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Jo Seed
Communications Manager
Institute of Global Health Innovation

Dr Beth Holder strikes Bronze for biological/biomedical display in Parliament

Dr Beth Holder
Dr Beth Holder

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.

Beth said,

“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 simulation event for the More Smiles Appeal

PICUICCESS 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

 

Data Science and eHealth Training at the Faculty of Medicine

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).

Students presenting during a face-to-face training
Students presenting during a face-to-face training

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.

Boris Serafimov
Global eHealth Unit
Department of Primary Care and Public Health

Young Scientist Day – Wednesday 3 February 2016

Young Scientists Day 03.02.2016  121 copy copy
Iris Scherwitzl accepts first prize for her ‘3-Minute Thesis’ from Higher Degrees Manager Hayley Kendall- Berry

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:

Young Scientists Day 03.02.2016  112 copy copy
Vera Pader accepting first prize from Dr Kevin Murphy

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.

Katie Kissick
Department of Medicine

EU-funded workshop in Tanzania focuses on zoonoses

GroupPhoto_Tini copyWorkshop 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
Postdoctoral RA
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Distinguished Scholarship Award

scholarship
Left, Zainab with Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi and the Minister of the Interior; Right, Zainab at the podium.

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

State of the art imaging centre opens at Hammersmith Campus

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.

BICThe 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 icbic@imperial.ac.uk.

Further information about all of our modalities can be found on the Biological Imaging Centre website.

Sam O’Connell
Divisional Operations Assistant
Divisions of Experimental Medicine and Brain Sciences

Time to Talk Day – Thursday 4 February

Time-to-talk-dayTime 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/

Paula Phillips
Executive Officer (Governance & Review)
Faculty of Medicine

Clinical Sciences Centre – Institute of Clinical Sciences – January update

The CSC’s Suffrage Science film night

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.

Read the full write up and watch the interview.

CSC research

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.

Deborah Oakley
Science Communications Officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre

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.”