCPCH’s Turning the Tide report highlighting the need to strengthen child health research in the UK.
Commenting on her appointment, Professor Modi said:
“I’m profoundly honoured by the confidence my paediatric colleagues have shown in me. I in turn am confident that with the wealth of expertise they represent, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will be a powerful force in the UK and will advocate tirelessly to improve the health and wellbeing of all children.”
Welcoming the appointment, RCPCH President Dr Hilary Cass said:
“Neena is a passionate advocate for child heath, and her experience as a clinician and leading researcher will be invaluable in her role as RCPCH President. I look forward to seeing the College continue to provide high quality education and training for paediatricians, expand its membership offer and lead the way in affecting policy change for the benefit of children and young people’s health.”
Professor Modi will take up the role following the Annual General Meeting on 29 April 2015 and serve three years as President. Until then she will sit on the College’s Council and Executive Committee along with Dr Hilary Cass, as President Elect.
The charity Best Beginnings is inviting you to use and give feedback on a new mobile phone app designed to support parents-to-be and new parents in the social, emotional and physical transition to parenthood and in giving their baby the best start in life. The app, designed in collaboration with Dr Mitch Blair, will support parents-to-be and new parents in the social, emotional and physical transition to parenthood and in giving their baby the best start in life.
Version 1.0 is available now and can be installed on smartphones using the following links:
Best Beginnings actively encourage you to download and use the app so that you understand its functionality and content, so you can recommend it, as appropriate to the families you support and use it in appointments.
All the content of the app has been through a rigorous approval process and endorsed by the RCM, RCPCH, RCOG, RCSLT, CPHVA and iHV.
The charity is actively seeking feedback from parents and health and social care professionals ahead of the official launch in mid November 2014 to make the app even better. You’ll be asked to give feedback in app and you can also email the charity directly.
When you register as a user of Baby Buddy app do select the healthcare professional option. This way the charity can separate out feedback from parents and professionals.
Best Beginnings would be delighted to hear any suggestions you have for additional content eg: new FAQs for the “Ask me” function via: email@example.com
If you download the app and use it you may want to rate it and write a review of it on Google Play or iTunes App Store. The more reviews there are for parents-to-be and new parents looking for help, the easier it is to decide if it’s worth downloading.
About Baby Buddy
Baby Buddy has been designed for parents to use alone but also to use in appointments with healthcare professionals. One of the aims of the app is to help make “Every Contact Count”. Currently there are about 40 short films in the app, mostly from Best Beginnings’ From Bump to Breastfeeding and Small Wonders DVDs. The charity is now making 100+ new films which will be included in the app by Spring 2015.
This first version of the Baby Buddy app is aimed at mothers and covers the period through pregnancy to when the baby is six month old. With additional funding Best Beginnings plans to make a dad’s version and take the content to the third birthday.
Baby Buddy focuses on empowering young mothers particularly, and also young parents, to improve their health choices and well-being. As well as increasing knowledge, improving confidence and enhancing bonding and attachment, the app reinforces the importance of accessing health services.
Best Beginnings has produced a set of free posters and leaflets for display and distribution in hospitals, clinics and surgeries that will raise awareness about the Baby Buddy app.
Baby Buddy has been created by the child health and wellbeing charity Best Beginnings. The app has been made possible thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Tedworth Charitable Trust and the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity alongside the technical whizz of our fab app developers Despark.
We are looking for healthy volunteers to part in an Imperial sponsored study called ‘Genetic Studies of the Heart and Circulation’, which aims to develop an atlas of the human heart to help scientists to determine the effect of different DNA and genes on heart shape and function. The research has been given ethical approval by the Research Ethics Committee (approval reference number 09/H0707/69).
Volunteers must be registered with a UK GP, have no heart-related health problems, and must be between the ages of 18 and 80. The study will involve some general lifestyle questions; height, weight and simple heart test function measurements; a three dimensional heart scan; and a blood (or saliva) sample. The appointment may take up to 90 minutes, and are held at Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, W12.
All participants will be reimbursed £25 and will receive a free CD of their scan.
The Gold Medal Viva is an annual competition organised by the University of London, which invites the capital’s top students to take part, having been nominated by their medical schools based on exceptional academic performance. The doctors-to-be face a panel of examiners who test their on-the-spot knowledge of key areas to determine an overall winner, alongside a runner-up who claims the Betuel Prize.
Amy Mallorie – University of London Gold Medal Viva winner 2014
Being nominated for the University of London Gold Medal viva for medicine was an immensely proud moment for me, with the chance to represent Imperial College in a competition previously won by Sir Alexander Fleming. (He was awarded the 1908 Gold Medal, whilst studying at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington).
In early July I took part in the viva alongside the top 1% of final year students across all London medical schools. The viva was challenging, involving intense questioning on medicine, surgery, clinical sciences, clinical pharmacology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics. The questions were difficult, and I remember the first of the viva being the most nerve-racking; I was given a clinical case of a young woman with a post-operative seizure and asked for differentials. I had to draw together knowledge from several different areas to answer, which Imperial finals had prepared me well for.
I recently completed the 6 year undergraduate MBBS/BSc programme. During my time at Imperial I have been particularly inspired by all the incredible teams of healthcare professionals and excellent teachers I have worked with on clinical attachments. Through doing an Intercalated BSc in Cardiovascular Sciences I became interested in research, which further motivated me.
Winning the gold medal was surprising, as well as a huge honour, and it has been a lovely way to end my time at Imperial’s School of Medicine. My next step will be starting the Academic Foundation Programme as an F1 junior doctor this August. The academic part of my foundation programme will involve a nuclear medicine research project during F2. Looking forward, I aspire to a career in academic medicine or radiology.
Anthony Dorr – Betuel Prize winner 2014
My route into medicine was more protracted than most, and took several attempts! My time at Imperial College started with my PhD and this was incredibly productive and rewarding. However, it was clear that I wanted to practice medicine. Staying on to study on the graduate medicine programme was the obvious choice, as the course emphasises the basic medical science that underpins clinical practice. Again, my learning was well facilitated both on and off the wards, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Since my main driving force throughout medical school was to simply reach qualification, it was quite a surprise and privilege to be invited to participate in the Gold Medal Viva.
The breadth of knowledge required to excel in the viva is an important factor and I was concerned that my lack of knowledge of certain specialties would hinder me. The examiners were extremely amiable and the exam felt more like a friendly chat, albeit about clinical scenarios covering medicine, surgery and specialties. With regards to these, attempting to draw on knowledge from up to two years ago was particularly daunting when put on the spot. However, as vivas form an important part of assessment at Imperial, I had at least a robust method to use when formulating an answer.
I am delighted to have been awarded the Betuel Prize, and it is a great way to conclude studying at Imperial, especially being a part of Imperial’s double success with Amy winning the Gold Medal. I am now looking forward to finally practicing medicine after eleven years of being a student, but I would not have made without my wife and family. It is hard to say what the future holds, but I have been lucky enough to be accepted on to an Academic Foundation Programme at St. Thomas’ in respiratory medicine, and I am relishing the opportunity to combine clinical medicine with my research interests.
Mechanisms of Severe Acute Influenza Consortium (MOSAIC) was established in 2009 to find new treatments and approaches for future outbreaks.
Jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and MRC; MOSAIC commissioned the renowned illustrator Steven Appleby and prolific animator Pete Bishop to create a short animation film for public engagement purposes.
We hope you find it educational, fun and most importantly, that it prompts you to think about the part you may play in future outbreaks which could result in a pandemic. Would you be a perfect host and potentially spread influenza, or are you immunised and therefore would stop it spreading?
Scientific input was given by Professor Peter Openshaw of the National Heart and Lung Institute and Dr Calum Semple of the University of Liverpool.
Pfizer is inviting interested individuals to apply to participate in an “elevator pitch” session to be held on the 25th September in London. This will form part of the Pfizer Rare Disease Consortium (RDC) Inaugural Symposium, which will be a prestigious event bringing together senior leaders across academia and Pfizer. The call area is “future rare disease therapies”, covering any disease area within the rare disease spectrum (although applications in core themes of haematology, neuromuscular, pulmonary and cardiac would be preferred). Applicants would be requested to “pitch” their idea in a 3 minute slot (without slides) followed by a short Q&A with immediate feedback from a panel. Interested applicants should contact Vjera Magdalenic-Moussavi on firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline of 1st August.
About RDC: The Rare Disease Consortium is an agreement between Pfizer and GMEC which provides scientists from the GMEC partners – Cambridge University, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University London, University College London and Oxford University – the opportunity to work with Pfizer scientists on joint drug discovery programmes. Bringing together the scientific and clinical excellence of the Universities and Academic Health Science Centres in the GMEC cluster with the drug discovery and development skills of Pfizer has the potential to accelerate the translation of basic science into a new generation of innovative medicines for the treatment of these debilitating and life-threatening conditions.
Dr Vjera Magdalenic-Moussavi Corporate and Enterprise Partnerships Manager Faculty of Medicine
At the beginning of June, Dr Mike Skinner (Section of Virology at St Mary’s) took over from Professor Janet Bainbridge as Chair of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification (Contained Use) – SACGM (CU). Dr Skinner has sat on SACGM (CU) since 2004, when it was formed to replace the former Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification (ACGM). The committee provides technical and scientific advice to HSE and other relevant authorities on all aspects of the human and environmental risks of the contained use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Its work therefore complements, and generally precedes, the work of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)’s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) which covers deliberate release policy. The remit of the committee is:
• To advise on the technical issues of individual activities notified under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2000
• To provide advice on risk assessments for contained use activities involving GMOs
• To develop and update guidance on all aspects of contained use of GMOs including the Compendium of Guidance; a document that is well regarded both nationally and internationally
SACGM (CU) therefore helps HSE protect workers in industry, research and the health service (as well as the general public and wider environment) from any potential hazards attributable to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), while at the same time aiming to allow the research, production or application to progress in a safe manner. It concentrates on higher risk (Class 3 & 4) activities but also advises on the changing landscape of research, technological developments and disease threats, though in the latter case it overlaps with HSE’s Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP).
Like the other members of the committee, Mike says that the work has proved challenging but interesting and satisfying. Early in its life, it had to deal with issues concerning the industrial scale production of pre-pandemic vaccine against avian influenza virus H5N1, work which proved invaluable at the time of the unexpected emergence of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Indeed much of the committee’s deliberation has concerned assessment and control of recombinant influenza viruses created not just as vaccines but to help researchers understand the pathogenesis and host range of viruses emerging from animal reservoirs; the latter work has become somewhat more controversial following the publication of well-publicised ‘gain-of-function’ studies.
Within the clinical setting there are a burgeoning number of gene therapy constructs and recombinant vaccines that are entering clinical trials within hospitals and which are moving toward licensed clinical use. Data to support eventual approval for release of these vaccines through ACRE (and for licensure through the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency; MHRA) are conducted under contained use.
Mike is also looking forward to working with the those involved in the development of Synthetic Biology (a broad and rapidly developing area in research and industry, which falls under the remit of the GM regulations) and with those advising the authorities in other EU states (as EU legislation now shapes many of the relevant UK regulations).
Professor Wendy Barclay has been appointed to the the Advisory Committee of the Science Media Centre (SMC); an organisation whose mission is ‘To provide, for the benefit of the public and policymakers, accurate and evidence-based information about science and engineering through the media, particularly on controversial and headline news stories when most confusion and misinformation occurs’. Imperial’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Tom Miller, is already a Trustee and Advisory Committee member of the SMC.
The “Excellent Medical Education” Programme is a set of national prizes being established jointly by ASME and the GMC to fund high quality medical education research, development and innovation.
This is in response to recognition of the need for further research-based evidence related to medical education and training, through supporting capacity building and increasing the volume of high quality medical education research. Applications using quantitative or qualitative, established or innovative methods will be welcome. Further information will be available from the ASME website closer to the launch at the ASME Annual Scientific Meeting in Brighton in July 2014. However, we are providing this initial summary so that interested individuals and organisations have additional time to begin to consider potential projects which they may wish to submit in one or more of the three categories.
All ASME members who are based in the UK will be eligible to apply, provided their organisation is capable of fulfilling the role of a research sponsor (e.g. an NHS organisation, academic institution). Submissions for awards will open on 17th July 2014. The online application form will be accessible via the ASME website from this date. The deadline for the first year’s applications will be 17th December 2014.
ASME and the GMC do not intend to name specific topic areas and welcome applications on a wide range of issues, across the continuum of medical education:
• Continuing Professional Development
Three prizes will be available, one linked to each of these stages of medical education. The programme is intended to support research which is related to the innovation, development, implementation and sustainability of excellent medical education which has an impact at either the individual (medical students, doctors in training, SAS doctors and consultants, and/or patients) or systems level (e.g. informing or leading to organisational change).
Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:
• Evidence that the project links directly with GMC education priorities
• Clarity as to the aims and objectives of the work
• Coherence between the aims and objectives, and the approach or methods used to measure and/or report outcomes
• Demonstrated outcomes/outputs for medical students, doctors, education and training programmes, including identification of key drivers for success/failure. Potential trajectory to patient benefit will also be considered as an outcome criterion
• Targets/outcomes, and if reached/achieved
• Evaluation of process as well as outcome(s) (i.e. why it worked as well as “it worked”)
• Evidence as to whether or not the work has maintained momentum, or details of how successful candidates would use the prize funding to further extend the project
Dr James Seddon, Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Medicine, co-presented a webinar entitled “Regimen Design and Dosing for Children with Drug-Resistant TB: A Case-Based Discussion” that was organized by the Sentinel Project for Paediatric Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis, on Friday April 25 2014.