Friday, 18 August 2017

In memory of Professor Adam Curtis 1934 - 2017

In memory of Professor Adam Curtis

Everyone at the ISTM would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Professor Adam Curtis, who sadly passed away on 8th August 2017. He has been one of our longstanding collaborators and an inspiration and a friend to many at the ISTM. Indeed, Adam Curtis taught our Director, Nick Forsyth, back when he was an undergraduate and helped to inspire his career in cell biology.
 Long may his research and influence continue to inspire the future of medical research.…/…/17/Adam-Curtis-1934-2017

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Three Minute Thesis Competition: A personal Perspective by Fraser Philp

Fraser Philp, a PhD candidate within ISTM competed in the Three minute thesis (3MT) competition organised by the University’s Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS). Selected as the “people’s choice” at the Crossing Paths conference in April, Fraser went on to present at the recent Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year Awards Evening. Whilst narrowly losing out to moving forward as Keele University’s candidate for the national 3MT completion, Fraser reflects here on his experience and why he would advocate future postgraduate students take part in this exciting competition.

As a PhD student you’re often asked “So what's your PhD on?”. When asked by a person familiar with your area of research, this question poses no challenges! However if the person asking is not familiar with your research area, or even research at all, you may find this a rather challenging question. The reason it’s challenging is this; if you’re anything like me, it’s at this point you debate in your own head whether to inundate them with the innermost workings of your research, (it’s at this point you see their eyes glaze over following your lengthy but brilliant description of Bayesian regularisation and Fourier transformations), or give a brief but vague description of your work, after which they are none the wiser and you feel as though you’ve done your hard work a disservice. This was certainly my experience, until recently when I entered the Three minute thesis challenge.

The Three Minute Thesis is a competition in which doctoral candidates have to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance to a lay audience (in only three minutes). Being able to effectively communicate your research topic and its impact is an essential skill necessary for your viva, conferences, teaching and dissemination of your work to the public. As a PhD student, you want your work to have a real impact on the world and you want people to engage with it and share it. These are fundamental parts of the research process and are often questions that may get asked when presenting your work at a scientific conference or on grant applications. The Three Minute Thesis is a fantastic process for developing these academic, presentation, and research communication skills. It challenges you to identify the key components of your research and present it in a format that captivates a non-specialist audience without losing the engagement of a specialist in the audience. The presentation format is different to traditional academic presentations, with only three minutes and a single slide to convey your thesis. The removal of the traditional academic “homely comforts” pushes you to be more innovative and find alternate ways of delivering your work. There is a big emphasis on engaging the audience “leaving them wanting more”. You are penalised equally for using specialist terminology AND not being specific enough about your research. You have to make your words and the time count, as failure to keep to your allocated three minutes results in disqualification!

The skills gained from this experience have been extremely beneficial and I would strongly advocate taking up the Three Minute Thesis challenge to any PhD student. The opportunity to present in differing settings and to different audiences has complimented my presentation skills. The ability to engage any audience has improved my confidence in presenting, whether it is on a conference stage or standing next to my poster at a conference. Additionally, being able to clearly articulate my research and its impact has helped in scientific presentations, viva preparation and grant applications. Finally, after four years, even my Dad knows what my PhD involves!

Fraser Philp of ISTM giving his 3MT presentation at the Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year 
Awards Evening

Thursday, 15 June 2017

€2million European Space Agency grant awarded to consortium

A consortium including ISTM's Professor Peter Ogrodnik have been awarded a €2million European Space Agency grant as a part of a consortium to establish a true, high integrity Internet of Things (IoT) solution for healthcare. This award has built on over 25 years' research conducted at Keele and the Royal Stoke University Hospital examining fracture healing. In the first instance they will be implementing an IoT solution for remote monitoring of broken tibiae (shins) post-operatively. This innovation could mean the end of repeated out-patient appointments and could also lead to measurable improvements in outcomes for the patient, the clinician and the healthcare provider. In addition, they will be reducing bed stays with an innovative IoT solution for the preoperative management of ankle fractures. The consortium brings together expertise from AT Kearney Ltd , SlamJam Ltd, Keele University, Oracle, and Intel.

left to right are the consortium members, Prof Ogrodnik, Alistair Taylor, Prof Thomas, John Lindup, Susan Hartman, Nathan Grant, Matthew Ockenden, and Mark Freeman.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

ISTM students participate in cross faculty conference

The Institute of Liberal arts and Sciences (ILAS) recently held its “Crossing Paths” Postgraduate Conference 2017, an opportunity which allowed postgraduate students to showcase their work to other disciplines. Unlike most conferences, in which people from a similar scientific field meet together to discuss the “nitty gritty” of their research, this conference required students to discuss the wider impact of their research and present it in a format that was accessible to people not familiar with their subject area. Along with poster presentations, another way in which students got to share their research was a challenge known as the Three minute thesis competition (3MT). The competition required PhD students to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes to a non-specialist audience. Whilst this may sound easy, an 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present!

Students from ISTM attending the ILAS Crossing Paths PG Conference

We caught up with two of our prize winners to see what they had to say about the conference…

Fraser Philp (ISTM PhD Student) - Judges and Peoples prizes for best presentation

The conference was well supported by students from the Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine (ISTM) and the School of Health and Rehabilitation (SHAR) through attendance, posters and entries into the Three minute thesis competition. Myself and Shaima Jabbar, entered the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition heats, and I was lucky enough to win the Judges and Peoples prizes for best presentation for my presentation entitled “Validating the methods that underpin the modelling of injury risk factors in football.” The presentation discussed the importance of evaluating the current methods used to identify injury and how the clinical decision making processes could potentially be improved through the use of computer modelling (mathematical and statistical equations).

Fraser Philp won the 3 Minute Thesis competition

I thoroughly enjoyed the day; it was a great opportunity to see other people’s research and engage in conversations outside of your discipline. The three minute thesis was a great opportunity; the biggest challenge was trying to get people who usually aren’t interested in your research area, not only interested, but also able to see the impact of what you’re doing in just three minutes. The next stages of the 3MT competition are on the 20th of June 2017.

Homa Weli (ISTM PhD student) - People's prize for best poster

"Variety is said to be the spice of life". This statement, I believe, beautifully illustrates the meeting point between the arts and science. On 28th of April, the Institute of Liberal Arts and Science (ILAS) hosted a multidisciplinary conference which gave effect to the quote.

I arrived at the conference hall slightly jet-lagged from a brief trip to the United States yet I was still keen to participate. It promised to be varied by cutting across various fields in the arts and science and by the end of the conference, I could confidently say: "promise kept".

Homa Weli won the People's prize for best poster

I applied to present at the ILAS conference upon the suggestion of my lead supervisor, Professor Ying Yang. Being a multidisciplinary conference, this meant that I had to prepare my presentation with focus and clarity in mind. I was determined to communicate my research clearly and to appeal to a non-specialist audience. My PhD work, amongst other things, investigates an ageing compound in a disease that only affects women - Pelvic Organ Prolapse. There is poor awareness of the disease's burden and significance amongst the general public. Furthermore, in the process of studying pelvic organ Prolapse, I had used 3 specialised mechanical tests. Therefore explaining these to a non-specialist audience was not an easy task, nonetheless, but I was determined to take on the challenge. To capture the study in simplicity, my poster was titled: "Understanding how pelvic organ prolapse Happens: insights from vaginal tissue collagen age, structure and mechanical strength". The use of scientific jargons and clinical terms can be reflex habits for scientists and clinicians. So, I paid attention to how I used these and explained them where necessary.

There were 46 posters displayed at the conference. These included work from the fields of Geography, Politics, Law, Life Sciences, Medicine and Physiotherapy. I learned about some brilliant research going on at the university, but I was particularly thrilled to explain my research to both staff and students from the arts and humanities field. I found it exciting that they could both relate to and understand my research. They demonstrated an understanding of even of the methods used. It was a rewarding experience which received positive feedback . At the end of the event, I was both honoured and pleased to have been awarded the Audience Choice (People's) poster prize which is a prize for communication.

Notes from the audience 

ISTM would like to thank all of its students that took part in the cross faculty conference and to congratulate both Fraser Philp and Homa Weli on the winning presentations, as well as Emma Green (ISTM PhD student) for winning the runner up prize for the Judge’s prize for best poster!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

ISTM holds 12th annual Postgraduate Symposium

Research Institute Director, Professor Nick Forsyth kicks off the symposium
ISTM held its 12th annual Postgraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday 9th May.  Postgraduate Research Students and their supervisors gathered for the annual Symposium at the North Staffordshire Medical Institute (NSMI) in Hartshill.  This year’s Symposium featured a series of presentation, giving students valuable experience in public speaking.  Posters were also on display and a selection of students participated in the fast paced Turbo Talk session, which gave participating students just three minutes to talk about their research topic and encourage the audience to go and view their poster.  Dr Vinoj George, ISTM’s newly appointed Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, also gave a guest presentation to introduce himself and his research.

The event was well attended by students and their supervisors.
After careful deliberation, the judges selected winners from each category, all of which were awarded a cash prize that had been kindly donated by the NSMI and Chamber of Commerce.  The first prize for best presentation went to Hamza Abu Owida; first prize for the best Turbo Talk went to Homayemem Kinikanwo Weli; and first prize for the best poster went to Ibrahim Ali.

Prize winners at this year's Symposium.
Professor Paul Horrocks, ISTM’s Director for Postgraduate Research commended the students on the quality of their presentations and posters and gave special thanks to the NSMI.  Stating that “It is important that we acknowledge the support of the North Staffordshire Medical Institute. This is the second year we have decided to host the event within their conference facilities, a move aimed to strengthen our links with this important local partner.”

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Rehabilitation research: join the revolution

Dr Ed Chadwick gave an invited talk at a fascinating Keele event this morning headlined: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution – what every business needs to know”.

Ed’s talk on Personalised Healthcare Devices described how his research with collaborators in the UK and USA is presenting opportunities for new rehabilitation devices and regimes, for example to help amputees and stroke survivors. The audience enjoyed a breakfast in the Great Hall followed by talks in the Salvin Room at Keele Hall, showing how the world is embarking on the next revolution in industry as manufacturing connects with the digital age.
And those previous three revolutions (in case you missed them):
First Industrial Revolution (c1700 to 1870 in Europe and America) – steam power and industrialisation
Second Industrial Revolution (c1870 to 1914) – mass production and electrical power
Third Industrial, or Digital Revolution (1980s to today) - from analogue and mechanical to digital device technology
Fourth Industrial Revolution (now) – digital technology embeds within society and the human body

Monday, 13 March 2017

Study reveals pre-eclampsia significantly increases risk of heart disease in later life

Research led by Keele University has demonstrated that women who suffered pre-eclampsia during pregnancy are four times more likely to have heart failure in later life.

The study also found that expectant mothers with pre-eclampsia, which presents with high blood pressure and protein in the woman’s urine, have a two-fold increase risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and death due to cardiovascular disease in later life.

Pre-eclampsia affects five to eight per cent of pregnancies and is the most common cause of severe ill-health during pregnancy which can, in extreme circumstances, lead to death of the mother or baby.

The findings, involving the analysis of 22 studies and more than 6.5 million women, have been published today (February 21st) in the Go Red for Women Spotlight collection of the prestigious journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The authors of the study are calling for doctors to offer better advice to women about the increased risks, and the actions they can take to avoid future ill-health.

Dr Pensee Wu, the first author of this publication and lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Keele University, said: “Doctors need to be aware of the importance of educating women about their increased level of cardiovascular risk and of advising women about the beneficial effects of changing their lifestyle, such as increasing their level of physical activity and not smoking.

“I hope this work will raise awareness amongst hospital doctors of the advice that they need to give to women with pre-eclampsia.”

Dr Wu, who is also an Honorary Consultant Obstetrician and Maternal Fetal Medicine Subspecialist at University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, added: “The study shows the risk is highest during the first ten years after a pregnancy affected by pre-eclampsia, so it is important that women are regularly monitored during this period for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.”

“The risks begins to increase for coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke within one year after giving birth, but it is highest between one to ten years after giving birth.”

The study was a collaboration between researchers at Keele University’s Institute for Applied Clinical Science (iACS) and Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine (ISTM), along with Primary Care and Health Sciences (iPCHS), and the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM).

Dr Randula Haththotuwa, co-author, Academic Clinical Fellow, and trainee GP funded by the National Institute for Health Research, added: “This study is extremely important for general practice as it will highlight the importance of lifelong monitoring of women who have suffered from pre-eclampsia of cardiovascular risk factors.”

Last year, Dr Wu, Dr Haththotuwa and their collaborators published another paper identifying a link between pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and the development of diabetes in later life. The study showed that pre-eclampsia is independently associated with a two-fold increase in future diabetes. This increased risk was found to occur from less than one year after delivery of the baby and persisted to over ten years after birth. Again, this highlights the need for monitoring of women in primary care.