Category: School of Medicine

Clement Price Thomas and a once-in-a-lifetime operation

Westminster Medical School – one of the schools that formed Imperial College School of Medicine – has been home to many pioneers. But few can claim a connection to royalty.

Sir Clement Price Thomas, student and surgeon at Westminster and one of the fathers of thoracic surgery, rose to fame after an operation on King George VI. Read on to learn just how challenging this procedure would have been.


The reign of George VI was a turbulent time for the monarchy. At the end of a brutal world war and the dissolution of the largest empire the world has ever seen, the King’s health took a turn for the worse.

Because of the King’s chest problems, Sir John Weir, the Royal Family’s doctor, called in a lung disease expert, Geoffrey Marshall, and chest expert, Sir Robert Arthur Young. After X-rays and a bronchoscopy revealed a malignant tumour in his left lung, the King’s physicians set to work organising a secret operation. They all agreed that Clement Price Thomas was the best surgeon for the job.

Setting up the makeshift theatre

The operation was planned for 22 September 1951 at Buckingham Palace. But the Buhl room clearly wasn’t designed for major surgery, despite the equipment brought in for the occasion. With the stakes so high, Price Thomas demanded that the palace install emergency lighting in the room. The palace agreed – and even moved the changing of the guard to St James’s Palace to make sure the surgical team were not disturbed by the noise outside.

On Sunday 23 September 1951, the room was ready and Price Thomas, his two surgical registrars and his scrub team set to work. (more…)

A letter to our taught students and their loved ones

This is an open letter from Mr Martin Lupton, Vice-Dean of Education to taught students in the Faculty of Medicine and their loved-ones.


Dear Students and their friends and families,

My eldest son has recently returned to University in the UK and, even though I work in both the health and education sector, I have to acknowledge that I have a certain level of anxiety about him. It is very difficult to read the news about all that has happened during this time of COVID and not to worry.

I am telling you this because I want you to understand that I have some inkling of what you may be feeling right now, particularly if you come from overseas or your daughter, son or relation, has just started their university life. The first thing I want to say is “Welcome to the Faculty of Medicine”. We are very proud of what we have achieved during this global pandemic; the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College has been a key player contributing to the world’s understanding of the virus, the mapping of the virus, teaching people about the virus and developing a new vaccine. However, that is not all that we have been doing. (more…)

Researching remote medicine from our own homes

Student group pictured on a field trip to the Brecon Beacons pre-Covid-19

Our BSc in Remote Medicine for intercalating medical students focuses on exploring medicine in remote and low-resource environments.

Normally students would have an opportunity to travel to the Nepali Himalayas to carry out a research project. With the expedition cancelled due to Covid-19, four remote medicine students discuss how they adapted their research projects.


Carmen

For my original research project, I chose to investigate sleep during an expedition to high altitude. Previous research has shown that human error is the leading cause of mountaineering accidents and at sea-level, sleep deprivation increases the risk of accidents due to human error. Therefore, my aim was to determine the contribution of the mountaineering environment to poor sleep and impaired cognitive performance on an expedition to altitude – using a reaction time application as a surrogate marker for cognitive function. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the planned expedition to Nepal was cancelled and so I devised a pilot study to test the reaction time application I wanted to use at altitude remotely with a small group of participants simulating a night slept at altitude in their own homes. (more…)

How we completed our BSc research projects remotely

Three medical students reflect on how they navigated and completed their intercalated BSc research projects remotely amid the pandemic.


Ioannis Panselinas, BSc Translational Respiratory Medicine

Had someone told me back at the start of 2020 what the year would have in store, I would have probably said that they had stolen ideas from an Orwellian dystopia. Yet the world is currently in the grips of one of the most terrible pandemics in living memory. And among all the global disruption were us 4th year Imperial medics having to face a transition to remote working in the middle of project period. Unsurprisingly, lab work cannot be done from the comfort of our homes. So, as COVID-19 hit the UK, we were forced to cut short our experiments and were ultimately left with a looming deadline and a project to complete.  In retrospect, I think I can sum up my experience with the 5 stages of COVID disruption:

Denial, Bargaining, Panic, Depression, Acceptance. (more…)

My reflections on returning to medical school after recovering from depression

Thivyaa reflects on taking time out of medical school and how it gave her the opportunity to refresh her perspective and gain valuable life experiences.


To say that medicine is intense is an understatement. Sometimes it is so overwhelming that even pausing to take a breath can feel like a luxury we cannot afford. But as I have learnt over the past few years, the consequences of neglecting our minds and bodies are too dire – for both ourselves and our patients – for us to continue in this way. Here, I would like to share what I have learnt during my journey of recovering from depression, reflect on what it is like to take an interruption of studies (IoS), and highlight the importance of self-care.

During the academic year of 2018-2019, I took time out of medical school. The previous few years had been a disaster with regards to my mental health. I had become too unwell, but in an attempt to ‘be strong’ I had continued with second year, only to then fail. And so I was advised to have a ‘break’ and come back to repeat the year in 2019-2020. (more…)

Celebrating transformational changes in academic support within the medical school

Dr Kathleen Leedham-Green discusses our School of Medicine’s recent transformation in academic support.


The problem: some students working hard without reaping the rewards

Our medical students generally work extremely hard, so why were some flourishing, while others were struggling with the academic load or even failing their assessments despite putting in the effort?

In the words of one of our students:

“I’ve worked so hard. I’m exhausted. I’m a straight A* student. I can’t believe I’ve failed”

This was the question that was at the heart of the recent transformation in academic support led by Mike Emerson at Imperial College’s School of Medicine. (more…)

The unsung heroes of Bergen-Belsen

Group photograph of the Westminster Medical School students who travelled to Bergen-Belsen (Credit: Wellcome Images)

The 75th anniversary of our students volunteering in the war.


In April 1945, just before the Second World War ended, nearly 100 medical students from across London volunteered to support the British army. In this group, there were students from St Mary’s Medical School and Westminster Medical School, two of the schools that formed Imperial College School of Medicine. 75 years on, we want to share their stories and celebrate their courage. (more…)

I sat an open book medical school final exam from my bedroom

Year group photo taken before exams

Final year MBBS medical student, Shohaib Ali, shares his experience of taking the first ever remote online finals last week.


As I sat in my dressing gown, a cup of tea on my desk, and my laptop fully charged, I took in the scene and started to laugh. This wasn’t supposed to be how six years of medical school ended. Covid-19 had burst into everyone’s lives, respecting no national boundaries, why would it pay homage to the smilingly sacred medical school finals? (more…)

Meet our LGBT+ student community

As a part of LGBT+ History Month, Stevie Lam, from the School of Medicine has teamed up with IQ Society to celebrate our LGBT+ community and share their stories! 


Jeh – 4th Year MBBS Medicine

(more…)

My medical school placement at a Hazelden Betty Ford drug and alcohol treatment centre

My medical school placement at a US drug and alcohol treatment centre
Last August, medical student Paulina took part in the Summer Institute for Medical Students at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota.


The SIMS program has a reputation of being a life-changing and eye-opening experience. Thanks to the generosity of the scholarship itself, along with Imperial’s support that covered the cost of my visa, I was able to take part in the programme with minimal personal expenses. (more…)