Intercalated Award – The Wolfson Foundation

In summer 2017 Scott Calvert was received the Wolfson Intercalated Award.  The award is administered on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians and aims to support medical undergraduates interested in future academic research.  The preclinical course at St Andrews had given Scott a strong interest in the respiratory system and the pathogenesis of infection.  This interest was accentuated by seeing patients with COPD and asthma during clinical placements in the community and ICU.  With this in mind I approached Dr Devesh Dhasmana and with his help I submitted an successful MD4003 project proposal to the foundation.

His project itself was a data review of the emerging infectious disease Mycobacterium abscessusAbscessus is a non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) and an emerging clinical priority in cystic fibrosis.  Abscessus can cause significant pulmonary function decline in these patients and is widely resistant to common anti-mycobacterial agents.  Data analysis revealed that the burden of abscessus in Scotland over this period was increasing by number and proportion of patients and identified the Greater Glasgow area as having a significantly higher burden of abscessus disease.

The second part of his project involved sourcing clinical records of patients with abscessus.  Due to regulatory issues this proved challenging in the limited time scale.  Despite this, he was able to visit the adult CF centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow to extract data on patients with abscessus.  He used microbiological records to collate a picture of the burden antimicrobial resistance to abscessus amongst CF patients.  This revealed that a majority of patients with abscessus exhibited macrolide resistance and a significant number of were prescribed macrolide monotherapy.

This project gave Scott an unparalleled insight into the challenges of clinical research, as well as giving me new analytical skills in data handling and presentation.  He hopes to present his dissertation findings at a respiratory conference next year.  Over the course of his project he also developed a strong interest in CF.  This has led to him applying for a summer studentship with the CF Trust at the Centre for Inflammation in Edinburgh.  This is a lab project investigating the response of CF monocytes to calprotectin. His project will be presented as a poster at the national CF Conference in September.  To this end, the grant from the Wolfson Foundation is proving useful for the exorbitant costs of living in Edinburgh over the summer! With growing career interests in respiratory medicine and anaesthesia Scott hopes to pursue these interests at Glasgow Medical School and beyond. Finally, Scott would like to thank Dr Dhasmana and Dr Davies for help and guidance during my Wolfson Application and dissertation.