Blog posts

The importance of the Access to Palliative Care Bill 2015

By Mark Steedman from the Institute of Global Health Innovation

The Access to Palliative Care Bill is to be given its second reading tomorrow (23rd October). While palliative care is widely viewed to be excellent in the UK, there are gaps in access to it, and this Bill hopes to eliminate these gaps.

The Bill’s stated aim is to “make provision for equitable access to palliative care services; for advancing education, training and research in palliative care; and for connected purposes”.

I’ve now worked in palliative care for two and a half years, and despite the knowledge I’ve gained and the progress I’ve seen, I’m still amazed at the reception I get when I speak at conferences.

World Food Day – Of abundance and scarcity

By Saba Fatima Mirza, Institute of Global Health Innovation to mark World Food Day 2015

When we talk about food, we must talk about its abundance and scarcity.

According to a recent United Nations report, about one-third of the world’s food, a shocking 1.3 billion tonnes, is thrown away each year. While some of this waste is a spinoff of the production phase of the food cycle, a higher portion of food is wasted at the consumption stage in high-income countries. This has to do with a combination of dietary habits and consumer behaviour.

Food supply is also abundant in high-income countries, and over eating has become a serious issue.

Photographs that change the world

By Student Challenges Audience Choice Award winners Jacob Levi, Amanda Stenbaek and Hiba Saleem-Danish

In Feb 2015, we took part in the IGHI Student Challenges competition and won the 3rd place prize of £1000, towards our Photovoice App Development Project.

Photovoice is a research method, which is already in use globally, whereby photographic data is collected and analyzed in order to gain insight into various health, social or community problems. Currently, the methodology is inefficient and expensive. Cameras are distributed to communities in and they’re asked to capture images, which depict a problem in their life, however, our concept was to modernize and improve the Photovoice methodology in a digital age.

Innovations in biotechnology

By Student Challenges Competition runner up Nicolas Kylilis

Nicolas won the £2,500 prize money last year for his inventive idea for a new platform technology called DaPHNI for developing point-of-care medical diagnostic devices. The DaPHNI platform has the potential to have a large, multifaceted positive impact on global health both in developed countries, at healthcare centres, or as home diagnostic kits, as well as in developing countries.

The problem

pregnancy test

In the past few decades, innovations in biotechnology have brought to the market small portable and affordable medical diagnostic devices that people can use to monitor their health, the so-called biosensors.

IGHI Student Challenge Competition: Reducing the Forces in Brain Surgery using Smart Surgical Instruments

By the winners of the 2014 Student Challenges Competition, Christopher Payne and Hani Marcus 

Brain surgery is challenging surgery. When brain tissue is handled incorrectly, the consequences can be catastrophic. The manoeuvres in brain surgery require dexterity, precision and careful force application, but even the best surgeons have limits. We humans are imprecise and we make mistakes. Robots, on the other hand, can operate beyond the physiological limits of a human. This is a central concept to many surgical robots: the perfect fusion of human and machine.

In brain surgery, the NeuroArm is the finest example of the assistive surgical robot concept.

A video memoir: Our gap year experience in the Gambia

By James Frater, Amos Bursary student

As part of my gap year, with the help of the Amos Bursary and Imperial College London, I was given the opportunity to spend 3 months in The Gambia. I assisted the PROLIFICA (Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa) project, where I was able to experience various laboratory procedures and resource-poor healthcare services.

I was given a thorough induction on laboratory etiquette and different laboratory practices, as well as training on how to handle laboratory equipment and the various biomedical samples. This meant I was confidently able to work in and navigate my way around the laboratory with a relatively good level of competence.

World Mosquito Day 2015: The burden of Malaria today

By Alison Reynolds and Dr Thomas Churcher from Imperial’s Malaria Modelling Research Group

World Mosquito Day (20th August) commemorates the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the parasite that causes malaria, made in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross.

A hundred and eighteen years later this transmission still continues, to some extent unabated. There have been huge successes in malaria control, most notably in recent years, though a child still dies every minute[1] from a disease which continues to ravage large swathes of Africa and Asia. Importantly these deaths are completely avoidable, as we have effective tools to treat malaria and stop people dying.

Suppressing Hepatitis B to reduce the burden of liver cancer

Today, the 28th July, is World Hepatitis Day and the birthday of Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch (Barry) Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus and developer of the first hepatitis B vaccine.

Viral hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, caused a variety of viruses, named alphabetically from A to E. These are spread mostly through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. With hepatitis B, it can also be passed between mothers and children, sexual partners and between patients and health workers where unsafe medical practice occurs. The prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in injection drug users is also very high, while approximately 10% of the world’s population is currently infected or has been exposed.

A Pre-Medical Gap Year Experience in The Gambia

By soon to be Imperial medical student, Hannah Lewis

I will start my medical course at Imperial in October 2015 and I was lucky enough to spend 5 months in Gambia at the beginning of the year, gaining insight into medical research in resource-poor settings. It is the smallest country in West Africa, and it is where the British Medical Research Council (MRC) has a big research unit. I worked closely with the Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa (PROLIFICA) group, who are looking at the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer.

Initially, I was concerned that, with no previous medical training, I would not be able to learn as much from the experience as fully-fledged medical students.

Liver cancer in the Gambia and what we are doing about it

By Imperial Medical Student, Aisha Chaudry

As part of my gap year placement, I was given the opportunity to be involved in the PROLIFICA study at the Medical Research Council Unit (MRC) in The Gambia.

PROLIFICA is an EC funded project investigating liver cancer, which arises because of cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, a chronic condition that can stop the liver from functioning.

Having reached my halfway point of my time abroad, I have decided to write a report about my experience so far.

Whilst being at the MRC, I have been able to experience research in both a clinical and laboratory setting.