Staff from the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre were among more than 20 teams from across University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and the University of Birmingham (UoB) that came together to highlight healthcare innovation and research on Friday 19 May.

The annual Research Showcase in the Atrium at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham offered an exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes of the many innovative projects and research studies which help to shape the health care of the future.

Patients and members of the public were encouraged to get more involved wherever they can to help in the development of new trials and treatments.

Our team had a range of interactive activities to showcase the increasingly important role of genomics in our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of disease, including NHS England’s pioneering 100,000 Genomes Project. Staff were also on hand to showcase the newly-commissioned regional image sharing platform, which will be supporting delivering of the project in the West Midlands, with additional activities of their own, which included a quiz (answers below).

Other attractions included:

  • The use of virtual reality to help improve patient outcomes, with the InspireVR and VeloVR trials on show. InspireVR looks to reduce complications following surgery to remove the oesophagus (or windpipe), and the VeloVR team will be showing how using a virtual environment and cycling can improve patient mobilisation in critical care
  • The UoB School of Chemical Engineering exhibiting the early results of a gel spray that may be available in the future to treat burn wounds. A device to measure the depth of burns scars will also be exhibited
  • A simple “taste test” to tell whether you have a certain gene – part of the building blocks that make you individual
  • Super bugs were brought into the light – blue light – which has been shown to kill germs, with other light therapies being investigated as they can help boost the repair mechanisms of our bodies’ hard and soft tissues
  • Extracting DNA from simple fruit with a combination of interactive games demonstrating the variety of trials delivered by the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Facility
  • Research into lung injury and the latest information about the effects of e-cigarettes, as well as a look at rare genetic conditions that increase your risk of lung and liver diseases
  • The Institute of Inflammation and Ageing team (IRF) brought their portable ultrasound scanner to scan hand joints alongside biopsy samples to view through a microscope, in addition to information on Sjögren’s Syndrome and the studies run by the IRF
  • A practical demonstration of AliveCor, a mobile heart rate and rhythm monitor that is simply held in the patient’s hand to obtain an electrocardiogram (ECG) report. The device is easy to use for any healthcare professional and stores the recorded ECGs for future review. An accompanying phone or tablet app allows real time visualisation of the ECG recording, as well as storage of previous recordings for later review
  • A collaboration of researchers working with the West Midlands Air Ambulance Service that examines the body’s response to a traumatic injury, and whether a blood sample taken during the “golden hour” before a patient reaches the hospital can help to predict the secondary risks to trauma patients, will also be displayed. Visitors will be able to see how this team performs the experiments in the lab at their interactive stand.

Jo Plumb, Head of Research and Development at UHB, said: “Research improves the NHS and patient outcomes – hospitals that have active research have better outcomes for their patients. The showcase was an exciting way to find out how you can get involved and, like us, say: ‘I am Research.’”

Regional Image Sharing Project quiz answers: 1. In the term “CT scan”, CT stands for? Computed Tomography; 2. In the term “MRI scan”, MRI stands for? Magnetic Resonance Imaging; 3. How many images are taken by the Radiology Department at UHB each day? 300,000 (291,500); 4. Roughly how many images are sent to UHB from other hospitals every day? 120,000 (122,100); 5. How much time does it currently take to transfer images from one doctor to another in another hospital? 1 day; 6. What’s the name of the type of doctor who specialises in radiology images? Radiologist.

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