Well done to all Principal Investigators in the Department who have recently been awarded research grants. Here is our monthly round-up of funding successes*.
Congratulations to members of the Department who have recently had their research findings published. Here’s our round-up of recent publication successes (19/11/19 -19/01/20).* (more…)
At the end of 2019, Head of Department, Professor George Hanna spoke at the National Women in Surgery Conference 2019 hosted by the UCL Surgical Society. Statistics from the Royal College of Surgeons show that only 12.9% of consultant surgeons are female (as of 2019), which is why events such as this are vital for showing medical students and foundation trainees across the country that surgery is an achievable target for a woman.
Chris Lattimer PhD, vascular surgeon and director of the Josef Pflug Vascular Laboratory, was presented with the v-WIN foundation SING award (Science, Innovation & New Generations) at the International Union of Phlebology in Kracow, Poland.
Congratulations to Layla Bolton Saghdaoui, a research nurse in vascular surgery at Imperial, who has been awarded a place on the NIHR Fellowship Programme. The programme will not only give her the skills she needs to complete a PhD, but will also take her around the world.
Taking maternity leave in an academic institution can often prove to be a bit of a Balancing Act. In our second piece in the series, Jennifer Simeon, who has worked in the Department of Surgery and Cancer as Postgraduate Education Administrator for over 5 years, talks about her experience of taking maternity leave as professional technical operational staff-member (PTO).
Tuesday 11th June saw the second installment of the Healthcare Professional Academic Group (HPAG) lunchtime seminars. 15 members of the group were in attendance for two hugely insightful talks from Professor Alison McGregor and Claire Leon Villapalos.
Alison is a Professor in Musculoskeletal Biodynamics and gave a talk entitled ‘Keeping Amputees on their feet’ highlighting her work with the Centre for Blast Injury Support at Imperial College London. A lot of the work is about understanding the long-term health of amputees and the challenges involved in this including stump health, back pain, ageing, well being, social integration, osteoporosis and employment. All of these being contributing factors involved when developing more advanced prototypes in prosthesis.
In individuals that wear stumps there are never-ending issues with infection and inability to wear them for long periods. As most amputees have no feeling in the limb to which the stump is attached to, they do not feel pain or pressure which overall leads to problems and worsening medical woes. With this fact in mind, the students within the Blast Unit have been working with a team from the Department of engineering on a smart socket prototype which includes sensors that can identify pain and pressure points. This sends signals to a mobile phone which can also give indication for adjustments and fit of the stump.
Olympic Medalist Dave Henson is one of the students involved in this, using his own experience of prosthesis within competitive sport as well as every day life really bridging the gap in sport, engineering and medical research. There is still some work to be done but the future looks bright for amputees.
Claire Leon Villapalos is an Honorary Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial and using her nursing background as a basis for research in safety in a clinical background. Her talk entitled ‘An exploration of the relationships between staff and perceptions of safety in adult intensive care (ICU) and staffing, patient and work environment characteristics’ reflected the research that she did to understand the perception of health and safety within a clinical environment and staff involvement. Most individuals would define safety as checks on surroundings or equipment but within a medical environment, staff safety and how safe they feel under low and high-risk circumstances in a huge every day challenge. In order to assess this, Claire set up a traffic light system in which staff were asked to tick red (least Safe), yellow (safety concerns) or green (mostly safe) during each shift; this was to try to understand the key factors that made staff less safe based on workload intensity, care hours per patient, number of patients in side rooms, level of patients medical needs. By the end of the research, there were a total od 2836 responses giving good gravitas to produce relevant findings. It was shown that staff actually felt safer with more acute patients, but findings show that there are more staff taking care of these patients compared to less acute which poses questions as to whether staffing models are more focused towards sicker patients. Stage two of this research involved a more structured interview process in order to get the views and highlight the good and bad points from all medical staff. Claire is to do further research to involve patients, families and equipment which in turn hopefully will attain further funding to hopefully change the dynamics in a crucial area of clinical work.
Both Alison and Claire got full engagement, and both had an influx of questions and further highlighted the impact of HPAG and the need to really support healthcare professionals who are such a fundamental part of medicine and research.
Next Seminar TBC for the Autumn.
Congratulations to Prof Francesca Cordeiro, who received the prestigious Duke Elder Award from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists at the their 2019 annual congress.
The Department of Surgery and Cancer has received their Athena SWAN Silver award after a long but successful application process. The application involved colleagues from across the Department but central to the success was the efforts of the People and Culture Committee.
Clinical Research Fellow, Meera Joshi, recently took part in the Graduate School’s Transformative Innovation Industry xChange retreat, a programme offering doctoral students the opportunity to participate in enhanced professional development through interaction with industry. Here, she briefly explains what the programme entails and the benefits of taking part.
Taking maternity leave in an academic institution can often prove to be a bit of a Balancing Act. In our first piece in the series we talk to Dr Véronique Azuara, Reader in Stem Cell Biology. She has been working in the Department of Surgery and Cancer for over 12 years and, in that time, she has taken two career breaks in the form of maternity leave. In this blog, she discusses her experience of balancing academic and home life, improvements in return to work support and importance of female mentors.
Working with industry, government or other external parties is a great way to test the impact of your expertise, discover real world challenges and ensure your research remains relevant. Consultancy gives you the chance to network and forge new opportunities for research and funding. Plus, real-world examples and lessons can be taken back to the classroom, improving your student’s experience and satisfaction.
The HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship is a new two-year award designed to equip clinicians with the skills and expertise required to develop a high-quality doctorate proposal, whilst remaining clinically active.
Speaking of her motivation in applying for this award Alison recalls:
“ I became a midwife to contribute to the improvement of women’s health. The ways in which we individually and collectively make big-picture contributions to improving women’s health while working clinically are not always clear. Working for several years in clinical research in the Women’s Health Research Centre, however, has connected me with the pathways and opportunities to now lead my own research.
My particular area of interest is around the transition that women make to motherhood and the way in which we support this transition as midwives, maternity care providers and as society. Bio-medical aspects of birth have become increasingly well-researched and I am keen to contribute to research on the broader anthropological issues influencing childbearing and to support women to collaboratively direct the course of maternity services through research.
In the first instance, I am interested in collaborating with women through a placement in the Patient Experience Research Centre, Imperial College. Through this I will develop my PhD project methodology seeking improvement and innovation around the wellbeing of women in childbearing. I am fortunate to have found two brilliant advisors, Professor Helen Ward here at Imperial College (Public Health and Patient Experience) and Professor Elsa Montgomery (Midwifery) at King’s College, London. I can’t wait to get started!”
This fellowship award will allow Alison to undertake a bespoke training package including; the development of her research interest around well-being and motherhood, key coursework, attend conferences, develop academic collaborations and ultimately prepare a competitive PhD application for future funding.
Around 150 people came together on Wednesday 10th October for the launch of the newly established Healthcare Professional Academic Group (HPAG). This group formed with input from the AHSC and CATO has been driven forward by Professor George Hanna of Surgery and Cancer and will be the academic hub in the Faculty of Medicine for clinical academics in the healthcare professions. Its mission is to grow the number of clinical academic leaders from across the Imperial College AHSC in nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, healthcare science and the allied health professions.
Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Director of the AHSC opened up the event making it clear the importance of addressing the challenges faced for healthcare professionals in research and the importance of this newly formed group. He also made it clear that a key focus and feature of the AHSC going forwards would be nursing, midwifery and AHP research.
Professor Janice Sigworth, Director of Nursing at Imperial NHS was the first up with her talk entitled ‘A Dream Come True’, an outline of her career and the work that she has done and her hopes for the future within nursing. With nursing being the largest group in the medical field, she made a clear point that is is vitally important to have more leaders and with the formation of the HPAG, the hope is that this becomes possible and that more people can be given the support they need to progress forwards.
Professor Pernilla Lagergren, Chair in Surgical Care Sciences (S&C) and Chair of the HPAG gave a hugely inspirational outline of her career in her talk ‘From Forest Girl to Professor’. Coming from a non-academic family, Pernilla started her career as a nurse to being a specialist nurse for oesophageal cancer patients. This then led her into the academic field and in 2004 started her PHD. Research being the key to open doors as a PHD student was a key factor in Pernilla starting her own group which is still a big part of her career to this day. At the age of 34, she became Professor Pernilla Lagergren. Pernilla really stressed on the fact that research is not a ‘one person show’, the involvement of many people together makes it work and with this people need to be recognised for their contributions and successes should be shared and celebrated (especially with cake).
Caroline Alexander, Lead Clinical Academic for Therapies in the Division of Medicine and Integrated Care gave an insight into the training research opportunities available for clinical staff. through Imperial College NHS and Imperials Clnical Academic Training Office (CATO); a whole range of support available.
After a break for tea and cake which gave a great opportunity for networking, session 2 of the event was opened up by Professor Mary Wells, Professor of Practice (Cancer Nursing, S&C) who introduced four healthcare professionals who spoke of their journey pursuing Clinical Academic careers; Calendra Feather, Research Nurse, Huw Woodbridge, Physiotherapist, Dr Gillian Chumbley, Consultant Nurse and Dr Lina Johanssen, Dietician and Clinical Lecturer. All four accounts completely different and challenging in their own ways but one clear similarity was spoken off, how it was not a straight road and very often a very lonely road to be on.
With some time to grow and with support, the HPAG looks bright for the future of healthcare professionals and this group is a really good opportunity to bridge the gap and provide the much needed support and guidance to those considering furthering their careers.
For further information on the HPAG, events, and how to become a member please visit their web page for more information.
Dr Pinar Ulug Pinar Ulug of the Vascular Surgery Research Group participated in the abstract competition at the 6th International Meeting on Aortic Diseases (IMAD), which took place from 12-14th September 2018 in Liège, Belgium.
Pinar’s e-poster, titled “Should we screen women for abdominal aortic aneurysm?” was selected by the organisers to be presented as a short communication in the main programme. She was awarded the Frank Lederle prize for best short communication on epidemiology of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
The work was presented from the SWAN (Screening Women for abdominal aortic ANeurysms) study, whose aim is to assess the feasibility of population screening in women, conducted by a team of researchers from Imperial (Professor Janet Powell and Pinar Ulug) and the Universities of Cambridge, Leicester and Brunel, and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). More information about the project, as well as the animation video used during the presentation is available from http://www.screeningaaawomen.com/
After an opening speech by Professor Lesley Regan, we welcomed award-winning radio and television broadcaster and journalist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to give this interesting and thought-provoking lecture taking us through the history and change in equality, diversity and inclusion up to the current day.
Yasmin, exiled from her birthplace, Uganda in 1972, which had led to interests in race, identity, health, exclusion and diversity. She has written for several newspapers including The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Evening Standard and The Mail and is now a regular columnist on The Independent. She is author of several books including No Place Like Home; Who do We think We Are?; Mixed Feelings and After Multiculturalism. Yasmin has ties with Imperial College and was co-chair of a major Imperial College/Health Trust research project on patient safety.
Closing remarks came from Professor Mark Thursz before a lunch spread allowed attendees to ask questions and discuss issues in further detail with Yasmin.