Blog posts

Why we still need ‘Women in Science’ Awards

Paz Tayal receiving award

Dr Paz Tayal reflects on her experience in the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Rising Talent Awards.


Do we even need an award for ‘Women in Science’? Shouldn’t there be a similar award for men in science? Well, depends on how you look at it, but you could argue all awards over the past 1000 years have been for ‘Men in Science’.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Rising Talent Programme has promoted women in scientific research on a global scale since 1998. The L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland For Women in Science Programme offer awards from a partnership between L’Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society, to promote, enhance and encourage the contribution of women pursuing their research careers in the UK or Ireland. (more…)

Future of Nutrition: Student experiences from the Nutrition Futures Conference 2021

The Imperial Conference committee with The Nutrition Society Student Committee Leads.
The Imperial Conference committee with The Nutrition Society Student Committee Leads.

Three Imperial postgraduate research students recount their experiences of hosting the Nutrition Futures Conference 2021 in collaboration with The Nutrition Society.


In September 2021, Imperial’s Section of Nutrition Research hosted the Nutrition Futures Conference 2021 in collaboration with The Nutrition Society at the Cavendish Conference Centre, Marylebone.

The Nutrition Society is one of the largest learned societies for nutrition in the world. In late 2019, Dr Aaron Lett led the bid to bring this student-focused conference of the Nutrition Society’s conference calendar to Imperial College London. This was the first conference the Section of Nutrition Research at Imperial has hosted and provided the perfect opportunity for Imperial to share its expertise in nutrition-related research and strong ethos and enthusiasm for student development to undergraduate and postgraduate nutrition students across the world. (more…)

The launch of the UK Anaphylaxis Registry and its importance for UK consumers

Dr Paul Turner, Consultant in Paediatric Allergy and Immunology at Imperial College London, and Ayah Wafi, Allergen Risk Assessor at the Food Standards Agency, introduce a new national reporting platform for allergic reactions. Funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) with contributions from Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the UK Anaphylaxis Registry will provide more data on levels of anaphylactic reactions in the UK.


Today sees the launch of the UK Anaphylaxis Registry at the Annual Conference of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI).

The establishment of a registry represents an important step in better understanding anaphylaxis and how allergic reactions impact individuals in the UK.

Understanding anaphylaxis

An anaphylaxis reaction is a serious, and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Whilst severe or fatal anaphylaxis is rare, food-allergic reactions due to accidental exposure are common in people with a food allergy.

Until the launch of the registry, we have not had a standardised way of reporting these reactions in the UK. The registry will serve as a platform for clinicians to record details of anaphylaxis incidents, and collate data from across the UK to provide a better picture of the type of reactions, their frequency and their geographic spread.

(more…)

From bench to bedside and back again in mesothelioma

On Mesothelioma Awareness Day, Dr Anca Nastase provides an insight into mesothelioma and how research advances offer new hope for improved treatment.


Mesothelioma Awareness Day represents a great opportunity to gain more information about the disease biology, risk factors or symptoms from everyone in the mesothelioma community. Raising awareness is essential as it has the potential to improve prevention and early diagnosis and can translate into better outcomes and better survival for the patients.

My aim as a scientist within the National Centre for Mesothelioma Research (NCMR) is to deepen the molecular research in mesothelioma and to advance our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the onset and progression of this disease.

Although progress has been made in the field, further understanding of the pathophysiology is still desperately needed.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that arises and develops in the thin layer that covers the human internal organs, called mesothelium.

(more…)

My health data internship experience

Maria Johnson is one of 49 interns taking part in Health Data Research UK’s (HDRUK) Black Internship Programme. Here she shares her experience of working with the BREATHE Hub at NHLI, Imperial.

Firstly, I think it is incredible that HDRUK recognises the lack of black people within health data science and has given us, interns, the opportunity to explore this sector.  Why is it important to have diversity within health data science? Increasing diversity increases the ability to fight against systemic racism and discrimination. This is an ongoing battle, and it is so important that everyone plays their part in challenging it.

During these last six weeks I, have had many experiences such as listening to various talks, working on my own projects, and meeting some amazing, knowledgeable people. (more…)

Painting pictures of genomes

Dr Peter Sarkies explains how network-based visualisation has revealed new insights into a genome feature known as a transposable element.


When we think of a scientific discovery, we typically imagine a “eureka” moment, in which someone in a white coat glimpses the result of an experiment and in one stroke, solves one of life’s major questions. However, it is important to realise that a key aspect of scientific progress involves the development of new tools that help make previously insoluble research questions accessible. One important example of this is tools that help scientists to see better. We’re all familiar with many of these tools and how they were instrumental in biology – from the microscope that enabled cells to be seen for the first time, through to more recent tools such as electron microscopy that made visible the fine inner structure of the cell, and X-ray crystallography enabling scientists to work out the position of each atom in a protein. What might be a little less obvious is how important more abstract modes of visualisation can be in helping scientists to make progress in understanding research questions. (more…)

COVID and lung health: patient experience and what comes next?

The pandemic has been a huge challenge for people with lung disease – Dr Nick Hopkinson outlines what needs to change to provide them with the required support.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a double impact on people with lung disease – both the impact of the condition itself as well as measures to avoid it on individuals and the impact on access to healthcare. COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, with people with COPD and severe asthma among those who are the most vulnerable. Many people with these conditions have spent a year shielding to avoid it.

Data from patient surveys by the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership early in the pandemic found high levels of anxiety, with four key themes emerging from survey responses:

  • Individuals’ vulnerability to COVID-19,
  • Worrying what the experience of contracting COVID-19 would be like,
  • Uncertainty about the future,
  • The inadequacy of government response.

Many patients reported that their care had been disrupted, with reduced support available and face to face appointments replaced by remote options. (more…)

Do we need such a devastating global pandemic to raise the profile of research?


On Clinical Trials Day, Fran Husson discusses how receiving treatment for Acute Myeloblastic Leukaemia made her aware of the value and impact of research.


It is impossible, as a patient, not to think “vaccination” when asked to engage in some reflection about “Research”.  Vaccines would not have been created so swiftly to combat Sars-CoV-2 if strong and well established multi-disciplinary cohorts of researchers, within prominent academic institutions, had not been in place to mastermind clinical trials and produce an effective immunisation response to the pandemic.

This begs the question of Patient and Public awareness of research, whether for clinical purposes or service delivery of health and social care.  Do we need such a devastating global pandemic to raise the profile of research?

In my case, a late diagnosis of Acute Myeloblastic Leukaemia provided the lightning bolt to make me aware of research. Hospitalised in isolation for ten months, under round-the-clock treatment from clinicians who also involved me in different clinical research projects, I could not but appreciate the full value and impact of research. (more…)

The Future is Fungal

illustration of fungi

Jenny Shelton takes us through the incredible potential of fungi and how this diverse, yet often overlooked, species may hold many of the answers to global challenges, from climate change to food insecurity. 


Fungi play important roles in nature, food production, medicine, industry and bioremediation yet we have only discovered ~150,000 out of a potential 6.3 million fungal species. Just recently, a PhD student found undiscovered fungal species in seeds stored at the Millennium Seed Bank and estimates the whole collection might contain up to 1 million new species! You might be surprised to learn that fungi are more closely related to animals, and therefore humans, than they are to plants, and that the combined biomass of all fungi on Earth is 200 times greater than the entire human race.

The responses I often get when I tell someone I’m a mycologist is “Eurgh, I hate mushrooms!” or “Can you cure my athlete’s foot infection?”. It’s no surprise that this is their reaction given how little fungi feature in the U.K. school curriculum, or even in most biology and medical degrees, but it is such a shame given how magnificently diverse the Kingdom of Fungi is. (These responses also, unknowingly, capture the yin and yang of fungi: while this article is about the good that they can do it is important to acknowledge that fungal infections cause misery to millions of people around the world every year.)

Keeping in mind the challenges facing us – climate change, global food insecurity and infectious disease pandemics –I hope you will agree with me that the solutions to many of our problems could be fungal! (more…)

From Brazil to Westminster: learning from a community health worker model

On World Health Day, Dr Matthew Harris reflects on what we can learn from Brazil’s community health worker model.

Back in 2011, I was telling a senior consultant in Public Health about Brazil’s extraordinary primary care system which is based on an army of over 250k community health workers (CHW). It had been established in the northeast of the country in the mid-1990s, in response to a cholera epidemic, and since had scaled nationally, now serving over 70% of the population.  The principles seemed simple enough. Individuals from a neighbourhood are recruited and trained on a wide array of health and social care issues for a few weeks and then spend their working days visiting all the households that they are responsible for.  Not many households, just around 200 each, but each CHW makes sure that the households get at least one visit per month. (more…)