94 schools from across the UK participated in the ‘Science in Medicine School Teams Prize’, an annual competition hosted by the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) and the British Heart Foundation’s Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial College London, with support from the NIHR Imperial BRC.
The competition aims to engage sixth-form students with science in medicine and encourages students to consider the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to scientific progress.
Entrants were asked to design an ePoster which illustrated a strategy for combining natural sciences and engineering with medicine to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities caused by specified diseases.
Schools were invited to form teams which were made up of members with varied interests to demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, maths, computing, data science and economics). They were also encouraged to enhance communication by including a designer or artist in the team.
This year, there were three separate contests:
- The British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Prize- Sponsored by the British Heart Foundation and the NIHR Imperial BRC Cardiovascular Theme, entrants were invited to focus on a topic with interactions between the cardiovascular system and the nervous system, for instance in causing dementia or stroke.
- The Lung Prize- Partially supported by the NHLI and the NIHR Imperial BRC Respiratory Theme, submissions could focus on any aspect of the prevention or treatment of respiratory disease.
- The Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK Prize- Sponsored by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK, entrants were asked to consider how to promote the health and well-being of individuals with Scleroderma and/or Raynaud’s.
The top ten teams in each of the three contests were invited to present their posters to imperial academics at a finals event in September and October. Financial prizes of up to £3,000 were given to support science-related activities in the winning schools.
BHF Cardiovascular Prize
In joint first place was Roundwood Park School and Chigwell School. Students from Roundwood Park proposed a non-invasive, medication-based treatment for patients who have experienced an ischaemic stroke. Chigwell School presented their proposed health monitoring invention on a poster entitled ‘Cardio Connect – How do we attain cholesterol count?’.
St. Olaves Grammar School came first place and designed a product called ‘AirAware’ to help in the early detection of lung cancer.
Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK Prize
In joint first place was Newham Collegiate Sixth Form, and the King’s School. Students from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form presented their proposed ‘Patch it on’ intervention, which utilises alpha and beta blockers to treat Raynaud’s. The King’s School designed a product called ”RayAlert” consisting of a smart ring and bracelet that connects to a smartphone to notify users of incoming Raynaud’s attacks and track individual symptoms and triggers.
Professor Dorian Haskard, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine & Rheumatology at the NHLI, said: “As in previous years, the enthusiasm of the teams and the quality of their presentations has been outstanding. The contest is a wonderful opportunity for sixth formers to exercise their ideas and imaginations outside the constraints of the A-Level curriculum and to understand the importance of science for advances in health.”