Health Data Research UK – the national institute for health data science – held its inaugural summer school at the University of St Andrews last week.
Research fellows gathered from across the UK to undertake specialist training sessions in data science and to enjoy social events, which included a putting competition on the Himalayas and a formal dinner. The week concluded with a school engagement event, where 44 S6 pupils from Bell Baxter High School and Madras College were given an introductory lecture, participated in activities developed by some of the Heath Data Research UK fellows and were given the opportunity to ask the research fellows more about their work in health data science.”
In the photo are the school pupils, Prof Colin McCowan and Karen Hunter – University of St Andrews with School pupils and Academics and Research Fellows from HDR UK
The ongoing Ebola outbreak in DR Congo continues to present challenges, not only to those who are directly affected, but to neighbouring countries. Dr Sloan, a Senior Clinical Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews and Consultant Infectious Diseases physician in NHS Fife was deployed as part of a four-person team by the Department of International Development (DfID) to work alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Health, Rwanda Biomedical Council and others to help bolster preparedness activities. He mainly worked in Rubavu District and at Gisenyi District Hospital. One of the team’s most important activities was to help co-ordinate a simulation exercise on how a suspect Ebola patient could be managed at the hospital in a way which provided best supportive care whilst minimising risks of transmission to others.
Regular practice with simulations and feedback is the best way for healthcare workers to be ready in advance of emergencies so this was a very valuable exercise.
Dr Sloan also visited Rwanda a year ago on a WHO technical Consultancy to help with Ebola Preparedness. It was good to be back to meet Rwandan colleagues who are near the front line of the global public health response, and to discuss ongoing challenges. Previously, he has worked in the Sierra Leone during the West African Ebola outbreak in 2015, and was the UK Emergency Medical Team Clinical Lead during an outbreak of diphtheria amongst the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh in 2018.
The BIG STEM conference took place in Dynamic earth on the 17th, 18th and 19th of July. Henry Rae (Medicine) and Alina loth (Public Engagement) were speakers. The BIG Event is a three day get-together every summer to share skills and experiences, develop professional links and keep up-to-date with the STEM engagement field. This is the place to hone your skills and recharge your professional batteries, pick up great ideas and show off your talents to peers.
It provides an unmissable opportunity to squeeze the skills and ideas out of all the STEM engagement people you can in a short space of time. Henry took part in the 3 minute demonstration event where he tested a volunteers reaction time, then retested their reaction time while counting out loud from 100 backwards in multiples of seven to a large crowd, proving reaction time is adversely affected with a distraction. In real life this shows using a phone while driving is NOT a good idea.
Henry attended ‘Understanding Exhibit Design’, Explain it to the Explainers, Reduce Recycle, Budget Scicom, Speed Dating (Science communications), Neuropsychology in Practice, Taking the plunge (Into PE), Fan-tastic experiments. These were extremely useful sessions and techniques and equipment used in the sessions will be used in the future.
The National Student Satisfaction (NSS) survey results 2019 were published today (3 July 2019) and the School of Medicine has topped the ranking for UK medical schools. This is a very gratifying result for the School and reflects the emphasis placed on excellence in teaching and student experience.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI, evaluates the level of satisfaction felt by students of the quality of their course of study.
The result echoes that of the overall ranking for the University, where the University of St Andrews once again was ranked number 1 in the UK for student satisfaction.
Learn more about the NSS survey.
Dr Silvia Paracchini was invited to represent the Young Academy of Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh at Parliamentary Links Day in Westminster. The event hosted by the Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon John Bercow, included speeches by MPs and ministers as well as panel discussions. You can read more about the event here https://www.rsb.org.uk/news/14-news/2182-parliamentary-links-day-2019-science-minister-says-uk-should-pay-to-access-eu-research-programmes
Filippo Abbondanza recently participated in GapSummit 2019 at the Broad Institute (Boston, https://gapsummit.com/). GapSummit is a highly selective event (100 participants over 1,000 applications) where young professionals/students are exposed to top academics (Nobel Prizes and other famous Professors) as well as industry leaders (top managers of all the big pharmas and several genomics companies). Alongside this 5-day conference, we were divided into teams to work for five months over industrial projects before the start of the event. Filippo’s team reached the final stage with our business proposal and he presented the project at the Broad Institute during GapSummit. Filippo was the only participant from Scotland.
Professor Alexander Baldacchino, Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Addictions with the Population and Behaviour Science Division, St Andrews University Medical School has been invited to work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead the development of a programme of work for the area of substance use in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO). This temporary position as an international regional advisor will guide and facilitate the development of a strategic approach for the 22 Regional Member States to scale up prevention and treatment for substance use disorders. Alex is expected to leave Fife for the EMRO office in Cairo on the 1st July 2019 returning during 2020. Professor Baldacchino also holds clinical responsibilities as NHS Fife Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions and NHS Fife Research and Development Director. He has also recently been elected as President Elect for the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM).
The Medical School at the University of St Andrews recently hosted 31 diabetes specialists represented by delegates from Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Lebanon and South Arica. They attended the tenth annual Postgraduate Diabetes Course, led by Emeritus Professor of Medicine at St Andrews, Ian Campbell. The teaching faculty came from the five Scottish university medical schools, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews and from Birmingham.
Diabetes has now reached epidemic proportions. 8.3% of the world’s population is diabetic but 46% of this is undiagnosed. One person dies every 7 seconds from diabetes and its complications. 25% – 30% of the population in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are affected. Developing countries such as Ghana now have 10% of diabetes in their population. This diabetes epidemic is related to increasing obesity and decreased exercise. The expanding role of bariatric surgery was reviewed. The problems of gestational diabetes in pregnancy, is now an increasing problem. Type 2 diabetes, usually seen in middle-aged and older individuals, is now occurring in younger people with obesity and poor lifestyle. The average age of onset on type 2 diabetes in the Gulf States in the Middle East is 30 years, compared to 60 in Scotland.
New therapies for diabetes were discussed. There were workshops dealing with complications of diabetes, affecting the eyes, kidneys and feet. The problems of premature heart disease and stroke were highlighted. Acute complications of diabetic coma and hypoglycaemia were reviewed. The future role of genetics in better defining type 2 diabetes and its management illustrated the importance of new research developments in this field.
Professor Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor at the University, gave an opening address to welcome the delegates and said he hoped the course would sow the seeds of improved diabetes care overseas and lead to stronger links between Scottish Universities and health professionals in developing countries.
On Saturday 8th June the School of Medicine was well represented at SoapBoxScience in Edinburgh with Dr Silvia Paracchini as one of the speakers. Dr Paracchini discussed handedness with shoppers and tourists along the Royal Mile in the pouring rain. Aleksandra Raczka, Judith Schmitz and Filippo Abbondanza were among the amazing volunteers who supported the event and, most crucially, the speakers by holding umbrellas.