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10 ways Medic is making an impact

We have a successful track record of contributing to society through our research, learning and teaching, and innovation and engagement activity.

Efforts by many staff and students highlight a rich variety of ways in which we're engaging with and benefitting society. Here are just ten recent examples:

Since 1995, the School of Medicine has welcomed sixth form pupils from schools across Wales with the aim of engaging and inspiring them with the exciting science underpinning clinical management of disease and medical research.

This year, the event celebrated its 25th anniversary and pupils once again participated in laboratory tours to gain a feel for the excitement and challenges of biomedical research; visited a wide range of interactive exhibitions, listened to a series of talks on various hot topics in biomedical science and met and questioned scientists and clinicians from across the whole spectrum of scientific and healthcare careers.

Nicholas Alford, Deputy Director of Faculty of Science, St Cyres School, said: “Our pupils get to see the great breadth of opportunities for careers in the medical professions. The laboratory tours are a highlight of the day; showing the diversity of techniques used in modern diagnosis and treatment. The hands-on activities are great fun and an ideal time for students and teachers to network…. The Science in Health team are an inspiration to all; their love of their work shows through in their enthusiasm for the event. I highly recommend Science in Health Live to any science teacher; it is consistently the best A level trip we take the students on.”

A study, published in the Palliative Medicine Journal, carried out by researchers in the Patient Safety (PISA) Research Group found that among 1072 palliative care cases reviewed, concerns arose because of four main issues requiring improvement: errors in medication provision; securing access to timely care; inefficient transfer of information between healthcare teams; and problems with non-medication based treatments like urinary catheters and feeding tubes.

Dr Williams, Honorary Research Fellow, feels that safety surrounding this group of patients needs to be thought about far more regularly. “You only get one chance to get people’s last days of life right, this is an opportunity to make that experience better for people,” he said.

Research, funded by the blood cancer research charity, Bloodwise, has developed a test to quickly and accurately predict how people will respond to standard treatment for the most common type of leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

The test has been described as ‘game changer’ by Cardiff researchers. It also has the potential to change how other cancers, including myeloma and breast cancer, are treated. While previous versions of the test had taken a week to process, results can now be ready in a day.

Professor Duncan Baird, who developed the test with Professors Chris Pepper and Chris Fegan, said: “Not all patients benefit equally from chemotherapy and this test is the only one available that can accurately predict how patients are likely to respond. Our research provides strong evidence that a significant number of patients should be receiving more appropriate treatments.”

Read the paper

An international collaboration of researchers has identified some striking new insights into the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease, including five new genes that increase risk for the disease.

The International Genomic Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP), which is a collaboration of four consortia, including the Genetic and Environmental Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease (GERAD) consortia led by Cardiff University, analysed data from more than 94,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

This unprecedented project, funded in part by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust, scrutinized more genetic data than any other study of Alzheimer’s disease to date. Collaborative data sharing enabled the scientists to discover five novel genetic variants or changes that influence the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

A study led by researchers from the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics means that more people of African descent who have treatment-resistant schizophrenia could be safely given the drug (clozapine) best proven to manage their symptoms.

In light of the study’s findings, the team suggest offering a genetic test as a simple and sensitive strategy to diagnose benign ethnic neutropenia before prescribing clozapine.

Individuals with the condition who show no signs of compromised immune function could have revised neutrophil thresholds in line with current benign ethic neutropenia monitoring procedures.

This would allow more people who would benefit from clozapine to start taking the medication while avoiding the need to stop treatment for many more. Crucially, this is dependent on the outcome of additional safety studies, but this pharmacogenetics test has the potential to assist the management of clozapine treatment.

View the paper.

View a podcast interview with Drs Sophie Legge and Antonio Pardinas about this study.

The ‘Artwork for the Children’s Hospital’ group was founded in 2016 by Charlotte Maden (then a 3rd year medical student). The vision was to create a multi-disciplinary artistic group for healthcare staff and students that would encourage creativity and be of benefit to patients and the wider community.

Over the past couple of years, the core student team has grown to over 50 participants. Following hours of designing, sketching, sanding, priming, painting, vanishing and drying, the artists have created over 20 large painted murals and many small prints for areas including the children’s theatre recovery rooms and waiting areas. Additionally, around £100 has been raised by the group to further support the Noah’s Ark Charity and future artistic pursuits.

The University’s Phoenix Project has been recognised by the Namibian Government after creating more than 38 joint projects in the country.

New major activities include:

  • The Great Green Wall of Namibia: combating desertification in Namibia through indigenous reforestation.
  • Implementation of social science research to control a Hepatitis E outbreak in Namibia.
  • An electronic patient record system for Namibia.
  • The introduction of Continuous Professional Development for doctors and nurses practising in northern Namibia.
  • The Cardiff Trauma Pack, which is manufactured in Namibia: saving lives on roads.
  • Grant writing training: teaching academics how to attract international research grants.

“The true value of the project is best measured through impact,” said Phoenix Project leader Professor Judith Hall.

The annual Brain Games event took place on Sunday 10th March, with a record breaking 3,670 people making their way through the doors of the National Museum Cardiff to join in the fun.

A large selection of interactive games (inflatable brain bouncy castle, stroop mat races, guessing animal brains, shrinking chair optical illusions) and shows were available to the public throughout the day, explaining various scientific concepts relating to the brain and giving children an opportunity to interact and ask questions to some of Cardiff’s leading scientific community.

As well as having the opportunity to practice Brain Surgery alongside qualified surgeons, visitors could learn about super hero stem cells and challenge their curiosity. Great feedback was received on the day: “Well done on a fascinating and educational event. So lovely to see the kids learning without even realising they are!”

Cardiff’s Clinical Innovation Partnership aims to tackle the biggest health challenges society face. Dementia has been identified as an innovation priority, with over 5,000 people in the Cardiff and Vale area living with the condition.

Madeline Phillips, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, came up with an innovative response to this challenge, stating: “We need to develop a radical new approach to the diagnosis of dementia and the provision of care that can be combined in a unified and coherent programme”.

With support and funding from the South-East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership (SEWAHSP), and the Welsh Government Dementia Action Team, the Madeline Project was established. This has created an innovation test bed, led by the Western Vale of Glamorgan Primary Care Cluster and will ‘design and deliver health care services to be as good as the best in the world at meeting the needs of people at risk of or living with dementia’.

Dr's Sarju Patel, Jeff Allen and Thanasi Hassoulas designed a pilot project in collaboration with Cardiff University’s Community Gateway project. Promoting Academic Excellence (PACE) was set up to work with schools aiming to inspire students to consider reading science, medicine or other healthcare related programmes at University.

Since November 2018 thirty medical students have been running weekly sessions for over twenty Yr9 pupils to enhance the teaching and learning of the science curriculum.

Pupils say they have enjoyed “learning with friends” and “meeting the university students and learning about the world of medicine”. The medical students are finding it equally rewarding; enhancing their teaching and communication skills.

Read the full edition

ReMEDy edition 31

ReMEDy edition 31

30 April 2019

Take a look inside and see what we've been doing.

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