Tag: Research

Inspirational leadership matters: supporting the next generation of clinical academics

Dr Maddalena Ardissino

This festive period, Three Wise Women from the Faculty of Medicine will be giving us the gift of wisdom.


The journey to becoming a clinical academic can be long and arduous, with many obstacles. Dr Maddalena Ardissino, from the National Heart and Lung Institute, reflects on her own experiences as a trainee and explains why mentorship is key to supporting the growth and development of young, aspiring clinical academics.

Almost exactly five years ago, I stood amongst a crowd of young academics at a poster session at the Intensive Care Society’s annual conference, experiencing a feeling of anxiety I’ve never known before or since. I was in my fifth year of medical school and standing in front of a group of excellent researchers who were about to listen to me give my first scientific presentation. It seemed unthinkable to me, at the time, to think that they might have the slightest interest in what I had to say.

Since then, my journey through clinical and academic training has been what I can only describe as an adventure. I quickly realised that there isn’t a single defined path for clinical academics, with each individual moulding a slightly different journey. When I look around at my fellow clinical academics at the National Heart and Lung Institute, however, there is one key feature that we all share: enthusiasm. And behind this feature there is one single, common theme: the support of a truly inspirational mentor.

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World AIDS Day: We have come a very long way but there is still much to do to protect those at risk

Professor Sarah Fidler

This festive period Three Wise Women from the Faculty of Medicine will be giving us the gift of wisdom.

While HIV is no longer the death sentence that it once was, lifelong treatment is still required and there is no cure – yet. Professor Sarah Fidler from the Department of Infectious Disease discusses how a new type of HIV treatment holds promise as a longer-lasting alternative to current complex drug regimens.


Despite extraordinary political and medical advances, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, remains one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. Since its discovery in 1983 by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in France, 84 million people worldwide are estimated to have become HIV-positive and 40 million people have died from an HIV-related illness. Today, there are around 38 million people living with HIV globally, with 1.5 million new infections in 2021.

Advocacy and close collaboration between clinicians, scientists and the HIV-affected community has inspired and driven the research and drug development and access agenda. Without these close working relationships, the development of HIV treatments would have been markedly slower and many more lives would have been lost.

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Targeting both incretin receptors together for a new generation of diabetes therapies

Close up of woman's hands checking blood sugar level using glucose meter

Dr Alejandra Tomas, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, explores new and emerging incretin-based therapies for managing diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions, with millions of people dying or suffering from a myriad of associated complications. Given that cases are projected to increase worldwide over the coming decades – especially in low- and middle-income countries – there is an urgent need to develop and deploy effective treatments for the disease.

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Food for thought: Experiences from Imperial’s Food Student Research Network Conference

Dr Aaron M. Lett, Director of the Food Student Research Network, providing a plenary talk and officially launching the Food Student Research Network.

Recognising the value of interdisciplinary learning, Imperial’s Food Student Research Network aims to bring together students from across the College’s faculties to enable the cross-fertilisation of ideas and research in fields relevant to food. Here, members reflect on the Network’s inaugural conference.

In September, Imperial’s Food Student Research Network hosted its first Annual Conference. Reflective of the ethos of the network, this conference was an event for students, led by students.

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How long is COVID-19 infectious? Opportunities and challenges in using real-world evidence

New York circa November 2020: Crowd of people walking on the street wearing masks during COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: blvdone / Shutterstock.com.

Providing the most comprehensive picture of COVID-19 infectiousness to date, recent research from Imperial College scientists offered new insights into how long people with COVID-19 are infectious for. Co-author, Dr Seran Hakki, outlines the challenges of collecting real-world evidence in the first-of-its-kind study.

In August, the ATACCC Study (The Assessment of Transmission and Contagiousness of COVID-19 in Contacts) published some of their findings in one of the world’s leading respiratory health journals, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Our study was the first to use real-life evidence from naturally acquired infection to assess the duration of COVID-19 infectiousness, its correlation with symptom onset, and how this affects the accuracy of lateral flow tests.

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Can we save lives by deliberately infecting people?

A person's arm being injected

In the middle of the pandemic, scientists intentionally infected healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. John Tregoning, Reader in Respiratory Infections at the Department of Infectious Disease, explains why these experiments, and the volunteers who take part in them, are critical to modern medicine.

In early March 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a surprising-sounding set of experiments were taking place. Researchers at Imperial College London (and separately at the University of Oxford) were deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2. This was in fact the latest in a long line of controlled human infection studies – where volunteers are deliberately infected with an infectious pathogen under extremely controlled conditions.

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The future of smoking: why are young people still picking up the habit?

two hands snapping a cigeratte in half

The government is on course to miss its target of making England smoke free by 2030. Dr Charlotte Vrinten, Research Associate at the School of Public Health, highlights how this delay leads to thousands of adolescents taking up the habit in the meantime.


Tobacco smoking has been declining in the UK over the last decade, but there are still nearly 7 million people who smoke.  Smoking is one of the main avoidable causes of illness and early death, and costs the NHS £2.4 billion per year. In 2019, the government pledged to make England smokefree by 2030.  However, a recent independent review found that the government is on course to miss its 2030 target by seven years. (more…)

The trials and tribulations of applying for a PhD

Finding the right PhD programme can often be a time-consuming and lengthy exercise. Emre Yavuz, Translational Neuroscience Master’s student, shares his experience of applying for a PhD programme and the many challenges he faced along the way.


This September I’m going to be starting my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, supervised by Professor Hugo Spiers. Excited as I am about moving onto the next chapter of my career, choosing the right PhD for me was no easy process.

Choosing the right PhD programme comes down to many variables. When I had initially applied for several programmes in early December, I was excited by the possibility of travelling and living abroad after two years of lockdown. I had received interviews from places including Toronto, Montreal, Zurich, Lausanne and London. Although studying abroad seemed highly tempting at first, there were many other factors I had to take into account. (more…)

There is good evidence for the benefits of osteoarthritis treatment – but we should not accept the status quo

Following the publication of new draft guidance by NICE on the care and management of osteoarthritis, Dr Fiona Watt breaks down the misconceptions surrounding its impact on patients and healthcare professionals, and why developing effective treatments for the condition is more vital than ever.


8.75 million people live with osteoarthritis in the UK and the condition is the fourth leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide. Osteoarthritis commonly affects joints such as the knee, hip or hand, leading to progressive change and damage in joint tissues, frequently causing joint pain and functional difficulties. It is the leading cause of joint replacement. As an osteoarthritis researcher and someone who treats people with osteoarthritis in the NHS, I awaited the draft updated National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on the management of osteoarthritis with some anticipation. This guidance is important because it shapes (and restricts) the way that the NHS approaches advice and treatment, based on scientific evidence.

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Alzheimer’s disease: why your genes aren’t always your destiny

For Dementia Action Week, Kitty Murphy, second year PhD student at the UK DRI Centre at Imperial, shares the complex nature of Alzheimer’s disease and why there’s more to it than just our genes.


Dementia diagnosis rates are dropping for the first time ever. I wish I could tell you that this is due to less people developing dementia, and not because more people are living with it undiagnosed. According to research carried out by Alzheimer’s Society, many people are not being diagnosed due to the misconception that memory loss is a normal part of aging. However, memory loss is often an early sign of dementia, particularly in the most common cause known as Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week, an annual awareness campaign, has made diagnosis their featured theme.

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