Blog posts

Putting the humanity back into medicine

medical humanites

Giskin Day makes the case for Imperial’s new Humanities, Philosophy and Law BSc – a pathway for medical students to combine the arts with medical science.  


This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, but there is another birthday worthy of celebration. In 1948, the term ‘medical humanities’ was first used. George Sarton, who coined the phrase, believed that increasing specialisation in science and medicine failed to provide the framework for understanding the intellectual context and human significance of scientific developments. Medical schools around the world are increasingly coming to the same conclusion and incorporating humanities into medical education. (more…)

Game, set and hay fever

Centre court

With the Wimbledon finals taking place on its famous grass courts this weekend, allergy expert Dr Mohamed Shamji explains how there may be hope for hay fever sufferers. 


Strawberries and cream, queuing and of course, tennis are all the things you would associate with the Wimbledon Tennis Championships that climaxes this week in London. This tournament traditionally marks the end of the grass court season, which for the relief of many hay fever sufferers also signals the grass pollen season is drawing to a close. Headlines, guidance and warnings about hay fever are abundant at this time of year due to the large socio-economic impact it presents and here at Imperial College London, we are hoping to reduce this through our research into the disease and how we can treat it. (more…)

The Bionic Radiologist: can artificial intelligence enhance human detection of bone disease?

artificial intelligence bone disease

Originally published on the NIHR Blog and reproduced here with permission, Professor Andrea Rockall, Clinical Chair of Radiology at Imperial, provides an insight into whether AI can enhance human detection of bone disease.


Myeloma is a disease that affects the skeleton and can be difficult to pick up at an early stage because symptoms are often quite vague. People who suffer from myeloma may be generally more tired than usual due to anaemia and may have aching bones. As the disease progresses, thinning of the bones may result in fractures, particularly of the spine, and this may be the first time that the diagnosis is picked up. The kidneys may also be affected due to an increase in myeloma proteins circulating in the bloodstream getting caught up in the delicate kidney tubules that filter the blood. If the disease is picked up early, some of these problems can be prevented. (more…)

From blood-taking to CPR: an inspiring school trip

Three Imperial College London medical graduates reflect on how their final-year elective in medical outreach inspired local school children to aim higher and spark scientific curiosity.


Going on a medical elective is one of the highlights of medical school. During our final year of the MBBS programme at Imperial, we completed our elective in medical education with the Imperial College Primary Health Care Department.

Throughout our elective, one of the concepts we focused on was social accountability; how we could better our approach as medical students and as a university to improve medical outreach. (more…)

Reducing, refining and replacing the use of animals is crucial to respiratory research

Animal research

Dr John Tregoning explains how the use of animals in science is properly regulated and why it’s so important to respiratory research, which could impact millions of lives.


Respiratory infection is one of the main causes of disease and death throughout the world, claiming 3 million deaths worldwide in 2016. The symptoms range from the mild (a runny nose) to the extremely serious (pneumonia, hospitalisation and respiratory failure). These infections have a large economic burden both directly in medical costs and indirectly in working days lost. They also represent a potential risk for causing major pandemics; one hundred years ago the 1918 flu outbreak led to the death of 50-100 million people, significantly more than the whole First World War. There is a clear need to understand why we get sick after respiratory infections and critically we need new drugs to reduce the burden of disease. For example, there is an urgent need for a new influenza vaccine that could prevent future pandemics. (more…)

Challenges in motor neurone disease: from ice buckets to new therapeutic targets

Challenges in Motor Neurone Disease: from ice buckets to new therapeutic targets

On MND Global Awareness Day, Professor Jackie de Belleroche looks at how increased awareness and collaboration, alongside advances in genetic and molecular research, offers hope for the future.


Without doubt, the last few years have seen phenomenal developments not only in research, but also in public awareness of just how devastating a condition motor neurone disease (MND) is. There is hardly anyone who has not heard of MND thanks to Professor Stephen Hawking, well-known to the public as an outstanding scientist who was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 21. The ALS “ice bucket challenge” certainly caught the imagination of the international community too, as well as raising £88m in a single month for MND research across the world (it’s important to note here that MND is usually referred to as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS] outside the UK). (more…)

Injury time: shoot-outs and sudden death

World cup

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick off, Dr Peter Wright explores how the stress and excitement of watching football isn’t all fun and games for our cardiovascular health.


Since time immemorial, sport has functioned as a useful substitute for direct physical conflict between, tribes, towns and nations. This year all eyes turn towards Russia, where the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup will take place. The Russian word ‘mira’ may translate as both ‘world’ and ‘peace’, but as the pre-eminent competition of humanity’s favourite sport, ‘Чемпионат мира по футболу 2018’ is likely to be anything but relaxing for the players, officials and millions of spectators worldwide. (more…)

Abdominal Thrust Manoeuvre: aka the eponymous ‘Heimlich Manoeuvre’

Is it time to update the Heimlich Manoeuvre? Dr Matt Pavitt recalls the experiences that led him to research this life-saving manoeuvre. 


A little bit of history…

In 1974(1), Dr H Heimlich, published the results of an experimental animal study showing the effectiveness of the abdominal thrust manoeuvre to expel a foreign body from the upper airway.  In a subsequent article in JAMA(2), Heimlich described his life-saving manoeuvre:

“Stand behind the victim and wrap your arms around the waist.  Grasp your fist with your other hand and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim’s abdomen, slightly above the navel and below the rib cage.  Press your fist into the victim’s abdomen with a quick upward thrust.” (more…)

(I am not a) Vessel: the importance of women’s reproductive rights

(I am not a) Vessel: The importance of women’s reproductive rights
Rebecca Blaylock is a student on the Master of Public Health programme at Imperial and here makes the case for increased access to reproductive healthcare.


Students from Imperial’s Master of Public Health programme recently organised a screening of the award-winning film “Vessel”. Vessel chronicles the story of Dr Rebecca Gomperts – a former doctor on a Greenpeace ship – who had an innovative idea to provide women with vital reproductive health services. During her time travelling the world with Greenpeace, Gomperts witnessed the unbearable suffering caused by unsafe abortions. She saw women haemorrhage to death, die from sepsis and sustain life-long disabilities, and refused to “stand there and just let that happen”. Around 25 million unsafe abortions take place every year, accounting for between 4.7 and 13.2% of global maternal deaths.

(more…)