Earlier this year I made the trip down to London from Aberdeen to participate in the final of the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s Student Challenges Competition. Upon reflection, I have to say that I was slightly apprehensive about delivering my pitch. Imperial College commands a pretty formidable reputation as a centre for excellence in life sciences and I knew that the format of the competition was a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event, which essentially means that the participants get a good grilling by the judges.
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 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 final year Imperial Medical PhD student Harriet Gliddon – winner of our Student Challenges Competition 2015/16
World TB Day (24th March) commemorates the anniversary of Robert Koch’s 1882 discovery of the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). Since then, it has been the subject of intense research, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on TB research and development every year. Despite this, we still lack the antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostic tests needed to control the disease properly, and TB therefore remains a major public health challenge, particularly in developing settings like much of sub-Saharan Africa. As of last year, TB is the leading cause of death worldwide due to an infection.
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.
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.
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. Some examples of biosensor devices such as the pregnancy test strip and the blood glucose meter are widely known and used by the public.
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.
Gabrielle Prager, Winner of IGHI’s 2013 Student Challenges Competition guides us through her journey throughout the contest and the next steps for her research project.
This is the problem: In 2011, 243 million people required treatment for schistosomiasis. 28.1 million were reported to have received that treatment. Schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease. What is it? It is a blood dwelling fluke. How is it treated? Mass Drug Administration with Praziquantel has been the mainstay of most treatment programmes. Uganda was the first country in Africa to initiate a national control programme coordinated by the Ministry of Health with technical and financial support from the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI).
John Chetwood, winner of the 2012 IGHI Student Challenges Competition tells us how he has put the £2000 prize money to good use.
Detecting a Silent Cancer
With the hepatologists at Imperial College London, I had been in rural Thailand investigating urinary biomarkers of ‘cholangiocarcinoma’ or simply put, cancer of the bile ducts. Though cholangiocarcinoma is thankfully rare in developed countries, it is showing worrying increases in incidence, and has shown little improvement in survival over the last 15 years. There is still little hope of cure unless detected early and nearly everyone who develops this cancer will die from it.