Author: Justine Alford

Health Innovation Prize winners: Where are they now?

A decade ago, Imperial medical student John Chetwood darted from his Varsity hockey match to try his hand at another competition, with a different prize at stake. It was the inaugural IGHI Health Innovation Prize, giving UK university students the opportunity to win cash towards their global health idea.

John was one of five finalists to face our panel of judges at the Dragon’s Den-style final, and took home the top prize of £2,000 towards his new diagnostic tool for an aggressive type of bile duct cancer.

Since then, teams from all across the country have competed in our annual competition, now in its 10th year and growing, with £10,000 up for grabs for the top team.

Harnessing technology to tackle undernutrition

Almost half of all deaths in children under the age of five are linked to undernutrition. Most of these occur in the developing world. There is therefore an urgent need to address this pressing issue which costs the lives of millions of children every year. And as detailed below, the answer is not as simple as providing more food.

In a new Gut review, led by IGHI lecturer Dr Alex Thompson, scientists explore the role that technology could play in improving understanding, management and prevention of this complex condition, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.

One year on – how our researchers have responded to the pandemic

“We’re in this together.” One year ago, on 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Back then, little over 100,000 cases had been reported globally. Today that number is 1,000 times greater and growing ceaselessly.

With a barely known virus rippling across the world, so too did fear and uncertainty spread as the WHO Director-General addressed all people and nations to make the declaration. Shifting the focus from COVID-19 to people and unity, Dr Tedros also sparked glimmers of optimism by emphasising that innovation and learning would be integral to saving lives and minimising the impact of the pandemic.

Being a mental health researcher: ‘Seeing the impact you have makes it all worthwhile’

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to reflect on what needs to change, but also to celebrate the people who are working to make sure positive change happens. Like Dr Lindsay Dewa, IGHI Research Fellow and mental health expert.

We caught up with Lindsay to find out about her mental health research, her path into academia, and why she’s excited about what the future might hold.

The hunt for a home coronavirus antibody test

“No test is better than a bad test,” said Matt Hancock.

While we may tire of hearing slogans, the principle here is important.

Coronavirus antibody tests have been hailed as a game-changer for the pandemic and a way forward as we traverse these uncertain times. Antibodies are Y-shaped immune molecules produced by the body in response to an infection. They latch onto the offender – such as coronavirus – in a bid to thwart it. Your body keeps a record of the encounter, so that if it comes across the same pathogen in the future, it can quickly make more antibodies and launch an effective attack.

Remote care: is digital health tech here to stay post-COVID-19?

Digital technology has been poised to transform the way that healthcare is delivered. Yet uptake and implementation has been slow; in the UK alone for example, almost a quarter of hospitals still use paper rather than electronic records.

But when COVID-19 hit, health systems were forced to rapidly adapt and use technology to deliver care remotely, where face to face appointments were no longer possible. While it’s impossible to predict when the COVID crisis will be over, will remote care become the ‘new normal’ post-pandemic? And if digital-first health technologies are here to stay, what are the implications for patients?

Newly launched IGHI research, supported by Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Fund, will explore these important questions.

Older people are no more COVID cautious

Grappling with a novel virus that reared its ugly head barely six months ago, the world is facing many uncertainties. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is proving unpredictable and the pandemic is fast-moving. But one thing we do know is that older people bear the brunt of the impacts of COVID-19. The elderly are disproportionately affected, with those over 65 accounting for some 80% of hospitalisations due to the disease. And one in five over-80s with COVID-19 will need to go to hospital, compared with one in 100 individuals under 30.

It’s people who shape our research – here’s how

Research is our bread and butter at IGHI. It lets us explore problems, ask questions, test ideas, make mistakes and learn from them. And after all that, find the right solutions to the issues we’re trying to address in healthcare.

None of this would be possible without people. But not only the brilliant researchers who are the driving force behind our progress. The patients, carers, public and healthcare professionals who devote their time to get involved and be part of our research play an invaluable role in what we do, too. It is through their knowledge and lived experience that we know we’re asking the right questions and chasing the right solutions.