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The Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences shines at the UEA Innovation & Impact Awards 2018

Congratulations to the FMH faculty who were finalists at the UEA Innovation and Impact Awards 2018. Particularly to Dr John Ford, Prof Andy Jones and Prof Nichols Steel who won the award for ‘Outstanding Impact in Health, Wellbeing and Welfare’. The awards were designed to recognise those who go above and beyond their roles in higher education. The ceremony itself, was held at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts on the 1st of February and was hosted by the university’s chancellor Karen Jones CBE.

Its categories included those who have made outstanding impacts in culture, health and technology, with finalists including professors, doctors, lecturers and both former and current UEA students.

Professor Fiona Lettice, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Chair of the judging panel, said: “We presented these awards to celebrate the success and impact of UEA’s pioneering research and innovation, delivered by our amazing staff and students with a range of fantastic external collaborators.

“These awards celebrated the many productive partnerships within and beyond the university that enable such excellent research and innovation outcomes.”

Professor Laura Bowater, Associate Dean for Innovation, FMH said: “At UEA, we have many talented staff and students who are using their expertise to generate outstanding societal and economic impact on a local, national and international scale. Being part of the judging panel was a real privilege and I am delighted that this award ceremony highlighted and celebrated these innovative projects.”

FMH Award Winners and Finalists:

Outstanding Impact in Health, Wellbeing and Welfare

This award recognises impacts of research and innovation which have made changes in practice, guidelines and procedures in the healthcare sector, leading to real world improvements to quality f life for vulnerable individuals or groups.

Winner: Dr John Ford (MED) ‘Improving access for all: reducing inequalities in access to general practice services’

Most policy initiatives to improve access to GP services target the whole population, such as an extended seven day opening. However research suggests that targeted services are needed for high risk groups, including those in rural areas and the elderly.

Research led by Dr Ford is exploring access to primary care for these marginalised groups, in particular vulnerable older people, and their findings are influencing NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, GP Practices and Local Authorities across England and internationally to reduce these inequalities. The project has already formed the basis of a national NHS England resource to reduce inequalities, it has supported integration of transport and health services in Norfolk, and has contributed to the service redesign of a Local Health Integrated Network team in Ontario, Canada.

Finalist: Dr Lee Hooper (MED) ‘Recognising Dehydration in older people’

Dehydration is a frequent problem in elderly individuals admitted to hospital and residing in long term care homes. Research led by Dr Hooper has shown that 20% of older people living in residential care in Norfolk are dehydrated. Unfortunately, accurate and effective tools to record drinks intakes are limited and often time consuming.

In response to this, Dr Hooper’s team have developed a novel, self-reporting ‘Drink’s Diary’. The diary has already been downloaded by hundreds of users for free. As a unique self-reporting tool, it empowers older adults in long-term care, increases awareness of the importance of fluid intake, indicates a need for interventions supporting drinking in older adults, and contributes towards optimal care in the elderly.

Outstanding Commercialisation of Technology

This award recognises innovations that have demonstrated outstanding use and exploitation of technology, including projects that have commercially licensed intellectual property to industry partners, and those who have formed UEA start-up companies to exploit intellectual property.

Finalist: Dr Justin O'Grady (MED) ‘Pathogen DNA enrichment for metagenomic sequencing based diagnostics’

Over 100, 00 people suffer bloodstream infections annually in the UK. These infections often lead to hospitalisation and identifying the cause of the disease using current testing methods can take a long time. While waiting for the results, patients often receive inappropriate therapy.

Led by Dr O’Grady, the technique developed enables clinical scientists to separate the small amount of bacterial DNA in clinical samples from the large amount of human DNA. The bacterial DNA can then be sequenced to identify which pathogen is causing the infection and which antibiotic will kill it, all in a much faster timeframe than current methods (less than 6 hours compared to 48 hours). The patent for this technology has been filed, leading the way to better treatment for people with severe infections and more sustainable antibiotic use in the NHS.

Consultancy Project of the Year

This award recognises outstanding consultancy projects that clearly demonstrate a commercial, social, health or cultural impact beyond academia.         

Finalist: Prof Richard Fordham (MED) ‘Home blood pressure monitoring in a hypertensive pregnant population: cost effectiveness analysis’

Hypertensive disorders complicate up to 10% of pregnancies, remaining one of the leading causes of direct maternal deaths worldwide. Therefore, increased blood pressure monitoring in hypertensive pregnant women is required, resulting in frequent hospital visits.

St George’s University NHS Foundation Trust consulted with Prof Fordham’s team to develop a cost-effective mobile application ‘HAMPTON’ that allows women to log their blood pressure readings from home and transmit the results directly to the Hospital’s doctors who are able to provide immediate advice in case of abnormal readings. The project has reduced unnecessary appointments, improving the efficiency of the Fetal Unit at St George’s and was nominated as one of five finalists in the Health innovation category of the British Medical Journal Awards 2017.      

If you have been inspired by what you have read and would like to find out how you can work with UEA to make an impact, contact Dr Karen Smith at, telephone +44 (0)1603 593 147 to find out more. This could be in the form of consultancy, funded research, student internships, or your own idea for a project – and we often have funding available to help get projects started.