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It’s amazing that KentHealth is already one year old. It seems only yesterday that we held our launch event with a keynote speech from Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health. Nevertheless, we have made much progress over the last 12 months and this Annual Report for KentHealth 2011/12 highlights some of our key activities. It also acts as a portal to view what we do, and offers a single contact point for enquiries about how we collaborate with external agencies in developing new initiatives. I hope you enjoy reading it – and then look forward to the next Annual Report in another 12 months time! Professor Peter Jeffries, Director, KentHealth

If you would like further details on any topic in this report, or would like to discuss any other project, please contact Professor Peter Jeffries at:

T: 01634 888938 F: 01634 888890 Email:


INTRODUCTION KentHealth is the vehicle that arose from and delivers the University of Kent Health Strategy. KentHealth was launched in March 2011 with the aim of establishing an agency within the University to oversee, co-ordinate and communicate all our health-related activities. This would enable us to increase our collaborative research activities with regional healthcare stakeholders and to expand our postgraduate training provision in healthcare. In the absence of a medical school in Kent and Medway, we wish to build a virtual faculty of clinicians and other healthcare professionals with whom we work together to deliver highquality academic health provision across the region. This publication reviews the progress we have made so far, including projects and activities that are part of our vision to establish a Postgraduate Institute of Healthcare in Kent and Medway over the next five years. We have established good links with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery and also with a number of the regional NHS Trusts.

We have also agreed to work collaboratively with the other higher education institutions in Kent and Medway so that efficient and sustainable activities are fostered under the KentHealth umbrella. In the last year, we have introduced a number of postgraduate training programmes, either from scratch or by validating existing in-house teaching activities within NHS organisations. We have also set up special interest groups in a variety of research topics to complement those of the National Institute for Health Research Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN), and organised research training events within local Trusts. We have already hosted several conferences on health-related topics and provided pumppriming resources to establish new research collaborations. Details of these and more can be found in the following pages of this Report. To view the University of Kent Strategy for Health, visit



KentHealth / The First Year 2011-2012


Universities join forces in Kent and Medway Ten senior academics from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) have agreed to collaborate in health-related research and innovation. The academics met to discuss their complementary activities, and key areas of common strength, in which they could work together to develop a health research strategy for Kent and Medway. This follows an earlier agreement by the two respective ViceChancellors to explore mutual interests in health research. The collaboration will involve a series of joint workshops and seminars in three crossdisciplinary subjects where both universities have strengths: Assistive Technologies; Learning Disabilities, Mental Health and Dementia; and Physical Exercise as a Health Intervention. In addition, the niche area of spirituality and its role in wellbeing was also chosen for development. Several one-to-one collaborative projects are already in progress, but proactive collaboration will provide the multi-disciplinary teams essential for tackling the wider aspects of health research and to bid for larger-scale funding calls. Professor Peter Jeffries, Director of KentHealth at the University of Kent, welcomed the agreement, saying: ‘This marks an important step in presenting a united front on the health research agenda across Kent and Medway. We hope local Health Trusts will also come on board in the near future to develop a crossKent strategy for health research.’

Professor Tony Lavender, Pro-Vice Chancellor and lead for Research and Knowledge Exchange at CCCU, added: ‘This is a significant development and hopefully will foster greater collaboration on health research between the two universities. We wish to use our collaboration to further build our research links with the Trusts and Research Networks across Kent and Medway over the coming years.’ Last year, KentHealth also joined colleagues at CCCU to co-host a workshop on ‘Partnership and Collaboration: working together for research across the health economy’. Over 60 registrants came to hear Professor Peter Mathieson (Dean of Medicine & Dentistry) and Dr David Langley (Head of Research & Enterprise Development) from the University of Bristol give a presentation similar to one they had given to Universities UK members in 2010. They described how they had set up BRIG-H (Bristol Research and Innovation Group for Health), a framework for research collaboration involving the two Bristol HEIs and the six local NHS Trusts. The drivers for their initiative were the opportunities missed in working with industry, in-house competition for bids, and recognition that the combined knowledge and skills of the organisations were a major resource to the benefit of all. Once buy-in to collaboration for research was achieved, there remained the challenge of making it work, and we learned how the BRIGH models of working developed, and how successful initiatives had been fostered over

the last five years. A high-level senior management group was created with the remit to make strategic decisions to take the collaboration through its developmental stages, and an operational group set up to identify and build on research strengths shared across the partners. Since the workshop we have made great progress using this model. We have brought together the Kent and Medway Trusts, and we are working with the Kent and Medway Comprehensive Local Research Network, to identify research strengths and develop a research strategy. The University of Kent and the University of Greenwich already collaborate in research through the jointly owned Medway School of Pharmacy. The School has built up significant research, for example in areas of neuroscience, ion-channel biochemistry and drug delivery. There is potential for further collaboration in other areas outside the School of Pharmacy and initial discussions have been established. We are also involved in discussions to ensure that Kent and Medway are included in an Academic Health Science Network. For details of BRIG-H, visit

Public and private healthcare working together The Kent and Medway Care Alliance (KMCA, which supports the principles of self-directed care by working in partnership with service commissioners, service providers, service users and carers) recently joined representatives of Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent County Council and the University of Kent’s Centre for Health Service Studies for a KentHealth workshop, ‘Working Together for Adult Health and Social Care’. Professor Peter Jeffries of KentHealth said: ‘Bringing private and public providers of health and social care together to talk about collaborative working is one of our key aims. I am very glad we were able to combine forces to facilitate this workshop.’ Among the key questions considered during the day were: Thinking and Working across Boundaries; Reconciling Safety, Risk and Dignity; and Balancing Quality and Quantity Models, Structures and Frameworks.


Collaboration attracts funding In the last three years alone, the University of Kent has initiated over 50 health research projects, bringing in over £10m from 27 funding bodies. Five schools across the University have collaborated with external partners including East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT), Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) and the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. Special interest groups A number of special interest groups (SIGs) have been created to lead multi-disciplinary research. SIGs in neurology, health and social care, and assistive technologies have already met and we are now co-ordinating a telecare sub-group to develop a funding proposal around remote problem-solving of telecare devices in the home. Others in cardiology/stroke, e-health, infection control, renal medicine and service redesign are under development. The SIGs have been chosen to complement those within the Kent and Medway Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN), which provides support for clinical trials and other studies in all areas of disease and clinical need. Strengthening links KentHealth has joined the board of the Kent and Medway CLRN to strengthen links and last June we hosted a joint evening event for NHS Trust CEOs to promote the enhanced recognition of research and innovation within the NHS. With the same objective, we also have representation on the EKHUFT Committee of Governors as well as on its R&D Committee, the Medway NHS Foundation Trust R&D Committee, the Kent Public Health Board and the SHA-based Regional Research Co-ordination Committee (RRCC) and Partnership for Innovation Group.

Research Services KentHealth is also arranging for the extension of the University of Kent’s Research Services activities into the regional NHS Postgraduate Centres, to encourage new University-NHS collaborations. A programme of workshops has been organised recently including: • Writing successful funding applications, a Grants Factory workshop at EKHUFT, led by Professor David Shemmings of the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research • Vacation placements in clinical research teams in the NHS, led by Dr David Wellstead of the University of Hertfordshire. This workshop was set up by Annette King, of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Design Services South East (see p12). A successful student placement was completed in the Renal Department at EKHUFT over the summer vacation period and the Trust and KentHealth have agreed to fund two further vacation placements in summer 2012.

Galvanic stimulation benefits stroke victims Joint research between the University of Kent and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) has led to a new treatment which is already benefiting stroke victims. After a stroke, about a quarter of patients can experience hemi-spatial neglect, a disorder that causes them to ignore one half of what they might be expected to see. They may, for instance, eat food on only one side of their plate, fail to notice people standing on the affected side and, if asked to draw a simple flower, only recreate half of one; men may even only shave one side of their face. Everyday life becomes extremely difficult: sufferers can walk into objects, and driving a car is impossible. These are not the only symptoms, Dr David Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Kent and Chief Study Investigator, explained: ‘There is an underlying lack of personal awareness in patients, who will deny they have the condition. This means it is difficult for them to make full use of rehabilitation services, so it is a predictor of long-term disability.’ CONTINUED OVERLEAF



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It is believed that the condition is caused by areas of the temporal lobe being damaged – the area where visual information and spatial awareness is processed to give a 3D image of our surroundings. As medical advances mean that more people now survive strokes, the number of patients with hemi-spatial neglect is increasing. Now, in a study funded by the Medical Research Council, patients are being treated by galvanic vestibular stimulation – small electrical currents passed through the scalp that stimulate the damaged nerve pathways but are too tiny to cause discomfort. Dr Wilkinson explained: ‘We know from brain imaging studies of healthy people that these currents increase the blood flow to areas being treated, so the logical suggestion was that it should also be tried on damaged areas to see if it had the same effect. ‘After an initial trial several years ago that gave very good results, we began a double blind trial in July 2011, to run for 18 months and involving 20-25 people. Everyone gets some kind of treatment, and early indications show that the treatment can lead to long-term recovery, as we are delighted to say that most people seem to be improving.’

The £310,000 MRC grant is the first of its kind for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Mohamed Sakel, Director of Neurorehabilitation and Research and Development for EKHUFT, and Dr Wilkinson have been working on this non-invasive form of peripheral nerve stimulation for several years. A randomised controlled trial of this new treatment has led to much positive national media attention. This created excitement within the Hospital Trust and was highlighted at the EKHUFT CEO Forum. Some of the television coverage has been put on the EKHUFT and YouTube websites – see

Innovation in assistive technologies

So far, four publications and a presentation in the World Congress of Neurology has resulted from this collaboration, and a programme grant is the next aim of the project.

The University of Kent is a source of excellence in all areas of this exciting new field of health care, working on technological innovation and development, therapeutic evaluation and the integration of data into decision support frameworks for health practitioners. This research involves many of the University’s Schools and Faculties; in addition, we have developed strong, productive links with hospitals and their consultants and with industrial telecare companies. We strongly believe that these links are essential to excellence and innovation.

Headline findings of the Whole Systems Demonstrator Programme on telehealth and telecare, released in December 2011, showed that, if correctly used, telehealth can lead to a 45% reduction in mortality rates. It can also deliver a 15% reduction in A&E visits, a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 14% reduction in bed days and an 8% reduction in tariff costs. Kent was one of the pilot sites for this programme and the county has established a national lead in assistive technologies.

The numerous developments include devices for remote patient monitoring, miniature wearable tracking devices, medical electronics and hacker-proof wireless systems (a snapshot of our work follows). The University also has academic experts on all users of telehealth, such as the elderly, mentally ill and those with learning disabilities. • Telesupport for patients using electronic assistive technology This extends current work on basic emergency communication and simple physiological monitoring into the area of electronic assistive technology. This will help support remote set-up, updating, fault-finding and training, anticipate problems and increase efficiency in specific interventions. • Security in telehealth applications When dealing with vulnerable individuals, especially through remote management and monitoring, biometrics can ensure their security, preventing physical or virtual (eg, through the internet) intrusion. We are also extending this research to the transfer of data between health professionals. • Teletherapy in speech and language support Previous work in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts has developed clinical instrumentation for speech and language therapy, including the LinguaGraph electropalatography system, which displays tongue-palate contacts during speech. This has subsequently been modified as a home-use system, LinguaView. • Assessment and monitoring of neurological deficits We have pioneered the automated processing of handwriting and drawing to assist the study of conditions such as visuo-spatial neglect in post-stroke patients and developmental co-ordination disorder. We are currently investigating whether this may also be relevant to the support of Alzheimer’s patients. • Image analysis in conventional medical diagnostics The remote viewing of medical images can be used in ambulance service diagnostics and clinical consultations via telecare. We have already worked on the processing of two-dimensional echocardiograms and detection of masses in mammography, and are now investigating improved processing power by developing novel processing architectures for high-performance classification based on flexible intelligent agent structures.

• Medical electronics and embedded systems This includes the use of sensors to analyse gait, useful in the design of prostheses, and for the prevention of ulcers in patients with diabetes. These techniques can also be used to identify onset of Alzheimer’s disease. • Sensor communication The research of the Broadband and Wireless Communication Group into antenna systems and wireless networks has drawn recognition at the highest levels, including mention in the House of Lords of the group’s work on a wearable button antenna. • The built environment We are currently working with Thomas Pocklington Trust, the leading UK provider of housing, care and support services for people with sight loss, to evaluate the use of telecare at Pocklington Rise residential unit for sight-impaired individuals in Plymouth. The University of Kent’s School of Architecture is perfectly placed to collaborate with the School of Engineering and Digital Arts on designing the built environment to support telecare technology. • Ethics A number of Kent Law School staff have interests in the area of ethics and the law relating to assistive technologies, including: teleneurology, specifically looking at the ethics of devolving responsibility from clinicians to family and carer; privacy and surveillance; issues of autonomy; and medical data security.

Dementia diagnosis and care Experts at the University of Kent are researching many aspects of dementia, including those at the Centre for Health Service Studies (CHSS), the Tizard Centre, and the Schools of Psychology, Biosciences, and Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. Current research topics include: • MRI scans and types of dementia Professor Alan Colchester, Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences, is working on an EKHUFT-funded project on structural and computer analysis in clinical MRI scans to distinguish types of dementia: sporadic CJD, variant CJD and non-variant dementia can be distinguished with high specificity and sensitivity. Also, Dr Ali Hojjat (Honorary Lecturer in Computing) has a project on tracking brain nerve fibres using diffusion-weighted MRI. Loss of neural connectivity in the brain is associated with cognitive neurodegenerative disorders, and

diffusion tensor imaging can detect changes at an early stage. • Collaborative care for people with dementia in primary care (CARE-DEM) Professor Simon Coulton of CHSS is involved in this multi-centre study to design and evaluate an integrated care model for managing dementia. He was also involved in the trial of Memantine in the management of agitation in patients with Alzheimer’s. There are also a number of studies between CHSS and Pilgrims Hospices regarding end-of-life services. • Caring for older people with dementia Dr Rachel Forrester-Jones of the Tizard Centre has worked on the needs of older people with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties for Medway Age Concern Groups. Professor Mike Calnan of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research has completed an NIHRfunded ethnographic study on dignity in practice and the care of older people in four acute trusts in England and Wales, which showed dementia and confusion was very prevalent and posed significant problems for staff.

Health benefits of silver song clubs Can singing groups for older people improve their physical and mental health compared with usual group activities? What effect does singing have on anxiety levels and depression? And could such activities prove more cost-effective in terms of health care than usual group activities? A new project to evaluate so-called ‘silver song clubs’ has been undertaken by the Centre for Health Service Studies (CHSS) in collaboration with Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University under the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit scheme. CHSS Deputy Director and Professor of Health Services Research Simon Coulton is a principal investigator and has designed the project. He explains: ‘Previous studies have found that singing with others can help older people to physical, psychological, social and cognitive wellbeing, However, there is little documented evidence of how much improvement in health is a result of participation in community music programmes. This will also be the first study to investigate the cost-effectiveness of group singing for older people as a form of health promotion.’ CONTINUED OVERLEAF



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Professor Grenville Hancox, Director of Music at Canterbury Christ Church University said: ‘The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health recently found benefits in an evaluation of silver song clubs for older people. We hope this new study provides sound evidence for people who commission services.’

130 records of PhD research projects that form the mainstay of the work of current students at the University. Project topics such as ‘Computer-aided diagnosis of mammography images’ through ‘Enhancing supply chain management of blood donation services’ to ‘The embodied experience of sight loss in old age’ represent studies into the full spectrum of the care pathway, ranging from acute treatment to care home provision.

Research profile: Professor Friedrich Mühlschlegel Improving outcomes for deep-seated fungal infection Professor Friedrich Mühlschlegel (right) holds an Honorary Chair at the University of Kent and is internationally recognised as a leading expert in mycology. His research focuses on how fungi such as C. albicans cause disease, and his recent work in particular is recognised to be of fundamental importance in the understanding of fungal biofilms and medical device-associated infections. Professor Mühlschlegel is also Consultant and Head of Service in the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust’s Clinical Microbiology Service and, together with his colleagues from Neonatal Intensive Care and Head and Neck Surgery, he aims to translate these findings into improvements for patient care. Deep-seated fungal infection caused by yeast species including Candida albicans, or invasive aspergillosis caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Notably more than 40% of blood-stream infections caused by Candida species are found in intensive or highdependency units. In addition, increasing numbers of medical device-related infections are caused by C. albicans. Professor Mühlschlegel explained: ‘Surgical voice restoration prostheses, implanted in cancer patients following laryngectomy, often fail because of Candida infection. Together with my Consultant colleagues from Head and Neck Surgery and the Macmillan cancer nurses, we are actively working on this problem and designing a patient care pathway that aims to improve outcome.’

Additionally, Professor Mühlschlegel, who cochairs the Trust’s Antimicrobial Stewardship committee, has published extensively on a drug-discovery programme that characterises a new class of antifungal agents. He explained: ‘The management of fungal infections has undergone a profound change. Several new agents are now available and international expert panels have released new guidelines on how to treat fungal infections. Some agents are very cost-intensive. Together with my antimicrobial pharmacist colleagues, we are actively researching this issue and developing a leading programme in antifungal stewardship that aims to improve outcome.’ Professor Mühlschlegel is on the editorial board of several mycology and microbiology journals, has contributed to reference mycology text books, organised mycology conferences and has been invited to speak across the globe. He comments: ‘I feel extremely honoured to share my expertise and have been invited to give a seminar at Dartmouth Medical School, a member of the American Ivy League, in June this year.’ For further details, see:

PhD students are life-blood of health research Although we do not have a Faculty of Health, there are a large number of PhD students working across the University of Kent in a variety of health-related environments. Most of our Centres and Schools are represented in our KentHealth database, which holds over

Many of the projects have healthcare professionals as joint supervisors from outside the University to bring a professional or clinical dimension, including several within East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. We also collaborate with our partner universities and have co-supervisors from both Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University. The research that PhD students conduct is vital to sustain our research profile, and PhD projects often provide the seed material for follow-on applications to medical funding bodies for more extensive research grants.

“I am currently in the first year of my PhD at the University of Kent’s Centre for Sports Studies under the supervision of Dr James Hopker. I am working in collaboration with Medway NHS Foundation Trust on a long-term project: ‘The pre-operative effects of exercise and training on post-surgical outcome in vascular and cancer patients’.

“I have been working closely with patients, surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses to promote this research and to set up a new cardiopulmonary exercise service at the hospital, allowing anaesthetists to assess patients’ suitability for surgery. Being a part of this health-related research at Kent has allowed me to perform beyond my expectations and liaise with many fascinating people.” Katharine Richardson KentHealth PhD scholarship awardee

INNOVATION AND ENTERPRISE The University of Kent’s dedicated business development unit, Kent Innovation and Enterprise, builds strong links between research and business, to develop, support and create innovative projects and enterprising partnerships. It works with a range of business partners including start-ups and academic spin-outs, local and regional companies, multinationals and public, private and third sector organisations. The department actively works with NHS organisations and a number of Trusts within the region, and funding is available for some partnership working – for example, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) can support a range of health activities.

KTP is a UK-wide programme enabling organisations to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance. Successful national KTP programmes in health have, for example, included the development of structured systems for performance management and evaluating change in service delivery. In addition to Technology Strategy Board-funding for health-related KTP projects, three research councils also provide funding support: the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Some of our successes, and proposals currently being investigated include:

Identifying lung and heart disorders The University of Kent’s Centre for Sport Studies has secured a contract to carry out cardio-pulmonary exercise (CPX) testing of patients referred by Medway NHS Foundation Trust over the next five years. CPX testing consists of analysing the responses of the cardio-respiratory, circulatory and metabolic systems of referred patients against a ramp exercise protocol. It is used in the identification of lung and heart disorders and exercise capacity.

Developing telecare The ICE-T (International Centre of Excellence for Telecare) has been developed by the South East Health Technology Alliance (SEHTA) to support organisations developing business opportunities for telecare, while also meeting the needs of national government agendas to provide more efficient and effective healthcare using new communications technologies. Kent Innovation and Enterprise has been involved in a number of projects that you may have already read about in this Annual Report. These include the development of software enabling care home residents to stay in touch with their families via Facebook, texts, emails and an online social network, and a project addressing the issues of data security.

Mechanisms of disease The MRC and AstraZeneca have asked for proposals to research human mechanisms of disease and the development of potential therapeutic interventions. The University’s School of Biosciences has put forward three proposals, and the Medway School of Pharmacy has also submitted a proposal. The School of Biosciences has also seen an application to the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme go through from initial outline to full application.



KentHealth / The First Year 2011-2012


New framework for specialist Masters programmes KentHealth has been instrumental in helping to reconfigure the University of Kent’s existing postgraduate training provision so that it is fit for purpose in the rapidly changing healthcare environment. We have assisted the University’s Centre for Professional Practice to develop a generic framework for University-led training for PG qualifications in work-based disciplines. The Centre provides a generic core of modules in Advanced and Specialist Healthcare which are then supplemented by specialist modules contracted from NHS staff to provide the subject-specific elements to lead to a Master’s degree. This framework has initially been used to redesign our previous courses in Surgical Practice and in Supportive & Palliative Care, and to develop a new programme in Minimally Invasive Surgery with Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust IMACS Centre (see below). However, now that a sustainable and costeffective framework is in place, we are keen to find partners who wish to develop training in other higher specialist subjects such as gynaecology, cardiology, orthopaedics and neurology.

Centre for Professional Practice Based at the Universities of Medway Campus, the University of Kent’s Centre for Professional Practice delivers vocationally relevant courses across Kent and the Thames Gateway, including a portfolio of programmes relevant to healthcare professionals. Many students are attracted because they can bring to their studies existing knowledge and skills, which have been acquired throughout their professional and personal lives. Programmes begin by building upon the wealth of workrelated experience the students possess and, where possible, accredit it. This means that students do not have to re-learn what they already know, and this can cut down the time spent studying. Working people are often apprehensive about returning to study. This is particularly true when they haven’t learned for some time and wonder if they will be able to complete their study while juggling a busy lifestyle. Staff at the Centre understand these concerns, and provide work-based learning mentors who are able to support students at various stages throughout their studies. In addition to the Master’s programme in Advanced and Specialist Healthcare (see left), the Centre also validates and contributes to several programmes in Primary Dental Care.

For further details, visit

Courses include: Healthcare PGCert Advanced and Specialist Healthcare PGDip Advanced and Specialist Healthcare MSc Advanced and Specialist Healthcare Each programme contains a number of core modules, but enables students to also take specialist modules in either Surgical Practice, Minimally Invasive Surgery or Supportive and Palliative Care. Dentistry PGCert Primary Dental Care PGDip Primary Dental Care MSc Primary Dental Care All these programmes are taught in collaboration with the Faculty of General Dental Practice and with the KSS Deanery. The University validates the contribution of the partner organisations to ensure that the programme is fully compliant with the requirements of the award of a University of Kent degree at postgraduate level. Professional Practice MA/MSc Professional Practice For more information, visit:

IMACS Centre The International Minimal Access Centre for Surgery (IMACS, right) at Maidstone Hospital allows surgeons from across the world to learn advanced techniques in laparoscopic surgery, and keyhole operations are broadcast from a state-of-the-art Endo-Alpha operating theatre within the hospital. Professor Amir Nisar, the Director of IMACS, travels to other countries in Europe and Asia to teach and train surgeons and to share the skills and techniques developed in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals. Partnerships are in place with leading centres in America, South Africa and Hong Kong. IMACS facilities include a brand new 180-seat auditorium, highdefinition links, operations skills lab and lecture rooms with state-ofthe art AV facilities.

with a commitment on both sides to develop professional healthcare education in Kent and to share skills, knowledge, facilities and research findings, with the ultimate aim of improving standards of healthcare. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust Chief Executive Glenn Douglas said: ‘Developments in minimally invasive surgery at the Trust are of local, national and international importance. ‘Our partnership with the University of Kent is a sign of the skills we have at the Trust, and an indication of the standards we are aspiring to achieve within the NHS for our staff and patients alike. We are a county that can be proud of its academic achievements and advances in patient care.’ For further details, visit

The introduction of the unique Master’s degree in Minimally Invasive Surgery marked the beginning of a new relationship between the University of Kent and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust,



KentHealth / The First Year 2011-2012


Academic accreditation of existing postgraduate training in healthcare Rather than establishing new courses in areas where appropriate training already exists, KentHealth is working closely with regional NHS Trusts to consolidate or develop their inhouse training, mapping it onto a University credit framework for taught programmes. This is carried out in collaboration with the University of Kent’s Quality Assurance and Validation Office, which has extensive experience and resources to help partner organisations through the process. The Office’s comprehensive code of practice covers all aspects of running a course, including the level of information available for students – from timetabling to examination conventions, requirements for monitoring courses and student progress – and guidance for examiners. We have already collaborated with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery, helping to develop its existing provision for GP trainers which is now validated as a Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Leadership and Medical Education (see right). We have also validated a Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Dental Care for both the KSS Deanery and the

Faculty of General Dental Practice. Over 60 postgraduate students have registered in 2012. KentHealth liaised with the University’s Centre for Sports Studies, Centre for Professional Practice, and the Quality Assurance and Validation Office to set up these courses; the agreement is now validated under a Memorandum Of Understanding which clearly outlines the responsibilities of the two partners. A similar model has been used to agree a collaborative provision arrangement with Kent Community Health NHS Trust to develop a Postgraduate Certificate pathway for Trust staff. Students can now register on an initial 20-credit module on Woundcare Management and further modules in Palliative Care and Therapeutics are in the pipeline.

NHS Postgraduate Deanery for Kent, Surrey and Sussex The NHS Postgraduate Deanery for Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSSD) co-ordinates the delivery and funding of postgraduate medical and dental education in Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Within KSSD, the Department of Postgraduate General Practice Education covers the suburban and rural coastal areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex and is responsible for the health of 3,200,000 people.

A main activity is the recruitment of doctors to GP speciality training and the quality assurance of that training in both hospital rotations and GP placements. Professor Abdol Tavabie, Postgraduate GP Dean and Deputy Dean Director at KSSD, explained the background to the introduction of the Postgraduate Certificate for GP educators: ‘The General Medical Council and Royal College of General Practitioners have laid down standards for medical educators, moving to increased professionalisation of the teaching role with the gaining of an academic award. It was therefore most timely for KSSD to offer this qualification. ‘It was also logical to work with KentHealth to develop the award: based on the Medway campus and working in partnership with other higher education providers in the region, KentHealth delivers postgraduate education and training courses across Kent and the Thames Gateway. It has expertise in supporting professionals as they work by providing programmes leading to skills and qualifications which enhance their professional development.’ For more details, see



KentHealth / The First Year 2011-2012

CHANGES TO CENTRE FOR HEALTH SERVICE STUDIES University strengthens CHSS The University of Kent’s Centre for Health Service Studies (CHSS), a research unit of the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR), undertakes commissioned research and has a portfolio of competitively funded studies. It has a history of forming collaborative partnerships with service users, professionals and policy-makers in health and social care nationally and internationally to undertake research which is theoretically and empirically grounded. The Centre is now entering an exciting new phase and, after a comprehensive review conducted by a panel of both University and external members, will be investing in a number of new appointments (see opposite). These include a new director, Professor Stephen Peckham, who joins CHSS in summer 2012 from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In particular, the Centre will be increasing its expertise in the areas of health economics and biostatistics, and the management of large-scale data sets, all topics key to health service systems research. This expansion will allow CHSS to enhance its reputation for providing high-quality applied multi-disciplinary research across the health spectrum. This reputation is already augmented by its attachment to SSPSSR, which was given the top rating of 5 in the last Research Assessment Exercise. By offering a range of research and evaluation approaches including clinical trials, surveys and qualitative perspectives, CHSS is one of the most experienced and methodologically-focused research centres in the local health economy.

Research, Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Royal College of Physicians and EU Framework Programme. Activity focuses on vulnerable groups and the generation of an evidence base for health improvement; subject areas include older people, addictive behaviour, palliative care, teenage pregnancy, ethnic groups and adolescent health. Over the past five years, staff have been involved in almost 80 research projects and generated £5 million in research income for the University. In 2009, CHSS appointed Professor Simon Coulton and, since then, profitable trials activity and opportunities to collaborate with new partners have increased. In 2008, CHSS was awarded a contract by the Department of Health to run one of ten National Institute for Health Research, Research Design Services (see below). Providing assistance in acquiring NIHR funding is integral to CHSS, but it also gives comprehensive help across all funding sources.Through its teaching programme, the Centre also shares its expertise, with courses covering health services research, substance misuse management and short courses on research skills.

NIHR RDS South East Service CHSS and the Universities of Surrey and Brighton were awarded over £5m by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to run one of ten Research Design Services, providing research support services for five years to the NHS in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Bridget Carpenter, Co-Director Business at the NIHR RDS-SE, explained: ‘The Research CHSS’s main business is research and Design Service South East provides an development activity, and it has a long-standing accessible one-stop-shop for researchers in track record of applied, multi-method research the region seeking to improve patient care in a range of health-related areas. With its through research. It provides expert advice multi-disciplinary background, CHSS has been to local academics, NHS staff and others able to attract a diverse range of research grants from local, national and international funding bodies including Kent County Council, NIHR Research for Patient Benefit, NIHR Health Technology Assessment, NIHR Public Health

involved in health-related research, covering all aspects of preparing grant applications for applied research in health and social care, including statistics, quantitative and qualitative research techniques, clinical trials, evidence synthesis, health economics, epidemiology, public and patient involvement, ethics and governance.’ As well as workshops, help comes in the form of one-to-one advice and assistance. Jenny Billings, Acting Director of CHSS, added: ‘Our wide-ranging pool of academic expertise ensures that research bids are of the highest quality.’ The RDS in particular is able to help researchers to ensure that the NIHR requirement for patient and public involvement in research is developed – research ‘with’ or ‘by’ people who use health services, rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. The NIHR encourages patients and the public to be actively involved in all NIHR-funded health and social care research; the key stages are: • Set research priorities • Identify the important questions that health and social care research needs to answer • Give their views on research proposals alongside clinicians, methodologists, scientists, and public health and other professionals • Help assess proposals for funding • Take part in clinical trials and other health and social care research studies, not just as subjects but as active partners in the research process • Publicise the results. Recent successful bids the RDS has helped with include a project designed to improve the confidence and skills of teachers and parents of children with physical difficulties who have postural care needs. Previous research had revealed that lack of knowledge and confidence in providing postural care can hinder therapeutic goals, affecting children’s posture, function and wellbeing. Parents and school staff will be given training sessions to increase their understanding of postural care, with one-to-one support from physiotherapists and occupational therapists, in a programme to be rolled out across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.


University makes significant investment in new health experts Over the last two years, the University of Kent has recruited over ten new academic staff who specialise in healthcare research. These range from computer scientists, through social care experts, to virologists and pharmacologists. They are eager to engage with regional healthcare professionals and we have gathered the brief details of some of them together with their contact information.

David Brown Professor of Structural Biology ‘Together with three other ex-colleagues from Pfizer, I shall be expanding on previous research links with the University by launching a new start-up company, Cangenix, from the Canterbury campus. This is a contract research organisation that offers crystallography and biophysics services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. I will also be developing my own research programme as an academic and supporting ongoing research in the department with additional Structural Biology capabilities in the Biosciences department.’

Janet Krska Professor of Clinical and Professional Practice, Medway School of Pharmacy ‘My research centres on community pharmacy public health services, adverse drug reactions and medicines optimisation. I am investigating links between public health policy and practice in community pharmacy, the public’s views on these services, and evaluating pharmacy interventions about safe alcohol consumption. Other work explores how patients identify adverse drug reactions, reducing medicines-related risks on admission to hospital, and the impact of longterm medicines use on quality of life. A new project will explore use of medicines for behaviour control in nursing homes.’

Dr Caroline Li Lecturer, School of Computing ‘My main area of research is in brain signal processing and its applications, including EEG-based biomarker discovery for brain diseases, neurofeedback applications for medical and sport applications and the braincomputer interface. Also I am working on signal processing methods, including adaptive filtering, time-frequency analysis

methods and machine learning methods for pattern classification. The research aims to promote the application in public life-long health, wellbeing and healthcare.’

uropathogenic E. coli. Other interests include photodynamic inactiviation as a strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.’

Yuri Ushkaryov Research Director, Centre for Sports Studies

Professor of Biological Sciences, Medway School of Pharmacy

‘My study on the effects of mental fatigue on perception of effort and endurance received worldwide media attention. By studying the neurophysiology of perception of effort in healthy humans, I hope to provide a basis for future clinical studies on why patients with, for example, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney disease, have an abnormally high perception of effort during activities of daily life. I have also published on muscle wasting in chronic diseases, chemotherapy-related fatigue in breast cancer, fatigue in chronic kidney disease, and effects of progressive resistance exercise training in patients with prostate cancer.’

‘My laboratory is investigating how presynaptic receptors and trans-synaptic interactions regulate presynaptic Ca2+ and neurotransmitter secretion. The team has discovered latrophilin, an unusual adhesion G-protein-coupled receptor, which controls neurotransmitter release. Recently, we also discovered an endogenous ligand of latrophilin, a large postsynaptic receptor, Lasso/teneurin-2. Lasso interacts with latrophilin across the synaptic cleft, and this link is important for functional maturation of synapses. Both proteins have been strongly implicated in the same group of neuropsychiatric disorders.’

Martin Michaelis

Dr Scott Wildman

Professor of Cell Biology, School of Biosciences

Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, Medway School of Pharmacy

‘I have studied the actions of a broad range of different drugs in models from the fields of oncology, virology, angiogenesis, and immunology. A central research focus is the investigation of drug-resistant cancer cells in order to understand the underlying resistance mechanisms, to identify markers that predict the drug resistance status of cancer cells, and to determine therapeutic targets.’

‘My research focus is urinary system physiology (the nature and regulation of epithelial transport processes along the nephron, which has been extended to include epithelial cell function in the urinary bladder), a poorly represented area of basic and applied research, especially in the UK.’

Dr Wei-Feng Xue

Dr Jeremy Rossman

Lecturer in Chemical Biology, School of Biosciences

Professor Samuele Marcora

Lecturer in Virology ‘I received my PhD in emerging infectious diseases at the Uniformed Services University in the USA and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Northwestern University. My laboratory is currently investigating the functions of influenza virus morphology using advanced microscopic methodology.’

Dr Mark Shepherd Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry ‘I have a long term interest in bacterial haem biosynthesis, but have recently focused on nitric oxide stress in Campylobacter and

‘My research interests include supramolecular protein assembly, protein folding/misfolding, and amyloid disease/function. Many devastating human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), Huntington’s and Parkinson’s are linked to the way amyloid structures are assembled and deposited in the human body. However, amyloid fibrils can also occupy important functional roles, and they are incredibly strong and stable, having potential as engineered nanomaterials. My aim is to understand their assembly and nano-scale properties, and how amyloid behaves in disease and in a functional context.’

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