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 International Underwriting Association of London (IUA) 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)
Director of Curriculum and Assessment
Deputy Director of Primary Care Education
The Department of Surgery & Cancer congratulates Professor Lesley Regan, on her election as Vice President for Strategic Development of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
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.
Divisional Manager-Human Resources/Communications
Department of Surgery and Cancer
Professor John Warner, a consultant paediatrician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, was awarded his OBE at Windsor Castle on 22 November. Speaking at his Investiture, Professor Warner said he was honoured to receive the award.
“It was unexpected and unasked for. I feel very flattered and honoured that my research and the research of my team has been recognised in this way.”
Professor Warner has been involved in food allergy research over the past 25 years. His research has focused on the early life origins of asthma and related allergic and respiratory disorders. He is currently working on a programme to improve knowledge and co-ordinate the management of children with allergies in general practices, nurseries, schools and home.
A short film documenting the experiences of patients that have taken part in research in North West London has been recognised as joint runner-up in the NIHR New Media Competition. Produced as a collaborative output between neighbouring arms of the NIHR infrastructure in Northwest London (i.e. the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), NIHR Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) in Cardiovascular Disease, NIHR BRU in Respiratory Disease and NIHR CLAHRC Northwest London), the objective of this film was to promote patient participation by presenting an unbiased report from the patient perspective.
Dr Carol FitzGerald
NIHR Imperial BRC Research Officer
Imperial College has figured at No 4 globally in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings in the Category of Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health, a rise of one place since 2012. This is excellent news and reflects strongly on the quality of our faculty and on the sustained excellence of the research and teaching at Imperial College. So thanks to all of you for helping to deliver this remarkable achievement which clearly reflects an extraordinary body of work. Every small contribution helps – from taking extra time over a worried student to discovery of a new pathway relevant to human disease or in translating research into policy. The ability to translate does appear to be an important theme in this category with important implications in enhancing reputation. We have a wonderful research eco-system in the Faculty of Medicine that enables us to convert our discoveries into real benefits for patients through our partnerships in the AHSC and the AHSN.
This theme of translation is also followed through in the Life Sciences table with Harvard ranked at No 1. The Citation in THE interestingly cites Harvard’s ability to accelerate the pathway from discovery to product through the Harvard Biomedical Accelerator Fund and the capacity to rapidly move from test-tube to clinic as a key factor in its success. As we look to the future with development of Imperial West looming on the horizon, there may be important pointers for us here in terms of our translational strategy. How we develop strategically with our international partners may be key to moving further ahead in the University rankings in the future.
Professor Dermot Kelleher MD FRCPI FRCP F MedSci AGAF
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
Dr Naomi Walker, a PhD student from the Department of Medicine, has been awarded the Ruth Bowden Scholarship (£5000) for her work on “Defining mechanisms of tissue destruction in TB and TB immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS)”. The scholarship is part of the British Federation of Women Graduates Scholarship Awards 2013, which provides prizes for academic excellence to female PhD students in their final year.
Naomi’s success follows last year’s, where two Imperial students; Stephanie Walton and Lucy Thorne, also won awards.
Dr Alexandra Blakemore
Faculty of Medicine Ambassador for Women
The Department of Medicine held its third annual Young Scientist Day (details of the 2012 young scientist day), chaired by Professor Wendy Barclay, on 24 April 2013. The event attracted large numbers of research students, postdocs and academic staff who had the unique opportunity to hear and see the range of research being undertaken across the Department.
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:
- Christopher Rhodes
- Kathleen McCaffrey
- Claire Turner
2 MRC Centenary Awards, 2013:
- Nicki Lynskey
- Anna Simmonds
- 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.
Education Research Manager
Department of Medicine
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.
Professor Jenny Higham, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr Graham Taylor (Department of Medicine) has been awarded the Imperial DSc degree in the field of Human Retrovirology.
The award will be celebrated at the Postgraduate Degree Ceremony on 1 May 2013.
Our congratulations go to Dr Taylor on receiving this degree.
Dr Graeme Birdsey, a Research Fellow in the Vascular Science Group at National Heart & Lung Institute, recently had work used in a Italian film ‘Into Paradiso’. Graeme explains how this collaboration came about and the work he and his team undertake within the Faculty of Medicine.
“I work within the laboratory of Dr Anna Randi (Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine) in the NHLI Vascular Science section. One of the focuses of our work is on the role of the transcription factor Erg in regulating gene expression in the endothelial cells that form the lining of blood vessels. We have previously shown that Erg plays a key role in directing the formation of new blood vessels, in a process called angiogenesis. We found that Erg was important in allowing endothelial cells to communicate with one another by promoting cell-cell contacts and that disruption of these contacts resulted in cell death. More recently, our work has focused on a role for Erg in regulating one of the key steps during angiogenesis – namely cell migration. In order for new blood vessels to form, specialised endothelial “tip” cells sprout from a pre-existing vessel and lead the outgrowth of the vessel sprout by migrating towards specific chemical cues. I used a number of techniques in the laboratory, including time-lapse video microscopy of endothelial cells grown in culture, to demonstrate that Erg was required for endothelial cell migration. This work was recently published in the journal Blood (Birdsey et al. (2012) Blood 119(3):894-903).
The idea of including the transcription factor Erg and videos of migrating cells in the film “Into Paradiso” came from conversations between Dr Randi and her sister Paola, a film director in Rome. Dr Randi was explaining our work on cells to her sister, in particular the fact that we study how cells communicate (via cell-cell contact pathways) in order to co-ordinate their basic responses, such as survival, proliferation, and migration. She used the analogy between cells and people in society, who also communicate in order to survive and modulate their behaviour. Her sister Paola was struck by this analogy and decided to use it in her film “Into Paradiso”, a comedy on multiculturalism. In the film, a scientist in Naples gets caught in a web of mafia and corrupted politicians, and uses the analogy between cell communication and society to persuade the “bad guys” that they will die (or “apoptose” like cells do) if they pursue their criminal activities. So Paola Randi used the videos of migrating cells, generated by myself in the laboratory, as a background to various scenes in the film and in the running titles.
The reason why the transcription factor Erg got mentioned in the film is because, by pure coincidence, in Italy (where the film is set) “ERG” is a very well known brand of petrol for cars. This is therefore used as an ice-breaker between the main character, the scientist, and his love interest, a Sri Lankan therapist.”