Tag: Research

How can technology be shaped to fit our lives? The power of Human Centred Design in healthcare

Matthew Harrison provides an insight into the world of human centred design, highlighting how involving users early in the design process can allow us to tap into their expertise and find creative solutions.


COVID has changed many aspects of life permanently. One change is the way we have and will interact with healthcare services. It has put the path to remote and smart care on an accelerated trajectory. Virtual consultations, at home diagnostics, and remote sensors, tablet computers and smart speakers are increasingly part of our lives. But the rush to technology in healthcare risks leaving the demographic who most need it behind. This is a prime example of where Human Centred Design (HCD) comes in. Design is about optimising the relationships between humans and technology, whether it is the clarity of a printed communication, the impact of a building on well-being, the confidence you feel from a new outfit, or the usability (and safety) of an Electronic Patient Record.

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A portrait of loneliness: mapping social isolation

Are loneliness and social isolation the bane of living in the 21st Century? Since the early days of 2020, national lockdowns, social distancing measures and remote working have put a bright spotlight on loneliness – one of society’s rising problems that governments can no longer overlook. Dr Austen El-Osta shares how his new project to map loneliness in London hopes to highlight the scale of the issue.


The UK Government published the first Loneliness Strategy in 2018 and has since installed a Loneliness Minister to get people talking about the problem. This cross‑governmental strategy has three goals:

  1.  Improve the loneliness research evidence base
  2.  Consider loneliness in all government policy
  3.  Build a “national conversation on loneliness” to reduce the stigma associated with loneliness

Loneliness and social isolation are significant determinants of health and quality of life. They are strongly associated with psychological disorders, cardiovascular disease and are even a risk factor for the exacerbation of early mortality. For the last few decades, increasing urbanisation and over-reliance on technology has led to the ‘atomisation’ of society – think online games, virtual reality, chat rooms, AI chatbots and the recently publicised Metaverse. There is also an increasing number of services which can be accessed online including shopping and healthcare which decreases the need, and opportunity, for “in person” encounters.

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Could we have a simple solution to this huge HIV problem?

Test tube of blood with a label written "HIV TEST"

There are currently 38 million people infected with HIV worldwide with up to a million deaths each year.  During National HIV Testing Week, we hear from Dr. Catherine Kibirige  who has developed a highly sensitive HIV-1 test that can detect a single infected cell with high precision.


Meet Dr. Fred Nsubuga, he manages the Diagnostics Laboratory at Jinja District Hospital in Uganda.  His laboratory is not equipped for HIV-1 treatment monitoring, so, when patients come in who need a viral load test, he must collect, process and store their blood samples, batch them together, then send them on a truck to the national HIV testing laboratory in Kampala, the capital city, 44 miles away.  Despite the availability of this state-of-the art facility which boasts a Roche Cobas 8800™ high-throughput instrument with a good computer-based laboratory management system, it can take months for the results to get back to him.  Sometimes, they go missing.  

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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…)

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.

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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…)

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…)

A breath of fresh ‘AIR’ in the study of lung repair and regeneration

NHLI researchers Róisín Mongey and Dr Sally Kim provide an insight into developing a new tool – the AIR model – for lung research and drug development.


Lung diseases represent a significant global health burden costing the NHS upwards of £1 billion annually. A hallmark of chronic and acute adult lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and COVID-19, is lung damage. The lungs are usually capable of repairing damage but in some cases, this does not happen or the repair process goes awry for example going into overdrive and causing more damage. The result of this lack of repair or abnormal repair is persistent tissue damage and declining lung function.

There are almost no treatments available to repair the lung damage in these diseases. A bold, new approach to identify novel lung repair treatments for these diseases is needed. Unfortunately, there are several roadblocks to the development of curative treatments, the primary one being that we don’t fully understand how repair happens in the healthy lung under normal circumstances. The bottom line is that unless we can figure this out, it is unlikely that we will be able to develop successful new repair treatments. (more…)

Why plain packaging for cigarettes does not increase illicit trade

Dr Anthony Laverty discusses new findings that quash the argument that plain cigarette packaging increases illicit tobacco trade.

Australia was the first country in the world to introduce standardised, or plain, packaging for cigarettes and tobacco. The move was the product of a long-running campaign from the public health community and meant that the packets are allowed no branding; just the product name in standard font, colour and size. Since Australia brought in these measures, the UK followed in 2017, as did Ireland and France, increasing the number of countries in the world which restrict one of the key avenues for the tobacco industry to advertise their products. (more…)

How are people with respiratory conditions impacted by measures to reduce risk of COVID-19?

Dr Keir Philip discusses how people with long term respiratory conditions have been impacted by measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and whether online singing groups could help.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic draws on, effects are being felt by everyone, not just those who have been infected with the virus. From schools to offices, restaurants to gyms, many aspects of ‘normal’ have been closed, stopped, or undergone major adaptations. These societal and healthcare disruptions will affect people differently, with certain groups of people, such as those with respiratory conditions, potentially more vulnerable.

Over the last few months I have been working with Dr Nicholas Hopkinson (Respiratory Consultant, NHLI Academic, and Medical Director of the British Lung Foundation(BLF)), Dr Bradley Lonergan (Internal Medicine Trainee) in collaboration with the Asthma UK-BLF partnership, to try to understand how people with long term respiratory conditions have been impacted by measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Our research published today in BMJ Open explores the findings of a large UK wide survey conducted at the height of the first wave. We found that measures to reduce risk of COVID-19, such as social distancing and changes to healthcare provision, were having profound impacts on people with long term respiratory conditions. These included cancellations of appointments, investigations, and vital aspects of their care such as pulmonary rehabilitation. (more…)