By Student Challenges Competition 2015/16 Audience Choice Award winners, Antonios Chronopoulos and Tyler Lieberthal
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers and is widely regarded as a death sentence. The 5-year survival rate is still in the single digits at 3% and this figure has not changed over the past four decades largely due to lack of specific therapies and inability of early detection. Symptoms rarely develop with early disease, which translates to more than 85% of patients receiving their diagnosis at an advanced stage when the tumour is metastatic and no longer treatable. Modern imaging techniques, such as CT and MRI are expensive and unable to detect early-stage lesions.
By Sabine Vuik, Policy Fellow and Head of Analytics, Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation
Big data and advanced data mining methods are becoming a crucial element of everyday life, business and research. The new insights that these methods can provide have allowed many different industries to find new opportunities, products and markets.
The new EPSRC Centre for Mathematics of Precision Healthcare which will launch on Wednesday 23rd November, aims to bring these methods into healthcare.
Precision Healthcare uses big data and mathematics to provide unprecedented insights into individual and population health. The Centre will link up mathematical, computational and medical departments from Imperial, to bridge traditional silos and drive innovation in this area.
By Professor Desmond Johnston, Vice Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London
The prevalence of diabetes has increased dramatically in recent years and in some countries this is still occurring. The increase applies mainly to type 2 diabetes but there are indications that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes is also rising. Diabetes of either type has major personal and societal implications, being associated with an inevitable requirement for some modification of lifestyle, living in the shadow of serious complications such as circulatory disorders and disease of the eyes and kidneys, and ultimately reduced life expectancy.
By Dr John O’Donoghue, Senior Lecturer in eHealth & Deputy Director of Imperial’s Global eHealth Unit
Mr Masters Chisale (Mzuzu Central Hospital) and Dr Chris Watson (Queens Universty Belfast) preparing the samples in Mzuzu Central Hospital.
The last week has been very busy in Mzuzu, northern Malawi. Scientists there have been packing blood and urine samples collected from 506 children with pneumonia in preparation for shipment to Dublin, Ireland. These samples will travel 12,000km at -80oC with constant monitoring of their temperature and dry ice being packed around them at stops along the journey to ensure they remain frozen in the warm heat of Africa as they travel across the African and European continents.
By Harriet Gliddon, winner of the IGHI Student Challenges Competition 2015-16
During March 2016, I blogged for IGHI on World TB Day about my experiences of entering the Student Challenges Competition.
The intervening six months have been busier than I could have imagined, and filled with things like delivering an invited talk at the Biosensors Summit in Sweden, submitting my PhD thesis and completing an internship at the World Health Organization.
Despite the chaos, I’ve managed to make some exciting advances with the nanomaterial-based diagnostic test for TB that I presented at the Student Challenges Competition. One component of this work has focused on validating the genetic markers that are the biological targets, or biomarkers, of the test.
By Hamdi Issa, PhD Candidate, Institute of Global Health Innovation
On the 20th and 21st October 2016, the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) hosted their annual conference: ‘Evidence, Effectiveness and Impact’. This two day conference brought together academics, health care professionals, policy makers, government officials and students from all over the world, to celebrate and perhaps more importantly, learn how different health partnerships are changing the face of development.
Day one of the conference explored various elements of health partnerships, notably: the UK’s contribution to health globally and how the UK can best respond to the challenges thrown down by the Sustainable Development Goals. Day two captured the work of individuals/groups involved in different types of health partnerships and the benefits and challenges of the different health partnership models.
By Joshua Symons, Policy Fellow, Big Data & Analyitcal Unit, Centre for Health Policy
On the 8th and 9th October, I had the opportunity to attend the Open Data Science Conference in London. In addition to the United Kingdom, the ODSC also occurs on both the East and West Coast of the US, as well as Tokyo. The 2-day conference had an array of speakers presenting problems and solutions they have worked on as data scientists. It was an opportunity to meet some of the leaders in the field of data science such as Gael Varoquaux. Gael is a core contributor to the popular Python machine learning resource scikit-learn and he spoke about the new and existing features of this package which help ensure rapid development in data science.
By guest blogger, Alex, from That Butterfly Effect to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Saturday 15th October
The 6th October marked a rather sad day for me and for my little family. On this day in 2015, I was admitted to hospital for a procedure called ERPC which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception and means a surgical removal of the remains of a pregnancy. It was a day that I had never thought I would ever have to experience and yet it happened to us. Just as it happens to more than one in five pregnancies in the UK every year – around a quarter of a million each year…
This second pregnancy started off wonderfully well, just as the first one.
By Professor Alan Fenwick of Imperial’s Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
‘Oncho blind’ – 60 years ago blind older people were led by children
There are five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which are the scourge of Africa, the Indian sub-continent, the Far East and South America. Onchocerciasis is one of these 5 and until the late 20th century caused millions of people to gradually lose their sight and eventually go blind. The parasite is spread by infected Simulium blackflies which when they bite a human, transfer microscopic larvae to the human host, where they develop into adult worms and females produce millions of new larvae during their lifetime.
By Dilkushi Poovendran, Research Assistant in Patient Experience and Patient Safety, Centre for Health Policy
The World Health Organisation recognises the 10th of October as World Mental Health Day. The theme set for this year is on the delivery of psychological first aid, and the need to recognize and support individuals who are in distress.
At some point our lives, most of us will know someone experiencing a mental health issue or experience one ourselves, including stress, anxiety, depression, bereavement, or drug and alcohol problems. Yet the subject of mental illness continues to be taboo, and the stigma attached to it prevents many from speaking out and getting the attention that they need. Worse is when someone finds the courage to seek help or advice, but are actually unable to access the treatment that they require.