Dr Jenny Cook, Research Associate in Public Engagement in Science at the Biomedical Research Centre organised the week long summer school for King’s Health Partners. One day was spent at the King’s Imaging Sciences & Biomedical Engineering Division where the 16 year old students enjoyed hearing about the range of imaging techniques that we use here. This blog, written by Jenny, originally appeared on the KHP Summer School blog. #khpsummerschool Follow Jenny @jennyscience
Today we visited the Imaging Department at King’s College London at St Thomas’ Hospital. The Communications and Engagement Manager Alice Taylor-Gee, did a fantastic job at lining up different activities to showcase a diverse range of imaging modalities and lab techniques.
The King’s Imaging department is very engaged and lots of the researchers are working to communicate their research and inspire young people.
In the morning the students were introduced to members of the Imaging division and their research project and outcomes with presentations. We met Chris Kelly who works on perinatal brain imaging using a technique that can visualise diffusion to define the edges of neurones and map them. We also heard from Alberto Gomez who spoke about how robotics is being developed to provide a more sophisticated ultrasound to be used on pregnant women to scan their unborn babies.
Dr Samantha Terry (soon to be lecturer!) talked about different types and sources of radiation. She actively demonstrated how DNA damage can occur due to radiation using a rope and scissors and then detailed how her team harnesses this power and a complicated tracer/inhibitor to selectively fight prostate cancer cells.
During the afternoon, the students rotated around three labs. Firstly the students went to a lab with Enrico, Brett and Rick who work with radioactive tracers and examines the effects of hypoxia on cardiac perfusion. A very tiny rat’s heart was connected up to perfusion equipment where it continued to beat. This allows the researchers to change stimuli and heart conditions and examine the effects.
In order to understand more about the cellular changes that can take place under hypoxic conditions due to brain injury in pre-term infants, Claire and Ana from the perinatal lab talked about understanding cellular changes by extracting and examining DNA.
In this session, we extracted DNA from strawberries using extraction buffer and isopropanol and measured the DNA concentrations to compare strawberries. Surprisingly it doesn’t relate to strawberry size in our groups!
Different imaging methods can be used to visualise different parts of the body, comparing CT to examine bones versus MRI to identify liquids. The students went down to the clinical oncology departments at St Thomas’ to the MRI machine and managed to correctly identify several scanned images of items under the MRI machine.
“On Wednesday we spent the day learning about imaging; it’s a really interesting field because scientists from all parts of science are needed to improve the imaging techniques we use today. At school, they teach us very little about medical imaging and for that reason I learnt lots. Because of the summer school, I now understand the basics of a PET, CT, X-Ray, MRI and ultrasound scan, and was able to see an MRI and ultrasound scan in use. One way cardiologists are able to prepare for an operation now is through 3D printing; scientists print out hearts in plastic to see how they can operate. For me, this was really fascinating because I was able to see the structure of a real heart and learn about how medical methods are improving.” Kate Bernal (age 15)
“I’ve attended the Summer School for 5 days at King’s Health Partners. It was an extremely fun experience and I learnt and saw many things. I learnt presentation skills, various amounts of technical skills, and developed an understanding of many features of biomedical research. I learnt clinical scenarios and life support skills at a simulation centre and I sat in on lectures from many professionals; including professors, doctors, and researchers. All of the activities were engaging, and interesting, and educational. I even got to extract strawberry DNA!” Mohaned Al-Bassan (Age 16)
We would like to say a very big thank you to Alice for co-ordinating the activities today and everyone from the Imaging division who gave a presentation, demonstration or provided an activity!
For more photos of the day’s events please go to our #khpsummerschool hashtag.