Since the emergence of COVID-19, Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine has been centre-stage in the national and global response to the pandemic.
The pandemic has altered the way we work together, not just by imposing virtual meetings but in how we collaborate and pool our skills and resources to better effect. This has been evident across Imperial, and between College and our NHS partners. New partnerships have been forged and our Academic Health Science Centre has grown stronger as a result.
The College’s expertise in education technology has allowed the Faculty to rapidly adapt in order to continue our mission of teaching and assessing our students, throughout the pandemic.
Key Clinical links
Modelling the pandemic
Our MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis and Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics continue to play pivotal roles in our understanding of the epidemiology of the virus. Alongside many others in our School of Public Health, they are working to model the impact of potential scenarios for healthcare systems and populations around the world.
Professor Robin Shattock and his team has been developing a vaccine against COVID-19 with the aim of protecting healthy people from being infected. This work, which is undergoing clinical testing, has been supported by over £40million in government funding, to fast-track the development and testing of the vaccine.
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Our NIHR Biomedical Research Centre is central to a number of national clinical studies that are trying to understand how best to treat people with COVID-19. Professor Graham Cooke leads our involvement in the RECOVERY trial, testing a range of possible treatments for the disease; Professor Tony Gordon is the Imperial lead for REMAP-CAP, looking at ways to help severely ill patients.
Understanding the virus
Our Department of Infectious Disease, led by Professor Wendy Barclay, has been working to better understand the biology of the virus and supporting colleagues across the College to advise on and accommodate their research. Professor Peter Openshaw is our lead for the ISARIC4C study—the largest undertaken in Europe—which aims to understand more about the disease and how it progresses.
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COVID-19 testing capcity
Our researchers are leading the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study which is a major programme of home testing for COVID-19 to track the progress of the infection across England. This research programme was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and is led Professor Paul Elliott and Professor The Lord Ara Darzi at Imperial.
To support further testing activity, the NIHR London IVD Diagnostics Pathway, based here at Imperial, has set up a testing pipeline to fast-track assessments of COVID-19 diagnostics within the College and across the country. Imperial has also developed an in-house COVID-19 test and trace capacity for staff and students.
The Faculty has a keen and targeted strategy to address the mental health impacts of the pandemic. The Patient Safety Translational Research Centre’s CCopeY study is examining how young people, aged 16-24, have been coping; while the CHARIOT study investigates the impact of lockdown on older people.
Teams from across our Faculty continue to carry out research to understand which groups and people suffer most severely from COVID-19, with the ultimate aim of helping those worst affected.
Supporting health services
Multidisciplinary teams across the College are working at pace to develop and make available a wide-range of resources to support health services; from protective equipment for our NHS partners in North West London to low-cost ventilator designs that can be used worldwide.
A wide range of staff and students from across the Faculty have individually volunteered their time to support a huge variety of responses to COVID-19. Clinical academics have retrained and final-year medical students graduated early to join frontline NHS staff.
Using technology to deliver our educational mission
As face-to-face teaching was suspended due to COVID-19, Imperial has been using its EdTech (education technology) expertise to keep delivering its mission.
For a number of years the College has been investing in digital technology and remote learning expertise. This has particularly been the case since the launch of its Learning & Teaching Strategy in 2017, with the formation of the Digital Learning Hub and the establishment of a number of cross-College projects funded throughout the four individual Faculties at the College.
In March, we saw what is believed to be the world's first ever open-book final year medical exam delivered remotely to students. The School of Medicine recently delivered live clinical teaching with Microsoft HoloLens.
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- Medical students take final exams online for first time (External coverage in The Guardian)
- School of Medicine delivers live clinical teaching with Microsoft HoloLens