Imperial College London

IBD diagnosis, eco-burials and awards for Imperial: News from the College

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Rose on a beach

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From the impact of delays in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) diagnosis, to a new sustainable approach to death and a plethora of awards for members of the Imperial community, here is some quick-read news from across the College. 

Sustainable burials shortlisted for award

Examples of oyster-bone burial stonesAn MA/MSc Global Innovation Design alumnus at Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering and Royal College of Art has been shortlisted for The Arts Foundation’s Futures Awards 2023.  

Louise Skajem was shortlisted to win the Bio Design Award for her work, which uses material exploration and biomimicry to design innovations that tackle climate change. Her most recent project, Resting Reef, is an eco-burial service that uses crushed oyster shells and bone ash to build reef structures that enhance marine growth. 

The annual £10,000 Futures Award for Bio Design champions designers working with biomaterials to accelerate the transition from extractive and carbon-centric design and materials. The award supports ambitious practices and design innovations that work towards symbiosis with nature.  

The winner of the Arts Foundation Futures Award 2023 for Bio Design, supported in partnership with The David Collins Foundation, will be announced on 23 February 2023. 

Louise said: “I am very honoured to be shortlisted together with three other impressive bio-designers. It means a lot to receive this acknowledgement and support for something I am so passionate about. I want to thank my co-founder at Resting Reef, Aura Murillo, who has been my main support since we met during our course at Imperial."  

Triple honour 

Professor Mandic giving a keynote address at the opening of the biggest South Korean AI hubProfessor Danilo Mandic has been appointed to three prestigious new positions starting in 2023.  

He will be President of the International Neural Networks Society, the premiere organisation for individuals interested in a theoretical and computational understanding of the brain and applying that knowledge to develop new and more effective forms of machine intelligence.  

He will also be appointed as one of seven annually selected Distinguished Lecturers of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, and one of five annually selected Distinguished Lecturers of the IEEE Signal Processing Society.  

Professor Mandic, of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: "I am delighted to receive these honours. I believe they are a clear recognition of the unique brand of creative thinking of the students and colleagues in our group and at Imperial in general. I extend my thanks to all." 

UK Young Academy 

Headshot of Fiona WalportImperial’s Dr Fiona Walport has been announced as one of the first members of the new UK Young Academy – a network of early career researchers and professionals established to help tackle local and global issues and promote meaningful change.  

As part of the first cohort of 67 members, announced by UK and Ireland National Academies, Dr Walport, of the Department Civil and Environmental Engineering, will help shape the strategy and focus of this new interdisciplinary organisation, based on areas that matter to her and the wider community. 

Dr Walport’s academic interests lie in numerical modelling, structural testing and the development of industry design guidance for the efficient design and analysis of steel structures. She is a graduate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers, a STEM Ambassador and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  

She said: “I feel privileged to join the first cohort which will facilitate and empower early-career researchers to contribute, challenge and drive forward initiatives for global change.” 

IBD diagnosis delays 

Person clutching stomachPatients who wait longest to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have double the risk of adverse outcomes such as bowel scarring, gut complications and bowel surgery, a study has found. 

Researchers from Imperial College London, St George’s University of London, and University College London have shared their findings from the largest systematic review of global literature of clinical outcomes for IBD to date, reviewing 101 studies representing over 100,000 people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.  

People in the quarter of the study population who waited longest after reporting symptoms had a wait of 7 and 15 months for their diagnosis of Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease respectively. These individuals were two and four times more likely to need bowel surgery following diagnosis. 

Professor Sonia Saxena, co-author and GP lead on the study, from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “These findings show that delays of just a few months can make all the difference and in poorer regions of the world delays at all stages of care pathways add up to worse outcomes for those with chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.” 

Read the full study in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics

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Ellie Cawthera

Ellie Cawthera
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Conrad Duncan

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Caroline Brogan

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