Author: Kathryn Johnson

Maca”poo”n Catcher Scoops Top Prize at the Surgery Bake off

Congratulations to Natalia Kurek who won this years Surgery Bake off for her Maca”poo”n Catcher, which was inspired by the bowel screening kit designed to increase the uptake of bowel screening by the HELIX Centre, which featured plum and chocolate flavoured macaroons. This year’s theme for the final was “All things Ara Darzi” and Prof Darzi’s favourite poo catcher innovation was up against the “Ara Dartea” Armenian cake, inspired by Prof Darzi’s favourite green tea, which was made by Lenny Naar and Madeleine Maxwell from the HELIX Centre.

Further entries included pumpkin macaroons in the graveyard for the Halloween theme by Natalia Kurek and Persian love cakes by Lenny Naar, along with an apple and fig Venn diagram tart on the theme “Autumn”, made by an unprecedented collaboration by both Lenny and Madeleine, who chose to bake that round together rather than competing against each other.


Estates Operations Christmas Arrangements

College closes 23 December 2017, re-opening on 2 January 2018

Reduce your environmental impact

  • Turn down radiator thermostats, local air conditioning, switch off electrical equipment (PCs, printers, lab equipment)
  • Shut windows, curtains and blinds, switch off lighting


To minimise the risk of floods and fires:

  • Remove waste (combustibles such as paper and card).
  • Unplug portable or temporary heaters and non-essential electrical equipment
  • Disconnect laboratory equipment from the water supply

Reception and Security Arrangements

Reception Desks will close at 4pm 22 December and re-open at normal time on 2 January.

Restricted access to College buildings 6pm Friday 22 December 2017 to 7am Tuesday 2 January 2018. 

Need to work on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day? Contact your Head of Department.

The Security Control Office will be staffed 24/7 – 020 7589 1000.

Maintenance, Cleaning and Waste Services

Standby engineers are on call in the event of emergency and can be contacted on 48000.

Hammersmith campus: A maintenance service will operate throughout the closure period on ext. 32418 and via the switchboard.  (For Burlington Danes call 48000.)

If you work in an NHS building please check with the NHS for local arrangements or speak to your Building Manager.

Departmental Meeting: Part 1

Yesterday we held a very successful World Café meeting at Hammersmith Campus and are very grateful to all those who attended and to Jess Taylor for facilitating. This meeting is the first of two, with the second taking place on Wednesday 17 January in Baden Powell House, very close to the South Kensington Campus.

We very much look forward to seeing many other staff on 17th January to continue the conversations – building on the key issues raised yesterday:

  • Recognition of roles and achievements – academic and other;
  • Appreciation and respect from colleagues and leaders- across all roles and, importantly, between professional services and academic staff (saying ‘thank you’ came up more than once);
  • Feeling their roles are of worth and valued, and that they are valued as people; collegiate behaviour;
  • A stronger sense of community, within the department, between sites and with IC more widely;
  • Better quality of communication; how, when and why things get communicated clarity of process, accountability and transparency;
  • Visibility and accessibility (approachability) of leaders

Updates and Achievements from the Section of Vascular Surgery


  • 2 clinical lecturers appointed this year (one NIHR funded) – Tristan Lane and Sarah Onida
  • 2 new research fellows appointed – Amar Abdullah and Lydia Hanna
  • We now have monthly cross-site research meetings with research staff based at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s Hospital


Sarah Onida – Clinical Lecturer in Vascular Surgery

  • Second prize at the American College of Phlebology for the following oral presentation: “Clinical Scoring, Disease Specific Quality of life and Duplex Features in Chronic Venous Disease”
  • First prize at the VI International Interuniversity Meeting for the following oral presentation: “The relationship between disease-specific clinical and quality of life scores in chronic venous disease”
  • EIT Health Doctoral Transition Fellowship 2017 (€10,000)

Matt Tan – BSc student

  • Second prize at the VI International Interuniversity Meeting for the following oral presentation: “Thrombophilia in non-thrombotic chronic venous disease of the lower limb”

Joseph Shalhoub Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in Vascular Surgery

  • Recipient of the Gold Medal for the highest mark in the Fellow of the European Board of Vascular Surgery (FEBVS) examinations in Lyon, France, September 2017. The award was presented at the European Society for Vascular Surgery 31st Annual Meeting.

Roshan Bootun – Research postgraduatee

  • First Prize at the European Venous forum for the presentation of COMETA study.

Achievements from the Divisions of Cancer and Reproductive and Developmental Biology

Dr Wei Cui recently received a Blue Flame award from Addgene (a non-profit company who distribute plasmids within scientific communities), as a result of one of her plasmids being distributed to over 100 laboratories worldwide.

Dr Vessela Vassileva

  • ESMO Award to attend the Colorectal Cancer Preceptorship in Barcelona
  • CRUK Imperial Centre Development Fund
  • Industrial collaboration with Molecular Templates
  • Poster presentation at the Precision Medicine and Cancer Models Meeting at Royal Society of Medicine
  • NCRI Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group – designing and developing a capability map highlighting information on pre-clinical tumour models and radiotherapy facilities across the UK in collaboration with CRUK
  • Contributed to Guest Editorial Review in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Pharmaco-imaging Group Newsletter and also used the opportunity to highlight the Imperial CRUK centre in the Newsletter
  • Cancer Research UK activity for the Creative Quarter Exhibition – Conversation C

Dr Kathrin Heinzmann

  • European Association of Nuclear Medicine Congress 2017 – Best Paper Award
  • Poster presentation at the Precision Medicine and Cancer Models Meeting at Royal Society of Medicine
  • Review Article in Nature Reviews Biomedical Engineering – Multiplexed Imaging for Diagnosis and Therapy
  • Cancer Research UK activity for the Creative Quarter Exhibition – Conversation C

Outstanding Achievement in Medicine

Professor Francesca Cordeiro with her GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Medicine Award.
Professor Francesca Cordeiro with her GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Medicine Award.

Huge congratulations to Professor Francesca Cordeiro (Professor of Ophthalmology) who won the GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Medicine Award, at the 2017 GG2 Leadership Awards, hosted and attended by the great and the good, including the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. These awards provide a unique platform to celebrate a multicultural Britain, recognising talent, while offering organisations a better understanding, reach and penetration into the black, Asian and ethnic communities, with its year-long programme of activities.

Professor Cordeiro received the following accolade when receiving her award:

“Professor Cordeiro is an outstanding individual who is one of the finest clinicians working in Britain today. A professor at one of the country’s top teaching hospitals, she has an exceptional record of cutting-edge research, which has pushed the barriers of medicine ever further. An innovator with an extraordinary gift of skill and knowledge, she is one of the world’s leading authorities in her medical field.”

Helping shape the future of Clinical Informatics

Professor Brendan Delaney, Chair in Medical Informatics and Decision Making has been elected as one of the 100 Founding Fellows of the new Faculty of Clinical Informatics and will work with a team of qualified clinicians who transform health and care through their specialist knowledge and use of data, information, knowledge and information technology.

The Faculty of Clinical Informatics is being established as the professional membership body for all clinical informaticians across the UK, with the aims of establishing clinical informatics as a recognised profession, developing professional standards, supporting revalidation, providing training and accreditation for individuals and courses, and supporting recruitment and careers in clinical informatics.

Find out more about the Faculty of Clinical Informatics.

Double success for PhD students

Two PhD students had success at the recent International Society for the Study of Trophoblastic Diseases (ISSTD) World Congress Meeting, which took place in Amsterdam this September.

PhD student Marina Georgiou won the Oral Science prize for the Best Junior Investigator, for her work to identify a potential new treatment for patients with drug-resistant gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.

Obstetrician trainee Linda Ibeto, who is doing a PhD jointly with Life Sciences and Surgery and Cancer won the Best Scientific Poster Award for her work on glycosylation changes in hCG and how this links to malignant progression compared to normal placental tissue.

Just how did John Keats’s medical training influence his poetry?

National Portrait Gallery London

A recently published paper by Emeritus Professor Sean Hughes looks at the influence John Keats’s brief medical career had on his poetry. The article is based on the Keats Lecture that Professor Hughes gave at the Apothecaries Hall earlier this year, which is jointly sponsored by Kings College, the Apothecaries and the Royal College of Surgeons.

John Keats’s short medical career has been well documented, but what did medicine actually mean to him as a career, why did he abandon it, and what influence did it have on his life and – more importantly – his work? This article focuses on Keats’s time at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals, looking at the surgeons he worked under and considering both why he chose not to pursue a career in medicine and why it is that this poet, above all others, resonates so with the medical profession.

Professor Hughes recently received the President’s Medal from the British Orthopaedic Research Society for outstanding contribution to the field of British orthopedic research, which was held at Imperial on 4th September 2017.

Read How did John Keats’s Medical Training Influence his Poetry?

Best Junior Investigator Award

Congratulations to PhD student Marina Georgiou who won the award for best junior investigator oral presentation in translational/basic research at the 19th World Congress of Gestational Trophoblastic Diseases Conference in Amsterdam from the 21-24 September, after winning a travel bursary award to attend.

Marina’s PhD research focuses on identifying the molecular dominants of development and chemoresistance in Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, under the supervision of Professor Michael Seckl and Dr Olivier Pardo. The title of Maria’s winning oral presentation was Cyclin dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) as a potential new therapeutic target in drug-resistant gestational trophoblastic neoplasia. 

CSM steal the show at Mass Spec conference in Salzburg

Congratulations to CSM Senior Research Technician Anna Mroz who won best poster at the Mass Spectrometry: Applications to the Clinical Lab Conference, which looks at accelerating the adoption and application of mass spectrometry in the clinical lab, that took place last month in Salzburg, Austria.

A team from CSM attended the conference, at which Professor Ian Wilson was selected to give the plenary lecture.

Read Anna’s winning poster entitled Metabolic Phenotyping of Cirrhotic Liver Samples by Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging (DESI-MSI).



New Division for the Department of Surgery and Cancer

Following consultation with Professor Elaine Holmes, Professor Mark Thursz and other senior colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine, Surgery and Cancer will be forming a new “Division of Integrative Systems Medicine and Digestive Disease” by merging the Divisions of Computational and Systems Medicine and Digestive Diseases.

To parallel similar structures that are being implemented in the Division of Cancer, Professor Elaine Holmes will be the Head of Division and Science Director and Professor Mark Thursz will be the Clinical Director of the new Division.

As with the other Divisions in the Department, the new organisation will have both a science and a clinical core of activities. The drivers for this are both strategic and to do with administrative efficiency. The new Division will offer a more stable research environment, increased critical mass and enhanced opportunity for cross-talk between research groups. It also increases the possibilities of longer-term alignments and collaborations more widely across the Faculty.   From an operational point of view there will be few changes in the short term and current activities will be maintained.

The merge will take place commencing in October 2017.

Prize for Pioneering New Technique in Neuro-monitoring During Surgery

Congratulations to Dr Pav Sarai (PhD student in Paul Strutton’s Lab) who won first prize for his talk on developing magnetic brain stimulation for neuro-monitoring during vascular surgery, at the recent Vascular Anaesthesia Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This pilot work (part of an MRes in Experimental Neuroscience by student Charlotte Luff) on healthy subjects, paves the way for exploration of this technique during complex aortic aneurysm surgery, where there is a risk of paralysis.

What have S&C people been getting up to this summer

Thanks to all who entered the Surgery and Cancer competition to find out what people have been getting up to over the summer:

Ash Salem (National Phenome Centre)
Celebrating Brighton and Hove Pride 2017 with my best mate and glorious sunshine.

Karen Kerr (Division of Surgery)
Day 1 of 5 kite surfing lessons in Tarifa, Spain, officially one of the windiest places I have visited. Who’d have thought you have to learn to fly the kite first before they let you loose in the water. Fair to say I am now an expert ‘body-dragger’ and at ‘supermanning’…..may not ever need to get on the board, it’s so much fun without, albeit extreme!


Rose Tolson (CSM)
I entered a karate comp in May, where I won silver in kata in the female senior grade division. I enter my next competition in November and am hoping for gold!

Kelly Gleason (CRUK Senior Research Nurse)
I went into a local school on two occasions this summer with a PhD student Neil Slaven and a chemo therapy nurse to talk to the children about what scientists and nurses do and how research informs care. Both the scientist and the nurse presented and then we extracted DNA from strawberries. The children then drew pictures and sent messages to our patients undergoing cancer treatment and 9 of those drawings will be framed on the wall on the ward.

Marc Dumas (CSM)
I took part in one of the biggest offshore racing competitions (the Fastnet race: non-stop from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet lighthouse, a rock which is just south-west of Ireland, with over 360 boats) earlier this month. It’s every other year and I haven’t missed one since I got back to the UK. Lots of similarities in terms of team building between crews and research groups, leadership on the water and in the lab, or running computer models for medicine and weather forecast…

Kathryn Johnson (Departmental)
I spent a week volunteering on Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire where I spent my days narrowly escaping getting attacked by gulls, having to stick my arms down Manx Shearwater burrows to pull out and weigh the chick’s and spent a great deal of my time as a lollypop lady for puffins.

Breast Cancer Research as Art

PhD student Ylenia Perone won third prize in the Research as Art competition for the Luca Magnani’s lab entry entitled “Drug driven tumour evolution” at this year’s Graduate School PhD Summer Showcase event, which celebrates the research being carried out by the College’s PhD students. The lab’s entry illustrates the different cellular response to the different drugs in artistic form and comes out of the lab’s new research, published in Nature Genetics this January. Below Ylenia describes the research behind the image.

“The hands represent different patients; one has no amplification of the aromatase gene (drawings on the right hand) and one has been offered a type of drug (white pill) that is different from the one (orange pill) being given to the patient that created more copies of the gene (intensified branched drawings on the left hand). With our research, we demonstrate that the choice of therapy has a fundamental influence on the genetic landscape of relapsed tumours. This is why we need to find a way to identify an increase in aromatase gene, early enough that women can be switched to a different drug therapy program before their cancer returns.”

Find out more about the breast cancer research happening in Dr Luca Magnami’s Lab.


Learning the Art of Communication

Jerusa presenting her abstract next to Professor Waljit Dhillo from Imperial College

On 12th – 14th July PhD student Jerusa Brignardello attended the 8th National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Infrastructure Doctoral Research Training Camp titled the Art of Communication. The specific aim of the event was to equip delegates with the skills and ability to successfully defend and communicate their research effectively with a range of people including fellow scientists, research funders, the media, patients and the public. Jerusa talks about her experiences of the training and why communication is so important.

“I believe that communication skills are essential to disseminate and communicate our research to different audiences, to make it accessible and understandable for everyone, also previous fellows who’d attended strongly encouraged me to participate. I learnt more communication skills, about how to deal with different types of media in different communication scenarios like TV, radio, simulated NIHR interview panels.”

“I’m working with samples from an NIHR project of one my supervisors Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez so was eligible to apply and after submitting my abstract to the Clinical Academic Training Office (CATO) I got a place to represent Imperial. I was selected to give an oral presentation at the event for which I received a Highly Commended MPHrp Presentation Award for my abstract called “The effect of dietary patterns on short chains fatty acids (SCFA) concentrations: A targeted approach.”

Jerusa receiving her diploma next to Dr Tony Soteriou, Head of Research Faculty Infrastructure and Growth, Science, Research and Evidence, Department of Health- NIHR and Dr Lisa Cotterill, Director, NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre

“In my PhD thesis, I’m studying how the consumption of different dietary patterns as healthy, unhealthy, vegan and omnivores are influencing the production and metabolism of diverse metabolites in the human body. I presented my preliminary data about short chains fatty acids (SCFA), which are the end products of microbial fermentation that play a key role in health and disease. My preliminary results have shown that these compounds can be modulated by diet and their production varied during the day.”

Why is communicating your research so important?

“Science communication is fundamental in all research fields and researchers are more exposed to media than before. This means that it is imperative to be trained properly to communicate effectively and make our work accessible to the public. Scientific experiments provide one small part of a puzzle that may help to explain one scientific problem. However, it is common to see scary headlines or panacea solutions for health problems in the tabloids or on TV. This is a serious issue, research distortion is a threat that can affect our scientific credibility generating a vicious circle of controversies and sneers between researchers and public.”

“In my field, nutrition is a topic commonly misused to engage susceptible people to believe in bogus diets without any scientific evidence behind it. For example, the case of the alkaline diet for the treatment of cancer. Science communication can solve and prevent this type of myths, providing an understanding of science that has to be extended to the society. Later on, science communication can help to bridge the gap between.”