University of Birmingham and Trinity College Dublin launch new partnership

The University of Birmingham and Trinity College Dublin have launched a strategic research and education partnership which aims to strengthen European academic links and enhance collaborative research outputs.
 
Experts from each University will work together initially across three shared research strengths: clinical trials and training; biomaterials; and digital textual editing. Further joint areas will be developed as the partnership matures.
 
And as students face uncertainty about study opportunities in Europe post-Brexit, the two universities will create exchange opportunities through a student mobility agreement allowing Birmingham students to spend time studying at Dublin, and vice-versa.
 
The partnership agreement was signed at a special ceremony by Trinity College Dublin Provost Dr. Patrick Prendergast and University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood.
 
Read the full story here.
 

Two Medical Concierge Companies launch Birmingham offering at Arab Health 2019

To support the growing number of private clinics treating patients with complex and life-threatening conditions in Edgbaston, Birmingham, two medical concierge companies are launching patient pathway offerings for international patients and referrers at Arab Health.
 
Located in Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, Edgbaston Medical Quarter offers some of the best places for international private patients to receive healthcare – particularly in oncology, orthopaedics, trauma, diabetes, rehabilitation, fertility and mental health.
 
The companies – Lexihealth and Medical VIP International – both offer ‘door-to-door’ health concierge services with transparent costs that allows rapid access to the best UK healthcare for patients from around the world and the Middle East.
 
Designed to guide patients through every aspect of their needs, the bespoke services provide easy access to world-class healthcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham and help take the stress away. Whether this is choosing the right medical consultant to arranging travel logistics such as flights and accommodation for patients, their family or companions, right through to rehabilitation and repatriation.
 
The personised service also includes lifestyle requests such as schooling, booking restaurants, organising translators, chauffeurs and city guides. 
 
Dedicated medical concierge gives referrers and patients choices, helping to deliver the best outcome by transparency, complete independence, trust and quality care.
 
CEO of Lexihealth, Annabelle Neame, said: “We manage the often-complex healthcare journey, from appointment negotiation to all the administration associated with one’s treatment and invoicing. Lexihealth offers a personalised and co-ordinated quality care with a discreet, bespoke handheld concierge service throughout. There is a single point of contact with dedicated patient liaison managers appointed to each case and with appointments, screenings and treatments at times and in locations to suit the patient.”
 
Dr Mahnaz Hashmi, Co-founder of Medical VIP International, said: “Choosing a properly qualified independent healthcare practitioners whom you can trust, especially in a different country, can be extremely difficult. Regulation and pricing structures can also be confusing. International Medical VIP can guide you through every step of the way from medical sourcing to a hassle-free billing service and a personal concierge service. Every patient can tailor the service to meet their needs and those of their family or companion.”
 
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Calthorpe Estates which is home to EMQ, added: “Launching the patient pathway provides referrers and international patients with access to some of the best healthcare treatment centres in the world, offering choice and making the whole process stress free. We see this as an important part of our enhanced service to support both patients and our world-class hospitals, specialist healthcare centres and eminent clinicians.”
 
To find out more about Edgbaston’s new medical concierge package visit the Edgbaston Medical Quarter stand in the UK Pavilion, hall 7 stand H7D50.
 

Two Medical Concierge Companies launch Birmingham offering at Arab Health 2019

To support the growing number of private clinics treating patients with complex and life-threatening conditions in Edgbaston, Birmingham, two medical concierge companies are launching patient pathway offerings for international patients and referrers at Arab Health.
 
Located in Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, Edgbaston Medical Quarter offers some of the best places for international private patients to receive healthcare – particularly in oncology, orthopaedics, trauma, diabetes, rehabilitation, fertility and mental health.
 
The companies – Lexihealth and Medical VIP International – both offer ‘door-to-door’ health concierge services with transparent costs that allows rapid access to the best UK healthcare for patients from around the world and the Middle East.
 
Designed to guide patients through every aspect of their needs, the bespoke services provide easy access to world-class healthcare in Edgbaston, Birmingham and help take the stress away. Whether this is choosing the right medical consultant to arranging travel logistics such as flights and accommodation for patients, their family or companions, right through to rehabilitation and repatriation.
 
The personised service also includes lifestyle requests such as schooling, booking restaurants, organising translators, chauffeurs and city guides. No request is too ever too small.
 
Dedicated medical concierge gives referrers and patients choices, helping to deliver the best outcome by transparency, complete independence, trust and quality care.
 
CEO of Lexihealth, Annabelle Neame, said: “We manage the often-complex healthcare journey, from appointment negotiation to all the administration associated with one’s treatment and invoicing. Lexihealth offers a personalised and co-ordinated quality care with a discreet, bespoke handheld concierge service throughout. There is a single point of contact with dedicated patient liaison managers appointed to each case and with appointments, screenings and treatments at times and in locations to suit the patient.”
 
Dr Mahnaz Hashmi, Co-founder of Medical VIP International, said: “Choosing a properly qualified independent healthcare practitioners whom you can trust, especially in a different country, can be extremely difficult. Regulation and pricing structures can also be confusing. International Medical VIP can guide you through every step of the way from medical sourcing to a hassle-free billing service and a personal concierge service. Every patient can tailor the service to meet their needs and those of their family or companion.”
 
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Calthorpe Estates which is home to EMQ, added: “Launching the patient pathway provides referrers and international patients with access to some of the best healthcare treatment centres in the world, offering choice and making the whole process stress free. We see this as an important part of our enhanced service to support both patients and our world-class hospitals, specialist healthcare centres and eminent clinicians.”
 
To find out more about Edgbaston’s new medical concierge package visit the Edgbaston Medical Quarter stand in the UK Pavilion, hall 7 stand H7D50.
 
 

Edwards Trust celebrates 30th Anniversary

Local charity Edward’s Trust celebrates 30 years of supporting children and families facing loss and surviving bereavement

2019 marks 30 years of Edgbaston based charity, Edward’s Trust, who support bereaved families in the West Midlands. Supporters are invited to a celebratory event at The Binding Site Group, Edgbaston on Tuesday 29th January (6.30pm till 8.00pm) to launch their year of celebrations. The launch event will not only give supporters a view into how their vital work helps thousands of families across the West Midlands each year, but it will also showcase the programme of events for 2019.

Edward’s Trust officially became a registered charity on 10th March 1989 and was founded by Peter and Hilary Dent following the death of their 7 year old son; Edward. Edward died on 29 July 1988 after a battle with a rare form of cancer. Edward’s short but beautiful life inspired the foundation of Edward’s Trust to provide support to thousands of families with a child with a life threatening illness (as it did in the earlier years) and families facing loss and surviving bereavement, (as it does today).

Founder, honorary president and Edward’s father, Peter Dent says, “When your child dies you are left very much alone. We wanted to go beyond just counselling and what we created was what is now called ‘Wellbeing in Bereavement’. It’s amazing to think that we’ve moved from supporting 40 bereaved families to over 3000 every year. If you add these numbers up over 30 years, this is tens of thousands of families that have come through the doors of Edward’s Trust.”

Edward’s Trust are also delighted to share the news that their Patron and long-term supporter, Judy Dyke, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Queen’s Honours List. Judy has been recognised for her outstanding work with Edward’s Trust and the wider community. Judy has been supporting Edward’s Trust for many years and has helped the Charity on lots of different projects. In 1998, Judy was key in helping to raise more than £656,000 towards the move of the original Edward's House to larger premises near Birmingham Children's Hospital. She became a patron in 1999 and continues to help the Trust each year to generate the vital funding needed to provide our services to bereaved families in the West Midlands. The remembrance event ‘Tree of Light,‘ that Judy organises each December Christmas at her Solicitors firm, Tyndallwoods in Edgbaston, raises approximately £2,000 for Edward’s Trust every year.

Over the past 30 years Edward’s Trust has evolved from an organisation providing home from home accommodation in Birmingham, for families who had a seriously ill child in hospital, to what it is today – a holistic bereavement support service for parents, children and carers. The Trust offers support through counselling and a ‘Wellbeing in Bereavement’ service that includes complementary therapies and respite bereavement care for bereaved parents and carers. Edward’s Trust also provides specialist support groups, retreats and social activities as part of its holistic bereavement support service.

Edward’s Trust now receives around 750 new referrals every year. The work programme provided by the Trust has expanded, and referrals increasingly reflect the challenging and changing world we live in. The Trust now supports bereaved families who have experienced traumatic deaths from violence, accident, road traffic collisions and suicide. Edward’s Trust provide support for weeks, months and even years in some cases. There is no limit on how many sessions family members can have, and once they finish regular sessions they are always welcome to return should they need to.

It costs over £580,000 for Edward's Trust to provide their bereavement services to the thousands of families they support each year. Edward’s Trust are reliant on donations given from supporters, fundraising events and trusts/grants. To find out how you can get involved and support Edward’s Trust this year, reserve your place at the launch event on the 29th January by sending an RSVP to fundraising@edwardstrust.org.uk.

 
 
 
 

International medical pathway for Middle East patients launched at Arab Health 2019

Edgbaston Medical Quarter is launching a new patient pathway to provide a door-to-door service to international private patients for complex healthcare treatments to Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city.
 
International private patients and referrers will have a choice of medical concierge options with transparent costs to access the best of UK treatments in oncology, orthopaedics, trauma, diabetes, rehabilitation, fertility and mental health.
 
Located in the heart of the UK, Edgbaston Medical Quarter is attracting renowned hospitals, specialist care centres and clinicians. The area is a beacon for world-class medical excellence and has become an ideal place for international patients to seek treatment. An example of this is Circle Birmingham Hospital’s new 19,000 sq m (204,514 sq ft) state-of-the-art facility, opening summer 2019, which will treat patients with a wide range of conditions.
 
Birmingham is a cosmopolitan city with over 40% of the population being from ethnic minorities – of which 21.8% are Muslim. Birmingham International Airport offers direct routes to over 150 worldwide destinations including Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries.
 
Within Edgbaston Medical Quarter there are a wide range of accommodation options to suit individual patient needs, from high end boutique hotels and 4-star luxury hotels, to serviced apartments and homes to rent for family groups and longer stays.
 
Birmingham boasts over 570 parks – more than any other European city – totalling over 3,500 hectares (14 sq mi) of public open space. Furthermore, it is home to some of the finest shopping and entertainment in the UK, world-class leisure facilities and 6 Michelin starred restaurants. 
 
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Calthorpe Estates, which is home to Edgbaston Medical Quarter, said: “Patients choose Edgbaston because of its healthcare excellence, value, and access to eminent clinicians and the latest cutting-edge treatments. Edgbaston Medical Quarter’s medical facilities also sit alongside thriving leisure and lifestyle communities, which means family members and companions can enjoy award-winning places to eat and a host of arts, leisure and sports facilities. It is also a culturally diverse and welcoming city, with beautiful green open spaces which are the perfect place to relax and recover.”
 
“The new medical concierge services deliver a bespoke service and have been designed to guide patients through every aspect of their needs, they help to take the stress away by giving patients and referrers choice, transparency and access to world-class medical care.”
 
To find out more about Edgbaston’s new medical concierge package visit the Edgbaston Medical Quarter stand in the UK Pavilion, Hall 7 stand H7D50.
 
ENDS
 
Notes to Editors
 
Calthorpe Estates home to Edgbaston Medical Quarter, is one of the UK’s most forward-thinking and progressive property investment and development companies. Family-owned, its prime focus has been to create thriving communities within its prestigious 1,600 acres Calthorpe Estate in Edgbaston, in the heart of the UK. For over 300 years, Calthorpe Estates has been sustainably developing the Estate to create the best places to live and work. The Estate is home to flourishing commercial, medical, leisure and residential communities and incorporates one of the UK’s largest urban conservation areas, just a mile from Birmingham’s city centre. For more information visit www.calthorpe.co.uk
 
Media contacts
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact EMQ – Julia Price DD: +44 (0) 7737 864878, Email: julia@juliaprice.co.uk
 
 
 
 

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories

When we remember a past event, the human brain reconstructs that experience in reverse order, according to a new study at the University of Birmingham.
 
Understanding more precisely how the brain retrieves information could help us better assess the reliability of eye witness accounts, for example of crime scenes, where people often are able to recall the overall ‘gist’ of an event, but recall specific visual details less reliably.
 
The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers in the Centre for Human Brain Health, who reconstructed the memory retrieval process, using brain decoding techniques. These techniques make it possible to track when in time a unique memory is being reactivated in the brain.
 
They found that, when retrieving information about a visual object, the brain focuses first on the core meaning – recovering the ‘gist’ – and only afterwards recalls more specific details.
 
This is in sharp contrast to how the brain processes images when it first encounters them. When we initially see a complex object, it’s the visual details – patterns and colours – that we perceive first. Abstract, meaningful information that tells us the nature of the object we’re looking at, whether it’s a dog, a guitar, or a cup, for example, comes later.
 
“We know that our memories are not exact replicas of the things we originally experienced” says Juan Linde Domingo, lead author of the study. “Memory is a reconstructive process, biased by personal knowledge and world views – sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. But exactly how memories are reconstructed in the brain, step by step, is currently not well understood.”
 
During the study, participants saw images of specific objects, and then learned to associate each image with a unique reminder word, for example the word ‘spin’ or ‘pull’. The participants were later presented with the reminder word and asked to reconstruct the associated image in as much detail as possible.
 
Brain activity was recorded throughout the task via 128 electrodes attached to the scalp, allowing the researchers to observe changes in brain patterns with millisecond precision. Finally the researchers trained a computer algorithm to decode what kind of image the participant was retrieving at different points in the task. Read the full article here
 
 
 

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories

When we remember a past event, the human brain reconstructs that experience in reverse order, according to a new study at the University of Birmingham.
 
Understanding more precisely how the brain retrieves information could help us better assess the reliability of eye witness accounts, for example of crime scenes, where people often are able to recall the overall ‘gist’ of an event, but recall specific visual details less reliably.
 
The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers in the Centre for Human Brain Health, who reconstructed the memory retrieval process, using brain decoding techniques. These techniques make it possible to track when in time a unique memory is being reactivated in the brain.
 They found that, when retrieving information about a visual object, the brain focuses first on the core meaning – recovering the ‘gist’ – and only afterwards recalls more specific details.
This is in sharp contrast to how the brain processes images when it first encounters them. When we initially see a complex object, it’s the visual details – patterns and colours – that we perceive first. Abstract, meaningful information that tells us the nature of the object we’re looking at, whether it’s a dog, a guitar, or a cup, for example, comes later.
“We know that our memories are not exact replicas of the things we originally experienced” says Juan Linde Domingo, lead author of the study. “Memory is a reconstructive process, biased by personal knowledge and world views – sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. But exactly how memories are reconstructed in the brain, step by step, is currently not well understood.”
During the study, participants saw images of specific objects, and then learned to associate each image with a unique reminder word, for example the word ‘spin’ or ‘pull’. The participants were later presented with the reminder word and asked to reconstruct the associated image in as much detail as possible.
Brain activity was recorded throughout the task via 128 electrodes attached to the scalp, allowing the researchers to observe changes in brain patterns with millisecond precision. Finally the researchers trained a computer algorithm to decode what kind of image the participant was retrieving at different points in the task. Read the full article here
 
 
 

Leading scientist to investigate new blood test which could help spot bowel cancer sooner

Leading scientist awarded £500,000 to investigate new blood test which could help spot bowel cancer sooner
 
Professor Ian Tomlinson, director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham, has teamed up with colleagues in the UK and Denmark to investigate whether early signs of bowel cancer can be spotted in people’s blood stream.
 
The NHS bowel screening test looks for traces of blood in people’s faeces which can be present when people have bowel cancer or pre-cancerous changes called polyps.
 
Currently, if blood is detected, the person may be asked to take the test again or meet with a specialist to discuss having a colonoscopy – which looks at the inside of the large bowel.
 
Prof Tomlinson said that, if successful, the research could lead to a blood test being offered to people who had already had a positive screening test to enable doctors to distinguish between those in need of an urgent colonoscopy and those who could have less urgent investigation. Read the full article here

Call for funding to develop stoma products inspired by body art, tattoos and lingerie

9 January 2019: Stephanie Monty, an entrepreneur from the University of Birmingham’s BizzInn business incubator, has been awarded £310k by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. Inspired by seeing close family members suffering from the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease, she set up her company, Ostique, to develop a new range of stylish stoma products that are beautiful as well as functional.

Every morning 200,000 people in the UK alone face a new day with a hole in their abdomen, a stoma, which diverts bowel waste. A stoma is often necessary as a result of cancer or bowel disease. Unable to use the toilet “normally” patients must wear a “stuck-on” fabric ostomy bag over the opening to collect their waste.

Living with a stoma can be completely debilitating. The physical changes post-surgery are compounded by the limitations of currently available appliances including the bag leaking, poor deodorisation and skin irritation. This impacts on patient’s physical and mental wellbeing, making daily activities such as work, socialising and intimacy, challenges fraught with anxiety. Up to a quarter of ostomates endure social isolation, anxiety, depression, even suicidal inclinations.

Stephanie’s company Ostique has developed a new range of ostomy products inspired by body art, tattoos and lingerie. Designed to give people with a stoma ‘freedom from the traditional ostomy bag’ which can be uncomfortable and stigmatizing. Ostique’s designs can be worn while swimming, on the beach, in the gym, or during intimate occasions; times when exposing a typical ostomy bag would cause embarrassment.

More akin to fashion items than medical appliances, the Ostique range will include embossed stoma covers that can be colour-matched to the user’s skin and a disposable waste-collection insert. Ostique’s patented designs use innovative adhesives to reduce skin inflammation.

Stephanie set up Ostique in 2017.

During her research, she interviewed over 200 patients and found that for many, wearing an ostomy bag, rather than the stoma itself caused the greatest distress. She believes passionately that good medical design should encompass the patient’s physical and psychological needs, and set about designing products that would do just that.

Stephanie commented: “The ostomy bag is a necessity, but it is also a constant reminder of disability. The depression, social anxiety and isolation experienced by many ostomates is very real: some people are afraid to leave the house, and going swimming or baring all on the beach is something that most could not dream of doing.”

Whilst at the BizzInn, she was introduced to the ERDF-funded Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC), and the NIHR Trauma Management MIC, both located at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which are providing support for the testing and commercialization of the product. Cambridge Design Partnership will work with Stephanie to create detailed design specifications, trial the product and bring it to manufacture.

The charity Bowel & Cancer Research is leading on all aspects of patient involvement, including testing the prototypes with volunteers before they go into production.

The Innovate UK funding has provided a significant boost to Ostique, which aims to launch its first products in 2022. The company is now looking for match-funding.

 

Molecule discovery holds promise for gene therapies for psoriasis

20 December 2018: Scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a protein that could hold the key to novel gene therapies for skin problems including psoriasis – a common, chronic skin disease that affects over 100 million people worldwide.
 
The protein is a fragment of a larger molecule, called JARID2, which was previously believed to only be present in the developing embryo, where it coordinates the formation of tissues and organs.
 
However researchers led by Dr Aditi Kanhere from the School of Biosciences found a shortened form of JARID2 in adult skin cells, and they showed it is responsible for ensuring these skin cells ‘differentiate’ (become a more specialised cell type).
 
They dubbed the newly discovered protein N-JARID2.
 
The significance of this finding was immediately recognised by Dr Kanhere’s team, which studies how gene expression is regulated in normal and diseased conditions.
 
Dr Kanhere explains: “In some diseases, cells lose their ability to differentiate, and reproduce more rapidly. Being able to redirect cells back to their usual life cycle could alleviate the processes behind the disease.”
 
This is the case with psoriasis, which is caused by the rapid reproduction of skin cells. These excess cells are then pushed to the surface of the skin too quickly, resulting a build-up of cells that aren’t fully mature on the surface of the skin, and causing flaky, crusty red patches covered with silvery scales.
 
Dr Kanhere’s research, published today in EMBO Journal, shows that N-JARID2 is present in the skin layers, where it is where it is responsible for ensuring that the tissues maintain their usual state of differentiation which is necessary to properly form skin layers.
 
The discovery has caught the eye of the patenting team at University of Birmingham Enterprise, who filed a broad-based patent covering the use of N-JARID2 in therapies aimed towards conditions caused by hyper-proliferation of skin cells such as psoriasis.
 
The research team is now investigating how N-JARID2 is generated and its wider implication in disease, while the patenting team hopes that this discovery will ultimately lead to novel therapies for skin conditions.