Friday, 18 December 2015

Double success for Regenerative Medicine partners

Two members of the Research Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine have received new grants through Keele’s partnership in the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine.

Dr Yvonne Reinwald (Left) & Dr Ying Yang (Right)
Dr Ying Yang has been awarded £29,999 fund for her project on Development of a novel assay to predict stemness potency and osteogenic potential in the bone marrow derived stem cells of individual donors. This project is investigating a facile technique to offer information for better cell-therapy.

Dr Yvonne Reinwald together with Prof Alicia El Haj, Dr Ying Yang, and Dr Pierre Bagnaninchi at Edinburgh University received £35,999 for a project of Online monitoring of mechanical properties of three-dimensional tissue engineered constructs for quality assessment. This project aims to develop a new real-time and non-destructive modality for living objectives before for clinical application.


The EPSRC Centre is a long-term collaboration between Loughborough, Keele and Nottingham universities, and a set of hospital and industrial partners in the Midlands. It has supported a range of cutting-edge research and training projects over the last five years.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Invited Talk at Groningen University

Dr. Ed Chadwick was recently invited to give a talk at the Centre for Human Movement Sciences, Groningen University, the Netherlands.

Ed is the Theme Lead for Rehabilitation Research at ISTM. His research aims to understand and restore upper limb function in neuromuscular disorders such as spinal cord injury and stroke. One of his main tools is computer modelling, which allows him to investigate pathologies and design interventions in silico.

His invited talk focused on his modelling work, and the role it can play in understanding movement and designing assistive devices. He described the state of the art in shoulder modelling, and gave two examples of innovative use of modelling by his group: estimation of dynamic shoulder stability, and design of neuroprosthetic systems for spinal cord injury.

The audience of about 100 people consisted of medical students, biomedical engineers and human movement scientists. His talk was very well received, and was described as informative and entertaining.

Dr. Ed Chadwick (left) and Dr. Alessio Murgia 
in front of the Martinitoren in Groningen

While in Groningen, Ed had the opportunity to visit the laboratories at the Centre for Human Movement Sciences, meet several researchers, and discuss plans for collaboration with his host, Dr. Alessio Murgia. He also had a tour of the historic city of Groningen, including the Martinitoren, a 500-year old church steeple and Groningen’s tallest building.

Monday, 7 December 2015

ISTM PhD student recognised in national Parkinson’s research competition

‘Blazing Neurons’ by George Joseph
This remarkable image, taken by Keele postgraduate research student, George Joseph, has been recognised in ‘Picturing Parkinson’s’, a national competition held by Parkinson’s UK to celebrate the beauty and art in the research they fund.

George, ISTM & School of Computing and Mathematics, was shortlisted for his image ‘Blazing Neurons’, which depicts the complexity of developing brain cells. His research investigates the environmental elements that contribute to growing stem cells for therapeutic treatments for people with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s UK funded researcher George said: "I’m extremely flattered to be recognised by Parkinson’s UK and excited to share my research in a different way. I’m very lucky as not everyone gets to go to work and see amazing things like this on a daily basis.”

The annual competition is held in memory of scientist Dr Jonathan Stevens, who had Parkinson’s and passed away at the age of 34 in 2013. 127,000 people are living with Parkinson’s in the UK – and there is currently no cure. Parkinson’s UK has invested more than £70million in ground-breaking Parkinson’s research to improve treatments and find a cure.

Parkinson’s UK Director of Research Dr Arthur Roach said of the winners: “Irish writer Jonathan Swift once said vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others – this is what our Parkinson’s researchers are doing each day in the lab, discovering new scientific breakthroughs and taking us closer to a cure.

“It’s great that our researchers unpick the complexities of Parkinson’s science and provide images that give us a different perspective on how we’re working to develop new and better treatments. They prove that science is beautiful.”

George's supervisory team is Theo Kyriacou, Rose fricker and Paul Roach, with funding support from the EPSRC CDT in regenerative medicine.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Czech visitors check in to ISTM

The Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine welcomed visitors from the Czech Republic for collaborative work on Select Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry. As one of the leading centres for applications of trace gas analysis, ISTM has worked in long term collaboration with the J Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry, part of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

Prof Patrik Španel, who chairs the Board at the J Heyrovský Institute and is also Keele’s Professor of Chemical Physics, was accompanied by postdoctoral scientists Dr Kristýna Sovová, a chemist, and Dr Violet Shestivska, a biologist, who are both interested in the use of SIFT-MS technology in the monitoring of cell growth. They conducted a series of discussions and experiments during their visit and were accompanied by ISTM's Prof David Smith.

Dr Violet Shestivska, Dr Kristýna Sovová, Prof Patrik Španel and Prof David Smith FRS in the SIFT-MS laboratory at the Guy Hilton Research Centre (Mark Smith)


Monday, 30 November 2015

ISTM Translate - Issue 3: Rehabilitation

The latest issue of the ISTM Translate magazine is now available in digital and print format.  The theme focus for this issue is rehabilitation.

http://www.joomag.com/magazine/translate/0526937001445596107

There are contributions from Dr Dimitra Blana, Dr Ed Chadwick, Professor Peter Ogrodnik, Professor Anand Pandyan, Dr Claire Stapleton and Dr Caroline Stewart, among others.  Articles include...
  • Long term results in novel surgery:  Improving walking in children with cerebral palsy
  • Moving forward in partnership:  Updating the clinical biomechanics & movement lab
  • The Internet of Orthopaedics:  Developing a faster and cheaper alternative to fracture clinics
  • Personalising rehabilitation:  Computer models designing personalised interventions
  • Visualising blood flow:  Working towards a clinical tool using ultrasound
  • Rehabilitation Science Launches Innovative, new programme
  • Spotlight:  The people behind ISTM
  • Global outlook:  Developing closer ties with Saudi Arabia
  • Local outreach:  Promoting research in the local community
By clicking here you can access the online digital version of Translate Issue 3.  Alternatively you can request a paper copy by contacting:
Joseph Clarke (+44 (0)1782 674998  |  j.clarke@keele.ac.uk) 


Thursday, 19 November 2015

MAGNEURON project attracts €750,000 to Keele

Dr Neil Telling, Prof Alicia El Haj and Dr Rosemary Fricker.

A new funding award to the Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine through the Horizon FET–OPEN programme aims to tackle neurodegenerative diseases, using innovative cell replacement therapies. Titled “Hijacking cell signalling pathways with magnetic nanoactuators for remote-controlled stem cell therapies of neurodegenerative disorders", the 4-year project is known by the short name "MAGNEURON”. Co-ordinated by Dr Maxime Dahan at the Marie Curie Institute in Paris, MAGNEURON is one of only 11 projects funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 program out of 650 applications that supports early-stages of the science and technology research and innovation around new ideas towards radically new future technologies. The aim of the project is to introduce and apply a fundamentally new concept for remote control of cellular functions by means of magnetic manipulation of nanoparticles functionalised with proteins involved in key cellular signalling cascades. This technology has been developed within ISTM for orthopaedic applications and this new project explores applications in the field of brain repair following degenerative diseases.

The project lead by Prof Alicia El Haj collaborates with Dr Neil Telling and Dr Rosemary Fricker who together bring world-leading expertise in regenerative medicine, nanosciences and neurobiology. Other partners contributing international expertise in physical chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics are the University of Osnabrueck and University of the Ruhr, both in Germany, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Efficient Innovation, which are both in France.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Health Foundation grant to improve scan results

The Health Foundation’s Innovating for Improvement Programme has made a grant of £74,996 to Dr Fahmy Hanna and Prof Tony Fryer to improve the way unexpected test results are handled in the NHS.
Dr Fahmy Hanna
The three-year study focusses on Adrenal Incidentalomas, or AIs. As scanning with CT and MRI becomes more common, unexpected additional masses called AIs are increasingly being discovered. Whilst some may not need further testing and require no treatment, others could develop into cancer.

The team based at University Hospital of North Midlands Diabetes and Endocrinology Department will work in partnership with the University Hospital of South Manchester, and aims to find a new way of working that could be used across hospitals all over the UK.


Professor Anthony Fryer
Prof Fryer, Keele’s chair of Clinical Biochemistry in ISTM since 2008, said: “There is currently no recognised pathway for treating people with AI and it varies from hospital to hospital. This is a really innovative research project in that it could potentially change practice in the NHS because it is looking at ensuring the right tests are done at the right time and the right people get the information they need to help their patient.”

A new practical system to improve ways of working will be developed with a key innovation of an electronic management system (eAIMS) built in so that the project could then be rolled out in other NHS organisations.

Dr Hanna, Keele Honorary Clinical Lecturer and a UHNM Consultant and Endocrinologist said: “At UHNM there has been a four-fold increase in the number of scans over the last few years. The main benefit of having an electronic results system is that we hope to reduce what is an extremely stressful situation for patients who have found themselves in a potentially nightmare scenario of having a test for one condition that has then found something else for them to worry about.”


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Medical Institute 50th Anniversary Research Awards

At an evening presentation as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, the North Staffordshire Medical Institute announced the results of its competition to support two high quality research proposals to be undertaken in North Staffordshire. The funding totalling almost £0.5million comes from a generous legacy to the Institute.

LtoR - Prof Shaughn O'Brien (Newly elected NSMI Chairman) , Prof Alicia El Haj,
Dr Nicholas Forsyth, Mr Duncan Gough,(past NSMI chairman) & Dr Mohammed Harris
Prof Mamas Mamas, Keele’s newly appointed Professor of Cardiology in ISTM, leads a project submitted by the Cardiovascular Research Group, which was awarded £249,983. Entitled “Major bleeding complications following acute myocardial infarction, site, frequency and impact; insight from a national and primary care perspective”, the work will use national heart attack registry data that captures all heart attack admissions to NHS hospitals in the UK, plus analysis of post admission events in primary care in Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester. The team includes Profs Umesh Kadam and Kelvin Jordan from Keele, Prof Iain Buchan and Drs Evangelos Kontopantelis and Matthew Sperrin from the Farr Institute in Manchester.

Dr Nick Forsyth, ISTM, leads a group comprising Prof Monica Spiteri, Dr Mohammed F Haris from UHNM’s Respiratory Directorate, and Prof Alicia El Haj and Dr Ying Yang at the Guy Hilton Research Centre for “A tissue engineering approach to improve lung function and clinical outcome in patients with emphysema”, awarded £249,659. The restoration of normal lung tissue will be achieved by using novel biologically-compatible materials to fill the emphysematous air sacs, displacing trapped air and allowing restoration of normal breathing cycles.

Dr Shing Kwok (Centre left) & Prof Umesh Kadam (Right) receiving their award from
Prof Shaughn O'Brien (Left) and Mr Duncan Gough (Centre Right)
On the same evening a presentation was made to Dr Susan Sherman, School of Psychology, awarded a grant of £8,511. The award for Keele University medical student best overall performance in year 2 2014/15 went to Sara Day and Keele University medical student best overall performance in year 4 OSCE 2014/15 was given to Michael Eastwood.

The NSMI Research Awards Committee has increased the upper limit for its grants to pump-prime medical research projects to £20,000 per project, the closing date for peer-reviewed applications is 27 November, details at: http://nsmedicalinstitute.co.uk/grant-applications-2/.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Epilogue: ISTM Women in Engineering

Motivated by National Women in Engineering Day, I started a series of interviews with female engineers in our Research Institute. I have since talked to five inspiring women who have described what they love about their work, what attracted them to it, and their thoughts on encouraging young people and especially girls into engineering. 

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to raise the profile of women in STEM by encouraging people to talk about the women whose work they admire. I hope that the ISTM Women in Engineering series illustrates the fulfilling lives and successful careers that women can achieve in STEM. 

"Ada Lovelace portrait" by Alfred Edward Chalon 

Ada Lovelace herself is a great inspiration for me, since she is considered the first computer programmer, a century before modern computers. Ada made the conceptual leap from a calculator to a general computer that could do anything with the right program and inputs. 

I use computers to model the human muscular system, to find out how our bodies move, and design treatments to address movement difficulties. Computers allow me to try things out that would otherwise be impossible (what would happen if I removed this muscle?!) If Ada were alive today, I think that she would have been thrilled to see computers used this way. And she’d probably set about improving my code...


Here are the interviews included in the ISTM Women in Engineering series:

Introduction

Professor Alicia El Haj

Dr. Caroline Stewart

Dr. Hareklea Markides

Professor Divya Maitreyi Chari

Dr. Yvonne Reinwald


ISTM Women in Engineering: Dr. Yvonne Reinwald

The last post in our series comes on Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Dr. Yvonne Reinwald is a Research Associate in Regenerative Medicine, and is keen to inspire young people to choose a career in STEM. She is a STEM Ambassador, and is involved with the HEART (Healthcare Engineering and Regenerative Therapies) Outreach group.




You work in Regenerative Medicine. What does that mean?

Regenerative Medicine is an interdisciplinary field combining tissue engineering approaches with biology, molecular biology, materials engineering, bio-and chemical engineering, but also medical imaging and clinical therapies with the aim to develop novel treatments for patients to regenerate tissue function or replace damaged tissues.

In recent years, researchers have developed numerous cell delivery and biomaterial strategies to treat impaired tissue function. My research interest lies in the translation of these newly developed therapies into the clinic and/or manufacturing site in order to make them accessible to the patient. For the last four years I have been working on research projects funded by the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine and our industrial collaborators to develop bioreactor technologies for clinical application. I love working together with researchers from different disciplines as part of a multi-disciplinary team. My research involves mathematicians, physicists, biologists, bioengineers and manufacturing engineers. I also travel a lot to attend national and international conferences and visit collaborators in their laboratories. In addition, I have the opportunity to supervise, train and teach students - something which I really enjoy. Hopefully one day, the therapies that we researchers are developing in the laboratories can actually benefit patients.


What is an exciting project you are working on at the moment? 

At the moment I am working on a project which aims to develop novel strategies to grow mature cartilage for cartilage regeneration, in collaboration with researchers from Manchester University and Edinburgh University. We use bioreactor technologies to help stem cells develop into cartilage-specific cells and form mature cartilage tissue. At the same time we are developing novel imaging techniques to test whether the cells and tissue that we are growing in our laboratories are healthy and mature.

For me this means that on a day-to-day basis I plan and carry out experiments and analyse data I collect. I will then use these data to write reports and scientific articles, but also present the results at conferences. In addition, I also supervise and train students in the laboratory and support them with their research and studies.


How did you become a Post-doctoral Researcher in Regenerative Medicine?

When I was at school I always loved biology and chemistry, a bit of maths and physics and I knew I wanted to do something that gives me the chance to combine all these fields. I then decided to study for a degree in Medical Biotechnology, and while doing various placements to gain experience I had the opportunity to work in the field of tissue engineering. I loved the idea of creating novel therapies for tissue regeneration, being able to help patients with devastating diseases and trying to make a difference to their lives. Therefore, I continued my study and pursued a PhD in Tissue Engineering from the University of Nottingham. In order to combine my love for academic research with clinical and industrial research I joined the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine at Keele University in 2011 and have since worked in the Regenerative Medicine research group under the supervision of Professor Alicia El Haj.


How can we encourage more women to work in engineering?

I think one of the most important aspects is education. We have to teach students that engineering is really fun and that there is no need to be afraid of maths and physics, or tools and oily overalls. Engineering is so much more. Engineering encompasses so many different disciplines and there is a field of interest for everyone, whether you want to work in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or bioengineering. As a STEM ambassador and through the organisation of school visits I hope to inspire young people to take up a career in a science or engineering discipline.

I also believe that mentoring through role models is an important aspect if we want to encourage more women to work in engineering. Throughout the years I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with very successful women whom I consider as role models. These women have shown me that it is possible to have a career in engineering and at the same time take part in an active family life.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Novel biomarker approach predicts patient outcome in bladder cancer


In exciting new published work, researchers in the ISTM and in collaborations with groups in the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, have for the first time identified specific methylation-biomarkers that reliably predict disease outcome in high-grade bladder cancers.

Dr Mark Kitchen
The particular bladder cancers investigated have unpredictable outcomes with many recurring or becoming more aggressive and where some patients succumbing to disease within one year of initial diagnosis. The Epigenetics Research group within ISTM looked for epigenetic modification to DNA derived from a unique cohort of these tumours that were collected at initial diagnosis. The studies identified several key genes, representing a unique epigenetic- signature that reliably predicted disease outcome.

Mark Kitchen, a urology registrar at the University Hospitals of North Midlands, and first author of the publication, performed these innovative studies in part fulfillment toward his PhD thesis and within ISTM. He said thee findings may help guide patient treatment despite the highly unpredictable nature of this disease and that further investigation, including validation in larger patient cohorts are required to confirm and extend these findings.

The study was funded by a Urology Trust Fund grant, the North Staffordshire Medical Institute and Institution funding. The authors of the publication, from several institutions and geographic locations are, Mark Kitchen, Rik Bryan, Kim Haworth, Richard Emes, Chris Luscombe, Lyndon Gommersall, KK Cheng, Maurice Zeegers, Nick James, Adam Devall, Tony Fryer and William Farrell.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Phytochemical Society of North America - Poster award

Written by Okiemute Rosa Johnson-Ajinwo, ISTM PhD student.

Okiemute Rosa Johnson-Ajinwo receiving her award.
It all began in December 2014, when I was taking stock of my research work for the year and planning what my thesis would look like. I had submitted my skeleton thesis to my Lead supervisor, Dr Wen-wu Li and my co-supervisor, Dr Alan Richardson. Then a thought flashed into my mind, “could you attend a conference in North America, where there is so much research on-going in your field of interest (Phytochemistry).”

In January 2015, I stumbled upon The Phytochemical Society of North America, (PSNA) online. What caught my attention was that this society had a lot of distinguished scholars in my field as its long-standing members. The membership for a student is $20 and for a non-student member is $40 annually, which I thought were very affordable and commendable.

The venue of the conference, Illinois, was equally important. Notable achievements of the university include an outstanding record of 22 Noble Prize Winners, the World’s largest public library and the Blue Waters and the petaflop supercomputer: capable of 13 quadrillion calculations/second. This sparked up my interest for participation, but the next hurdle was how to fund this activity!

Together with Dr Li, we considered several options for funding and most importantly putting forth an application for the KPA Bursary. I applied for the highly coveted KPA Bursary and my application was successful. Having secured funding, I sent in two abstracts, titled: “Design, Synthesis, Drug-Likeness and Anti-Ovarian Cancer Activity of Thymoquinone Analogues” (accepted as a poster presentation) and “Anti-Malarial activities of Margaritaria discoidea and other Nigerian Medicinal plants” (accepted as an oral presentation).

The conference was well-organized, and had participants from Canada, the United States, Mexico and parts of Asia, Europe and South America. The meeting featured about 85 posters, fifteen key speakers, 1 Elsevier award speaker and three Neish award speakers. During the award ceremony, a notable scholar, Prof. Richard Nixon, was awarded, the Pioneer award for 2015. I won the PSNA Best Poster Award and the Frank and Mark Loewus Travel Award.

Unlike other meetings I have attended, where the poster judges simply browse through the posters and then make their decisions in private, this meeting specifically allocated 1hr: 30mins to interview the presenters of the posters. I was asked various questions about my research, the extent of work carried out by myself for the presentation, future plans, intentions for patent and professional aspirations.

This meeting afforded me the opportunity to interact with other professionals in my field outside the UK. Also I established some important networks and got some valuable contacts and inputs for my present research and continued professional development.

A highlight of the presentations made was the astounding presentation by Lloyds Sumner, of NOBLE Foundation, “Large-scale, computational and empirical UHPLC-MS-SPE-NMR annotation of plant metabolomes”. Following up from the meeting was an invitation to write a review in a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. Li and I have titled the proposed work; “Review of the Chemistry and Anti-Malarial activity of the plant family Euphorbiaceae”.

Monday, 21 September 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering: Professor Divya Maitreyi Chari


For this month's ISTM Women in Engineering post, I was delighted to talk to Professor Divya Chari. I first got to know Prof. Chari as the lead of the INSPIRE programme, an Academy of Medical Sciences/Wellcome Trust-funded programme designed to enable medical students to engage with academic research. This is just one of her many roles, that include Theme Lead of the Neuroscience Research Group in ISTM, and Director of Internationalization for the School of Medicine.




You work in Neural Tissue Engineering. What does that mean?

Neural tissue engineering is a relatively new field and a sub-branch of the wider field of Tissue Engineering. It applies engineering principles to develop better materials, devices and cell therapies for the repair of neurological injury and disease, and to enhance the function of neural tissue.

What do you do day-to-day?

I run a laboratory that primarily works on developing methods for better cell therapies for use in neurological injury. For example, new ways to genetically engineer neural transplant cells to augment their repair capacity and protected cell delivery systems for enhanced transplant survival. We are currently very excited to be working on a project to develop an implantable system to deliver a population of cells called olfactory ensheathing cells, to sites of spinal cord injury in dogs. We are working closely with veterinary surgeons in Bristol and the United States to develop the project, and the chances of being able to implant these into dogs that have naturally incurred spinal injuries is high. I enjoy the highly translational and practical elements of the job.

However, my work is also particularly interesting because I concurrently hold major roles at the School of Medicine, particularly in the development of research opportunities for medical students. I was recently appointed Director of Internationalisation for the medical school, and have been developing partnership opportunities in Brazil. I personally want a diverse job with multiple challenges that involves travel, so I feel uniquely privileged to have one that allows me to visit a hospital in a small Brazilian town in the morning, and write a stem cell paper in the afternoon. And pays me to do it!


Researchers in Prof. Chari's lab. Clockwise from top left: Jackie Tickle (PhD student), Arwa Al Shakli (PhD student, Iraqi MOHESR Scheme), Chris Adams and Dr Stuart Jenkins (both: former PhD students and EPSRC E-TERM fellows)


How did you become a Professor in Neural Tissue Engineering?

I have a PhD in Developmental Neurobiology and my postdoctoral work was in the area of neural transplantation in situations where the insulating sheath around nerve cells is destroyed (diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis). I won a scholarship to come from India to England, for my PhD in Oxford. Once I finished I moved to Cambridge University and held a Multiple Sclerosis Society Junior fellowship there from 2003. By the end, I was very tired and stressed with the uncertainty of contract research positions, so focused hard on securing a lectureship. Keele had a new medical school and was looking for researchers in my area so it was a good fit. It was also one of the institutions at the forefront of Tissue Engineering, and gave me the chance to interact with chemists and engineers. This suddenly gave me lots of new ideas for my own work, and I have really enjoyed developing a highly multidisciplinary and translational programme of work for neural transplantation. However, I don’t have any engineering training as such, I have taught myself as I have gone along, and met lots of people in the Physical Sciences who were kind enough to explain things to me from scratch. I would like to do a Masters in Biomedical Engineering, the problem is finding the time.

I don’t think I have faced any direct discrimination or major challenges being a woman in science. I made the conscious decision not to have children, which has meant that I do face fewer challenges day to day trying to reconcile work and home life. I think the biggest issue is lack of mentorship for women in traditionally male-dominated fields. This can lead to women suffering from a lack of confidence and a bit of an ‘outsider’ complex. I myself have felt on occasion that I was excluded from male cliques where opportunities were made available to men at my stage, but not me. However, there is a huge push to support women in STEM subjects at the moment, and the scientific community is more aware than ever of the challenges women face, so I personally can’t complain.

What advice would you give a girl considering a career in engineering?

I think I would give her the same advice I give any young person: find your passion and follow your heart. A career in science is a long and hard slog, where you will inevitably face many challenges and setbacks, so you really have to want to go down this path. I sought a lot of advice at the early stages, and some of it was helpful, but after a while there were so many contradictory opinions and views that it created too much conflict in my mind. So in the end, I ignored a lot of conventional advice and expectations, and tried to make my own way. It has been very hard and stressful at times, but I would not change anything, as I have had a fantastic time setting up my own lab and helping develop the new medical school. The key piece of advice I would give female scientists though, is to stop thinking of themselves as ‘women in science’, focus on being the best and most innovative researcher they can be, and compete accordingly. Things usually fall into place after this.

Monday, 14 September 2015

International advances in tissue engineered cartilage: a BBSRC-funded research visit to Columbia University, New York City, USA

Writen by Dr James Henstock

Dr James Hestock
My BBSRC-funded postdoctoral research project in ISTM has allowed me huge scope to pursue my interest in the role of mechanical stimuli in tissue regeneration and to investigate how physical activity is instrumental in maintaining bone and joint health.

A major focus of my research is to grow replacement bone and cartilage in the lab which can be transplanted back into patients as functional tissue – a process that may be set to revolutionise the treatment of osteoarthritis over the next decade. In this research, healthy cells are taken from a patient as a biopsy and cultured in a biomaterial hydrogel in the lab before being returned as viable ‘tissue engineered’ cartilage to the surgeon for repairing the degenerated joint.

This process is a complex biological and engineering challenge, and has been shown to be strongly influenced by the effects of mechanical stimulation on the cultured cells. If the tissue grown in the lab senses exercise the cells react by forming an enhanced biological structure (a complex mix of proteins and polysaccharides) that gives cartilage its strength and natural resilience. A leading expert in this field is Professor Clark T. Hung at Columbia University in New York, and I was eager to talk to Clark and learn some of his techniques for engineering lab-grown cartilage. 

Clark T. Hung’s Cellular Engineering Laboratory group at Columbia University, New York City 

BBSRC-funded researchers are eligible to apply for small travel awards that allow for short periods of research or study overseas (the International Scientific Interchange Scheme), and so I successfully applied for funding to visit Columbia University in Manhattan. During the three months I studied in Clark’s lab I learned a number of new techniques for generating and analysing lab-grown cartilage - skills which I have transferred back to the UK and used to conduct novel research combining the expertise and technology from both institutions.

My experience of working at Columbia University was incredible, and in addition to study and research I was able to explore New York and experience living in this amazing city. Following my initial visit, I fully intend to apply for a larger independent research grant to pursue a transatlantic programme of joint research.

Alma Mater and the Butler Library, Columbia University campus

International collaboration is now a fundamental principle in research, with academics participating in a global arena for sharing experience and generating novel ideas. I am extremely grateful to the BBSRC for funding this visit, and for their continuing support of postdoctoral researchers in developing transferrable skills and sustained career development. BBSRC also have a Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Panel which has a LinkedIn group that I’d recommend all BBSRC-funded postdocs to actively participate in. As postdoctoral progression becomes ever more competitive, knowing about travel, funding and training opportunities is hugely important in maximising career potential.

I would also like to thank Professor Alicia El Haj, my supervisor at Keele for supporting me in this research visit, and Clark’s research team at Columbia for including me in their lab group. Please feel free to contact me by email, and also visit the lab group webpages for more interesting articles about our research.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Double bursary success for ISTM medical intercalator

ISTM's Alex Delaney awardedtwo prestigious bursaries
Medical student, Alex Delaney, who will commence an intercalated research degree with Professor Divya Chari, ISTM in September 2015, has been awarded two prestigious intercalated bursaries totaling £10K from the Comparative Clinical Science Foundation and Wolfson Foundation (Royal College of Physicians). The project will be conducted in collaboration with veterinary neurosurgeon Dr Nicolas Granger at the Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences. The goal is to establish a protected, implantable system within jelly-like substances called 'hydrogels', to deliver important canine transplant cells (called olfactory ensheathing cells) into sites of naturally occurring spinal cord injury in dogs. The project was highly commended and Alex said " I am delighted and grateful for these awards to support my intercalation year, which will allow me to gain valuable experience/skills benefitting my future aspiration to become a clinical academic".

Sunday, 23 August 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering: Dr Hareklea Markides


Dr. Hareklea Markides is a post-doctoral researcher in Tissue Engineering, working in the Regenerative Medicine research group at ISTM. She studied for her PhD at the Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine, a partnership between Loughborough, Keele and Nottingham Universities, together with industrial and clinical partners.




You work in Tissue Engineering. What does that mean?

Tissue Engineering is a pioneering field which aims to utilise engineering principles to develop novel strategies to replace and regenerate human cells, tissues and organs in order to restore normal function. The field thrives on the cross collaboration of multiple disciplines to develop tissue engineering approaches to achieve these goals. It harnesses the tools and knowledge developed by material scientists, molecular biologists, engineers and clinicians for the design and development of cellular therapies to treat a broad range of diseases and conditions. The field has experienced several exciting breakthroughs over the years; for example, the development of the first functioning human tissue engineered trachea.

My personal research interests lie in developing technologies to enable research to move out of the lab and closer to the patient. One of the more crucial issues facing tissue engineers at the moment is the ability to control and monitor cells after they have been implanted in the body. I am therefore working in a group where we aim to develop magnetic nanoparticle - based technologies to achieve this. My work involves a lot of trial and error and even more troubleshooting - which I love!! Every day is a challenge and the great thing is that the solution can come from anywhere, from a visit to the mechanical workshop to an elaborate modelling program. The multidisciplinary nature of my work also mean that I am able to collaborate with other research groups which gets me out of the lab and interacting with people on a daily basis. My hope is that one day my work will enable a wide range of therapies to cross over to the clinical side and therefore help patients with debilitating diseases.


What is an exciting project you are working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on an exciting project to develop a magnetic nanoparticle - based approach to treat sever bone injuries. By attaching and manipulating magnetic nanoparticles tagged to stem cells with an external magnetic field we are able to direct these cells to become bone cells after they have been implanted in the body. This therefore promotes repair of the damaged bone and with time function will be restored. This is a really innovative solution to a long-standing challenge and so by proving that this works for bone can really pave the way for this technology to be used in other tissue engineering areas such as cartilage and tendon repair. This really motivates me every day to carry on and persevere with my research.


How did you become a Post-doctoral Researcher in Tissue Engineering?

One of my very first lectures at University (UCL, Biochemical Engineering) was given by Professor Chris Mason, a cardiothoracic surgeon who had hung up his stethoscope for the promise of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. During his lecture, he played a YouTube video featuring a group in the USA who had developed a biological substance that when applied to a severed fingertip, successfully encouraged regrowth. This he explained was tissue engineering. I was sold!!

 Fast forward 4 years and I found myself enrolling into the Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine (Loughborough, Nottingham and Keele Universities). This programme aims to train engineers and life scientists of all backgrounds to contribute to the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine field. My cohort included physicists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, biochemical & chemical engineers, chemists, computer scientists and even mathematicians. We were encouraged to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during our undergraduate training to biological scenarios to create solutions and technologies that would progress the field – I felt that this was the best of both worlds for me; utilising my training as an engineer whilst contributing to an emerging field. 

 The programme offered a foundation year where fundamental tissue engineering principles were introduced which would set us up well for our PhDs. During this foundation year, it became very apparent that my main interest was in orthopaedic tissue engineering, as I found elements of biomechanics fascinating. I completed my PhD at Keele University where I developed a protocol to track cells after they have been implanted in the body using magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic resonance imaging. Following on from this, I accepted a postdoctoral role within the same group to translate an established protocol from the lab to the clinic.


What advice would you give a young person considering a career in engineering?

To a woman thinking of a career in engineering, I would say to definitely go for it – it is no longer a man’s world, it’s not all about nuts and bolts, and it’s certainly not boring. I hope that I have demonstrated how engineering can open doors and that it can really be applied in almost any field. I would also say that it’s really important to surround yourselves with aspiring female engineers to learn how to balance life, family and work. I am very fortunate to have been supervised and mentored by a leading female figure in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, Professor Alicia El Haj. Working with Alicia has shown me that women are able to reach high positions without sacrificing the all-important family life.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Melissa Mather - ISTM's New Professor of Biomedical Imaging

I was born in Brisbane, Australia and had an interest in science from an early age. At university I undertook a Science degree (Physics Major, Maths Minor) at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Outside of university I was a member of the Young Scientists of Australia, which saw me deliver science demonstrations at schools and run a 5 day science summer school for secondary school students. I was also a volunteer at the Brisbane Science Museum and travelled to outback Queensland to volunteer on a Science and Technology train, the highlight of which was getting to drive the train!

ISTM's new Professor of Biomedical Imaging, Melissa Mather

My postgraduate studies were carried out in the Centre for Medical and Health Physics, QUT where I developed an ultrasound technique for imaging radiation dose distributions in three dimensional soft tissue phantoms. Following completion of my PhD I moved to the UK to take up a research position at the University of Nottingham developing ultrasonic techniques for characterisation of solid-in-liquid suspensions and the detection of phase transitions in supercritical fluids. I soon realised I was not inspired by slurries and took up research in the field of Regenerative Medicine where I worked on the development of sensing and monitoring techniques of Regenerative Medicine products. In 2011 I was awarded an EPRSC Career Acceleration Fellowship and in 2013 I was appointed as the Engineering lead and Deputy Director of the Institute of Biophysics, Imaging and Optical Science.

In August 2015 I moved to Keele University to take up my current post as Professor of Biomedical Imaging. I am very keen to apply my expertise in the discovery, development and translation of novel non-invasive imaging tools with a particular focus on optical, ultrasound and opto-acoustic techniques for studying samples ranging from proteins to native tissue. My move to ISTM offers me an excellent opportunity to move my work closer to the clinic by providing access to a broader range of imaging modalities (e.g. PET, MRI) and to further expand my work in the development of imaging technologies to address unmet clinical needs and deliver high impact research.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Introducing ISTM's Recently Appointed Professor of Cardiology, Mamas Mamas

My name is Professor Mamas Mamas and I was recently appointed as a Professor in Cardiology at Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine (ISTM). I am also based at the Royal Stoke University Hospital working as an honorary consultant cardiologist. 

ISTM's recently appointed Professor of Cardiology, Mamas Mamas
Coronary heart disease is the common most cause of cardiovascular disease in the world and accounts for 74,000 deaths in the UK each year. Inflammatory processes within the coronary artery wall lead to the development of atherosclerosis, resulting in narrowing of the coronary artery resulting in an insufficient blood supply to the heart. Occasionally, a blood clot may also develop within the inflamed wall of the coronary artery obstructing the vessel and resulting in a “heart attack” in which the heart muscle is irreversibly damaged.

I am an interventional cardiologist whose role is to treat such patients with coronary artery disease both in the elective outpatient and the emergency heart attack setting through the deployment of metal tubes called stents into the narrowed / blocked coronary arteries thereby restoring blood flow in the diseased vessel. This procedure is called percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI.

My research interest focuses around the complications that occur during such PCI procedures, in particular major bleeding complications. Major bleeding can occur in upto 10% of all PCI procedures and our work has shown that major bleeding is independently associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events. My research group has shown that it might not only be the bleeding event itself that is associated with poor outcomes, but also how we treat the bleed, such as the use of judicious blood transfusions.

Using the British Cardiovascular Interventional Society dataset, that records data from every PCI procedure undertaken in the UK from 2006 onwards with over ½ million patient records, my research group’s work focuses on identifying the types of patients that are at high risk from sustaining such bleeding complications, how the prognostic impact of such bleeding events vary according to the site of the bleeding and the characteristics of the patient that it occurs in, as well as how we can undertake PCI procedures more safely to minimise such bleeding events. Using this dataset, my group has shown that changing the site through which we do these PCI procedures can reduce major bleeding by 60% and that this is associated with a 30% reduction in mortality, that we estimate has contributed to 400 lives saved in the UK in the past 6 years. Over the next couple of years, my research group aims to develop risk stratification tools that can accurately predict the risk of developing major bleeding complications in patients undergoing PCI, so that interventional cardiologists such as myself can tailor our interventional and pharmacological approaches to the individual patient depending on their calculated bleeding risk.

Whilst we have studied bleeding events that occur in the hospital setting post PCI, less is known about what happens to patients post discharge into primary care, how common bleeding events are in this setting, their prognostic impact and how such bleeding events are managed by general practitioners. My research group aims to use routinely collected GP data to provide further insight into major bleeding in the primary care setting, to identify patients at risk from such bleeding events and develop evidence based guidance to GPs that will enable patients who sustain such bleeding events to be treated safely, without exposing them to excess risks of developing blood clots.

Friday, 24 July 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering: Dr. Caroline Stewart


Dr. Caroline Stewart is a Senior Research Fellow in ISTM, and the manager of the Orthotic Research and Locomotor Assessment Unit (ORLAU) at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Oswestry. Caroline and I share an interest in exploring problems in human movement, and I was very excited to talk to her about her work and career in engineering.





You work in Bioengineering. What does that mean?

Bioengineering brings together people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds. I originally trained as a mechanical engineer and now I work with doctors, therapists, other engineers, computer scientists and life scientists. Our main aim is to use technology to come up with innovative ways of assessing and treating people with many different health problems and disabilities.

My main interest is in walking. It’s an activity most people take for granted, but it is surprising how much we still don’t understand. That is particularly true when you start to investigate the problems patients have with their walking. I’m interested in all kinds of questions. Why do patients with arthritis wear out their joints? Does orthopaedic surgery help children with cerebral palsy to walk better? Can we design better splints and artificial limbs to allow our patients to be more mobile? Is it possible to build computer models to help us to understand how patients walk?

I enjoy bioengineering because it is a field where you have to solve problems. Very often there are no standard answers and when there are they don’t always fit the patients you see in clinic.


What do you do day-to-day?

For four days each week I work in ORLAU at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, where I am employed as a Clinical Scientist. ORLAU assesses patients with all kinds of mobility problems and also provides equipment to help patients to stand and walk better. We have a gait laboratory for measuring walking and workshops where we can design and build patient devices. Much of the equipment we give to patients was originally designed in ORLAU. I am responsible for managing the services and also use my expertise in biomechanics to assess patients in the lab.

On a Wednesday I work for Keele University as a Senior Research Fellow. This post gives me opportunities to work with researchers to devise new ways of using technology to assess and treat patients.


How did you become a Senior Research Fellow in Bioengineering?

After I left school I studied mechanical engineering at university as an undergraduate, followed by postgraduate training in bioengineering. For my PhD I studied amputees walking, to see which kind of mechanical knee joint worked best for them. During my mechanical engineering training I mostly analysed the function of structures and machines, so at first glance the work I do now looks quite different. You do, however, need all the same analytical skills to assess the loads on the body and the control systems people use in order to move. I probably use my engineering text books more than many of my fellow students who now work in industry.

In the NHS Clinical Scientists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. To register you have to go through a programme of training which makes sure you understand the clinical aspects of the job as well as the technical ones. Today there is very strong competition for places on the national training scheme, and it’s great to see that women are well represented. Half of those specialising in rehabilitation engineering who completed their training this in 2015 were female.

Research and development is a large component of many NHS clinical scientist jobs, so I was very pleased to be released to take up my part time post at Keele University. I now have time to explore things in greater depth and collaborate with other researchers.


What advice would you give a young person considering a career in engineering?

I became an engineer because I loved maths and physics, and wanted to translate what I learned into practice. I would strongly recommend engineering for anyone who likes using their numerical skills to solve problems. Working in bioengineering is a particularly good choice if you also enjoy working with and for people. There is a great deal of job satisfaction in working with clinicians and other researchers to improve the lives of patients.



ACORN 2015

We are pleased to announce that between the ACORN 2015 allocation, and additional support provided through the Faculty of Health, that offers to support the recruitment of six PhD students has been made. Fifteen proposals were submitted, seeking £339K in ACORN funding. Importantly, these proposals were leveraged against almost £550K of additional support. In total, ISTM and the Faculty of Health have committed almost £120K to the ACORN 2015 process, recognising the high quality of the applications made.

The successful students will join the research teams led by Tony Curtis, Martin Fisher, Nick Forsyth, Monte Gates, Jan Kuiper and Pensee Wu.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Novel approach identifies unique DNA signature

In exciting new work published in the prestigious journal Epigenomics, researchers at ISTM and at the Haywood Rheumatology Centre, have for the first time identified disease-associated changes to the DNA epigenome in joint fluid cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

These patients often develop swollen joints and the excess fluid represents an attractive source to harvest and study the cells that cause damage within the diseased joint without damaging the joint tissue itself. The Epigenetics Research group used these cells to perform genome-wide profiling across more than 20,000 individual genes in these patients.

Dr John Glossop, first author of the publication, and colleagues identified a signature in these cells that uniquely distinguished patients with rheumatoid arthritis from those with other types of arthritis. Previous studies, where similar genes have been identified, have relied on cells from joint tissue obtained during joint replacement surgery.

These important new data support the use of joint fluid as a readily available alternative to study the role of these changes in the onset of joint disease and in the clinical management of this condition.

The study was funded by the Haywood Rheumatism Research and Development Foundation, and was authored by John Glossop, Kim Haworth, Nicola Nixon, Jon Packham, Peter Dawes, Anthony FryerDerek Mattey and William Farrell (ISTM/Haywood Rheumatology Centre), together with Richard Emes, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Nottingham.

Dr John Glossop

Thursday, 9 July 2015

2015 ISTM Away Day

Over fifty members of ISTM gathered for their annual Away Day yesterday, held at Trentham Monkey Forest.

Speakers included two newly-appointed Professors: Professor of Medicine, Alan Silman, who set out the insights and challenges of his work on co-morbidity, and ISTM's new Professor in Cardiology, Mamas Mamas, who described his work to change surgical practice in the use of stents.

Mr Mark Hackett, Chief Executive of the University Hospital of North Midlands (UHNM), also addressed the meeting and shared UHNM's vision for future NHS research in partnership with Keele, and discussed steps that will be undertaken over the next decade to advance this agenda.

Members also discussed ISTM's own strategy and structure, and learned about the implications of Open Access publishing from Ellie James and Scott McGowna from the Directorate of Engagement and Partnerships at Keele University.

And, if all that wasn't enough, attendees were then able to walk around the park and meet some of the resident Barbary Macaques monkeys.

The photograph shows members and guests assembled during the ISTM Away Day,
which closed with a guided visit to the Monkey Forest.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering: Professor Alicia El Haj


Happy National Women in Engineering Day!

For the first post in our interview series with the female engineers in ISTM, we talked to Professor Alicia El Haj, a pioneer in regenerative medicine and our Institute Director. In recognition of her leading role in bioengineering, she received the MRC Suffrage Science Award 2015, which aims to encourage more women to pursue leadership roles in science and engineering.


You work in Cell Engineering. What does that mean?

Cell engineering involves finding new ways to use cells in treatments for human disease and injury. Essentially, we design exciting technologies for controlling the way cells behave. As a bioengineer, I take principles from engineering, such as biomechanics, and apply them to stem cells, and also use magnetic and optical materials. We often set up models of human tissues to study the way we can organise and control stem cells. This means building ‘bioreactors’, which are chambers which allow the growth of human tissues outside the body.

I got into research in this field because I found the concept of a stem cell as a therapy fascinating! But trying to find ways of controlling cells to help people suffering from disease and injury is extremely challenging. We work in an NHS environment, and everyday we see how much need there is in healthcare for new therapies. If my research can make steps forward along the pathway towards practical application in the clinic, I will have felt an enormous sense of achievement ☺. My research can also be incredible fun, allowing me to work across an international environment.

What is an exciting project you are working on at the moment? 

One of my most exciting projects at the moment is to see if we can use external magnetic fields to control the way cells behave in the body. We are designing a therapy where we attach small magnetic nanoparticles to signal systems on the cell and then inject them into a site such as the knee where we want them go and fix the cartilage. By using an external magnet, we can move the cells about and control the activation of the cell through the signal system. This means we can target cells and deliver injectable therapies which no longer need surgery! The Scientific American has an amazing article on our work in April which calls it the ‘Launch of the Nanobots!

How did you become a Professor of Cell Engineering?

When I first went to University, I wanted to become a game warden in an African safari park! I had no idea that I would fall in love with bioengineering research, and couldn't have anticipated the enjoyment it has brought me. 

The satisfaction of spending my days trying to answer new questions with a great group of young training students is fantastic. I spent my early career travelling to different universities in Europe and the USA before settling in the UK. I enjoy my job tremendously and the variation in work day to day suits me. It allows me to balance my job with my family and my home full of the safari park that I ended up with on my doorstep! 

I was very proud to achieve a Royal Society Merit Award and gain my Professorship, which is also a reflection of the good people who have worked with me over the years.

How can we encourage more women to work in engineering? 

I get involved with action groups who try and encourage young female students to join us in a career in engineering and science. I hope that I can show them that bioengineering is for everyone! 

I like to show how engineering is not as dull as it is often portrayed, and how I have managed to balance my normal family life with my partner, our four children, and a home full of dogs and horses with a full-on career in research. 

There is a place for everyone in engineering and I hope you will consider joining us!


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering

In our research institute we have quite a few engineers. If you are thinking of men in oil-stained overalls carrying spanners, think again! Hand tools are optional, and overalls would be an unusual outfit choice. More to the point, many of our engineers are women.

Sadly, engineering is misunderstood. Engineers do not fix cars and install new boilers. They design self-driving cars and develop new ways to produce clean energy. Engineers are inventors, who try to find solutions to problems and improve our world.

In our institute, the focus is human health: our engineers work on many biomedical research areas, such as designing prosthetic limbs, using stem cells to treat degenerative diseases, and developing new cancer therapies.

Engineering is creative and fulfilling. I am a female biomedical engineer myself, and I love it! (I do not use spanners in my work. I mostly use imaginary objects, and sometimes a pointy stick.)

However, the UK has a shortage of engineers. According to EngineeringUK, we need to double the number of recruits into engineering to meet demand. Girls in particular seem to think that engineering is not for them. I was shocked to find out that only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female!

We need to encourage young people and particularly girls to consider careers in engineering. Who better to inspire them than female engineers in our institute? During the next few months, I will ask them about their work and career paths, and post their responses here.

June 23rd is National Women in Engineering Day so a fitting day to start our interview series. In the meantime, here is some reading for you: Tomorrow’s Engineers is a great website with information and resources on engineering careers. Start here: What is engineering?

Monday, 8 June 2015

Festschrift for Professor Warren Lenney

On Friday 6th June an academic meeting titled “All’s well that ends well!” was held at Keele Hall to celebrate the career of Prof Warren Lenney who is retiring in August. This “Festschrift” was attended by over one hundred family, friends and colleagues of Professor Lenney from across the UK. Ten speakers from South America, Europe and the UK gave talks covering a range of interesting topics in Paediatric and Adult Respiratory Medicine as documented below:

“Asthma and Allergy in Olympians” - Prof Kai-Håkon Carlsen, University of Oslo, Norway
“CF Nutrition: Chewing the fat” - Dr Gary Connett, University Hospital Southampton, UK
“Is Asthma Control Achievable? Can we affect it?” - Prof Søren Pedersen, Kolding Hospital, Denmark
“Poetry, Politics and Cystic Fibrosis” - Prof Kevin Webb, Manchester Adult CF Centre, UK
“Education, Education, Education!” - Dr Will Carroll, Derby Childrens Hospital, UK
“What Paediatricians Should Read” - Prof Andy Bush, Royal Brompton Hospital, UK
“Pleural Disease in Brazilian Children” - Prof Gilberto Bueno Fischer, The Federal University of Porto Allegro, Brazil
“From molecules in space to molecules in breath” - Prof David Smith (FRS), Keele University, UK
“Research is the future, the future is …..” - Dr Francis Gilchrist, Royal Stoke University Hospital, UK
“All’s well that ends well!” - Prof John Price, Kings College Hospital, UK

The meeting was a huge success and short papers from each of the speakers are going to be published in a special edition of Paediatric Respiratory Reviews later in the year.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Keele Community Day

Keele Community Day provided another opportunity this month for ISTM to engage with the public and to help raise the Institute's public profile in more valuable outreach work.  The rain couldn't keep people away on Sunday, with a large turnout and a constant stream of people visiting the ISTM table in the Chancellor's Building.  Children and adults alike were keen to speak to Paul Roach and Joseph Clarke regarding the Institute's research activities and to learn more about the 3D printer that was on show.  Visitors were able to view lay posters from the recent ISTM Post Graduate Symposium as well as watch the 3D printer at work, printing out models of body parts, after which visitors were tested on their knowledge of the anatomy.  A* for those that were able to identify the ear bones!

Paul Roach demonstrating his 3D printer
Over at the MacKay Building, members of the ISTM Rehab theme also joined forces with staff and students from the School of Health and Rehabilitation to show visitors some of the biomedical technology used for assessing human movement. People had a go at testing their balance, looked at how symmetrical they were during rowing, and were able to visualise the activity of their muscles using a technique known as electromyography. Kids in particular really enjoyed seeing their muscles working and we were impressed by how much some of the young ones seemed to know!

A student demonstrating the measurement of muscle activity with electromyography 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

International Clinical Trials Day

Abby and Katie talk research

A team of staff, students and post-graduates, represented ISTM at a public exhibition in the foyer of the Royal Stoke University Hospital on Wednesday.  The gathering provided a showcase for a wide range of clinical trials in which Keele University is involved in.  The team from ISTM engaged with a wide and varied audience that included patients and school children as well as clinicians, students and even the Hospital's Chief Executive, Mark Hackett.  The event provided a unique opportunity to raise the Institute's profile and to promote some of the work and research that goes on there.

Faiza and Matt helping to promote ISTM


The event was organised by the University Hospital of North Midlands R&D Office as part of International Clinical Trials Day, held each year on 20 May to commemorate the day that James Lind began his trials into the causes of scurvy while serving as a surgeon on the ship HMS Salisbury. Lind fed members of the crew different diets in a controlled study, laying the foundation for the clinical trial as we know it today.

Helpers included (LtoR)Yanny Baba Ismail, Abigail Rutter & Katie Bardsley, as well as Mathew Dunn, Faiza Musa. Yvonne Reinwald, Anthony  Deegan and Joseph Clarke