Right now, in the UK and across the world, vaccines for Covid-19 are being rolled out. You may have already received, or be expecting a vaccination offer sometime soon. Vaccines are thought to be our main hope to control the Covid-19 pandemic. Their use has only been possible following robust and rigorous clinical trials, which have demonstrated that they meet high safety and effectiveness standards set by the UK medicines regulator (the MHRA).
My research aims to improve the diagnosis of miscarriage. Miscarriage currently takes several weeks to diagnose, resulting in significant psychological trauma for women and their families.
Levels of a hormone produced by the placenta, called ‘kisspeptin’, can be used to estimate the risk of miscarriage with a high degree of accuracy. The current method to measure kisspeptin levels in the blood takes several days to provide results and cannot be easily conducted in other centres. Therefore, my project aims to develop a new method that can accurately measure kisspeptin levels and thus enable the use of this blood test in the assessment of women with possible miscarriage across the NHS.
Working in collaboration with: Dr Kirsty Alderton and Dr Frederico Magalhaes who offered mental health support for these focus groups.
What did you do?
There is a current lack of effective treatments for anorexia nervosa (an eating disorder characterised by weight loss, difficulties maintaining weight, and often a preoccupation with one’s own body weight and shape). With fewer than half of those diagnosed with anorexia making a full recovery, there is a desperate need for new treatment avenues to be explored.
In conversation with: Dr Lisa Newington, Research Associate
Working in collaboration with Dr Caroline Alexander and Prof Mary Wells at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and Imperial Clinical Academic Training OfficeWhat did you do?
I’m currently developing a project to explore the perceived impacts of participating in healthcare research. Specifically, research that is led by healthcare professionals from outside medicine. This includes nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians, radiographers) and pharmacists.
I felt that it was important to speak to individuals who had previously taken part in this type of research to discuss my proposed ideas and to gather their feedback.
In conversation with: Emma Lidington, PROFILES Trial Manager
Working within/Team name: PROFILES Team, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research
The value of lived experience
Experts have recommended that academics should actively involve patients and the public in every phase of research to meaningfully incorporate the voice of those with lived experience. However, achieving this goal can seem daunting, particularly as an early career researcher. In our project, the level of patient involvement evolved over the course of the study, with the Public Involvement Research Hub and local funding from my institution as huge drivers of that change.
To celebrate continued public involvement in research during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination asked organisations and research groups to share their stories. These will then be showcased as narrative Twitter threads @NIHRinvolvement channel from 13-17 July, alongside questions and polls, to encourage a week of discussion and learning around the public involvement during the outbreak.
We responded with two stories, one on how we first launched our COVID-19 community involvement activity, and the other on how we’ve involved the public in Imperial’s REACT study – a major programme of research seeking to improve our understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading across England.
CRUK Senior Research Nurse, Kelly Gleason, shares how one patient’s vision continues to inspire her, and influence how we involve and engage the public in healthcare and research design at Imperial.
Sunday evening, November 14th 2014, we stood in the dark on Exhibition Road, staring through the large glass windows into the main entrance of Imperial College London. There stood twenty-four portraits, assembled as six pillars, ready to tell their story. A woman in a black dress sitting on an aluminium step stool wearing a carnival headdress, a man in leathers on a motorcycle, a toddler in her dad’s arms gesturing a story with her hands, these were the people keeping Rina Dave alive.
In conversation with: Dr Martina Di Simplicio, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, and Rachel Rodrigues, PhD Student. Working within the Mood Instability Research Group, Centre for Psychiatry, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London.
What did you do?
Our research project called iMAGine looks at the psychological processes contributing to maintenance of self-harm behaviour in young people, including whether aspects of ‘reward’ or positive reinforcement underlie self-harm. From the very start of the study, we’ve been collaborating with a group of six young people (17 to 25-year-olds) with and without experience of self-harm.
By Philippa Russell
I am a recent mature graduate from London South Bank University, where I studied a degree in ‘Health and Social Care: Administration & Management’. Over the years I’ve managed to accumulate vast lived experience from being a service user in healthcare, both as a patient and family member. I have written about what having a brain injury has taught me here.
As part of my course I had a placement with the Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC) at Imperial College London, who promote participatory approaches to healthcare and biomedical research. They advise and support researchers at Imperial to do PPI (that is Patient and Public Involvement, not payment protection insurance!)
By Professor Helen Ward
Director, Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre
Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre, aka PERC, started blogging about 18 months ago with this Welcome to our Blog post. The blog was set up to “share the latest learnings and news from the PPI community, points of views from the team on the advances and issues of public involvement, case studies of good involvement practice to inspire new ideas, and a whole host of other top tips and personal pointers”.
Since then we’ve published 25 blogs, ranging from case studies of good practice and opinion pieces, through to notices about events, training, and top tips for applicants for our grants scheme.