The Department of Medicine is pleased to announce the launch of its brand new short course Mastering Laboratory Skills. The course devised by Teaching Fellow Wayne Mitchell and MSc Immunology Course Director Sophie Rutschmann provides a unique opportunity to train and learn essential molecular and cellular biological laboratory techniques in our world class teaching facilities.
The course is aimed at students who are completing or have recently completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, at medical staff wishing to undertake scientific research or at those wishing to acquire/strengthen their lab skills. The short course combines a high quality theory-based online element with two weeks of intense laboratory work to execute these essential and current molecular and cellular biology techniques. In addition, data analysis sessions will allow participants to critically examine their results and discuss troubleshooting aspects of the work.
Course Director Wayne Mitchell states “The benefits of attending this course are that it combines both theoretical with practical elements of modern molecular biological techniques. It’s one thing to view a procedure in an online tutorial or be given a protocol but it’s totally different to experience the technique first hand with expert instruction. The beauty of our course is that it combines the theory and practice in an environment that fosters good learning.”
Talking about the overall objectives of the course, Sophie Rutschmann adds: “It doesn’t matter what your current level is, the objective is to ensure that you learn the correct skills to successfully undertake scientific research. We are here to help you reach the next level!”
Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis but will close on 31 July 2016.
The online component of the course will launch 1st August 2016 for enrolled students, with the practical element taking place 5 – 16 September. Students have the option of assessment and those who achieve an overall pass with be awarded 7.5 ECTS.
For more information on the course please visit www.imperial.ac.uk/medicine/masteringlaboratory-skills
Department of Medicine
IGHI hosted a forum to discuss and disseminate research into diabetes and infection.
Leaving the EU poses ‘critical threat’ to NHS.
New Patient Safety programme launching for busy healthcare professionals.
IGHI launch new Centre to bring together health researchers in Africa .
WHO EURO ‘Consultation of the European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery’
02-04 May 2016 Copenhagen, Denmark
Between the 2 and 4 May, Professor Salman Rawaf, Ms Federica Amati and Dr Sondus Hassounah participated in WHO Regional Office for Europe’s (WHO EURO) ‘Consultation of the European Framework for Action on Integrated Health Services Delivery’ — a high level international meeting and workshop aiming to strengthen people-centred health systems, as set out in Health 2020, that strives to accelerate maximum health gains for the population, reduce health inequalities, guarantee financial protection and ensure an efficient use of societal resources, including through intersectoral actions consistent with whole-of-society and whole-of-government approaches. (more…)
The start of June saw the Department of Medicine hold its annual Teaching Awards Ceremony. Awards were given to over 20 members of academic staff for their outstanding contribution to teaching and supervision, nominated by current students. Those honoured included teaching fellow & Short Course Director Wayne Mitchell for his support on a number of courses including MSc Molecular Medicine and MSc Molecular Biology and Pathology of Viruses and. On nominating Wayne one student noted “Wayne has guided and helped me so much throughout my course. He has certainly gone above and beyond what was expected of him”.
Course Director for MSc Immunology Sophie Rutschmann was awarded the Department’s top award for contribution to postgraduate teaching. On nominating Sophie one student noted “I feel she has a genuine, heartfelt interest in the MSc she coordinates, and that gives an extraordinary positive spirit to the course. The time and thought she has invested into us is greatly appreciated. I am very grateful for her dedication and determination to teach us well.”
Course Administrator Fiona Bibby also received a Head of Department award for her support to the MRes Clinical Research programme.
It was a great opportunity to celebrate our teaching staff and for current students to show their appreciation.
Department of Medicine
There is already a wide range of support available for staff, however we know that our staff are not always aware of the breadth of services available to them. Sometimes staff do not know who to contact when they have a problem and this is where the Staff Supporter can help by listening, signposting and guiding others when they need information and support in difficult times.
A Staff Supporter is an existing member of staff who is part of a trained network of volunteers who provide confidential and positive assistance to all Imperial staff when they need information, guidance and support. This can be for a range of things both to do with work or personal circumstances and the Staff Supporter will remain in contact until the matter has been resolved or concluded.
If you already take an interest in College wide issues and have a good understanding of College services and procedures or know where to get further information, why not volunteer to support others by being able to point them in the right direction when they need help.
For further information on how to apply please look out for the article in Staff Briefing on Friday 10 June which will have full details of the scheme or contact Suzanne Christopher x49792 or Matt Jowett x45536 in the HR Division.
Head of College Employee Relation and Medicine HR
Imperial College London
Prior to taking up the role of Vice-Dean (Education) for the Faculty you’ve held senior Faculty and College level roles as Campus Director for St Mary’s and as a College Consul. (How) do you think you will be drawing on this experience in your new role?
I was Campus Director (or Campus Dean as it was then called) for St Mary’s for just over 5 years and I learned a lot during that period about what really matters on the ground at an academic campus –in particular I learned that the drive to ensure a good educational environment for our students has always, ultimately, come right at the top of our priorities. Whilst Imperial as an organisation is often considered to be heavily research-focussed, the reality I encountered when working with colleagues at the campus is that the imperative of delivering a curriculum to a high standard of quality was always acknowledged and staff across academic and non-academic functions work hard to make that happen. That’s a great piece of insight for me to take into this new role.
From 2013, I served as Clinical Consul for three years. This is a College level role and undoubtedly the role has grown my knowledge of the functions and complexity of the College as a whole, and allowed me to get to know the academic leadership and senior management team much more broadly. I hope that this combination of experiences in these roles will enable me to marry an understanding of institutional level drivers for development and enhancement with real acknowledgement of local impacts at a delivery level – and hopefully to draw knowledge upwards from a local level to influence and enhance institutional level engagement with key developments.
What has impressed you most about the education activities you’ve seen underway in the Faculty.
There is an outstanding cadre of people in the Faculty who support the education mission. The support I have received from Martin Lupton, Jane Saffell and the senior leadership team has been immense as I have come into the role, but equally I can now point to individuals right throughout our Faculty – and indeed beyond our borders within the NHS itself – who are extraordinarily talented and committed educators and tutors. From the perspective of expertise and dedication there is no limit to what we can achieve in our educational programmes – a challenge for me and the central team will be to ensure we continue to support and channel these skills in the best possible way to effectively enhance and innovate in our programmes, develop strongly as educationalists and respond to students’ needs.
As the College’s lead in the collaborative LKCMedicine, what benefits do you feel both parties, and students, receive from such endeavours?
I’ve had the privilege now to visit Singapore a few times and to see the new school in action. The real joy of being involved in a project like LKCMedicine is being able to see benefits being generated from the interplay between Imperial’s rich history and expertise in medical education with the fresh approach and quality of engagement to be found among our partners (with NTU, with our Singaporean governmental and healthcare partners, and from the student-base itself). These early years of new educational developments are immensely exciting times – I was at Southampton at a similar point in the development of its medical school some years ago, and what I witnessed there (as with here) is the high level of enthusiasm and sheer determination to ‘get it right’ that accompanies a new venture. That enthusiasm drives a huge amount of creativity and innovation – and ultimately quality!
For Imperial, it seems to me that LKCMedicine has been a hugely valuable development. Among our academic faculty, it’s given us a space and a framework to take a step back and consider a medical curriculum in the round, and to identify where we should be harnessing Imperial’s strengths to offer every one of our students a distinctive and outstanding education during their time with us. Much of the experience we have gained from that process is also feeding on into our own UK course developments.
In addition, the project has generated huge amounts of innovative teaching tools, technologies and approaches that we are now harnessing within our UK programmes. Most recently we’ve seen the beginning of what I think will be a really valuable opportunity for our students to meet and engage with their LKC peers (and vice-versa). This offers our students a unique development opportunity to share common issues as well as key differences arising from practicing medicine in different healthcare systems and with distinct sets of health challenges. Our first cohort of students from LKC Medicine visited last month and I hope to see these sorts of opportunities to broaden and enrich the learning experiences among our students flourish.
In your clinical research you also act as lead for one of the themed specialty clusters for the NIHR Clinical Research Network. What, in your experience are the key benefits of broad collaboration between clinical research environments, and how have you sought to foster them?
The evolution of the clinical research network infrastructure has been hugely beneficial to UK clinical research. Collaboration through the national networks plugs gaps at both ends of the clinical trial spectrum, from facilitating the development of major (1000+) multi-participant trials right down to enabling the study of extremely rare disease through creation of study participant groups which are of a sufficiently critical mass to allow statistically meaningful conclusions to be drawn. The networks have broadened the spectrum of partners involved in the clinical research mission. Through their efforts, major academic centres such as Imperial are not reliant on pre-existing collaborative relationships with a small number of major academic medical centres. District hospitals and local clinics as well as major specialist centres are now all engaged in (and talking to each other as part of) the process of identifying and recruiting participants. This process is strengthening the evidence base for our studies and broadening the skill-base across the UK for delivering clinical research. I’ve also witnessed the opportunity the networks have afforded to enhance understanding in the academic and health service sector of the particular approaches and pressures encountered by Industry partners for industry-sponsored studies. Increasing interaction with industry is going to be key for UK and academic medicine going forward and so the sharing of understanding and experience generated by the CRNs is extremely helpful in developing the strength of interaction which will be critical to our future collaborative development.
Are there any differences in the approach you take to your external and internal leadership roles.
Obviously both are focussed on delivering excellence and benefit, but I do think there has to be a slightly different focus for internal versus external roles. In my involvement in NIHR CRN, the key need has been to build up the tools, evidence and strong relationships which enable us to reach out to professionals and patients from widely differing parts of the healthcare delivery system and demonstrate what the benefits of involvement in research (and indeed of collaboration itself) are for their own services and professional development. For internal leadership at Imperial, there has to be a much more heavy focus on day-to-day delivery and enabling that to be as effective for the organisation as possible. The real challenge for internal roles is maintaining a balance between that focus on detail and delivery and retaining a strong sense of the ‘big picture’ and the long term strategy for supporting the College to continue to excel.
Looking forward, what do you see as your greatest challenge for education in the Faculty, and where do you feel the most potential for excellence is?
With changes in the funding and fee landscape, and rising delivery costs, it is going to be absolutely vital to ensure that an Imperial medical and science education does not become a treasure that only the wealthiest bright young people in our society can enjoy. Extending our educational opportunities to the most able students wherever they come from, and ensuring our student population is as representative as possible of the wider populace it will ultimately serve, is critical – we must continually challenge ourselves in the Faculty to support and enhance our strategies to ensure this.
The other great challenge I see for us in the Faculty is also one of our greatest opportunities for excellence. The sheer pace of development of new health technologies and approaches (not least within our own research labs, centres and spin-outs) coupled with a constant drive towards effective dissemination and uptake is creating a continually shifting health landscape for which we need to prepare our students. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels in the educational mission: what equips today’s medic for practice may tomorrow be redundant; an area of interdisciplinary research which was unheard of when today’s final year students first entered the MBBS may already be the basis of new care models for our health service when this year’s freshers graduate in six years’ time. We are outstandingly placed at Imperial to draw on our own discoveries, academic collaborations and translational expertise to continually review and future proof our curricula, translate our discoveries into widespread understanding, create the innovative skill-base among our students to drive future development and ensure Imperial graduates are the very best at operating in the health and scientific environment into which they will emerge. I think that’s an extraordinarily exciting opportunity and challenge for everyone in the Faculty.
The Faculty is delighted to report the outcome of the fourth Imperial Confidence in Concept (ICiC) competition to support the College-wide development of novel devices, diagnostics and therapeutics for areas of unmet clinical need. A fund in excess of £1.6million was made available from the MRC (Confidence in Concept fund), NIHR Imperial BRC, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, EPSRC and BBSRC Impact Acceleration Accounts, as well as support from NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research. The ICiC scheme provides vital pilot funding to bridge the potential gap between discovery research and well-developed applications for MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme / Developmental Clinical Studies Funding Scheme support.
The Panel, including external members and chaired by Professor Roberto Solari, was delighted with the high quality and wide range of applications. Examples of the breadth of funded proposals include: ‘Preclinical assessment of a lead NMT inhibitor as a novel anticancer agent’ (Tate); ‘Development and validation of a 2 gene RNA test to detect bacterial infection’ (Levin); ‘A ‘smart’ ultrasonic focus for brain drug delivery’ (Choi); ‘GM-CSF gene therapy for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis’ (Griesenbach). We are also pleased to announce two co-funded projects with our colleagues at the NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and ICR; ‘The development of a high-throughput breathomics platform for oeosophago-gastric cancer’ (Hanna) and ‘The use of innovative spectroscopy technologies (i-Knife and DESI) for the improvement of the management of women with abnormalities in cervical screening’ (Kyrgiou). The first project is a collaboration between Prof George Hanna (ICL), Dr Andrea Romano (ICL), Prof David Cunningham (ICR), Mr Asif Chaudry (ICR), and Prof Paris Tekkis (ICR). The second project led by Dr Maria Kyrgiou involves collaboration with the Royal Marsden gynaecological oncology team (Mr Butler, Mr Ind, Mr Barton).
The investigators who will receive awards of up to £85,000 are:
- Professor Eric Aboagye (PI), Dr Laurence Carroll, & Dr Kathrin Heinzmann (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Geoff Baldwin (PI) & Professor Edward Leen (Departments of Life Sciences and Medicine)
- Dr Andrew Blagborough (PI) & Dr Fiona Angrisano (Department of Life Sciences)
- Dr James Choi (PI) & Dr Matthew Williams (Department of Bioengineering and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
- Dr Armando Del Rio Hernandez (PI) (Department of Bioengineering)
- Dr Andrew Edwards (PI), Dr Thomas Clarke, Dr Thomas Webb, Dominic Marshall (Department of Medicine)
- Dr Matthew Fuchter (PI), Prof Simak Ali, & Dr Geoff Baldwin (Departments of Chemistry, Surgery & Cancer, and Life Sciences)
- Dr Nicholas Glanville (PI) & Professor Sebastian Johnston (National Heart & Lung Institute)
- Professor Uta Griesenbach (PI) & Professor Eric Alton (National Heart & Lung Institute)
- Professor George Hanna (PI) & Dr Andrea Romano (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Mark Isalan (PI) (Department of Life Sciences)
- Dr Angela Kedgley (PI), Ms Donna Kennedy, Dr Tonia Vincent, & Dr Fiona Watt (Departments of Bioengineering and Surgery & Cancer and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
- Dr Maria Kyrgiou (PI), Professor Zoltan Takats, Dr Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami, Professor Phillip Bennett, & Dr David Macintyre (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus (PI), Professor Francis Drobniewski, Dr Brian Robertson, & Dr Vahid Shahrezaei (Departments of Life Sciences, Medicine, and Mathematics)
- Professor Mike Levin (PI) & Dr Pantelis Georgiou (Departments of Medicine and Electrical & Electronic Engineering)
- Dr George Mylonas (PI) & Professor Ara Darzi (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Alexandra Porter (PI), Professor Charles Coombes, Professor Mary Ryan, & Dr Fang Xie (Departments of Materials and Surgery & Cancer)
- Professor Robin Shattock (PI) (Department of Medicine)
- Professor Roberto Solari (PI) & Dr Andrew Bell (National Heart & Lung Institute and Department of Chemistry)
- Professor Ed Tate (PI), Professor Eric Aboagye, Dr Andy Bell, & Dr Laura Kenny (Departments of Chemistry and Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Vasso Terzidou (PI), Dr David Macintyre, & Professor Phillip Bennett (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
- Dr Ross Walton (PI), Professor Sebastian Johnston, & Dr Aoife Cameron (National Heart & Lung Institute)
- Professor Peter Weinberg (PI) & Dr Mengxing Tang (Department of Bioengineering)
- Professor Ramesh Wigneshweraraj (PI) & Dr Daniel Brown (Department of Medicine)
- Dr Lan Zhao (PI) & Professor Martin Wilkins (Department of Medicine)
Dr Kimberley Trim
Research Strategy Coordinator
Faculty of Medicine
Preety Das is a Specialist Trainee in General Practice in the
Department of Primary Care & Public Health. She joined the King’s Fund as part of an innovative training post at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Here she discusses the King’s Fund report she coauthored – Bringing together physical and mental health.
Integrated care initiatives in England and elsewhere have paid insufficient attention to the relationship between physical and mental health. Our report draws on a review of published research evidence, qualitative interviews and focus groups with service users and carers, and case studies of 10 services in England. We conclude by arguing that overcoming the longstanding barriers to integration of mental and physical health should be a central component of efforts to develop new models of care that bring together resources from across local health systems.
The case for seeking to support physical and mental health in a more integrated way is compelling, and is based on four related challenges: 1) high rates of mental health conditions among people with long-term physical health problems, 2) poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’, which lack an identifiable organic cause, 3) reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness, largely attributable to poor physical health and 4) limited support for the wider psychological aspects of physical health and illness. Collectively, these issues increase the cost of providing services, perpetuate inequalities in health outcomes, and mean that care is less effective than it could be. The first two issues alone cost the NHS in England more than £11 billion annually.
Examples of innovative service models described in the report demonstrate that there are opportunities to redesign care in ways that could improve outcomes and may also be highly cost effective. These include various forms of enhanced support in primary care, integrated community or neighbourhood teams, comprehensive liaison mental health services, physical health liaison within mental health services, and integrated perinatal mental health care.
All health and care professionals have a part to play in delivering closer integration. Our research with service users and carers highlights the importance of professionals being willing and able to take a ‘whole person’ perspective, and having the necessary skills to do so. Integrated service models can support this by facilitating skills transfer and shifting notions of who is responsible for what. Equally, a great deal of improvement is possible within existing service structures. New approaches to training and development are needed to create a workforce able to support integration of mental and physical health. This has significant implications for professional education; all educational curricula need to have a sufficient common foundation in both physical and mental health.
My involvement in this project provided a unique opportunity to relate everyday clinical practice to the range of barriers that have prevented wider adoption of integrated approaches. These include: separate budgets and payment systems for physical and mental health; the challenge of measuring outcomes and demonstrating value; and cultural barriers between organisations or groups of professionals. The report describes several enabling factors and practical lessons, including the value of having a board-level champion for physical health in mental health trusts, and vice versa. New payment systems and contracting approaches offer commissioners various options for overcoming some of the financial barriers.
In recent years there has been a welcome focus in national policy on achieving ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health. Colloquially, this phrase has often been interpreted to mean that mental health services should be ‘as good as’ services for physical health. We argue that there is a greater prize beyond this, in which mental health care is not only ‘as good as’ but is delivered ‘as part of ’ an integrated approach to health.
Specialist Trainee in General Practice
Department of Primary Care & Public Health
As part of the restructuring of the FEO there has been a strengthening and simplifying of the leadership team, and there are now four senior managers reporting to me. An overview of their areas of responsibility is outlined below:
Lisa Carrier – Head of Technology Enhanced Education
Lisa is currently the E-learning Manager for the Department of Medicine and will be joining us at the beginning of May. Her team will support:
Development and support of technology and innovative teaching methods to enhance the delivery of education
Advising on and developing technical solutions to support the management of education
Liaison with SIDs to expand the use of technology to enhance postgraduate education
Audio Visual and Lab technical support
Timetabling and room booking
Rebekah Fletcher – Head of School of Medicine Secretariat
- Rebekah’s team will support:
- Quality and Governance (including forecasting and planning)
- Projects and Systems (including Sofia, our curriculum map, Fry, the assessment system and the Student Information Management System (SIMP) and the student database)
- Student finance (including bursaries, scholarships and welfare payments)
Chris Harris – Head of Programme Management
- Chris’s team will support:
- Curriculum and exams/assessment
- Transition to foundation training
- Student progression (including Fitness to Practice, discipline and mitigating circumstances)
- Student records (including production of transcripts and documentation for graduates)
- Electives (including funding)
- Clinical Education Finance and planning (SIFT and HEFCE)
Paul Ratcliffe – Deputy Director of Education Management
- Paul’s team will support:
- LKC School of Medicine
- Postgraduate, including the Health Sciences Academy
- Medical Education Research Unit (MERU)
- Major Educational innovations (including the new Medical Biosciences BSc)
We are in the final stages of consultation with FEO staff and the new support teams will be finalised and announced shortly. During the transition period, there will continue to be management and administrative support across all areas. Should you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or the relevant senior manager.
Miss Susan English
Director of Education Management and Programme Director
Faculty Education Office (Medicine)
The Open Access Team are based in the Imperial College Library at South Kensington. We are the team that is on the ‘other end’ when you press the ‘deposit my publication’ button in Symplectic for uploading your manuscripts into Spiral, or when you make an application for support for article processing fees. We are here to help you comply with open access requirements, including the HEFCE Open Access policy.
Last month the Faculty of Medicine Newsletter drew attention to how important it was for research active staff to comply with the new HEFCE policy from 1 April 2016. Following on from that newsletter we thought it would be useful to clarify and highlight a few points about the policy and the process for depositing your publications in Spiral through Symplectic Elements.
- The HEFCE policy applies to peer reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings accepted on or after 1st April 2016. This means anything accepted or published before this date complies as far as HEFCE is concerned! (Phew. So it is okay if you cannot find the author accepted version of that article that was accepted 6 months ago! )*
- COMPLIANCE = ACTION ON ACCEPTANCE.
Please upload your author accepted version ( final draft without publisher’s layout etc.) into Spiral via Symplectic. It is this version and only this version that we can use, unless your article goes open upon publication ( the gold route).**The date of acceptance must be entered in Sympletic.This is where you start:
- Imperial corresponding authors. You know when your article or conference proceeding has been accepted as you get that all important email from the journal publisher. So please act as soon as you get this notification. You can send non-Imperial co-authors the URL you will receive (via email) once the version you upload has been checked and deposited in Spiral. Imperial co-authors will be notified via Symplectic when the publication details have been added to Spiral. Have an open access ‘conversation’ before submission if you can.
- Corresponding authors not at Imperial – Imperial co-authors should have that open access ‘conversation’ too. Open access policies affect all authors, not just in the UK. If the corresponding author can deposit the accepted version in a compliant open access repository (usually an institutional repository) then ask to be sent the link and enter the publication details in Symplectic adding the link when requested rather than a file. If your corresponding author cannot deposit the work themselves, then ask for a copy of the accepted version and advise them of what you need to do.
- The Library’s Open Access team will check your records. Nothing goes live until they do! We make sure you have the correct version, the correct licence, the correct embargo period. So please don’t worry: go ahead and upload.
Remember: compliance = action on acceptance
We strongly recommend that you upload your author accepted version as soon you are notified of acceptance. Action on acceptance needs to become a ‘habit’, the Open Access team are here to help. It is impossible to cover every scenario or eventuality in 5 points! So if you have any questions, need further clarification, please contact us.
Scholarly Communication Support Manager
Imperial College London
*If you have a really good filing system (or your corresponding author does) and you can lay your hands on an author accepted version of an article, then please do upload it as soon as you can. We want as many open access outputs in Spiral as possible and remember that there are other research funders such as RCUK and Charities Open Access Fund who have their own requirements. You can find out more about other research funder open access policies on the College Open Access support pages
** Going open on publication: you can apply for funding via ‘deposit your work’ in Symplectic. If you go open on publication without funding from the Library, please still upload your article, using the final published version. It is important that you enter the date of acceptance in Symplectic for compliance purposes.
- How do infectious diseases affect diabetes patients?
The focus for the March IGHI Global Health Forum was on infections and diabetes.
- New test for TB claims first prize in the IGHI Student Challenges Competition.
A new way to test for tuberculosis claimed the £5000 top prize in this year’s competition.
- Patient Safety Global Action Summit 2016.
During Patient Safety Week, experts from NIHR Imperial PSTRC teamed up with the UK government to create a global movement to transform patient safety.
- Read our new prospectus/brochure
- Healthcare and Design: New Masters programme launching for healthcare innovators.
Our HELIX Centre for Design in Healthcare to launch new Masters programme.
- Too many avoidable errors in patient care, says report
- New report on patient safety
- Researchers and Google DeepMind collaborate on app to support busy medics
IGHI Researchers have developed an app to help medics manage the thousands of individual clinical tasks that need to be organised daily across a hospital.
- Sign up to receive our quarterly e-newsletter
- Subscribe to our blog
- Write for us! Anyone interested in writing for our blog should email us at email@example.com
Institute of Global Health Innovation
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.
ICCESS have once again been supporting the More Smiles Appeal, by delivering a simulation event at Wetherby Preparatory School on 2nd February 2016. Funds raised on the night will contribute towards the redevelopment and expansion of the paediatric intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital. The simulation featured a team of clinicians from the unit demonstrating the high level of care they provide despite the constraints they are placed under in terms of space.
ICCESS are pioneers of Sequential Simulation, which is the physical re-enactment of a patients care pathway through the healthcare system. It utilises real clinicians and clinical props to provide expertise and context to the issues being explored. ICCESS’ Sharon-Marie Weldon, who has developed the concept and successfully designed and delivered numerous simulation events, has seen first-hand how Sequential Simulation serves as a valuable means of engaging people with the world of medicine: ‘Sequential Simulation is a way of utilising the benefits of simulation to recreate aspects of care, but with a much wider scope, creating a juxtaposition of the healthcare system that can be used for a variety of objectives; education and training, evaluation, care re-design, quality improvement, and patient and public engagement – as we saw with the More Smiles Appeal event’.
To hear more about the More Smiles Appeal contact Maurice O’Connor on 02033125696 or to donate to the appeal, please visit www.moresmiles.org.uk
- In November 2016, Professor Roger Kneebone was invited to participate in a 2-day colloquium in Bern, convened by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) to formulate a national strategy for skills and simulation in health care in Switzerland. The colloquium brought together the University of Bern, the University of Applied Sciences Bern, the University of Health Sciences of the Canton of Vaud (HESAV), and the Bern Centre of Higher Education of Nursing.
As one of two invited international experts, Roger presented his perspective on simulation and health policy within the UK and internationally. This included research on hybrid, distributed and sequential simulation within Imperial’s Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science – work which has now become embedded in the curriculum of the Bern Centre of Higher Education of Nursing.
- Clinical Research Fellow Laura Coates was recently invited to be a visiting speaker at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Laura gave an hour-long Grand Round presentation to the whole of the surgical department, followed by meetings with a number of members of staff and a session with the University’s postgraduate surgical students. Laura talked about some of ICCESS’ public engagement work, including events focusing on the effects of knife crime and the recent Time Travelling Operating Theatre that featured in last month’s FoM newsletter. Laura’s visit was very well-received, with staff and students commenting on the interesting and unusual nature of ICCESS’ work.
PhD Viva Success
- Two of ICCESS’ students, Alejandro Granados-Martinez and Przemyslaw Korzeniowski, have successfully defended their PhDs on consecutive days. Their respective work on ‘Modelling and Simulation of Flexible Instruments for Minimally Invasive Surgical Training in Virtual Reality’ and ‘Haptics-based Simulation Tools for Teaching and Learning Digital Rectal Examinations’ was highly praised by the examiners, with only very minor corrections to be made to their dissertations.
For more information about Imperial College’s Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS), please contact Duncan Boak: D.Boak@imperial.ac.uk
The Global eHealth Unit at the School of Public Health is introducing a range of new training programmes in data science and eHealth for healthcare professionals expected to start in March 2016.
The Unit plans on delivering five new continuing professional development courses in 2016 as part of an ongoing partnership with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital).
After organising two successful pilot courses and six student cohorts in 2015, the Global eHealth Unit is responding to the growing demand for data science and eHealth training by expanding on the initial courses and introducing new and advanced topics such as:
· Exploring and generating data visualisation methods for healthcare data analysis
· Practical implications of Information Governance policies
· The potential for eHelath and mHealth to improve the quality of healthcare systems
· Governance and management of eHelath and mHealth initiatives in healthcare organisations.
· Improving education in health care through eLearning
Each of the five new courses will be delivered via blended learning which will include five weeks of online training and two days of face-to-face interactive workshop style training in London.
The face-to-face training will present students with an opportunity to explore the course concepts in depth, and consolidate learning.
Professor Azeem Majeed, Head of the Department of Primary Care & Public Health said: “We are very pleased to continue spearheading this initiative with our partners from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. After training over 60 students in our pilot courses last year, we are looking to continue to deliver training.”
Dr Josip Car, Director of the Global eHealth Unit added: “The healthcare sector is no exception to the growing demand for data scientists and IT professionals. With these courses we are looking to bridge the gap between these two fields in a unique and innovative way.”
See programme website – https://gehu.training/FoM for more information about the courses, faculty and teaching schedule.
Global eHealth Unit
Department of Primary Care and Public Health
On Wednesday 3 February the Department of Medicine hosted Young Scientist Day 2016. This annual event, designed to benefit both PhD students and Postdocs, saw a full programme of activities which included a PhD poster competition, a Departmental ‘3-minute thesis’ competition, guest speakers and a networking drinks event for all attendees.
The event was hugely popular and welcomed a large number of research students and a handful of MRes and MSc students who joined in the day’s events.
The morning was dedicated to poster presentations where research students from all five divisions had the opportunity to display their recent work to their colleagues and the judges who circulated throughout the morning.
The standard of posters was very high and after careful deliberation the three winners selected were:
First Prize: Vera Pader, (Microbiology) ‘Characterisation of a cryptic daptomycin-resistance mechanism in Staphylococcus aureus’
Second Prize: Alan Liu, (Clinical Neuroscience) ‘Clarifying the human brain’
Third Prize: Miles Priestman, (Microbiology) ‘Drug-Tolerance in Mycobacteria’
The afternoon was dedicated to the Department’s ‘3-Minute Thesis’ competition which saw one PhD student from each Section Cohort present their thesis research to a judging panel in only three minutes. The challenge included twelve students from different divisions who communicated their research to the judges and answered questions from the audience.
After a series of entertaining presentations, the prizes were awarded to Iris Scherwitzl for her presentation ‘The role of Mucosal- Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells during dengue infection’ and Leor Roseman who spoke about ‘Reconstructing eyes-closed psychedelic imagery’.
Both Iris and Leor will progress to the College’s ‘3-Minute Thesis’ competition hosted by the Graduate School and we wish them the best of luck.
We also enjoyed two entertaining talks from Postdoc Laura Nellums and Research Fellow Bryn Owen who provided some useful and good-humoured advice about life after a PhD and their experiences in further research, both of which included international career paths. PhD students had the opportunity to ask Laura and Bryn questions about their respective careers in research before the evening was rounded off by a networking drinks session which provided a more relaxed setting for students, judges and speakers to socialise and muse over the day’s activities.
Young Scientist Day 2016 would not have been possible without the generous support of the Graduate School, who provided funding for refreshments and prizes in support of the day’s cohort building activities. We also express our thanks to Dr Kevin Murphy, and to a number of other academics and Postdocs, who gave up their time to act as judges for the poster and presentation sessions.
We look forward to making Young Scientist Day 2017 even bigger and better.
Department of Medicine
Workshop exploring zoonotic disease at the human-wildlife-livestock interface
In early February Professor Christl Donnelly organized a workshop, funded by the EU-FP7-funded Predemics project, for 25 participants from 9 countries near Lake Manyara, Tanzania. The theme of the workshop was zoonotic disease and attendees included academics, veterinarians, and individuals from NGOs, research institutes, WHO, CDC and government units. The aim was to strengthen strategic interdisciplinary partnerships to improve the understanding and control of zoonotic diseases.
A plenary talk by Professor Sarah Cleaveland kicked off the meeting speaking about zoonotic diseases and the human-wildlife-livestock interface in Africa. Over the next four days participants further explored this topic with a series of talks covering the challenges of controlling zoonoses in wildlife including One Health and conservation programmes, the impact of wildlife trade and the risks around food safety.
Breakout groups identified burning research questions and control needs for Rabies, Livestock Zoonoses, Zoonoses & the Environment and Vector-Borne Diseases. These group sessions helped evaluate the current situations for these areas and highlighted key concerns. The early findings informed Dragon’s-Den-style pitches for a (sadly fictional!) research grant of $1million. A programme for control of livestock zoonoses which directly consulted the community to identify their concerns, before developing a scalable and sustainable model for control of zoonoses won the day.
You can’t go to Africa and not go on safari: luckily the participants were able to fit in a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. This beautiful park is home to a huge number of species, including rhinoceros. The safari was followed by a talk by the Director of research at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Dr Julius Keyyu, who described the challenges of effective health governance in the context of protected areas and risky cultural practices.
The mix of formal talks and breakout groups explored key topics and allowed time for plenty of discussion and debate. Following the workshop, many participants have made plans to meet again and form new collaborations. There is already talk of a follow-up workshop (funding permitting).
Harriet L. Mills
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Zainab Al Shareef, a PhD student in the Wnt team of the Prostate Cancer Group in the Division of Cancer, has been awarded a prestigious Distinguished Scholarship Award in the category of Innovative Ideas by the Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is the first year for these awards, which were created to honour Emirati scholarship students from government and private agencies from around the world.
Zainab was presented with the award by General HH Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. The ceremony, held in the presence of Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council, took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi on January 6th. Zainab’s proposal was to establish a Tumour Bank in the UAE with the dual aims of tackling the genetic causes of cancer that are most prevalent in this region and improving the academic and financial sectors through establishment of a postgraduate research plan that integrates with the global biotechnology market. Zainab was previously honoured by the UAE embassy in London for high academic achievement.
Dr Robert Kypta
Department of Surgery and Cancer
Faculty of Medicine
In 2015 the Department of Medicine launched the new Biological Imaging Centre (BIC) at the Hammersmith Campus. The centre is dedicated to high-quality imaging research in preclinical models of disease using PET/CT, MRI and optical imaging. Our goal is to translate discoveries from the bench, efficiently and confidently, to realise their potential to improve health.
The centre houses a top of the range Bruker BioSpec 9.4T MRI system which allows high resolution in vivo imaging of all murine models of disease and therapy, from diffusion tensor imaging of brain connectivity, measures of tumour burden, through to live assessment of cardiac function and viability.
The Inveon system is a versatile platform allowing Computed Tomography (CT), Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) studies to be carried out on a single integrated gantry.
In addition to our MRI and PET/CT capabilities we also provide two optical imaging systems. Fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) is a novel tomographic near-infrared (NIR) imaging modality that enables 3D quantitative determination of fluorochrome distribution in tissues at any depth. The PerkinElmer IVIS Lumina XR III on the other hand provides an expandable, sensitive bench-top imaging system that is easy to use for both fluorescent and bioluminescent imaging in vivo.
Led by Dr Lan Zhao, with a dedicated team of staff, the centre provides access to and support for scientists from across Imperial College to conduct research in a broad range of preclinical areas. If you are interested in preclinical imaging and would like to discuss potential projects please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about all of our modalities can be found on the Biological Imaging Centre website.
Divisional Operations Assistant
Divisions of Experimental Medicine and Brain Sciences
Time to Talk Day is a national awareness day organised by Time to Change. Its aim is to encourage as many people as possible across England to talk about mental health and to join together to break the silence that often surrounds it. Further details are available at www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday
Additional information and support can be accessed through the College’s Mental Health webpages: www.imperial.ac.uk/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health/
Executive Officer (Governance & Review)
Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College’s Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) took their ‘Time-Travelling Operating Theatre’ project on the road in September and October 2015 to great acclaim. The project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, featured real clinicians working together in re-enactments of three eras of surgical history – 1884, 1984 and 2014. Members of the public were taken on a time-travelling journey through each era to see how technological, cultural, environmental and social changes have influenced the development of surgery.
Led by Sharon-Marie Weldon, the ICCESS team delivered the events at a number of prestigious venues; the Science Museum and Royal College of Nursing in London, the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds and finally the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The events were very popular with the public and attracted a diverse audience.
The key aim of the project went beyond the delivery of the events, however. Research has shown that it is very difficult to engage the general public in debate that can shape healthcare policy. Each Time-Travelling Operating Theatre event was followed by a discussion amongst audience members, clinicians and others such as ethicists and medical defence lawyers. Some really interesting perspectives emerged from these discussions that covered a wide range of issues, from the ethics of modern medical procedures through to the environmental impact of the present-day healthcare system. Sharon-Marie is currently analysing the data that was captured from these discussions and will be producing a paper that examines whether hands-on engagement activities such as this represent the future of ensuring public involvement in shaping the future of healthcare.
For more information on ICCESS please contact Duncan Boak: email@example.com
Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS)
The CSC’s Suffrage Science film night
It was an evening designed to inspire. This was a chance to celebrate the first five years of the CSC’s Suffrage Science scheme, which aims to encourage women into science, and to stay there. With Helen Pankhurst involved, it was also a chance to explore the role of activism today, and the changing nature of women’s activism since her great grandmother’s time as a Suffragette.
The evening, hosted by the Tricycle theatre in North London, began with a screening of Suffragette the film – to remember those who gave the Suffrage Science scheme its name. The film features Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and others in a frank portrayal of the fight for Votes for Women. It was an uncomfortable watch. Historical details, such as the Cat and Mouse Act, rendered so much more powerful when portrayed in unflinching detail on the big screen.
Before the film head of Communications and Public Engagement at the CSC Susan Watts, sat down with Helen, and talked about how her famous Pankhurst predecessors might view today’s activists; about who inspires her and about whether she sees signs of activism in science and medicine today.
“I think the whole of science is about activism. It’s about looking at a particular discipline and pushing the boundaries of what that discipline can deliver – and often it’s about the relationship between science and humanity and what science can do in terms of changing the world that we humans live in. So to the extent that it enables society to benefit in a hundred ways, that is activism.
CSC scientists have also published their findings in several high profile papers this month.
A study in Nature Cell Biology shows that we do not yet have the whole story about how fertilised eggs produce the many different types of cell that make up our adult bodies. It is widely accepted that an enzyme called Tet plays an important role, but something else seems to be at play, according to the study.
Scientists including the CSC’s James Ware have found that women who suffer unexplained heart failure towards the ends of pregnancy or shortly after giving birth share certain genetic changes. The finding provides some explanation for this mysterious condition, and suggests that by testing relatives, other women who carry the same genes, and who might face similar risks, could be identified early. They could then be monitored closely and treated more swiftly if needed. In the future preventative treatment might be developed too.
And a study published in Nature Communications is the first to show that an enzyme crucial to keeping our immune system healthy “surfs” along the strands of DNA inside our cells.
Science Communications Officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre
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.
Professor of Cancer Biology
Androgen Signalling Laboratory
The Department of Surgery and Cancer is delighted that Michael Uren has been knighted in the Queens New Year’s honours list 2016. Michael received the honour in recognition of his philanthropic activities. Over the last 8 years, The Michael Uren Foundation has given an astonishing £100m to good causes, across a wide range of topics, many of them unheralded. His Foundation has been a staunch supporter of the MSk lab for almost a decade, but recently changed the course of Imperial by pledging £40m to support the creation of the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Hub at White City Campus. This 12 story building will allow Imperial to grow the next generation of engineers, scientists and medics in a purpose built environment where the lower floors house clinical intervention space, allowing devices to be designed, developed and trialed on site.
Sir Michael is a familiar face to many in the Department, and particularly in the MSk lab, having visited on several occasions to see the work his generous donations have supported. The Foundation’s gifts have played a vital role in helping us develop new areas of work, purchase cutting-edge equipment and build and sustain a talented, cross-disciplinary team of researchers. The flexibility afforded by these gifts has also been exceptionally important in allowing us to direct philanthropic resources into priority areas where corporate and research funding is not currently available. We look forward to welcoming Sir Michael on his next visit.
- Dr Michael Johnson’s (Department of Medicine) research into genetic networks for cognition (Nature Neuroscience) was featured in the Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Mail.
- Dr Tony Goldstone’s (Department of Medicine) new study into gut hormones and cravings was featured in international media including the Daily Mail, and the team have received various requests from broadcasters.
- Dr Oliver Ratmann (School of Public Health) was featured in BuzzFeed US, discussing his latest Science Translational Medicine paper into HIV transmission.
If you would like to discuss media work around upcoming publications or projects please contact Kate Wighton.
Research Media Officer – Medicine