King’s Health Partners: Summer School 2021

Every year, the School’s research staff and students take part in King’s Health Partners (KHP) Summer School with the aim of inspiring and exposing young people from local Lambeth and Southwark schools about careers in science by engaging them with their work. Amaia was one of nine of the School’s researchers who took part in the online event this year and shares her experience. 

I am Amaia, a Postdoc in the department of Imaging Chemistry and Biology. My research is focused on developing medical imaging techniques using novel therapeutics (i.e., drugs and imaging agents), mainly using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and isotopes that are unstable atoms, which emit radiation. 

CT scan (left, B&W) and dual PET-CT scan (right, colour), detects function to locate disease in the body

I am passionate about finding new ways to use radiation and I love working in our research department at St Thomas’ Hospital. What I like the most from my job is having the chance to work with people with very mixed science backgrounds as physicists, chemists or biologists. Daily, we learn from all these disciplines and it never gets repetitive or boring. 

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What did your placenta ever do for you?

Dr Andrew Melbourne is a Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Technologies who’s research focuses on imaging the placenta for fetal interventions in the womb. He shares his public engagement journey to date, how this has shaped his research and led him to include a taught PE sub-module as part of the MSc/MRes course he leads.

Placenta: image courtesy of Dr Andrew Melbourne

A little bit of history

After my PhD in Magenetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), my research interests moved from physics and engineering towards healthcare technology. I’ve had the opportunity to work in cancer imaging, and neonatal brain imaging with fantastic teams of people.

More recently, I’ve been working on technology applications in fetal medicine, especially applied to the placenta. This large project (GIFT-Surg) brought me into contact with a large number of engineers and clinicians, and introduced me to some of the fundamental clinical issues in fetal medicine. I was also able to meet and present to the project’s Public and Patient Involvement Advisory Group (PPIAG), formed of antenatal charity representatives, which has consistently shown me the importance of being able to explain my quite technical and occasionally esoteric research to the most important of audiences – those directly impacted by the research…

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I’ve got an elastic heart

Anastasia Nasopoulou is a post-doc in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research focuses on improving the diagnosis of heart failure in the clinic by using medical imaging to detect how well the heart is functioning through its ‘stiffness’ or elasticity. In March 2019, she was awarded public engagement funds from the Wellcome EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering (CME), which enabled her to host two public engagement events around her research; one as a pilot for her activities through a science stand at national Clinical Trials Day engaging patients and the latter as part of King’s Health Partners Summer School with school-aged young people.

Dr Anastasia Nasopoulou at her science stand as part of Clinical Trials Day 2019, St Thomas Hospital (NIHR #BePartOfResearch)

My journey in public engagement started in 2017 when I participated as a volunteer in the School’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, entitled ‘Heart in Your Hands’. At the time, this was mostly due to “peer pressure” as many of my friends were attending! However, this was a great way to “break the ice” as a first timer, as it was a well organised team event and the audience was friendly and genuinely interested in the science we were presenting there. Participation in this event helped me practise my science communication skills and gave me confidence that I could organise a public engagement event myself, especially after I gained a “taste” of how people respond to different activities…

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3D-printed hearts for Valentine’s Day

Dr Shaihan Malik is a Reader in Medical Imaging and gave a talk to a large group of 3-5 year old children in nursery and reception class at a primary school in North London. He writes about his engagement experience here.

“[The] teacher invited me to speak to the class about ‘people with jobs that help others’

Dr Shaihan Malik, BMEIS

I visited my local primary school in North London and spoke to 54 nursery and reception class children (aged 3-5 years old). My son is in the nursery class, and his teacher invited me to speak to the class about “people with jobs that help others”, after he told his teacher that his dad works in a hospital…

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Work Experience with Professor Prashant Jha

In November 2019, Elaina, a Year 12 applied science student from Harrow College, joined Professor Prashant Jha for a one-week work experience placement. Professor Prashant Jha is Head of Affordable Medical Technologies at the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences. He and his team gave Elaina an insight into laparoscopic surgery, medical devices and methods of communication in the industry.

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“Hot stuff” on tour

Hot Stuff’ was a public engagement stand at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2018, led by a team of researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, King’s College London, about how radioactivity can be used to detect, monitor or treat human diseases. Two years on, one of the team, Maggie Copper, shares how she has been taking elements of the successful stall around the country to continue engaging other public groups on how radioactivity is used for cancer care.

Maggie engaging community group members at local church, Wirral, Merseyside

Our ‘hot stuff’ exhibition has been on tour ‘up north’ to Merseyside as I took the activities into the school my kids attend in Liverpool and also gave a presentation to a community group who meet in our local church on the Wirral…

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Coding for Girls

Jonny Jackson is a student from the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) based within the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences. In February 2019, he ran a series of ‘Coding for Girls’ workshops for a local Lambeth Girl Guides. Jonny writes of his experiences here: 

My PhD focuses on how artificial intelligence can be used in healthcare. My experiences to date have shown me both how valuable coding skills are to broaden career horizons, and that there is a lack of quality coding education in school. I didn’t learn any coding skills until university and I think that’s the same story for most people. To combat this, I decided to run Coding for Girls; a series of two coding workshops for local Girl Guides. My aim was to develop their interest, confidence and skills in coding…

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