Blog posts

Dr Claire Fletcher awarded a prestigious Young Investigator Award

Dr Claire FletcherDr 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.

 

Abstract

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.

Charlotte Bevan
Professor of Cancer Biology
Androgen Signalling Laboratory

Imperial alumnus and donor Michael Uren knighted

Sir Michael UrenThe 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.

Matthew Ryan
Research Manager
MSk Lab

Faculty of Medicine in the media

  • Dr Michael Johnson’s (Department of Medicine) research into genetic networks for cognition (Nature Neuroscience) was featured in the Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Mail.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/dec/21/new-genetic-theory-might-pave-way-to-understanding-human-intelligence

  • 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.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3401449/Could-jab-banish-bad-habits-Injection-gut-hormone-stops-cravings-help-drinkers-smokers-obese.html

  • Dr Oliver Ratmann (School of Public Health) was featured in BuzzFeed US, discussing his latest Science Translational Medicine paper into HIV transmission.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/virginiahughes/dutch-study-of-prep

 

If you would like to discuss media work around upcoming publications or projects please contact Kate Wighton.

Kate Wighton
Research Media Officer – Medicine

 

Call for 1-Year Clinical Training Fellowships in Global Health Research

We are looking to support outstanding early-career clinical professionals wishing to undertake research, at least in part overseas, to improve the health of people and reduce health inequalities in developed and developing countries. Through the provision of clinical training fellowships in global health, we aim to provide opportunities for the most promising clinical academics, at the very beginning of their careers, to develop bids for independent fellowship funding. We anticipate that each fellow will be supported by two mentors, one based at an Imperial Campus, and one based overseas. All fellowships must commence by 1 September, 2016.

How to apply?

Please refer to the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund webpage for application forms and guidelines.

If you have an Imperial and overseas sponsor, please contact ISSF@imperial.ac.uk for an application form and further information. Should you be an interested applicant looking for a sponsor, please provide a max 500 word summary of your interests, brief summary of project and research experience to ISSF@imperial.ac.uk by 25 January 2016. We cannot guarantee that all interested applicants will be matched with an overseas sponsor. Full applications would need to be submitted by 4 March 2016 to ISSF@imperial.ac.uk. Interviews for shortlisted candidates are expected to take place the week commencing 2 May 2016.

This Fellowship program is funded through the Global Health Stream of the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, and lead by the Imperial Wellcome Trust Global Health Research Centre in conjunction with the Institute for Global Health Innovation.

For further information please contact:

Dr Kimberley Trim, Faculty of Medicine,
Imperial College London SW7 2AZ UK
Tel: 020 7594 9826
E-mail: ISSF@imperial.ac.uk

Committed to equality and valuing diversity. We are also an Athena SWAN Silver Award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a two Ticks Employer and are working in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.

Macrophage exosomes induce placental inflammatory cytokines: a novel mode of maternal-placental messaging

Congratulations to Dr Beth Holder on getting this beautiful paper published and thanks to the collaborators within and outside of the department who helped to facilitate the work with all the various techniques.

Beth recently presented the work at the International Symposium for Maternal and Neonatal Immunisation and her talk was praised as an outstanding contribution, particularly by our US attendees. This work was funded through the Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the Medical Research Council.

Abstract

During pregnancy, the placenta forms the interface between mother and fetus. Highly controlled regulation of trans-placental trafficking is therefore essential for the healthy development of the growing fetus. Extracellular vesicle-mediated transfer of protein and nucleic acids from the human placenta into the maternal circulation is well documented; the possibility that this trafficking is bi-directional has not yet been explored but could affect placental function and impact on the fetus. We hypothesized that the ability of the placenta to respond to maternal inflammatory signals is mediated by the interaction of maternal immune cell exosomes with placental trophoblast. Utilising the BeWo cell line and whole placental explants, we demonstrated that the human placenta internalizes macrophage-derived exosomes in a time- and dose-dependent manner. This uptake was via clathrin-dependent endocytosis. Furthermore, macrophage exosomes induced production of proinflammatory cytokines by the placenta. Taken together, our data demonstrates that exosomes are actively transported into the human placenta and that exosomes from activated immune cells modulate placental cytokine production. This represents a novel mechanism by which immune cells can signal to the placental unit, potentially facilitating responses to maternal inflammation and infection, and thereby preventing harm to the fetus.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tra.12352/abstract

Jane Webb
Secretary for the Section of Paediatrics and Personal Assistant to the Head of Department, Professor Andrew Bush.

LKCMedicine clinical leads visit Imperial

LKCMedicine clinical leads visit Imperial
A delegation from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore visited Imperial in November.

The week-long LKCMedicine visit included meetings with clinical counterparts; visits to Imperial’s teaching sites Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital and West Middlesex Hospital; observation of a Year 5 significant educational activity; the Faculty of Medicine conference, the teaching awards and Professor Timothy Orchard’s inaugural lecture, ‘Speaking from the gut’.

“It is always a pleasure to welcome our colleagues from LKCMedicine to Imperial,” said Paul Ratcliffe, Deputy Director of Education Management.

“It has been a great opportunity to introduce them to many of our excellent NHS teachers and colleagues involved in delivering education. I was also delighted that the visit coincided with the faculty education forum and that our visitors were able to contribute to this.”

At the conference, Dr Kemp of LKCMedicine gave a presentation on the transition to learning in clinical settings. Associate Professor Wong took part in a panel discussion on ‘the making of a doctor: how to help our students navigate the transition from school child to foundation school’.

The trip also provided an opportunity for both the clinical leads and the Imperial curriculum team to discuss the delivery of the Year 4 curriculum and discuss plans for assessment.

LKCMedicine opened in 2013 as a collaboration between Imperial College London and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore with an inaugural cohort of 54. The school is now in its third year of operation with 222 students.

The students pursue an innovative curriculum developed jointly by Imperial and LKCMedicine, and gain experience in a wide range of clinical settings from an early stage in the course, making extensive use of technology and team-based learning.

Ben Campion
Communications Manager
Imperial College School of Medicine

Mr Chris Lattimer receives Bronze Award from the American College of Phlebology

Mr Chris Lattimer
Mr Chris Lattimer

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that Imperial College have once again won a prestigious international award from the Josef Pflug Vascular Laboratory (Ealing Hospital & Imperial College).

This time is was the Bronze Award for best oral presentation at the American College of Phlebology held in Orlando this year at their 29th Annual Congress.

The title was: ‘Evaluation of the pumping performance of common peroneal nerve stimulation using air-plethysmography‘.

The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel on 15th November 2015 where Dr Armen Roupenian presented the certificate to me with a monetary prize.

The work explained how the calf muscle pump works in augmenting the venous return and the contribution of the GEKO device in achieving this target. Suggestions were made as to how the device could be improved to maximise efficiency in the prevention of DVT.

Mr Chris Lattimer
Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer
Department of Surgery and Cancer

Professor Beate Kampmann nominated to join Expert Database for Outstanding Female Academics

Professor Beate Kampmann has been nominated by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to join AcademiaNet – Expert Database for Outstanding Female Academics.

Professor Beate Kampmann The Robert Bosch Stiftung, in cooperation with Spektrum der Wissenschaft (Nature Publishing Group), has set up this exclusive expert database in 2010. It was launched by German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and it is the only Web site of its kind that shows profiles only of outstandingly qualified women who are best in their field. They all have been nominated by highly recognized science and research institutions. To date, more than 1,700 profiles of female top-class researchers of all disciplines are in the database.

The website (www.academia-net.org) is supplemented by editorials such as up-to-date news reports, scientific articles and interviews with female scientists and has registered over one million clicks to date. The high number of visitors to the database is not the only indication of its success: all four female scientists awarded the Leibniz Prize in 2014 – the most important research prize in Germany – are members of AcademiaNet.

The MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling annual away day

MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling held its annual away dayThe MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling held its annual away day on the 9th of October. Both 2014 and 2015 saw very significant contributions made by the Centre in a variety of areas. Most notably this included both the work carried modelling and in also in the subsequent provision of vital policy advice to aid the effort to contain and end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The Centre was rated an unprecedented 10/10 by the MRC subcommittee for the work carried out in its first term. As we now move through the second term the Centre remains committed to an ethos of continual improvement. This year’s away day saw staff at all levels throughout the Centre present their work via a series of excellent research talks.  During the latter sections of the day staff contributed to discussions and workshops aimed at further developing the capacity of the Centre, its training and mentoring schemes, further improving its excellent public engagement activities, and in expanding its health economics capacity.

In addition, over 80 of the centre’s staff took part in a 2-hour team build activity. Teams were pre-selected with the intention of connecting newer staff with those that were more established. The 15 participating teams all competed in a geocaching / trivial pursuit hybrid activity where they were asked to plan their walking route around the Paddington area, to discover question locations, and answer as many of them as possible. Questions on infectious diseases, statistical modelling, and the MRC Centre itself led to ‘pie wedges’ and points being awarded along the way. Bonus points were awarded for completing photo challenges (see above). Congratulations to all the teams for completing the activity and especially the winning team of Jenny Smith, Neil Ferguson, Obiora Eneanya, Helen Fu, and Martin Walker.

James Hayward
Scientific Manager

MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling

 

Department of Public Health and Primary Care researchers present at the European Conference for Public Health

Dr Raffaele Palladino, Miss Kiara Chang and Mr Thomas Hone at the European Public Health Conference in Milan October 2015.Three Researchers from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care presented their research at the European Conference for Public Health in Milan in October.

Kiara Chang presented her work on the Impact of the NHS Health Check on global cardiovascular risk, individual risk factors and prescribing. Dr Raffaele Palladino presented his work on the Association between Framingham Risk Score and work limitations in health surveillance. Lastly, Thomas Hone presented his work on The Introduction of Family Medicine in Turkey 2005-2013.

The conference was an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of the School of Public Health at an international level, as well as enjoying some Italian culture and food!

Thomas Hone
Research Postgraduate
Department of Public Health and Primary Care

PCPH Newsletter Feed: WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training, November 2015

Guest Presentation from Mr Shuhei Nomura, PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, ICL

From the left: Ahmed Almujil, WHO CC fellow, Mustafa El-Monstri, PHD student, Dr Sondus Hassounah, Teaching Fellow, WHO CC, Dr Alex Chen, PHD student, Mr Shuhei Nomura, Mrs Aisha Hamada, PhD student, Ahmad Al Mashrafi, PhD student
From the left: Ahmed Almujil, WHO CC fellow, Mustafa El-Monstri, PHD student, Dr Sondus Hassounah, Teaching Fellow, WHO CC, Dr Alex Chen, PHD student, Mr Shuhei Nomura, Mrs Aisha Hamada, PhD student, Ahmad Al Mashrafi, PhD student

As part of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health’s effort to develop and engage doctoral students and fellows to debate and discuss their work, the WHO CC holds weekly seminars. On Oct 21, 2015, Dr Alex Chen (PhD candidate), the seminar organiser, invited Mr Shuhei Nomura, PhD Candidate in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics – ICL, to share his research projects about Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

Mr Nomura delivered a presentation on current radiation levels in Japanese coastal cities (Minamisoma City and Soma City, 15-40km north of the nuclear plant), as well as key issues and challenges facing the residents of these cities. He presented data from the internal and external radiation screening programmes for residents of these cities – work in which he has been involved since it was launched in Japan in July 2011.

On 11 March 2011, Japan experienced an unprecedented catastrophe compounded by a radiation-release incident at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the wake of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which was later assessed as a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale – the worst possible rating.

1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health & 3rd International Congress of Person Centred Medicine “Celebrating Primary Care Achievements: Seeing the person behind the patient”

The 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health, 3rd International Congress of Person Centred Medicine, was held at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, from the 29th to 31st of October 2015.

The conference covered five central themes: Primary Care in the 21st Century, Ageing and Ageism, Children and Adolescences, Integrated Care, and Public Health in Primary Care. The programme comprised of keynote lectures, brief oral presentations and posters, featuring prominent figures as well as members of local communities from numerous global settings, including the UK, US, Middle East and Mauritius. Over 250 individuals attended from countries all over the world.

The importance of this conference was laid out in the opening remarks from Imperial College President Alice Gast together with Dr Derek Bell of NIHR CLAHRC NWL and His excellency Professor Ala Alwan Eastern Mediterranean Regional office for the WHO. The trans-boundary issues which threaten health warrant an international response, and events such as this conference are crucial for knowledge exchange and the planning of action.

A summary of the calls to action from the conference below and more information from each speaker can be found on the conference website www.icpcmlondon2015.org

i. Establish a shared goal of improvement in the health of the population through person and people centered care, taking into account biomedical, socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual elements that form part of the whole person and the demography of diverse populations.
ii. Primary care and Public health professionals should create and enhance local links and build relationships with each other and local stakeholders.
iii. Prevention programmes at all levels should be fully integrated within primary care.
iv. Create health care databases and identify new data sets, creating from these a consolidated information system a platform for sharing and displaying local population health data that could be used by communities.
v. To create common research networks to foster and support the integration of primary care and public health to improve population health.
vi. To develop multidisciplinary educational programs developing the curriculum and clinical experience that ensures the integration of primary care and public health.
i. That primary care should be delivered within the social networks of each person, alongside the provision Social Care and recognized as being part of a complex adaptive system with many components that reciprocally influence one another.

Primary Care in the 21st Century

This theme was explored throughout the conference both in addressing the complexity of a world in which displaced people’s health needs require action and in widening our understanding of what it means to be healthy. From Professor Ted Epperly’s insight to the American Health model and how our spending on medical services is not in line with what maintains health, through to Professor Marisa Papaluca’s clear explanation of how Regulators are driving innovation in providing personalised medicines.

Ageing and Ageism

The fact that the world’s population is ageing and the need to account for increasing longevity a known fact, exploring attitudes to ‘casual ageism’ both in the elderly and the often overlooked adolescent group was integral to Professor Jon Snaedal’s talk. Professor the Baroness Ilora Finlay brilliantly summarised the importance of palliative care and highlighted the lack of focus and expertise which health systems provide for end of life care. The one time all people will require healthcare is at the time of death so it is important to focus on the end as well as the beginning.

Childhood and Adolescence

Sir Al Aynsley Green delivered a powerful and important talk on the most important significant and influential period of an individual’s life: childhood. With changing population demographics it is more important than ever to invest in children and nurture them taking inspiration from the holistic methods of childcare in Finland. The importance of person centred medicine was emphasised by Professor John Cox with particular regards to perinatal depression. This is an issue which can have enduring effects on families involved and it must be addressed in order to ensure every child has a good childhood.

Professor Mitch Blair, in his inspirational talk, stressed the need for doctors to pay attention to the beginnings of life and the crucial first years and seeing the patient in the wider context of family, school, immediate community circumstances.

Integrated Care

Professor Azeem Majeed raised important points about the need for research and innovation in primary care, and explained the proposals for family practitioner led and hospital led integration. Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins spoke compassionately about the need for person centred medicine and the imperative for care givers to work with the patient and their family and loved ones, to see the person behind the disability. Using integrated care for the treatment of atrial fibrillation was informatively described by Dr Abdul-Majeed Salmasi.

Public Health in Primary Care

Building health systems on a foundation of primary care and public health is vital for universal health coverage and improved population health. Professor Salman Rawaf spoke passionately about how crucial primary care is in order to tackle the growing prevalence of non-communicable disease and for ensuring healthcare is family and person orientated. The importance of primary care in public health was stressed in a video message from Professor Ala Alwan, director of EMRO, who highlighted that primary care is at the core of the region wide priorities for EMRO, including health system strengthening, addressing non-communicable disease, promoting health security and building capacity.

The conference was attended by over 200 attendees who benefited from the event and enthusiastically spoke about the experience.

“On the occasion of conclusion of the 1st International Conference of Primary Care and Public Health which was held at Imperial College, London (29-31 October, 2015), I would like to express the highest of my appreciation and gratitude to the marvelous efforts exerted on your part to have this extremely valuable conference in the best shape with this outstanding and remarkable success.

My very cordial congratulation for the success of the conference which is considered a turning point in primary care and public health march at the global level.
The success of the conference was evidenced by the broad participation from every corner on earth, it was a global demonstration about primary care and public health.
The themes and the scope of the conference encompassed a lot of interesting issues that were so vital to primary care and public health & the presence of such group of elite scientists and experts of the field crowned these efforts and was a real added value.” Professor Tawfik Khoja – Director General Executive Board, Health Ministers Council for Cooperation Council.

“Although I could not participate fully from the beginning to the end; I am so pleased to have taken part of this rich intellectual and scientific activity. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you and your distinguished team on the quality of the technical as well as operational arrangements of the successful conference.” Dr Atef El Maghraby – Technical Lead, Health Systems, World Health Organization.

Advanced Leadership and Health Management training: 1-5 September 2015

Advanced Leadership and Health Management training: 1-5th September 2015

Chinese Guanghua Foundation, whose mission is to stimulate Chinese youth to contribute to China’s Science and Technology development through various programmes and awards, approached WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training in search for a bespoke Advanced Leadership for Healthcare course. The WHO CCentre delivered the training on 1st-5th September 2015 for 16 delegates. The course included visits to NHS trust Hospitals, Research hubs and local practices as well as a series of carefully selected exercises addressed at the needs of the participants.
The intensive 5-day course was the first in the series of the regular trainings for Chinese healthcare professionals and Hospital Managers. The next course is planned for April 2016.

Family Medicine in Sudan

Family Medicine in Sudan
Family Medicine in Sudan

The Republic of Sudan has made significant strides in developing its health sector, especially in terms of family medicine; the country aims to achieve universal health coverage as part of its post MDG 2015 agenda. In this regard, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has embarked on an ambitious plan for the expansion of primary health care network and the national health insurance fund is drawing its agenda for universal coverage. As such, the WHO CC was asked by the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office for the WHO (EMRO) to technically support the finalization of the family medicine policy currently being developed by teams at the Sudanese FMOH and Public Health Institute (PHI). Professor Salman Rawaf and Dr Sondus Hassounah from the WHO CC were joined by Dr Hassan Salah (Technical Officer-EMRO) from the 15th-21st August in Khartoum to meet and assist the FMOH and PHI in that regard.

Indus Foundation Healthcare Excellence award

Indus Foundation Healthcare Excellence award

Congratulations to our Director, Professor Salman Rawaf for achieving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Healthcare Excellence from the Indus Foundation.
The Indus Foundation has initiated the Healthcare Excellence Awards – country’s most authoritative awards for the healthcare industry. Each of the Awards recognizes “excellence in medicine and healthcare” as manifested in the varied ways that may significantly impact the health and well-being of our citizens.

New starters

Heba Awadh from Oman started her PhD in October 2015 and will be focusing on Patient safety in the Gulf Region

Asma Alnuaimi from Qatar joined WHOCC on 1st September 2015 as a WHO CC Fellow. Her two-year training programme will focus on health promotion, health education, public health and epidemiology. As part of her Fellowship, Asma will also work on a research question of her choice.

Ahmed Sulaiman AlMujil joined WHOCC on 1st October 2015 as a WHO CC Fellow. His training will be centred on: medical education, research methodology and publication process, healthcare management.

Leavers

WHO CC Fellow: Dr Saad Al Saad from Saudi Arabia finalised his fellowship on 23rd September 2015.

Professor Robert Wilkinson recognised by South African Medical Research Council

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) paid tribute to some of the country’s leading medical researchers at its prestigious SAMRC Scientific Merit Awards in Cape Town.  The esteemed President’s Award as well as the Platinum, Gold and Silver Awards were presented to scientists whose work has had a monumental impact on health science in South Africa.

Professor Wilkinson, Senior Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine, received the Gold Award on 29 October. His work has focused on clinical and immunological aspects of tuberculosis – particularly in the context of HIV infection.

Find out more on the Scientific Merit Awards website.

Imperial students help Year 12s and 13s into medicine

More than 170 aspiring doctors have been given an insight into medical school by Imperial’s Muslim Medics society who held their ninth annual ‘PotMed’ conference last month.

Potential Medics (‘PotMed’) is aimed at ambitious school and college students from all backgrounds keen to study medicine. Taking place on 26 September, PotMed sought to inform and prepare students in Years 12 and 13 on the medical school application process.

A programme ‘for students, by students’, the day included talks from medical students and doctors; one-to-one advice on personal statements; tips on the UKCAT/BMAT as well as practice questions; mock interviews and an ethics seminar.

“Everything we learnt was really useful and has made me more confident in how I should go about getting into med school,” commented one AS-level student. “I think it’s made me want to be a doctor even more than I had wanted to and I didn’t think it was possible for me to be more keen than I already was.”

“It was very good, especially the mock interviews because of the good feedback,” said an A2 applicant. “The talks were all great, especially the one on personal statements, the lectures on interview technique and the role plays.”

PotMed was organised by Qamar Mustafa, president of the Muslim Medics society, supported by a committee of thirteen.

“We are filled with gratitude each year when we hear accounts of students who have been accepted into medical schools across the country because of PotMed,” says Qamar.

“It is particularly pleasing when we meet the new Imperial students who have benefited from our events! We try to educate students on the whole application process, from when they first get the idea to study medicine right through to (hopefully) accepting their offer.

“Responding to the fantastic feedback we receive each year, PotMed continues to inspire and empower students to study medicine.”

Office365 to be rolled out to staff and PG research students

office365The College has recently successfully completed roll-out of cloud-based e-mail accounts (on Office365) for the student community here at Imperial. Following on from this, the next few months will see a similar migration programme for the e-mail accounts belonging to College postgraduate research students and staff here at the College.

This migration of email accounts to the Cloud is but the first in a series of steps as we move towards a full deployment of Office 365. The new accounts will offer significantly more storage capacity (50Gb) – but this is not the main motivation for this change. More significant is that it lays the foundations for what will be a transformational platform that will enable us to move ever closer towards a truly Virtual Office.

Future benefits will include, for example, the ability to create videoconferences on demand or for teams to work collaboratively on a document in real-time, no matter where they are located. Staff and Students will be able to connect from anywhere and at any time using whichever device they prefer – whether it is smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. Office will be fully functional on any device.

Over the next few months, staff and postgraduate research students will receive detailed e-mails individually explaining what will happen for their own accounts as the migration programme rolls-out. However, if you would like further information please contact Ellen Pengelly, Digital Partner for the Faculty of Medicine, ICT.

Dr Ellen Pengelly
Digital Business Partner – Faculty of Medicine
Service Strategy & Planning
Information & Communications Technology

Read more about the roll-out and get answers to FAQs on Imperial’s ICT website at: www.imperial.ac.uk/ict/email-migration

MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London – October update

Worming our way to a new understanding of behaviour

The wriggling and writhing of worms may hold clues to the inner workings of our brains, according to scientists at the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC). The researchers have developed a pioneering tool to analyse a worm’s posture as it wriggles, and will use the tool to investigate how exactly the worm’s brain controls its movements.

Postdocs were freed to ask “stupid questions” at the inaugural postdoc retreat. The day-long event was organised by postdocs for postdocs.

“The science was great, but I think the biggest benefit is networking and getting to know the community in which we work. Finding out what people are working on so you know who to approach when you want to speak specifically about an area of research that you’re unfamiliar with is invaluable,” said Dr Angela Woods, a senior investigator scientist in the CSC’s Cellular Stress group.

Watch a video of the postdoc retreat at https://

Vahid Shahrezaei is the new mathematician–in-residence at the CSC.

He’s been running a biomathematics group in the maths department of Imperial College since 2008, and is now taking up a visiting position that teams him up with the CSC’s biologists.

He’s looking forward to bumping into biologists day-to-day, and though hasn’t yet sat in a lab with the CSC’s scientists, he’d like to try that out too. Regular interaction with biologists, Vahid says, is an important part of the atmosphere of the CSC, and key to creative collaborations.

Watch Miguel-Aliaga’s interview at https://

The Journal of Cell Science has selected Irene Miguel-Aliaga, who leads the CSC’s Gut Signalling and Metabolism and is a Reader at Imperial College, as a ‘Cell Scientist to Watch’.

Miguel-Aliaga is one of four chosen so far by the journal for a series it says will “support the next generation of cell biologists.”

Last week, the journal published a two-page article and a video interview with Miguel-Aliaga in which she discusses how a TV series about lizard aliens invading Earth inspired her to become a scientist.

She also talks about setbacks in science. “I think sometimes the roadblocks are your own set of preconceptions,” says Miguel-Aliaga. She also thinks that we can be our own worst enemy: “Human nature means that, even if we try not to be, we tend to be too hypothesis driven.”

Also this month

In our series of scientific seminars, Art Arnold from the University of California, warned CSC scientists that preclinical experiments must not exclude female cells and animals. He said that it has traditionally been thought that females, with menstrual cycles and fluctuating hormone levels, are poor test subjects. But research in his lab shows that this is a myth. According to Arnold, when it comes to scientific research, women and men are comparable subjects.

Find out more about the latest news, events and activities at the CSC: http://csc.mrc.ac.uk/news/

Deborah Oakley
Science Communications Officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre

Aspiring sixth-form doctors get head start from Imperial students

Year 13 pupils who want to study medicine have been helped on their way by Imperial students when ICSMSU Vision, the medical outreach society, held its annual senior conference on Sunday 20 September.

Aimed at sixth-form students from state schools, the conference sought to give a helping hand to medicine applicants from less-advantaged backgrounds. The day provided the 96 delegates with lectures, one-to-one mock interviews and a personal statement workshop.

The annual event, now in its fifth year, was organised by ICSMSU Vision—founded by Imperial students in 2007 to educate and inspire school and college students from all backgrounds about a career in medicine.

“This event gives underprivileged students a better chance to get into medical school,” said lead organising student Shivam Patel. “Medical school entry is incredibly difficult, and comprehensive school pupils are very under-represented in our cohort.”

The conference was for students committed to submitting a UCAS application in October 2015 and individual mock interviews and personal statement workshops were given by medical students, practising doctors and those who have sat on an Imperial College School of Medicine interview panel for an authentic insight.

As well as workshops, eminent physicians and surgeons Mr P. Paraskevas and Dr Joanne Harris gave lectures on life as a surgeon and medical school interviews. This year’s closing speech was delivered by Professor Lord Winston.

Each delegate received written feedback on their personal statement suggesting any areas for improvement, and also attended sessions on ethics, BMAT and UKCAT.

A delegate commented during the event: “Thank you so much, we don’t get this help in school and I really have no other chance to have a mock interview.”

“The success of this event is a result of months of preparation,” said ICSMSU President Maredudd Harris. “It is clear from the delegates’ experiences that it has been worth the hard work. Vision should be very proud of the work it does.”

“I’m hugely proud of our students for initiating and delivering such an outstanding event that mentors our next generation of doctors,” added Martin Lupton, Head of the Undergraduate School of Medicine.

“Like ICSMSU Vision, I believe that doctors should be representative of the communities they serve and our school strategy recognises this need for a diverse workforce. Outreach activities like this conference help ensure that entry to medical school is inclusive to applicants of all backgrounds and life experiences.”

Bookings for the senior conference next year will open in June 2016. More information can be found at the ICSMSU Vision website.

Ben Campion
Communications Manager
Imperial College School of Medicine

FEO awarded for outstanding customer service

The Faculty Education Office has again achieved the national standard ‘Putting the Customer First’ in recognition of its outstanding customer service culture and delivery.

Established in 2004, Customer First is an independent organisation that aims to improve service delivery to customers by ensuring that institutions are assessed, developed and supported to a quality standard.

The FEO first achieved the Customer First standard in 2012, which comprises 30 principles of excellent service. Customer service champions at each campus promote awareness and good practice at a local level and also supported the arrangements for the assessment.

Examples of the FEO’s efforts to continually improve the student experience include a completely modernised student reception at the South Kensington campus, providing a more welcoming environment, the introduction of iPads across programmes and a new curriculum map for the medicine programme which is about to launch to students.

“A huge thank you to all staff who have been involved in meeting the Customer First standard once again,” said Chris Harris, Quality and Educational Development Manager in the FEO who led the original and re-accreditation. “This is a fantastic reflection of the team’s hard work and commitment.”

“I am absolutely delighted with the outcome,” adds Susan English, Director of Education Management and executive sponsor of the project. “The assessor was very positive and recognised the wide-ranging improvements we have introduced since our previous assessment and our on-going trajectory of innovation.

“It is really gratifying to have external recognition for the FEO’s focus on improving the student experience.”

Ben Campion
Communications Manager
Imperial College School of Medicine

CRUK Imperial Centre October update

Blog picThe Great Centre Bake Off

The CRUK Imperial Centre has been hosting a series of bake sales, with teams competing to raise the most money for their chosen charity.

Five teams of researchers and College staff have baked so far, raising an incredible £700 for charities including Cancer Research UK and The Cancer Treatment and Research Trust

We’ve seen some fantastic bakes that would make Mary Berry proud; including chromosome cupcakes and an entire lab cake! These science cakes will be entered into the national CRUK Centre Great Science Cake Off.

The winner of the Centre bake off and science cake off will be announced later this month.

 

Butterfly project at Clinic 8

Imp FringeCancer Research UK has commissioned an art installation in an out-patient clinic at Charring Cross Hospital as part of renovation work.

The art installation will include ceramic butterflies and flowers demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between research and care, whereby patients receive care while simultaneously giving back to scientific research, allowing us to find newer and kinder treatments.

These pieces designed by artist David Marques will create a beautiful meadow, transforming the space for patients.

The butterflies, which each represent a patient coming to the clinic, fly over a healing meadow of flowers of different colours and patterns. These flowers represent the various treatment modalities and people patients meet on their care journey.

A selection of the ceramic pieces was displayed at the Imperial Design Fringe, and the public got the chance to do their own designs that may go on to be adapted by the artist for his work. The pieces will also be on display at the NCRI conference in November.

The installation will be in place by November 2015.

Tamsin Ashton
Research Engagement Manager- Imperial & ICR
Cancer Research UK

AMMC conference 2015: Imperial researchers win all the prizes

Four members of Prof Steven Marston’s group in the Myocardial Function section of NHLI attended the Alternative Motor and Muscle Club (AMMC) conference hosted by the University of Kent, Canterbury on 10th and 11th September. The AMMC is a special meeting exclusively for PhD students and postdocs that encourages full participation from the delegates and drives stimulating discussions and networking opportunities in an informal setting with no PI present. Such a unique blend of science and fun in a relaxed atmosphere is a great advertisement for muscle and motor protein research biology and the scientific world itself. It has been running for 30 years and provides an excellent template for student and postdoc networking.

We are happy to announce that the Imperial College researchers won all three poster presentation prizes. The awards went to:

1- “Investigation of obscurin and titin mutations and haploinsufficiency in hearts of patients with dilated cardiomyopathy” – presented by Dr Natalia Smoktunowicz

2- “Characterisation of sudden death pathologies in the E99K actin mouse model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy” – presented by Tom Owen

3- “Primary effects of HCM mutations in humans and cats” – presented by Dr Andrew Messer

We are also pleased to announce that the next AMMC meeting will be hosted by our group at Imperial College London, full details to follow.

Dr Natalia Smoktunowicz
Postdoctoral Research Associate
National Heart and Lung Institute

£525k funding for 3-year brain-imaging study

CT scan

My group has been awarded £525,000 by NIHR Invention for Innovation Programme from Novomber 2015 for a 3 year project, titled: Decision-assist software for management of acute ischaemic stroke using brain-imaging machine-learning.

The project involves developing imaging analysis techniques for prognostication in acute stroke, using standard clinical CT scans (see pictured right; one such method already developed by our group for lesion detection), and entails a collaboration between Imperial Brain Sciences (Paul Bentley), Computer Sciences (Daniel Rueckert) and Neuroradiology (Amrish Mehta). The enterprise will include collating one of the largest early-stroke imaging databases available worldwide, for the purpose of identifying and quantifying features relevant for outcome prediction. The techniques developed will be incorporated into a bedside software facilitating emergency treatment decisions by doctors, and communication of these decision to patients and relatives.

Dr Paul Bentley MA MRCP PhD
Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience
Honorary Consultant Neurologist

 

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)

PRES (Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) is a unique service provided by the Higher Education Academy to all higher education providers. It is the only national survey of postgraduate research (PhD, EngD and MDRes) students’ experience.  The survey collects feedback from current postgraduate research students in a systematic and user-friendly way. Results are anonymous, allowing comparison against the sector and within benchmarking clubs, while ensuring that they are used for internal enhancement.

The Faculty of Medicine response rate in the recent PRES survey was over 60%, making this the highest in the College. Given this, the Faculty will be able to make confident conclusions from the survey.  With a view to improving the student experience at Imperial, PRQC (Postgraduate Research Quality Committee) has agreed that action plans should be discussed at Staff-Student Committees and signed off by the PGR student representative.  SIDs have recently received the results and are in the process of preparing action plans.

In recognition of the importance of PRES to us, the Faculty has also run a prize draw for students who took part in the survey:

Apple Watch Winner:

Professor Jenny Higham, Director of Education,  presents the first prize to Ben Foster
Professor Jenny Higham, Director of Education,
presents the first prize to Ben Foster

Ben Foster (Institute of Clinical Science)

Kindle Fire Winner:

Christopher Kane (National Heart and Lung Institute)

Amazon Gift Voucher (£20) Winners:

Miles Priestman (Department of Medicine)

Tankut Guney  (National Heart and Lung Institute),

Adrian Brown (Department of Medicine)

Kieran Bates (School of Public Health)

Chanpreet Arhi (Department of Surgery and Cancer)

Fundraising for nursing student bursary in memory of Lisa Day

We were all very saddened to hear of the passing of Lisa Day on Saturday evening, the 12th of September.  Lisa was one of Imperial College London’s Clinical Trials Assistants who worked on the Bioresource study on the Wharfside clinic at the St. Mary’s campus; obtaining consents and blood samples for future HIV studies.  In her short time here in the CTC, she contributed so much more than her contracted duties.  She was never without a smile; never complained about the nagging issues that Imperial College and the Trust deliver to our daily working lives; never failed to contribute a personal story which made us smile and laugh in equal measures.  Nursing has lost a professional it never realised it had.

Lisa was very excited to be furthering her education and to be embarking on a career within the profession of nursing at City University.  She was due to start her studies this month. We’re trying to raise £2000 to create a nursing student bursary in memory of Lisa because we’d like someone to finish what she never got to; helping those nursing students who may be having some financial difficulty while obtaining their own degree – but in Lisa’s name.

Please pledge to her JustGiving crowdfunding page and help make it happen.  If you know of anyone else who was touched by Lisa, please pass this on:
https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/kristin-kuldanek?utm_id=2

Thanks for your support.

Scott Mullaney RN BSN MSc
Senior Research Charge Nurse
Imperial College London