This event took place on Wednesday 16 November at the Drewe Lecture Theatre and was a chance for all our valued NHS teachers to be recognised for all the hard work they put into teaching our medical students. Primary Care was represented by Dr Beena Gohil, who won a Teaching Excellence Award.
Also featured was the inaugural lecture of Professor Mark Nelson, Lead of HIV services at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital – “Patient Zero to PrEP: HIV past, present and future”. (more…)
Students who completed their BSc in the 2015-16 year enjoyed an evening of prize-giving at the Drewe Lecture Theatre, Charing Cross Campus on Wednesday 9 November.
They were competing for the Charles Power Prize (for Best Overall Performance in the BSc), as well as the Evelyn de Rothschild Prize (for Best BSc Project). Three students were in competition for each prize, and each gave a 10-minute presentation on their chosen topic, which was followed with five minutes of questions from a distinguished panel of BSc Pathway Director judges and members of the audience.
Dr Sophie Rutschmann, Dr Mark Sullivan and Professor Barbara Bain were tasked with judging the Charles Power Prize, and awarded First Place to Daniel Ang Jia for his Immunity and Infection presentation entitled, ‘Vaccines: lessons in problem solving with basic science’. Second Place went to Janaki Desai for her Pharmacology-based ‘Do antidepressants actually work?’ presentation. Third Place was awarded to Florence Mouy, for ‘Myocardial Hibernation’ in the field of Cardiovascular Science.
The Evelyn de Rothschild Prize for Best BSc Project was judged by Professor Alison McGregor, Dr Chris John and Professor Louise Donnelly. After the three presentations, it was Sophie Glover who came out on top with First Place for her Neuroscience and Mental Health project, ‘Understanding the mechanisms behind ketogenic diet in gliobastoma multiforme’. A second appearance from Daniel Ang Jia was his project, ‘Immune thrombocytopenia and the MIF surrounding it’, based again in Immunity and Infection, which came in second. This was followed in Third Place by a Reproductive and Developmental Sciences project entitled, ‘The Use of Human Donor Milk in England: A Descriptive Study’ by Rita Marciano Alves Mousinho.
Dorrit Pollard-Davey Curriculum Assistant (Educational Quality) Imperial College School of Medicine
The e-learning team in collaboration with the Pharmacology BSc won the prestigious Brandon Hall Silver Award in the “Best Results of a Learning Program” category for their e-learning modules, which are delivered to the Medical and Biomedical Science students opting for the Pharmacology BSc pathway.
The animations in the e-learning modules were creatively designed to have a bit of a 3D feel (see screenshots). The lower-order learning objectives (such as recall and list) were covered within e-learning modules, giving face-to-face teaching the scope to focus on the higher-order learning objectives (e.g. critical thinking, evaluation). The impact of this e-module on student engagement has also recently been published (BMC Medical Education (2016) 16:195).
“because we had already been exposed to it [the receptors] before in the e-course, when we went over it again it was much easier to understand”
“the most efficient approach is to have the eLearning beforehand and then you have a contingency tutorial to check or to ask any questions or to briefly skim over it”
“so often you turn up to a lecture and they jump in so far beyond your knowledge… And you can’t ask effective questions because you don’t know the fundamentals to start with”
E-learning – Akram Ameen, Taylor Bennie, Ashish Hemani, Maria Toro-Troconis, Lisa Carrier
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.
Dr Claire Fletcher, of the Androgen Signalling Laboratory, Division of Cancer, has been awarded a prestigious Young Investigator Award by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of the USA. The stated aim of the PCF in creating these awards, which are very rarely awarded outside of the US, is “to identify a cohort of future research leaders who will keep the field of prostate cancer research vibrant with new ideas.”
Claire will be using the award to pursue her innovative translational research programme at Imperial College, mentored both by Professor Charlotte Bevan in her host laboratory and also by Prof Johann de Bono at the Institute of Cancer Research, cementing and developing the collaboration between the 2 laboratories and indeed institutes. Her work focuses on identification of microRNA drivers of therapy resistance in prostate cancer, with the aim of both increasing therapy options and also of providing biomarkers to enable effective patient stratification.
“I am thrilled to have received a Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award. This grant will allow me to vastly accelerate our promising research into the mechanisms through which prostate cancers continually evolve to develop resistance to even the most effective drugs – an area which remains poorly understood.
In the future, this knowledge will help us to develop more effective therapeutics and tailor treatments to individual patients.” – Dr Claire Fletcher.
Systematic Identification of MicroRNA Drivers of Resistance to Novel Therapeutics in Advanced Prostate Cancer – Exploitation as Stratification Biomarkers and Drug Targets
Prostate cancer (PC) is the most prevalent malignancy of Western males, affecting 1 in 8 men in their lifetime. Relapse on first-line anti-androgen treatment occurs almost invariably, leading to advanced ‘castration-resistant PC (CRPC), metastasis and patient death. Next-generation therapeutics that target the androgen receptor (AR) or alternative oncogenic signalling pathways, alongside taxane-based chemotherapeutics, demonstrate efficacy in the CRPC setting. However, only 50% of men respond to taxane-based chemotherapy, and acquired resistance to novel AR-targetting agents is emerging due to intra-tumoral androgen production or AR amplification. This necessitates urgent identification of new therapeutics and drug targets for CRPC, and discovery of resistance-predicting biomarkers.
MiRs are small 18-22nt RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression. They can function as ‘oncomiRs’ or tumour suppressors and show altered expression in CRPC. They are readily detectable in bodily fluids from patients, demonstrating considerable biomarker potential, and represent ideal therapeutics due to their small size, high stability and low toxicity. I have previously demonstrated that miRs dramatically alter AR activity, growth and metastatic potential in CRPC and that levels of putative oncomiRs are altered by novel CRPC drug treatment. Further, miRs are associated with chemotherapy resistance.
This project will use small RNA sequencing and functional assays to identify miRs that play fundamental roles in development of resistance to mechanistically-distinct novel CRPC agents in clinically-relevant CRPC models, and will generate miR biomarker ‘signature’ arrays that can predict resistance to such therapeutics. This will inform clinical management of PC and avoid the considerable morbidity and toxicity of agents that may not benefit a given patient. Development of therapies targeting resistance-promoting miRs may provide an additional treatment option for CRPC patients, increasing disease survival.
The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel on 15th November 2015 where Dr Armen Roupenian presented the certificate to me with a monetary prize.
The work explained how the calf muscle pump works in augmenting the venous return and the contribution of the GEKO device in achieving this target. Suggestions were made as to how the device could be improved to maximise efficiency in the prevention of DVT.
Mr Chris Lattimer Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer
Department of Surgery and Cancer
Professor Beate Kampmann has been nominated by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to join AcademiaNet – Expert Database for Outstanding Female Academics.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung, in cooperation with Spektrum der Wissenschaft (Nature Publishing Group), has set up this exclusive expert database in 2010. It was launched by German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and it is the only Web site of its kind that shows profiles only of outstandingly qualified women who are best in their field. They all have been nominated by highly recognized science and research institutions. To date, more than 1,700 profiles of female top-class researchers of all disciplines are in the database.
The website (www.academia-net.org) is supplemented by editorials such as up-to-date news reports, scientific articles and interviews with female scientists and has registered over one million clicks to date. The high number of visitors to the database is not the only indication of its success: all four female scientists awarded the Leibniz Prize in 2014 – the most important research prize in Germany – are members of AcademiaNet.
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) paid tribute to some of the country’s leading medical researchers at its prestigious SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards in Cape Town. The esteemed President’s Award as well as the Platinum, Gold and Silver Awards were presented to scientists whose work has had a monumental impact on health science in South Africa.
Professor Wilkinson, Senior Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, received the Gold Award on 29 October. His work has focused on clinical and immunological aspects of tuberculosis – particularly in the context of HIV infection.
Mr Chris Lattimer wins second prize at the 16th Annual European Venous Forum Meeting
Mr Lattimer collected the award on behalf of his team at the EVF Annual Meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, for their presentation; ‘Increasing thigh compression pressure correlates with a reduction in the venous drainage index of air plethysmography.’
This highly competitive award has provided a grant of £1,500 for Mr Lattimer to present his team’s work on venous drainage at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Venous Forum, to be held in Orlando, Florida, next February. This is acknowledged to be the most prestigious venous meeting globally.
Dr Mick Jones receives multiple teaching awards in 2014/15
Dr Jones, Reader in Molecular Medicine in the Department of Medicine and Course Director of the MSc in Molecular Medicine, picked up numerous teaching awards this year:
The top prize at the Department of Medicine Teaching Awards, 2015 for Outstanding Contribution to Education
The awards for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Supervision and the Top Contributor to Teaching based on the 2014 Teaching Hours Survey
The award for the Best Teaching for Postgraduates at the 2015 Student Academic Choice Awards
Professor Charlotte Bevan appointed to the Executive Committee of the BACR
The School of Medicine are very pleased to announce that two of our 5th year Medical students, Zeena Mougammadou-Aribou and Sam Tindall both won prizes at this year’s Royal Society of Medicine Norah Schuster Prize.
This prestigious prize is awarded for the best student essay relating to the history of medicine. Zeena and Sam (seen below at the Award Ceremony in April) won the prize for the mini-projects which they conducted during the History of Medicine specialist course, taken as part of their intercalated BSc. They each received a £100 book token and a year’s membership of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Zeena’s mini-project considered a surgical procedure which was marketed in the 18th century for the management of teething in children. Interestingly, until the 19th century a large portion of child mortality was attributed to teething, which was perceived to be a dangerous period in child development. The surgical procedure was invented by a man named Joseph Hurlock and it involved cutting the gums of teething children so the teeth could come through unobstructed. Hurlock used clever and innovative marketing techniques to ensure that his procedure became widely used. However, these techniques were also controversial; for example, criticising the reliability of nurses and the effectiveness of other techniques used for teething infants.
Sam’s mini-project examined how a strong focus on the Western Front during World War 1 meant that the Italian Front was overlooked in historical writing and therefore in public perception. The war took place in the Alps between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The terrain and weather conditions made this battle unique in many ways when compared with the rest of WWI. The injuries and ailments afflicting soldiers fighting in this region are therefore very different to those perceived to have affected soldiers at the time. This includes frost bite and the risk of avalanche in the winter, and lightning strikes and malaria in the summer.
The School of Medicine would like to congratulate Zeena and Sam on their excellent achievement and to thank Dr Neil Tarrant, the History of Medicine Course Director, and his team for all of their work on the course.
The Department of Medicine was delighted to hear last week that it has been granted an Athena SWAN Silver award in recognition of its commitment to address the underrepresentation of female academics in university STEMM departments.
The achievement reflects the fruits of actions completed and the impact of changes made since the department’s Bronze award in 2013. The gap between numbers of male and female academics is slowly closing, and academic promotion application and success rates are now slightly higher for women than men.
From the start of its Athena SWAN journey in 2012 the department (headed by Professor Martin Wilkins) took a broad approach by setting out to make changes to culture and organisation that would benefit all staff and students, and “building a strong and supportive academic community” is integral to its mission.
Developments since the Bronze award include a thriving mentoring scheme that is now being adopted by other departments, an annual Welcome reception for all new staff (and informative Welcome packs), an Academic & Family Life panel discussion programme open to the wider College, a DoM Life website, promotion support team and an Early Career Committee.
Many challenges remain for a department of nearly 1000 people spread across six campuses: ensuring that progress so far is both embedded and sustainable, fostering a supportive and interactive culture, and forging a clear departmental identity.
Madeleine Openshaw, a 5th year student at the Imperial College School of Medicine won the Student Presenter prize at the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC), London and South East Regional conference in January 2015.
Her emotive presentation entitled ‘In Loving Memory’: the role of sentimental objects in childhood bereavement’ was based on research performed during her humanities intercalated BSc at Imperial.
Maddy will be presenting her work again in June at the Annual GP Teachers Conference for our community based Imperial Primary Care teachers.
Dr Joanne Harris MRCP MRCGP MA(Med Ed) Deputy Head of Undergraduate School of Medicine Imperial College London
Dr Maruthappu serves as Senior Fellow to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, where he recently contributed to the Five Year Forward View, and in January, with Sir Bruce Keogh, launched the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), a programme aiming to identify twenty tried and tested innovations from across the world and scale them in the NHS to improve patient care.
Outside of clinical practice he has a background in health systems research, policy and entrepreneurship, having published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, receiving over 50 awards and honours, advising organisations ranging from startups to the WHO, and serving as a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.
Dr Maruthappu said “It was exciting to be included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Working in North West Thames has exposed me to a broad range of opportunities, both inside and outside of clinical practice, that I’m sure led to my nomination”.
Philipa Shallard Foundation School/Undergraduate Services Manager Faculty of Medicine
Dr Maria Toro-Troconis, Mr Ashish Hemani and Dr Kevin Murphy won best paper award at the #design4learning conference run by the Open University (OU) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) on the 26 & 27 November 2014 .
Centre for Infection Prevention and Management (CIPM ) collaborators Dr. Eimear Brannigan and Enrique Castro-Sanchez have had cause to celebrate recently.
Earlier this year Dr. Brannigan was nominated for the Imperial College Teaching Excellence Award for 2013-14. The award was set up in 2003 to recognise excellent teaching among NHS staff. We are delighted to announce that the nomination was successful and Dr. Brannigan will be presented with her award at a ceremony on Tuesday 25th November at 5.30pm in the Glenister lecture theatre at Charing Cross.
Our senior research nurse Enrique Castro-Sanchez has been awarded a travel scholarship by the Florence Nightingale Foundation Trust. The scholarship is to enable Enrique to undertake a study in South Africa, Mozambique and Rwanda on building nursing capacity in antimicrobial stewardship: learning from low and middle income countries. The study builds on CIPM’s existing partnership with hospitals in Rwanda, including the work to reduce neonatal mortality and maternal and paediatric infection through improved patient safety in Rwanda, funded by THET Partnerships for Global Health.
Education Project Manager
Centre for Infection Prevention and Management Faculty of Medicine
The MEd Surgical Education Community would like to congratulate 2013 alumnus Mr Andrew Wainwright for winning the Robert Jones Gold Medal from the British Orthopaedic Association, after submitting an essay based on his MEd studies. Andrew, a consultant surgeon and Training Programme Director in Oxford, completed his MEd in Surgical Education with a Distinction and a dissertation entitled “A good pair of hands”. In the prize-winning essay he discussed the themes of competence, apprenticeship and craftsmanship in orthopaedic surgery today. By exploring the essence of what ‘having a good pair of hands’ means to surgeons, he proposed how this could improve the way that orthopaedic surgeons learn, teach, and assess surgical skills.
Honorary Senior Lecturer, Adjunct Professor Department of Surgery & Cancer Faculty of Medicine
Poppy Lamberton was recently shortlisted for The Women of the Future Awards – the largest national search for exceptionally talented women, which unearths the next generation of high-flying women across nine industries, including technology, media, business, arts and science. Poppy, a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, was shortlisted for the 2014 Science category. Poppy works on neglected tropical diseases, which are often endemic in the world’s poorest rural and urban communities. Her research currently focuses on parasitic infections such as Bilharzia and River Blindness, with the aim to maximize the success of treating populations in Africa. Poppy’s research utilizes field epidemiological data, laboratory experiments and population genetics to understand parasite population structure, transmission dynamics and the effects of long term mass drug administration programmes. Poppy is also passionate about public engagement with science, talking at a range of schools and working closely with STEM and the Natural History Museum on events such as Science Uncovered and Nature Live.
We are pleased to announce that Mr Pankaj Sharma has been appointed Professor of Neurology at the University of London and Head of a new cardiovascular research institute at the Royal Holloway College. He will continue a clinical appointment at Imperial College NHS Trust.
Pankaj Sharma is Consultant Neurologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (formerly Hammersmith Hospitals). He has doctorates from Cambridge and London Universities and was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Medical School USA.
He leads the internationally renown Imperial College Cerebrovascular Research Unit (ICCRU) and has published widely in major international journals.
Professor Sharma’s clinical interests include: headache, stroke, dizziness, seizures, fits and epilepsy.
Please visit this page for details of Mr Sharma’s experience and publications.
Pankaj Sharma MD PhD FRCP
Head, Imperial College Cerebrovascular Research Unit (ICCRU)
Imperial College London & Hammersmith Hospitals
The Josef Pflug Vascular Laboratory of Imperial College has recently won the prize for the best oral presentation at the XXVI World Congress of the International Union of Angiology 10th – 14th August 2014 in Sydney, Australia with entry number #820. The certificate was given to Mr Christopher Lattimer MBBS, FRCS, MS, PhD from Professor John Fletcher, Chairman of congress and President elect of the IUA, on behalf of the team and collaborators.
The award was for recognising that D-dimer levels taken from the leg in patients with chronic venous insufficiency were increased in comparison to their arm blood samples. The research arose from the hypothesis that local blood samples would be a better reflexion of local pathology than a systemic sample from the arm which has been altered through several organs and capillary beds. This led to the development of the ankle cubital D-dimer ratio (ACDR) which may be a more specific test at detecting pro-thrombotic states in the leg, like venous disease or a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The advantage of the ACDR over a single arm sample is that it is not dependent on the age of the patient and it is unrelated to the type of measuring assay. Future studies are underway to determine whether this test may improve the specificity of D-dimer as a screening test in the detection of DVT.
The prize was awarded to our team which includes our overseas collaborators, Professor Jawed Fareed, Professor Debra Hoppensteadt and Daneyal Syed from the Department of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Loyola University, Chicago, USA. The rest of our team from the Josef Pflug vascular laboratory (http://josefpflugvascular.com) at Ealing hospital and Imperial College includes Dr Evi Kalodiki, Senior Research Fellow, and the head of our Department, Mr George Geroulakos.
The School of Medicine has seen an excellent improvement in the 2014 National Student Survey result, with overall satisfaction increasing 7% to 90% – putting it 4% above the sector average.
Martin Lupton, Head of the Undergraduate School of Medicine, puts the improvements down to greater emphasis within the school on listening to students’ feedback:
“We’ve spent a lot of time actively listening to our students and it’s clearly had an impact. We have strong staff-student liaison groups, town hall meetings with our students and I have a lunch each week with a group of 12 -14 students randomly chosen from across the school. These help us identify exactly where there are issues and how we can best address them. It was this kind of feedback that led us to revamp our tutoring system, bringing in a smaller number of well-trained tutors with allocated time to undertake the role.”
Susan English, Director of Education Management, also highlighted the strong sense of community within the medical school as a contributing factor to the positive environment:
“Led by Jenny Higham, Vice-Dean (Education and Institutional Affairs), there’s been a push to raise the profile of the School and develop a stronger identity which I think has helped increase the feeling of community for our staff and students. When you have over 2,000 students operating over four teaching sites, 30 hospital sites and dozens of general practices it can be a challenge to instil a sense of belonging. We have also increased the emphasis on celebrating students’ progression through their studies. For example, we have a welcome dinner with all first year students and staff and a ‘white coat’ ceremony, when they commence their Year 3 clinical attachments so that staff and students come together to celebrate this milestone.”
This year’s results for medicine have seen improvements across all of the surveyed areas. As well as overall satisfaction increasing, improvements in Academic Support of 13% and Organisation and Management of 15% were the highest by any department College-wide.
Chris Harris, Quality and Educational Development Manager added:
“It’s important to stress though that we’re not complacent. We’re over the moon with this year’s results but there is lots more still be done. We’ve made a commitment to continue listening to our students and working with them to improve their experience and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Quality and Educational Development Manager
Faculty of Medicine
The Department of Medicine is delighted that Professor Ten Feizi is the recipient of the prestigious 2014 Rosalind Kornfeld Award from The Society for Glycobiology. The Rosalind Kornfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology was established in 2008 to honour the distinguished scientific career and service to the Society by Dr Rosalind Kornfeld. The award is given by the Society to scientists who have, over their professional lifetimes, made significant contributions with important impact on the field. In Professor Feizi’s case this award is in recognition of her many achievements in the fields of structure analysis, immunology and function of glycans over nearly 50 years.
Imperial successfully recruited Professor Ten Feizi in 1994 when the Northwick Park Campus became affiliated with the College. Her research group was already a leading world centre in glycobiology, notably having established the specificity of human monoclonal antibodies for specific oligosaccharide sequences and the observed programmed changes in expression of blood group-related sequences during embryogenesis, cell differentiation and oncogenesis, research published in Nature that became a seminal publication in the field. The group then went on to introduce neoglycolipid (NGL) technology for lipid-linked oligosaccharide probes and in 2002 this became the first glycoarray system intended to encompass entire glycomes. This is currently the most diverse glycoarray system in the world, revolutionizing the molecular dissection of pathogen-host interactions as well as endogenous recognition systems. Recent highlights are assignments of the host cell receptors for the oncogenic simian virus 40 (SV40) and the pandemic A(H1N1) 2009 influenza virus. In recognition of the importance of this ground-breaking work, Prof Ten Feizi received recognition with membership to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Divisional Manager, Division of Immunology & Inflammation
Department 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).
A special commendation should go to Harriet Davidson and Frances Dixon, two final year students whose abstract was selected amongst a competitive field of primary care academics, to present at this year’s SAPC meeting held at Madingley Hall in Cambridge. They expertly and confidently presented the findings of an audit they conducted as part of their General Practice Student Assistantship coursework, and their responses to tricky questions from the audience was particularly impressive!
The audit analysed the use of chaperones for intimate examinations in primary care, an important topic for which GMC guidance was published in April 2013. As part of the audit they not only conducted a retrospective analysis of GP consultations, but also carried out a prospective survey of 91 patients to find out their views on being offered chaperones. They found that over two thirds of patients felt that chaperones should be offered but that less than a third would actually ask for one, concluding that patients want chaperones more than doctors think they do, and that we should be trying to overcome possible obstacles and offering chaperones as much as possible.
Following on from their success at Madingley, they also recently recorded a video of their presentation which will be shown at the Annual Teachers Conference for Primary Care Teachers held in June at Imperial College.
They deserve a special mention for this work given that they are currently in the midst of their finals, and we wish them both every future success!
Dr Joanne Harris MRCP MRCGP MA (Med Ed) General Practitioner Director of Curriculum and Assessment Deputy Director of Primary Care Education
The RCOG encourages the study and advancement of the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology, through postgraduate medical education, training development and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of this specialty and service provision.
Professor Regan is Director of the Recurrent Miscarriage Service at St Mary’s, comprising of a multidisciplinary team that she has developed to provide comprehensive investigations and treatment for couples with a history of recurrent early and late miscarriages. Professor Regan is also President of the UK Association of Early Pregnancy Units, advisor to the NICE interventions committee, professional member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Research Licence Committee.
Shirely Line Divisional Manager-Human Resources/Communications Department of Surgery and Cancer