This summer’s ‘I ♥ Research Academy’ came to a close this week with our online youth conference where we celebrated our talented students and they presented their project findings to a judging panel, their mentors and peers.

The academy conference signified the end of another hugely successful piece of work by the organisers and mentors, who have spent the last six weeks working with a group of 30 students who live across the Trust’s communities, coaching and supporting them to broaden their knowledge and understanding of clinical research.

Following an intensive start in July where they were invited to three days of online workshops, students were then placed into working groups and given specific research projects to work on together over the course of six weeks. During this period, each group worked closely with a specialist mentor who helped them craft their research findings into the presentations attendees of the conference had the pleasure of watching and hearing.

The presentations included:

  • “How coding is used in health studies?” (an example using microbial data)

 

  • “SLEEP” (supporting children’s sleep in those with eczema)

 

  • “All for one, or one for all?” (what makes a universal vaccine?)

 

  • “Tell me about it” (three common issues women can experience during / as a result of pregnancy)

 

  • “The joys and wonders of setting up a clinical trial” (understanding the full process and all the components required to facilitate a study that focusses on insomnia)

 

The standard of the presentations was extremely high, with each group putting a great deal of thought into the content and delivery. The students excelled creatively, with presentations varying in format from mock news reports, quiz shows right through to a mock reality TV show! By the end of the conference, it was clear for all to see just how hard every academy student had worked throughout the summer, and the amount of effort and enthusiasm that had gone into each project and presentation.

Deciding which presentation was the winner proved to be a very difficult task, but after much deliberation the first prize was awarded to “All for one, or one for all?” (what makes a universal vaccine?) with “Tell me about it” (three common issues women can experience during / as a result of pregnancy) awarded as runner-up. A special acknowledgment was also given to the presenter of “The joys and wonders of setting up a clinical trial” (understanding the full process and all the components required to facilitate a study that focusses on insomnia)” who did a fantastic job of giving the presentation entirely by himself.

The judging panel was made up of a variety of members and included:

  • Safa Khan – former ‘I ♥ Research’ academy student
  • Neha Modha – Patient and Public Engagement Manager, Clinical Research Network South London
  • Aniqa Rob – Widening Participation Officer, King’s College London
  • Alistair Weir – Research Manager, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)
  • Dan Jones – Communications Manager, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

Sharing her thoughts of this summer’s successful ‘I ♥ Research Academy’, Jessica Sells, Research and Development’s Patient and Public Engagement Manager said:

“I’m so impressed with the enthusiasm, level of engagement and standard of work the students have brought to the academy. I really hope that by taking part in this experience they’ve gained some valuable insight, knowledge and understanding of what clinical research is all about and that they take this forward as they begin to establish their career paths. I hope the students stay in touch and keep us updated as to how they’re getting on – I’d love to see them at future events and getting involved in future opportunities”

Organised by the Research and Development Engagement team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT), the ‘I ♥ Research Academy’ is supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and King’s Health Partners. It aims to engage young people from across the Trust’s local communities on a long-term basis to gain new experiences and skills relevant to careers in healthcare research. With this innovative project, young people are presented with the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in a real-life research setting alongside working researchers, which we hope will inspire and support the development of future health leaders.

The ‘I ♥ Research Academy’ would not be possible without the input and dedication of its mentors. We would like to thank the following colleagues for their support over this summer’s academy:

  • Dr Laura McCabe – Research Matron for reproductive health and childbirth (GSTT)
  • Ope Olusoga – Assistant Clinical Research Practitioner in reproductive health and childbirth
  • Dr Shona Cameron – Clinical Research Fellow in dermatology at the unit for population based dermatology research, St John’s Institute of Dermatology
  • Sonia Serrano – Research Manager at BRC
  • Jen Crook – Trial Manager BRC
  • Dr Rhia Kundu –King’s College London
  • Flavia Flaviani – Senior Bioinfomatician at GSTT Translational Bioinformatics Platform

Our summer 2022 students have been a delight to work with and we are incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved in such a short time. The ‘I ♥ Research Academy’ continues to go from strength to strength and we will continue to build on its increasing success, so much so that we’re already planning the next one…

 

If you would like more information about the ‘I ♥ Research Academy’ and how to get involved, please get in touch with Patient and Public Engagement Manager Jessica Sells.

 

 

 

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