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

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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:

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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

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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