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HTCf internship research to be presented at national conference

Two HTC Foundation (HTCf) interns have been invited to present their work at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research.

University of Leeds medical students, Vincent Ng and Aimee Lloyd, will present the findings from their internship research projects at the conference in Bournemouth next month (April 2017). The students worked on the projects as part of a multi-disciplinary student team, during an eight-week internship  in July and August 2016.

Junior doctor Stephen Chapman, from the HTCf, said: “The central ethos of the HTCf is to get students from different backgrounds working together and the internships were particularly important in allowing students the chance to work on real research questions. It’s great to see a tangible outcome from that interdisciplinary collaboration, in the form of these presentations.”

The two internship projects were conceived by HTC Clinical Director, Professor David Jayne, and HTC Engineering Lead Dr Pete Culmer, working with the HTC’s industry partners. The first looked at ways to standardise testing for novel surgical meshes, while the other investigated the feasibility of incorporating a sensor into an incontinence pad to test for urinary infection. The work was funded through the HTC and the IMPRESS network.

Twenty-five students applied to work on the projects, and seven were chosen from a range of disciplines to create the two teams. Working on the surgical mesh project were Vincent Ng (Medicine), David Wotherspoon (Biological Sciences) and Oliver Vickers (Mechanical Engineering). Aimee Lloyd (Medicine), Joshua Holden (Biological Sciences) and Gregory Waltham Mechanical Engineering) made up the team on the sensor project.

Each student was supervised by a senior academic from their discipline, working on different aspects of the project related to their specialism, while also meeting together regularly as a team to discuss progress and next steps.

“It’s been a great experience for the students, to understand how people can contribute different expertise into a project and create an outcome,” said Stephen. “They’ve also gained a lot of transferable skills which will serve them well, whatever they choose for their future careers.”

Vincent Ng will tell delegates in Bournemouth how his team developed methodologies to test the cytotoxicity, antibacterial properties and mechanical properties of surgical meshes, that could provide the basis for a ratification process for new surgical devices.

Aimee Lloyd will explain how her team proved the feasibility of a wireless Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) sensor able to pick up metabolites in urine that would indicate an infection, but further research would be needed to validate the device and assure its safety.

The HTCf’s second Innovation Programme – which culminates in the research internships – was launched in December last year. Work is already underway developing ideas for the second round of internships, due to take place this summer.