Collaborative advancements: University and NHS Fife unite for second Research and Innovation Symposium

Wednesday 1 November 2023
The day’s prizewinners (L-R: Mr Struan Loughlin, Mr Geert Koffeman, Dr Andrew O’Malley, Dr Sarah Bowers, Dr Joanna Bowden, Ms Simone Korsgaard Jensen), symposium organiser Karen Ross, and Population and Behavioural Science Division Head Professor Colin McCowan.

The Second Annual Collaborative Research and Innovation Symposium, co-hosted by NHS Fife and the University of St Andrews, took place on Wednesday, 25 October. Held at the Balbirnie House Hotel in Markinch, the event offered a valuable opportunity to learn about the remarkable health research being conducted by both institutions.

Following a warm welcome from NHS Fife Medical Director Dr Chris McKenna and Vice-Principal (Research, Collections & Innovation) Professor Tom Brown, the morning began with a keynote lecture from Chair in Public Health and Mackenzie Institute Director Professor Peter Donnelly. Prof. Donnelly explored the crucial, symbiotic relationship between clinical and academic medicine and lauded the recent expansion of opportunities for clinical academics.

The first presentations of the day were delivered by University of St Andrews PhD students. Ms Morag Milne outlined her efforts to define novel transport mechanisms of volume-regulating corticosteroids in the collecting duct of the kidney. She hopes her findings will help shape the future development of hypertension medications. Ms Mary Al Ahed examined the impact of long-term exposure to air pollution on hospital admissions in Scotland. She aims to use her work to inform environmental policy decisions. Lastly, Multimorbidity PhD candidate Dr Sarah Bowers discussed her research on how people with multimorbidity experience healthcare in the last year of life. Such insights are crucial to ensuring an evidence-based, patient-centred approach to palliative care.

The morning ended with an “Innovation” session, exploring how NHS Fife supports innovation through Health Innovation Southeast Scotland (HISES) and highlighting numerous cutting-edge projects from across the region. These ranged from efforts to reduce drug deaths in Scotland to a new strategy for tackling bacterial biofilms.

After lunch, the afternoon kicked off with talks by early career researchers. Presentation topics included mathematical modelling of cancer progression (OncoSim, Simone Korsgaard Jensen), telemedicine assisted opioid use disorder treatment (OLE/TMAT3, Dr Xujun Tan), robotic colorectal cancer resection outcomes (Cathleen Grossart), and the advantages and disadvantages of point-of-care testing (Dr Sarah Mills).

Following an overview of the extensive research support structures available at the University and NHS Fife, the day ended with a prizegiving ceremony. School of Medicine Director of Research Professor Frank Sullivan thanked all the presenters and congratulated the following winners:

  • Best Poster (By Category): Mr Struan Loughlin (Basic Science), Dr Andrew O’Malley (Medical Education/Medical Humanities), Mr Geert Koffeman (Clinical Research), and Dr Luciana Rocha Pedro (Population Health/Behavioural Science/Epidemiology)
  • Best Overall Poster (By Career Stage): Dr Sarah Bowers (PhD) and Dr Joanna Bowden (Early Career)
  • Best Talk (Audience Voted): Ms Simone Korsgaard Jensen

Reflecting on the day, Assistant Director for Research, Innovation and Knowledge at NHS Fife and Honorary School of Medicine Professor Frances Quirk said: “Our 2nd Annual NHS Fife and St Andrews Research and Innovation Symposium was a successful day of sharing news, knowledge and experiences.

“It was great to see an emphasis on public and patient involvement both in the Posters and as co-presenters in presentations. As ever we will integrate feedback into the development of our program for 2024 and look forward to evolving this collaborative forum to make new connections and strengthen existing partnerships.”

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