Blog posts

St Mary’s Library re-opens after refurbishment

Following six months of closure the St Mary’s Campus Library reopened on Monday 15 April as the Fleming Library. An official opening ceremony, hosted by Vice Dean and Director of Education in the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Jenny Higham, took place on Tuesday 14 May.

6m Euro funding for translational lung research

Professor Dame Julia Polak
Professor Dame Julia Polak

Almost 6 million Euros in EU funding has been secured by Professor Sakis Mantalaris (Department of Chemical Engineering) and Professor Dame Julia Polak (Honorary Fellow, Chemical Engineering  and Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Medicine), to support an international consortium of leading researchers within the EU, in conjunction with a German company, Novalung.

The group intends to create a wearable bio-artificial lung; AMBULUNG, for long term application in an outpatient setting. Their aims include miniaturisation of the existing device, cellularisation of the diffusion membrane with endothelial cells to reduce thrombus (blood clot) formation, and inclusion of peripheral lung cells to increase gas exchange.

Imperial College will receive a portion of the funding, which together with the generous support from the Rosetrees Trust, will unable to creation of a strong group of scientists doing both basic and translational research on lung regeneration.

Miss Sandra Lock
PA to Professor Dame Julia Polak
Department of Medicine

HELIX project kicks off

The HELIX project consortium (The Human Early-Life Exposome – novel tools for integrating early-life environmental exposures and child health across Europe), which officially began on 1st January 2013, have met for its official kickoff meeting at CREAL (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology), Barcelona.  This EU FP7 project will exploit novel tools and methods, including omics and smartphone-based personal exposure monitoring, to characterise early-life exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards, and integrate these with data on major child health outcomes.

Researchers at Imperial, led by Dr Muireann Coen of the Department of Surgery and Cancer, will contribute to the metabolic profiling (metabonomics/metabolomics) in the project. This using high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS) analyses of biospecimens collected from multiple mother-child cohorts across Europe.

Further details can be found on the HELIX website.

Dr Toby Athersuch
Lecturer in Environmental Toxicology
School of Public Health

Blocking cells’ starvation response could help beat cancer

Degradation of intracellular material in autophagy is regulated by Armus. Armus (labelled in red) co-localises with LC3 (labelled in green) in autophagosomes destined to fuse and be degraded in lysosomes.

At home, we are all used to recycle different items, by separating them into distinct containers and sending to specialised places to be destroyed into raw materials.  Cells also do the same: they destroy unwanted material into small components that can then be recycled to obtain energy and building blocks for proteins and lipids.

A recent paper published in Developmental Cell by my group (The Braga Lab) in NHLI, investigates the mechanisms of degradation of intracellular material leading to cell survival in the absence of nutrients.

This process is called autophagy and is important in a number of pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases (where misfolded proteins are cleared out) and survival of cancer cells inside tumours.  Stopping tumour cells from doing this would improve the effectiveness of treatments and the survival of cancer patients.   However, specific inhibitors of autophagy are still being developed that could be used in clinic.

Our lab has identified a novel regulator of autophagy named Armus.  Armus facilitates the delivery of unwanted material found in specialised packages (autophagosomes) for degradation in organelles called lysosomes.   Blocking Armus function considerably delays clearing out cellular components and autophagy progression.  Armus does so by interacting directly with LC3, a protein found at autophagosomes, which then localizes Armus at the right place and time.

Inhibiting autophagy has been shown to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for lung and pancreatic tumours..  We found that if you stop Armus from working, the unwanted intracellular components don’t get broken down. Cells thus cannot obtain extra energy from recycling parts that helps their survival. This opens the door to developing novel drugs that targets Armus and helps conventional therapies kill cancer cells more efficiently.

Our research was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Association for International Cancer Research, the Wellcome Trust, the Brunei Government and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Vania Braga
Reader in Cell-cell Adhesion Signaling, Molecular Medicine
National Heart and Lung Institute

iPad pilot launch event at the Faculty of Medicine

iPad

The Faculty of Medicine will be piloting a project issuing iPads to students in years 5 and 6 of the MBBS course at the beginning of the 2013/14 academic term.

The main learning and teaching activities planned to be delivered on iPads are:

  • All the course learning materials will be accessed via Blackboard Learn.
  • Students on placements will be able to readily and easily access learning materials and their own notes, and be able to add reflections, etc.
  • Some sign-off forms (DOPS) will be available electronically on the iPads allowing clinical teachers to assess students and submit the DOPS to the Faculty Education Office electronically, keeping a record on the students’ iPads.
  • Students will be able to participate during lectures using virtual clickers hosted on their iPads.
  • Students will access interactive iBooks in the area of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
  • Students will be able to receive updates from different sites directly on their iPads providing a direct communication channel with clinical sites.

The iPad pilot launch event took place on 15 May 2013 .

Dr Maria Toro-Troconis
E-Learning Strategy and Development Manager
Faculty of Medicine

Update from the WHO Collaborating Centre

MedHealth Cairo 2013 conference

Professor Salman Rawaf and Marion Chaix both recently attended the Medhealth Cairo 2013 Conference to support the healthcare sector in the Middle East. It featured workshops and lectures on various topics from leadership to quality, safety risk management & IT.

The Arab Hospitals Federation hosted the event, gathering 9 Ministers of Health on the AHF panel and discussing the “Investment in the adolescent health is the future of healthcare”. It was held simultaneously with the Arab Health Ministers Council. With participants from 16 different countries, 25 local and regional respected speakers, key decision makers and policy makers  sharing expertise and experience with the attendees, the conference was a success allowing some of the biggest buyers and users to share experiences.

The conference included workshops and interactive panel discussion in addition to keynote speeches delivered by regional and international experts. Professor Salman Rawaf delivered two workshops on situational leadership and on hospital management which were highly successful.

During Medhealth Cairo 2013, the Arab Hospitals Federation has granted awards to several personalities who have contributed in developing the healthcare sector and implemented efficient strategies aiming to raise awareness and provide the Arab citizens with high quality healthcare services.

A closing ceremony followed.

Imperial College London and WHOCC welcomes King Saud University (KSU) delegation visit, 21-22 March 2013

On the 21-22 March, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training at Imperial College London had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Dr. Badran Al-Omar, the King Saud University (KSU) Rector and his accompanying senior delegation: Prof. Dr. Ahmed Bin Salem AlAmeri – Rector for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research; Dr. Abdurrehman Al-Moammar – Vice Rector for Health Specializations; Prof. Dr. Moaddi M. Almethhib – Dean of College of Business Administration; Prof. Dr. Khalid Ibrahem Alhumaizi – Dean of College of Engineering; Prof. Dr. Suleiman Alshammari – Deputy Chairman of Scientific Council of Family Medicine, Examination Committee and Health Education Center as well as Consultant of Family and Community Medicine; and Dr. Mezyad M. Alterkawi – Director of International Relations and Twinning Program at KSU, CEO of Riyadh Technology Incubation Centre as well as Associate Professor, College of Architecture and Planning.

British Federation of Women Graduates

The British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG) holds a ‘Research Presentations Day’ each year where women postgraduate students are invited to give short presentations of their research work.  Doctoral Researcher, Elizabeth Dubois, from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, was one of eight women selected to present on her PhD thesis “Health Checks in Primary Care: Steps to Improve Population Health”.

Society for Academic Primary Care

Elizabeth was also chosen to present a poster of her PhD thesis to this year’s 42nd Annual Conference Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) to be held at the University of Nottingham, July 2013.   The SAPC, a medical teaching society, supports high quality primary care research studies undertaken in the UK.

Advanced Iraqi  Academia Training programme

Dr Elizabeth Muir with delegates

On the 22 April 2013 the WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, welcomed a group of senior academics from across Iraq to Imperial College London.

Ranging from medicine, pharmacy, nursing and veterinary science, 14 university staff were invited, in conjunction with the Iraqi Cultural Attaché and Ministry of Higher Education for Science and Research (MoHERS), to undertake an intensive four-week training programme.  The aim of the programme was to strengthen current skills and teaching methods at an international level.  The important visit also establishes opportunity for greater collaboration between MoHERS Iraq and Imperial College.

Sourced in a rich history of medical education, Iraq was once described by the UN and the World Bank as having “first class medical facilities including well-established public health services, hospitals, primary care facilities and ample production and supply of medicine and medical equipment” (2003).  Medical education in turn, was well developed with 12 established medical schools.  Today there are now 20.

With planned visits to NICE, the BMJ/BMA, the Faculty of Public Health, PBL Learning, the Centre for Clinical Practice, St George’s Hospital and Chelsea Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, this specially tailored training programme was designed to meet their needs and offered the visiting academics a useful insight into standards of good practice to share with academic colleagues back home in Iraq.

The 1st Arab World Conference on Public Health “Towards Excellence in Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges in the Arab World”, 4-6 April 2013 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Doctoral Researcher, Elizabeth Dubois, and Research Assistant, Dr Sondus Hassounah from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, WHO Collaborating Centre were chosen to present their posters at the 1st Arab World Conference on Public Health held in Dubai this past April. Their topics were: ‘Health Checks in Primary Care: Steps to Improve Population Health’ and ‘Challenges & Solutions: The Case of Egypt’s Health System Performance’ respectively.

 

This update was prepared by Ela Augustyniak, WHO Collaborating Centre.

Update from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health

Staff satisfaction at hospitals may affect the quality of patient care

The satisfaction levels among a hospital’s staff are closely linked to the quality of healthcare it provides, say a team of doctors from Imperial. In the first study of its kind, Dr Richard Pinder (School of Public Health) and colleagues found that hospitals in England with lower mortality rates were more likely to have members of staff satisfied with the quality of care they provide.  The findings suggest that staff satisfaction could be used as an early warning system to help spot more serious institutional failings, reported The Daily Telegraph. “If you want to choose between two hospitals, knowing that 98 per cent of doctors and nurses working there would recommend their hospital, compared with 60 per cent elsewhere is a useful thing to know,” said Dr Pinder.

Collaboration between ICHT and PCPH

Mark Davies (Chief Executive), Brendan Farmer (Director of Strategy) and Chris Harrison (Deputy Medical Director)

On 10 April, Academic GPs from the Department of Primary Care & Public Health met with senior staff from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), including Mark Davies (Chief Executive), Brendan Farmer (Director of Strategy) and Chris Harrison (Deputy Medical Director).

The aim of the meeting was to discuss closer working between the department and ICHT in areas such as primary care service redevelopment, specialist GP training, continuing professional development for established GPs in NW London, GP liaison, and primary care research.

Prepared by Jenna Mollaney, Department of Primary Care and Public Health

Faculty of Medicine Communications Survey update

We received over 700 responses to the Faculty Communications survey – thank you to all of those that responded! Your contribution is very much appreciated.

Winners

Richard Colquhoun (Neonatal Data Analysis Unit Manager, Department of Medicine) and Jocelyn Elmes (Research Assistant, School of Public Health) were each a recipient of a £50 amazon voucher.

What next?

Survey resultsThe data from the survey is being analysed – we will be working to identify some key activities to improve communication across the Faculty and in particular improve communication across the campuses which appeared to be a concern for a lot of those that responded. It also appears that information flows across all areas in the Faculty aren’t ideal at present so again, we will be looking at what could be done to improve this.

If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions, please post a comment below, contact James Moore or Neil Young. We’d be really interested in hearing anything you have to share.

We’ll be providing a summary of the results in the coming weeks.

Insta-help

Here are a few links to information which appeared to be a common bug-bear amongst a number of people that completed the survey:

Postgraduate Graduation 2013

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.

In response to the College Maternity Survey from the FoM Ambassador for Women

As we are all aware, there is a serious problem in retention and career progression for women in science – leading to the current situation where only 15% of Imperial professorial staff are female. This “leaky pipeline” of female staff represents an enormous loss of talent and creativity and there is a strong business case for the College to take effective measures to retain and support the best talent, of whatever gender.

One of the main time-periods where female researchers  are lost to academia is when they start a family. This often happens during the postdoctoral period or first academic post for pure scientists, and during the PhD period for medically-qualified staff. These are key career transition points for women and support at this time is critical for retention and progression.

In order to try to address this particular part of the “leaky pipeline” and to ensure that expectant mothers and new parents are provided with the optimal conditions in which to flourish, the College is exploring how to provide better support to staff members at this time.

Her own recent experience of returning to work after maternity leave, led Su Nandy (Deputy Head of Faculty Operations, Engineering) to start thinking about what could be done to support staff members who are expecting, or new parents. In October 2012, Su devised a questionnaire to explore this and invited all staff members who had taken maternity leave in the previous four years and were still employed in the College to take part. An article was published in BMJ Careers, “Supporting mothers to become clinician scientists” by Victoria Salem (Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Medicine), Su Nandy, Stephen Bloom.

At a meeting today (21 March 2013), Su presented the results of her work. The first surprise was that of the 553 women who had taken maternity leave between July 2008 and July 2012, nearly 60% had since left the College. Currently, exit data is not collected in a way that allows analysis of the factors operating here (how many were had been on fixed-term contracts, for example), highlighting the need to collect data in this area.

There was a magnificent response to Su’s survey – of the 226 eligible staff, 192 (85%) responded. Of these, 78% described experiencing difficulties in balancing work and home responsibilities, 70% reported exhaustion and 50% were suffering from sleep deprivation. These data might be useful in training line managers dealing with new parents.

Recommended measures:

As a result of the detailed responses to the survey (Maternity Survey Presentation), Su has proposed 10 measures the College could take to support expectant women and new parents:

1. Staff education

  • Pre/Post maternity leave courses dealing with transition
  • Paternity courses  to support new fathers
  • Line management/academic supervisor guidance/ training

2. Support through visible/approachable female role models

  • Maternity buddy scheme set up last year- recommendation to extend to include pre-maternity leave. 42% requested this
  • Mentoring/career coaching programmes to be offered more proactively on return from maternity leave. 31% requested this

3. Widely publicised designated room for expressing milk/place for pregnant staff members to rest in each campus

4. Provision of a dedicated parents webpage/ forum

5. Baby changing facilities in each large building across all College campuses and sign posted/ publicised.

6.  Increase maternity pay to match or better other Russell Group universities.

7. Provision of affordable childcare with flexible / longer nursery hours to encompass the scientific working day (8am-6pm)

8. One – off emergency child care provisions for parents to access.

9. Dedicated member of HR/Equalities to cover maternity/family friendly/gender issues.

10. College to sponsor further study in relation to women taking maternity leave who are funded on research grants

These recommendations were presented and discussion was invited from the audience.  The proposals were warmly welcomed and we were pleased to hear that full consideration was being given to them by the College’s Management Board. Some of the proposals are relatively easy to implement and cost-free or very inexpensive, while others may require more resource or planning. We look forward to hearing the Management Boards views.

A number of additional issues were raised including nursery hours, eligibility employment periods for both maternity and paternity leave and the excellent Elsie Widdowson Scheme, which provides funding for replacement teaching, admin, research staff or consumables to support women returning from maternity leave. The money is provided centrally by HR, so Departments and individuals can only gain from the scheme.

At the moment Elsie Widdowson funding is being offered to all eligible staff, so if you are pregnant or just back from maternity leave, don’t lose out!

It is really commendable that Su and the College senior HR team are engaged in this initiative and that there are plans to build on the information gained – the maternity survey will be repeated in 3 years time to see whether there have been any improvements and a paternity survey is planned for later this year. The HR team would welcome any ideas, comments or suggestions that you might have on these issues. If you would like to contribute to the discussion please contact: Su Nandy – Ext 41628 s.nandy@imperial.ac.uk

Dr Alexandra Blakemore
Faculty of Medicine Ambassador for Women

London Gold Medal 2012

For the second year running (and at a time when Gold Medals in London are all the rage!), we are very proud and delighted to announce that an Imperial graduate has won the London Gold MedLondon Gold Medal winner 2012 - Dr Alasdair Scottal.  This year Dr Alasdair Scott won against very strong competition.

Alasdair joined the MBBS/BSc course at Imperial in October 2003.  In 2007, awarded with a 1st in his BSc, Medical Sciences with Surgery and Anaesthesia, he took a 3 year interruption to undertake a PhD.  He returned to the clinical course in 2010 and continued to excel.  He was awarded distinctions in General Practice, Paediatrics, Psychiatry, Pathology and PACES; and a merit in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for his Year 5 examinations.  Then in June 2012, Alasdair sat and passed his finals and was awarded distinctions in Clinical Science, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Medical Sciences, Medicine, Surgery and hence was nominated for the London Gold Medal.

This is an outstanding achievement as the academic quality of candidates is extremely high.  All London medical schools (George’s, KCL, QMUL, UCL and Imperial) are invited to nominate a small number of newly graduated students to compete for the Gold Medal annually.  The nominated candidates are selected by each School from those who obtained the highest number of Merits and Distinctions and have passed every examination at the first attempt.

This confirms once again what a fantastic group of students and teachers we have at this medical school.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff who support our students, in whatever capacity.

We are sure you would wish to join us in sending warmest congratulations to Dr Alasdair Scott.

>> Read more about Imperial winners at last year’s competition

Sixth The Union Europe Region Conference on TB and Lung Diseases – event report

Lord Boateng encourages The Union Europe Region to unite in partnerships in its response to the challenges of TB and public health

Load Boateng speaking at The Union Europe Conference
Load Boateng speaking at The Union Europe Conference

The European Region was energised by Lord Boateng, former Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury and High Commissioner to South Africa, who spoke of the best practices in working with governments to harness political will and resources to respond to the challenges of TB and Public Health at The Union Europe Conference held at Imperial College in London on 4-6 July 2012. Lord Boateng said about The Union in his speech “your mission is a great one. You bring huge knowledge, experience and wisdom to the fight”. He encouraged The Union to “go back to its origins” and continue to “develop a response based on the principle of partnership” and engage locally to reach “the movers and shakers on the ground” to achieve successful health interventions.

Lord Boateng was joined by an exceptional panel of plenary speakers in Professors Ajit Lalvani from Imperial College, Christopher Dye from World Health Organisation and Dr David Heymann from the Health Protection Agency and more than 40 speakers from across Europe and beyond.  Nearly 450 delegates from sixty-one countries participated in a productive 3 day conference in London, which was host to almost one hundred attendees from Eastern Europe.

Subjects for symposia included TB in big cities, TB and Migration, Drug resistant TB, TB in the elderly and in Children, TB immunology and vaccines, Latent TB infection, HIV and mycobacterial diseases, Tobacco control, nursing, advocacy and civil society, New drug development in TB, hot topics in lower respiratory tract infection, COPD in Europe and tackling TB in poorly resourced but high burden settings. Poster sessions which were held on two of the three days added to the sharing of experiences and provided an avenue for informative discussion and debate, as well as post-graduate sessions held on the first day.

Group discussing issues during poster session
Group discussing issues during poster session

Professor Peter Davies, the newly serving President of The Union Europe Region was extremely pleased with the outcomes of the conference. Professor Davies commented “all symposia and post-graduate sessions were excellent and stimulated many questions and healthy debate from the highly participatory audience. We hope participants will be able to build upon new ideas, partnerships and networks formed from their attendance”.  The conference was supported by a number of sponsors and exhibitors without whom the conference would not have taken place, especially the host joint-organisers Health Protection Agency and The Union Europe Office.

A feature of the conference was the simultaneous translation offered in Russian in the main conference hall, which allowed further engagement and interaction by a large delegation from countries including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The Organising Committee hope that all who attended felt it was a highly successful conference and looks forward to continuing to advance partnerships across the European region and beyond.

Prepared by the Organising Committee of The Union Europe Conference

Microscopy videos appear in film “Into Paradiso”

Into ParadisoDr 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.

time-lapse microscopy videos

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.”

Dept of Medicine Young Scientist Day 2012

The Department of Medicine held its annual Young Scientist Day on 23 April 2012. 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 100 posters were displayed by research students from across the Department. A Departmental panel judged the posters and awarded first, second and third prizes respectively to:

  • 1st Mika Falck-Hansen, Kennedy Institute
  • 2nd M S Cheung, Investigative Medicine
  • 3rd Richard Lawrenson, Infectious Diseases and Immunity
  • 3rd Chris Grice, Microbiology

The event was formally opened at 2pm by Professor Gavin Screaton who welcomed everyone and presented the Department’s annual teaching award to Professor Jackie de Belleroche in recognition of her extensive teaching commitments in both undergraduate and postgraduate Neuroscience.

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The Moonwalk London 2012

Sarah Perkins, far leftSarah Perkins, Head of Research Strategy for the Faculty of Medicine, is taking part in this years Moonwalk on 12 May 2012.

She is fundraising for the Walk the Walk breast cancer charity.

For further information and to sponsor Sarah please visit http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/the_swans

  • If you are taking part in any fundraising activities, please let us know by email j.moore@imperial.ac.uk and we’ll include you in the Faculty newsletter

About the Moonwalk:

The MoonWalk is organised by Walk the Walk. This is a unique event as not only do all the participants power walk a marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles) depending on which distance they have chosen, but they all wear decorated bras to raise awareness for breast cancer. There are 15,000 walkers (http://www.walkthewalk.org)

New FoM/FoE kick-start initiative supports 11 innovative collaborations

I am pleased to announce that the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering have funded 11 projects under the new ‘kick-start’ initiative.

These awards, and the collaborations they are nurturing, have been borne out of a programme launched back in November with our FoM/FoE networking event.

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Obituary: Anthony E Rippon

Anthony E Rippon, former Academic Laboratory Manager, Dept. of Endocrinology and Metabolic Medicine, died on 22 February 2012. Dr Atul Purohit pays tribute:

“Tony Rippon was born in 1940 and obtained his HNC in Chemistry in 1961 at Sheffield College of Technology. In 1965 he began working at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School with Professor Vivien James as the technical head of the Steroid Research Unit, established by Professor James at that time.

He progressed upwards through the organisation, through times of expansion within the Dept. of Endocrinology and Metabolic Medicine, headed by Prof. Des Johnston. With various mergers and, in particular, the expansion of my own group, his responsibilities increased and he accepted his wider role with enthusiasm and efficiency. Tony retired in 2005. Tony was awarded the Associateship of Imperial College in 2006, in recognition of his achievements and enormous contribution to St Mary’s Hospital Medical School and to Imperial College.

He was someone of the highest integrity, with unquestioned loyalty to the College for more than 40 years”.

COSMOS study

COSMOS is the world’s largest mobile technologies and health research study, and is based in the EBS department here at Imperial College. The study is now open to volunteers and anyone who has not already registered can take part;

Why is this research important? Mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time but they have become central to our daily lives. In the short term, there is no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones.

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Reorganisation of the Joint Research Office

In March 2011 the Faculty of Medicine undertook a review of the operational activities of the Joint Research Office (JRO).  The Project Board established 10 work-streams populated with College and Trust staff with relevant expertise and JRO staff members.

The review consulted widely within the Faculty and NHS to establish the expectations there were of JRO service and ideas for the optimum structure for service-delivery.

A final report was issued towards the end of 2011 and as a result of the recommendations from the Project Board a new structure was implemented in January 2012.

The key recommendations were:

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Virtual learning in medicine

Dave Taylor, Programme Lead, Virtual Worlds and Medical Media, and Robin Winter, 3D Interactive Designer, recently won the “design our avatar” competition.

You both work in the Medical Media and Design Laboratory (MMDL) at St Mary’s, within the Department of Surgery and Cancer. What work goes on within your lab?

The lab provides consultancy and development services, and helps to support the Department’s research in use of virtual worlds for healthcare. Our applications range from hospital and service design planning, to major incident simulations for assessing communication and leadership skills. We work with other researchers in our Department, to make use of the latest research in behavioural science and the provision of information for patients in the NHS. Our most recent work focuses on the ability to walk through and test the design of a clinic and its services before it is even built. And we are beginning to work with specific patient communities, and researching more effective ways to help people lead healthier lives. There is an overview of some of our work in the Imperial Media library: http://www2.imperial.ac.uk/imedia/content/view/2084/new-media-and-healthcare-avatars-virtual-worlds-and-apps and in a BBC programme about our major incident simulations: http://www.rockhopper.tv/programmes/619/

Picture: a photo of the Virtual Imperial Surgical Innovation Centre, based on the Paterson Centre in South Wharf Road on a misty day.

How is Second Life contributing towards student learning?

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Twitter avatar competition winner

The Winning EntryThe Twitter avatar competition, launched back in December 2011, has now closed. The Faculty would like to thank all those who entered.

The entries were judged by Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor, Principal of the Faculty of Medicine, and Professor Jenny Higham, Deputy Principal of the Faculty of Medicine.

We are pleased to announce the winning entry (opposite) is from Dave Taylor and Robin Winter, from Medical Media and Design Laboratory (MMDL) in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, who will share the prize.

The avatar is a stylised version of the iconic image of Sir Alexander Fleming’s plate culture of the fungus Penicillium notatum; the design honours this discovery which was made whilst working at St. Mary’s (now one of the constituent medical campuses of the Faculty of Medicine).

The avatar can now be seen adorning our Twitter and Flickr pages.

We received a number of excellent entries from staff and students from around the Faculty which can be seen in the gallery below:

Faculty Fellowship Ceremony 2012

On Wednesday evening (18th of January) the Faculty of Medicine held its annual Fellowship Ceremony. Staff and students from across the Faculty gathered in the Lecture Theatre of the Sir Alexander Fleming Building to see Professor Robert Souhami CBE, Professor Averil Mansfield CBE and Dr Malcolm Skingle CBE receive Fellowships of the Faculty of Medicine – a recognition of their immense contributions to medicine and science.

Professor Souhami gave an excellent lecture entitled “The continuing legacy of the Radium Girls”. He talked about the legacy of girls in the 1920s who painted clock and watch dials with paint containing radium, licking the paintbrushes to get a sharp enough point and unfortunately swallowing the radium as they did so. At the time radium was seen as harmless, even medically beneficial. After a few years the women began to get ill with necrosis of the jaw, anaemia and later osteocarcinoma and cancer of the sinuses. It was some time before it was realised that the radium was responsible.

Their exposure also caused bone marrow failure and bone cancer at distant sites because the young women swallowed the radium paint which was partially absorbed by the gut and deposited like calcium in bones. The lecture provided a fascinating insight into the process of the medical discovery of this mechanism.The women’s exposure to radium and the illnesses they developed eventually changed US labour laws. The lecture was a fitting subject at such an occasion to underline the value of medical scientific discovery to improving people’s lives.

The evening was extremely enjoyable and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to honour three such outstanding individuals.

Dr Lyndsey Houseman
Executive Officer (Governance and Review)

Photos from the event

Photos taken by Neville Miles

L-Block visit

Members from the Faculty of Medicine visited the recently completed L-Block at the Hammersmith campus.

The new building will be a flagship facility for Imperial’s Academic Health Science Centre, integrating patient centred research with translational science activity.

Researchers in the new facilities will carry out clinical trials of new treatments and help to advance understanding of a wide range of health problems, such as heart and circulatory disease – the UKs biggest killer.

The building is due to be occupied in Q1 2012.

Photos from the visit