Archive for February 23, 2018

Radiation dose, image quality optimisation, the use of new technology in medical imaging (ISBN: 978-1-912337-09-5)

OPTIMAX, a multinational summer school for BSc, MSc and PhD radiography and physics students, had its 5th rendition in Oslo throughout August in 2017. It represents the only multinational and multiprofessional summer school of its kind in the world and it seeks to give participants a research informed teaching experience related to radiation dose optimisation in medical imaging. Outputs from each summer school include journal and conference papers and also a book.

Following on from the Oslo summer school a new open source (free) book has been published (http://usir.salford.ac.uk/46104/7/OPTIMAX%202017%20ed.pdf). The editors include Dr Annemiek Meije and Carst Buissink from the Netherlands and Professor Peter Hogg from the University of Salford. The book comprises ten chapters, four of which are empirical research papers conducted during the summer school. The remaining six chapters provide background information related to the optimisation of radiation dose and medical image quality. Chapter authors include all the students and tutors who participated in OPTIMAX 2017 and this year participants emanated from 8 countries.

Book Title and Photo of a Radiographer


Guide to Research Impact Evidence Collection

There is a growing body of opinion that holds that researchers have a responsibility to articulate the impact of their research to non-academic audiences. Indeed, the way in which research funding is allocated now increasingly reflects researchers’ ability to generate, demonstrate and evidence their impact.

A renewed emphasis on the importance of both planning and evidencing research impact requires researchers to develop ever-more robust and integrated ‘pathways to impact’ (as illustrated by Research Councils UK) within research funding bids in order to identify and reward the contribution that high-quality research will make to the economy or to society. 

Although there are as yet no specific guidelines on what constitutes impact evidence in terms of the next REF2021 exercise, the following pointers provide an indication of what researchers should be thinking about as they start to collect and collate evidence to support their impact.

 

General advice on collecting impact evidence

  • If you are looking to generate impact from your research, ensure that you engage from the start with the University Impact, Engagement and Environment Coordinator (Emma Sutton) and your School Impact Coordinator
  • Consider what indicators of impact are going to be used at the onset of the project – how will success be measured throughout and what will need to be captured?
  • Complete a stakeholder analysis for your potential impact
  • Be able to clearly demonstrate the pathway to impact: what were the steps taken, what is the embedded research etc.
  • Be able to articulate the significance of the potential impact (reach, audience, policy change, technology development) – the “Why should we care?” question
  • Use existing and well-understood baselines and gold standards to measure impact
  • Remember to store all impact evidence on an ongoing basis in the Figshare repository (see below for further details)

 

Here are examples of what evidence could look like:

    • Quotations from high profile figures
    • Testimonials, interviews (always including who, when, where and job title and with consent to reproduce)
    • Specific examples e.g. increased value of a company or number of lives saved by a new technology
    • Published reports as a result of research conducted (especially reports commissioned by independent bodies or those external to the immediate project)
    • Delegate lists to key meetings/conferences/exhibitions/events
    • Letters of support from external bodies

**Look to use both qualitative and quantitative data where possible!**

 

Points to remember:

    • Make sure that the evidence will be available in time to meet REF2021 deadlines
    • Ensure that information is robust and credible
    • Ensure that information is independently verifiable
    • Link evidence to clear targets and indicate whether these were met or exceeded
    • Provide evidence of research being widely disseminated, e.g. through tweets, blogs, access to websites, press coverage, broadcastings, downloads, sales
    • Find ways of communicating the research as it progresses to develop wider impact along the way (not just at the end)
    • Conduct exit interviews with the business if ending relationship/researcher if leaving institution – evidence of impact must be captured before departure
    • Be able to demonstrate that without the research, the impact would not have occurred: how has the research made the difference?

 

The University now uses the Figshare data repository alongside USIR in order for researchers to store evidence relating to their research.

It is therefore good practice for all researchers to begin storing all their impact evidence in Figshare from now onwards so that an institutional repository of impact case study evidence can be built upon.

Currently, Figshare accounts have been created for all those researchers within each School who have been identified as potentials for submitting an impact case study to REF2021 and beyond.

Figshare can be accessed at the following link: https://salford.figshare.com/

Figshare also run monthly webinars to help researchers understand the basics of the system and it is highly recommended that you register for one of these at the following address:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5kx95ST4RC-XKMYlguumgw

 

 

Remember: the earlier you begin collecting and collating your impact evidence, the easier it will make the final impact case study submission!

 

 


Researchers win £1.4m bid to improve prosthetics in Uganda and Jordan

UNIVERSITY of Salford researchers have won a £1.4m grant to look into ways of providing better upper limb prostheses for people in lower and middle income countries.

The project will enable researchers at the University – one of only two in the UK that teach prosthetics and orthotics – to develop better, low cost prostheses.

The funding has come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) who are committing £16m to a range of projects through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a £1.5b government fund to support cutting-edge technology that addresses challenges faced by low and middle income countries.

The team will be partnering with Makere University in Uganda and the University of Jordan, as well as University College London (UCL), and the Universities of Southampton and Greenwich.

New ways of making prosthetic limbs 

Engineering and clinical researchers across the three countries will collaborate to develop new designs, as well as novel ways of creating, fitting and evaluating how well the prosthetic limbs work, enabling more people to benefit from them.

Earlier this year, a team of prosthetics students from the University were able to create prosthetic upper limbs for a Ugandan woman who had suffered a horrific machete attack. The students built the prosthetic limbs in the University’s own Brian Blatchford lab before they were sent to Uganda to be fitted.

In many poorer countries, there is a huge demand for prosthetic limbs, because of problems with conflict or road traffic accidents, but there are very few hospitals and medical centres able to provide this specialist work, and few clinicians able to help patients maintain the limbs once fitted.

Researchers at the University believe simple ‘body powered prostheses’, which work by using cables to link the movement of the body with the artificial limb, could be the answer as they are easy to manufacture and maintain.

Researchers hope to address problems

Amputees in Africa and the Middle East often have very poor access to prosthetic services and the devices they are offered are often not fit for purpose, being expensive, providing limited function and being uncomfortable to use.  Researchers working on the project now hope to address these problems.

The two countries were chosen because of the unique challenges they face. While Uganda is one of the least developed countries in the world, with poorly resourced and fragmented rehabilitation services, Jordan is classed as an ‘upper middle income country’ with well-trained clinicians, but facing huge pressure on its prosthetic services partly because of regional conflicts.

The University of Salford is also now collaborating in two other projects in the area of prosthetics, also funded through the Global Challenges Fund of EPSRC – one led by the University of Southampton and another led by Imperial College London.

Life changing experience

Losing an arm is always a horrific and life changing experience, but in many lower or middle income countries it can have a truly devastating effect. It can deprive people already existing at a subsistence level of any ability to support themselves or their families.

Professor Laurence Kenney, research co-lead for Rehabilitation Technologies and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Salford, said: “Losing an arm is always a horrific and life changing experience, but in many lower or middle income countries it can have a truly devastating effect. It can deprive people already existing at a subsistence level of any ability to support themselves or their families.

“Sadly, it is these countries where there is a greater need for prostheses, but for a whole host of reasons it is incredibly difficult for anyone who needs an artificial limb to be able to get one.

“This much-needed research project will enable us to bring together an experienced team in the UK, Uganda and Jordan who can create better prostheses, designed for use in lower and middle income countries across the world, which I hope will have a long term impact on millions of people.”