A Great Start to NHS Fife and St Andrews collaboration for Health Research

Thursday 27 October 2022

The Inaugural Collaborative Research and Innovation Symposium for the University of St Andrews and NHS Fife took place on Wednesday 26 October 2022 at the Balgeddie House Hotel in Glenrothes. The Symposium was organised by the Joint Research Office planning team, a new collaboration between the University of St Andrews and NHS Fife.

130 people attended the symposium from a variety of academic, clinical, research administrative and governance backgrounds. The event provided a great opportunity for colleagues from both institutions to meet and share experiences and plans for future research and innovation.

The programme consisted of plenary talks with a focus on PhD students and Early Career Researchers and 22 poster presentations, which covered an impressive breadth from Basic to Behavioural Science .

The keynote speaker was the new Chief Scientist (Health) for Scotland, Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, who joined remotely.  She generously shared some of her experiences and highlighted how clinicians, industry and academics working together through research and innovation can lead to improved patient outcomes, better health services and overall population health and wellbeing.  Next we heard updates in the strategic direction enabling us to do this work from our CSO for Health: by collaboration, with a particular emphasis on collaboration between healthcare, academia, and industry. She also highlighted that Fellows and PhD researchers of today have the responsibility to lead with solutions for tomorrow.  We were reminded by our Mackenzie Director of the Goldilocks phenomenon; that Fife isn’t too big, it’s not too small, it’s ‘just right’ to pilot and test innovation. There was an excellent set of talks from researchers and clinicians about current work. There was such a buzz around the event, and clear areas of common interest, right up until the end.

The symposium organisers offered several prizes across a variety of categories for the poster and oral presentations. The winners were:

Best Poster, Basic Science – Dr Christina Fell for ‘Automated Detection in whole slide images of endometrial cancer biopsies’

Best Poster, Behavioural Science/Epidemiology – Shruti Sinha for ‘Improving the quality and value of care for people with poor prognosis cancers’

Best Poster, Clinical Research – Louise Finlayson for ‘Simulation of interoperative PDT of Glioblastoma using Monte Carlo Radiative Transport’

Best Overall Posters;

– Dr Amaya Azcoaga-Lorenzo for ‘Effect of maternal multimorbidity on the risk of preterm birth in Tayside and Fife. A record-linkage study.’

– Romy Ettlinger for ‘Catch it-Blind it-Deactivate it’

Audience Voted Best Oral Presentation

– Dr Amy Dorward for ‘Knock-out of MG23 cardio protects against pressure-overload induced cardiac hypertrophy and cardiac dysfunction’.

Feedback from the event was very positive and bodes well for future events.  One attendee summarised their impressions and takeaway messages from the day, “It was a fantastic event. We heard the answer to the question, ‘why combine St Andrews & NHS Fife Research and Innovation?’ from our Dean, – that health organisations that do research have better patient outcomes, and we heard a further imperative from our Medical Director – we need to ensure that the healthcare we provide meets the population’s needs.  I’ve come away encouraged and enthused about this collaboration, it’s future growth and the potential it brings, not just for Fife, but people, families, and communities globally.”

Organising Committee member Professor Frances Quirk, Assistant Director Research, Innovation and Knowledge, NHS Fife commented “this was a fantastic start to showcasing our joint research and innovation ecosystem, demonstrating existing collaborations and creating opportunities for academics and clinicians to connect and identify where they can work together to deliver on the health priorities for the population of Fife, Scotland and globally. It was so pleasing to see many staff and colleagues from across the two organisations coming together on the day to begin and continue the conversations that will lead to better health for all.”  Professor Frank Sullivan, Director of Research, School of Medicine commented “Effective research depends on culture, infrastructure and skills.  This inaugural collaborative events has contributed to developing all three of these elements shared between the University and NHSFife.”

The event highlighted the important and developing collaborative relationship between the University of St Andrews and NHS Fife and is planned to be an annual occurrence.  It aims to provide a framework for local clinical and academic communities to engage in multidisciplinary research that will give meaningful patient and population health outcomes in the future.

The Joint Research Office planning team can be contacted at: [email protected] for more information.

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