Month: April 2016

Getting to know Professor Des Johnston – Vice Dean (Education)

Prior to taking up the role of Vice-Dean (Education) for the Faculty you’ve held senior Faculty and College level roles as Campus Director for St Mary’s and as a College Consul. (How) do you think you will be drawing on this experience in your new role?

Professor Des Johnston
Professor Des Johnston

I was Campus Director (or Campus Dean as it was then called) for St Mary’s for just over 5 years and I learned a lot during that period about what really matters on the ground at an academic campus –in particular I learned that the drive to ensure a good educational environment for our students has always, ultimately, come right at the top of our priorities. Whilst Imperial as an organisation is often considered to be heavily research-focussed, the reality I encountered when working with colleagues at the campus is that the imperative of delivering a curriculum to a high standard of quality was always acknowledged and staff across academic and non-academic functions work hard to make that happen. That’s a great piece of insight for me to take into this new role.

From 2013, I served as Clinical Consul for three years. This is a College level role and undoubtedly the role has grown my knowledge of the functions and complexity of the College as a whole, and allowed me to get to know the academic leadership and senior management team much more broadly. I hope that this combination of experiences in these roles will enable me to marry an understanding of institutional level drivers for development and enhancement with real acknowledgement of local impacts at a delivery level – and hopefully to draw knowledge upwards from a local level to influence and enhance institutional level engagement with key developments.

What has impressed you most about the education activities you’ve seen underway in the Faculty.

There is an outstanding cadre of people in the Faculty who support the education mission. The support I have received from Martin Lupton, Jane Saffell and the senior leadership team has been immense as I have come into the role, but equally I can now point to individuals right throughout our Faculty – and indeed beyond our borders within the NHS itself – who are extraordinarily talented and committed educators and tutors. From the perspective of expertise and dedication there is no limit to what we can achieve in our educational programmes – a challenge for me and the central team will be to ensure we continue to support and channel these skills in the best possible way to effectively enhance and innovate in our programmes, develop strongly as educationalists and respond to students’ needs.

As the College’s lead in the collaborative LKCMedicine, what benefits do you feel both parties, and students, receive from such endeavours?

I’ve had the privilege now to visit Singapore a few times and to see the new school in action. The real joy of being involved in a project like LKCMedicine is being able to see benefits being generated from the interplay between Imperial’s rich history and expertise in medical education with the fresh approach and quality of engagement to be found among our partners (with NTU, with our Singaporean governmental and healthcare partners, and from the student-base itself). These early years of new educational developments are immensely exciting times – I was at Southampton at a similar point in the development of its medical school some years ago, and what I witnessed there (as with here) is the high level of enthusiasm and sheer determination to ‘get it right’ that accompanies a new venture. That enthusiasm drives a huge amount of creativity and innovation – and ultimately quality!

For Imperial, it seems to me that LKCMedicine has been a hugely valuable development. Among our academic faculty, it’s given us a space and a framework to take a step back and consider a medical curriculum in the round, and to identify where we should be harnessing Imperial’s strengths to offer every one of our students a distinctive and outstanding education during their time with us. Much of the experience we have gained from that process is also feeding on into our own UK course developments.

In addition, the project has generated huge amounts of innovative teaching tools, technologies and approaches that we are now harnessing within our UK programmes. Most recently we’ve seen the beginning of what I think will be a really valuable opportunity for our students to meet and engage with their LKC peers (and vice-versa). This offers our students a unique development opportunity to share common issues as well as key differences arising from practicing medicine in different healthcare systems and with distinct sets of health challenges. Our first cohort of students from LKC Medicine visited last month and I hope to see these sorts of opportunities to broaden and enrich the learning experiences among our students flourish.

In your clinical research you also act as lead for one of the themed specialty clusters for the NIHR Clinical Research Network. What, in your experience are the key benefits of broad collaboration between clinical research environments, and how have you sought to foster them?

The evolution of the clinical research network infrastructure has been hugely beneficial to UK clinical research. Collaboration through the national networks plugs gaps at both ends of the clinical trial spectrum, from facilitating the development of major (1000+) multi-participant trials right down to enabling the study of extremely rare disease through creation of study participant groups which are of a sufficiently critical mass to allow statistically meaningful conclusions to be drawn. The networks have broadened the spectrum of partners involved in the clinical research mission. Through their efforts, major academic centres such as Imperial are not reliant on pre-existing collaborative relationships with a small number of major academic medical centres. District hospitals and local clinics as well as major specialist centres are now all engaged in (and talking to each other as part of) the process of identifying and recruiting participants. This process is strengthening the evidence base for our studies and broadening the skill-base across the UK for delivering clinical research. I’ve also witnessed the opportunity the networks have afforded to enhance understanding in the academic and health service sector of the particular approaches and pressures encountered by Industry partners for industry-sponsored studies. Increasing interaction with industry is going to be key for UK and academic medicine going forward and so the sharing of understanding and experience generated by the CRNs is extremely helpful in developing the strength of interaction which will be critical to our future collaborative development.

Are there any differences in the approach you take to your external and internal leadership roles.

Obviously both are focussed on delivering excellence and benefit, but I do think there has to be a slightly different focus for internal versus external roles. In my involvement in NIHR CRN, the key need has been to build up the tools, evidence and strong relationships which enable us to reach out to professionals and patients from widely differing parts of the healthcare delivery system and demonstrate what the benefits of involvement in research (and indeed of collaboration itself) are for their own services and professional development. For internal leadership at Imperial, there has to be a much more heavy focus on day-to-day delivery and enabling that to be as effective for the organisation as possible. The real challenge for internal roles is maintaining a balance between that focus on detail and delivery and retaining a strong sense of the ‘big picture’ and the long term strategy for supporting the College to continue to excel.

Looking forward, what do you see as your greatest challenge for education in the Faculty, and where do you feel the most potential for excellence is?

With changes in the funding and fee landscape, and rising delivery costs, it is going to be absolutely vital to ensure that an Imperial medical and science education does not become a treasure that only the wealthiest bright young people in our society can enjoy. Extending our educational opportunities to the most able students wherever they come from, and ensuring our student population is as representative as possible of the wider populace it will ultimately serve, is critical – we must continually challenge ourselves in the Faculty to support and enhance our strategies to ensure this.

The other great challenge I see for us in the Faculty is also one of our greatest opportunities for excellence. The sheer pace of development of new health technologies and approaches (not least within our own research labs, centres and spin-outs) coupled with a constant drive towards effective dissemination and uptake is creating a continually shifting health landscape for which we need to prepare our students. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels in the educational mission: what equips today’s medic for practice may tomorrow be redundant; an area of interdisciplinary research which was unheard of when today’s final year students first entered the MBBS may already be the basis of new care models for our health service when this year’s freshers graduate in six years’ time. We are outstandingly placed at Imperial to draw on our own discoveries, academic collaborations and translational expertise to continually review and future proof our curricula, translate our discoveries into widespread understanding, create the innovative skill-base among our students to drive future development and ensure Imperial graduates are the very best at operating in the health and scientific environment into which they will emerge. I think that’s an extraordinarily exciting opportunity and challenge for everyone in the Faculty.

Imperial Confidence in Concept (ICiC) Scheme Awards Funding to 25 projects

The Faculty is delighted to report the outcome of the fourth Imperial Confidence in Concept (ICiC) competition to support the College-wide development of novel devices, diagnostics and therapeutics for areas of unmet clinical need. A fund in excess of £1.6million was made available from the MRC (Confidence in Concept fund), NIHR Imperial BRC, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, EPSRC and BBSRC Impact Acceleration Accounts, as well as support from NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research. The ICiC scheme provides vital pilot funding to bridge the potential gap between discovery research and well-developed applications for MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme / Developmental Clinical Studies Funding Scheme support.

The Panel, including external members and chaired by Professor Roberto Solari, was delighted with the high quality and wide range of applications. Examples of the breadth of funded proposals include: ‘Preclinical assessment of a lead NMT inhibitor as a novel anticancer agent’ (Tate); ‘Development and validation of a 2 gene RNA test to detect bacterial infection’ (Levin); ‘A ‘smart’ ultrasonic focus for brain drug delivery’ (Choi); ‘GM-CSF gene therapy for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis’ (Griesenbach). We are also pleased to announce two co-funded projects with our colleagues at the NIHR BRC at The Royal Marsden and ICR; ‘The development of a high-throughput breathomics platform for oeosophago-gastric cancer’ (Hanna) and ‘The use of innovative spectroscopy technologies (i-Knife and DESI) for the improvement of the management of women with abnormalities in cervical screening’ (Kyrgiou). The first project is a collaboration between Prof George Hanna (ICL), Dr Andrea Romano (ICL), Prof David Cunningham (ICR), Mr Asif Chaudry (ICR), and Prof Paris Tekkis (ICR). The second project led by Dr Maria Kyrgiou involves collaboration with the Royal Marsden gynaecological oncology team (Mr Butler, Mr Ind, Mr Barton).

The investigators who will receive awards of up to £85,000 are:

  • Professor Eric Aboagye (PI), Dr Laurence Carroll, & Dr Kathrin Heinzmann (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Geoff Baldwin (PI) & Professor Edward Leen (Departments of Life Sciences and Medicine)
  • Dr Andrew Blagborough (PI) & Dr Fiona Angrisano (Department of Life Sciences)
  • Dr James Choi (PI) & Dr Matthew Williams (Department of Bioengineering and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
  • Dr Armando Del Rio Hernandez (PI) (Department of Bioengineering)
  • Dr Andrew Edwards (PI), Dr Thomas Clarke, Dr Thomas Webb, Dominic Marshall (Department of Medicine)
  • Dr Matthew Fuchter (PI), Prof Simak Ali, & Dr Geoff Baldwin (Departments of Chemistry, Surgery & Cancer, and Life Sciences)
  • Dr Nicholas Glanville (PI) & Professor Sebastian Johnston (National Heart & Lung Institute)
  • Professor Uta Griesenbach (PI) & Professor Eric Alton (National Heart & Lung Institute)
  • Professor George Hanna (PI) & Dr Andrea Romano (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Mark Isalan (PI) (Department of Life Sciences)
  • Dr Angela Kedgley (PI), Ms Donna Kennedy, Dr Tonia Vincent, & Dr Fiona Watt (Departments of Bioengineering and Surgery & Cancer and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
  • Dr Maria Kyrgiou (PI), Professor Zoltan Takats, Dr Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami, Professor Phillip Bennett, & Dr David Macintyre (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus (PI), Professor Francis Drobniewski, Dr Brian Robertson, & Dr Vahid Shahrezaei (Departments of Life Sciences, Medicine, and Mathematics)
  • Professor Mike Levin (PI) & Dr Pantelis Georgiou (Departments of Medicine and Electrical & Electronic Engineering)
  • Dr George Mylonas (PI) & Professor Ara Darzi (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Alexandra Porter (PI), Professor Charles Coombes, Professor Mary Ryan, & Dr Fang Xie (Departments of Materials and Surgery & Cancer)
  • Professor Robin Shattock (PI) (Department of Medicine)
  • Professor Roberto Solari (PI) & Dr Andrew Bell (National Heart & Lung Institute and Department of Chemistry)
  • Professor Ed Tate (PI), Professor Eric Aboagye, Dr Andy Bell, & Dr Laura Kenny (Departments of Chemistry and Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Vasso Terzidou (PI), Dr David Macintyre, & Professor Phillip Bennett (Department of Surgery & Cancer)
  • Dr Ross Walton (PI), Professor Sebastian Johnston, & Dr Aoife Cameron (National Heart & Lung Institute)
  • Professor Peter Weinberg (PI) & Dr Mengxing Tang (Department of Bioengineering)
  • Professor Ramesh Wigneshweraraj (PI) & Dr Daniel Brown (Department of Medicine)
  • Dr Lan Zhao (PI) & Professor Martin Wilkins (Department of Medicine)

Dr Kimberley Trim
Research Strategy Coordinator
Faculty of Medicine

Innovative Training Post at The King’s Fund: Bringing together physical and mental health – A new frontier for integrated care

Preety Das
Preety Das – Specialist Trainee in General Practice

Preety Das is a Specialist Trainee in General Practice in the
Department of Primary Care & Public Health. She joined the King’s Fund as part of an innovative training post at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Here she discusses the King’s Fund report she coauthored – Bringing together physical and mental health.

Integrated care initiatives in England and elsewhere have paid insufficient attention to the relationship between physical and mental health. Our report draws on a review of published research evidence, qualitative interviews and focus groups with service users and carers, and case studies of 10 services in England. We conclude by arguing that overcoming the longstanding barriers to integration of mental and physical health should be a central component of efforts to develop new models of care that bring together resources from across local health systems.

The case for seeking to support physical and mental health in a more integrated way is compelling, and is based on four related challenges: 1) high rates of mental health conditions among people with long-term physical health problems, 2) poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’, which lack an identifiable organic cause, 3) reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness, largely attributable to poor physical health and 4) limited support for the wider psychological aspects of physical health and illness. Collectively, these issues increase the cost of providing services, perpetuate inequalities in health outcomes, and mean that care is less effective than it could be. The first two issues alone cost the NHS in England more than £11 billion annually.

Examples of innovative service models described in the report demonstrate that there are opportunities to redesign care in ways that could improve outcomes and may also be highly cost effective. These include various forms of enhanced support in primary care, integrated community or neighbourhood teams, comprehensive liaison mental health services, physical health liaison within mental health services, and integrated perinatal mental health care.

All health and care professionals have a part to play in delivering closer integration. Our research with service users and carers highlights the importance of professionals being willing and able to take a ‘whole person’ perspective, and having the necessary skills to do so. Integrated service models can support this by facilitating skills transfer and shifting notions of who is responsible for what. Equally, a great deal of improvement is possible within existing service structures. New approaches to training and development are needed to create a workforce able to support integration of mental and physical health. This has significant implications for professional education; all educational curricula need to have a sufficient common foundation in both physical and mental health.

My involvement in this project provided a unique opportunity to relate everyday clinical practice to the range of barriers that have prevented wider adoption of integrated approaches. These include: separate budgets and payment systems for physical and mental health; the challenge of measuring outcomes and demonstrating value; and cultural barriers between organisations or groups of professionals. The report describes several enabling factors and practical lessons, including the value of having a board-level champion for physical health in mental health trusts, and vice versa. New payment systems and contracting approaches offer commissioners various options for overcoming some of the financial barriers.

In recent years there has been a welcome focus in national policy on achieving ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health. Colloquially, this phrase has often been interpreted to mean that mental health services should be ‘as good as’ services for physical health. We argue that there is a greater prize beyond this, in which mental health care is not only ‘as good as’ but is delivered ‘as part of ’ an integrated approach to health.

Preety Das
Specialist Trainee in General Practice
Department of Primary Care & Public Health

FEO leadership team

As part of the restructuring of the FEO there has been a strengthening and simplifying of the leadership team, and there are now four senior managers reporting to me.  An overview of their areas of responsibility is outlined below:

Lisa Carrier – Head of Technology Enhanced Education

Lisa is currently the E-learning Manager for the Department of Medicine and will be joining us at the beginning of May.  Her team will support:
Development and support of technology and innovative teaching methods to enhance the delivery of education
Advising on and developing technical solutions to support the management of education
Liaison with SIDs to expand the use of technology to enhance postgraduate education
Audio Visual and Lab technical support
Timetabling and room booking

Rebekah Fletcher – Head of School of Medicine Secretariat

  • Rebekah’s team will support:
  • Quality and Governance (including forecasting and planning)
  • Projects and Systems (including Sofia, our curriculum map, Fry, the assessment system and the Student Information Management System (SIMP) and the student database)
  • Communications
  • Admissions
  • Welfare
  • Student finance (including bursaries, scholarships and welfare payments)

Chris Harris – Head of Programme Management

  • Chris’s team will support:
  • Curriculum and exams/assessment
  • Transition to foundation training
  • Careers
  • Student progression (including Fitness to Practice, discipline and mitigating circumstances)
  • Student records (including production of transcripts and documentation for graduates)
  • Electives (including funding)
  • Clinical Education Finance and planning (SIFT and HEFCE)

Paul Ratcliffe – Deputy Director of Education Management

  • Paul’s team will support:
  • LKC School of Medicine
  • Postgraduate, including the Health Sciences Academy
  • Medical Education Research Unit (MERU)
  • Major Educational innovations (including the new Medical Biosciences BSc)

We are in the final stages of consultation with FEO staff and the new support teams will be finalised and announced shortly.  During the transition period, there will continue to be management and administrative support across all areas.  Should you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or the relevant senior manager.

Miss Susan English
Director of Education Management and Programme Director
Faculty Education Office (Medicine)

HEFCE open access policy – a note from the College open access team

Open access team at Imperial College LondonThe Open Access Team are based in the Imperial College Library at South Kensington. We are the team that is on the ‘other end’ when you press the ‘deposit my publication’ button in Symplectic for uploading your manuscripts into Spiral, or when you make an application for support for article processing fees. We are here to help you comply with open access requirements, including the HEFCE Open Access policy.

Last month the Faculty of Medicine Newsletter drew attention to how important it was for research active staff to comply with the new HEFCE policy from 1 April 2016. Following on from that newsletter we thought it would be useful to clarify and highlight a few points about the policy and the process for depositing your publications in Spiral through Symplectic Elements.

  1. The HEFCE policy applies to peer reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings accepted on or after 1st April 2016. This means anything accepted or published before this date complies as far as HEFCE is concerned! (Phew. So it is okay if you cannot find the author accepted version of that article that was accepted 6 months ago! )*
    Please upload your author accepted version ( final draft without publisher’s layout etc.) into Spiral via Symplectic. It is this version and only this version that we can use, unless your article goes open upon publication ( the gold route).**The date of acceptance must be entered in Sympletic.This is where you start:
  3. Imperial corresponding authors. You know when your article or conference proceeding has been accepted as you get that all important email from the journal publisher. So please act as soon as you get this notification. You can send non-Imperial co-authors the URL you will receive (via email) once the version you upload has been checked and deposited in Spiral. Imperial co-authors will be notified via Symplectic when the publication details have been added to Spiral. Have an open access ‘conversation’ before submission if you can.
  4. Corresponding authors not at Imperial – Imperial co-authors should have that open access ‘conversation’ too. Open access policies affect all authors, not just in the UK. If the corresponding author can deposit the accepted version in a compliant open access repository (usually an institutional repository) then ask to be sent the link and enter the publication details in Symplectic adding the link when requested rather than a file. If your corresponding author cannot deposit the work themselves, then ask for a copy of the accepted version and advise them of what you need to do.
  5. The Library’s Open Access team will check your records. Nothing goes live until they do! We make sure you have the correct version, the correct licence, the correct embargo period. So please don’t worry: go ahead and upload.

Remember: compliance = action on acceptance

We strongly recommend that you upload your author accepted version as soon you are notified of acceptance. Action on acceptance needs to become a ‘habit’, the Open Access team are here to help. It is impossible to cover every scenario or eventuality in 5 points! So if you have any questions, need further clarification, please contact us.

Judith Carr
Scholarly Communication Support Manager
Imperial College London


*If you have a really good filing system (or your corresponding author does) and you can lay your hands on an author accepted version of an article, then please do upload it as soon as you can. We want as many open access outputs in Spiral as possible and remember that there are other research funders such as RCUK and Charities Open Access Fund who have their own requirements. You can find out more about other research funder open access policies on the College Open Access support pages

** Going open on publication: you can apply for funding via ‘deposit your work’ in Symplectic. If you go open on publication without funding from the Library, please still upload your article, using the final published version. It is important that you enter the date of acceptance in Symplectic for compliance purposes.

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Jo Seed
Communications Manager
Institute of Global Health Innovation