Research Fund Awards 2014


Dr Nick Maskell

Award: £19.821 : Is pleural infection associated with longer survival in patients with mesotheliona?

Nick will use his Springboard award to research whether a patient’s own immune system can be used to fight their lung cancer. We have observed that patients with infection in the pleura seem to live longer than those without infection.  Our theory is that the infection stimulates the body’s immune system, allowing it to attack the mesothelioma as well as the infection itself.  Normally mesothelioma hides from the immune system by reducing the number of immune cells in the pleura, but pleural infection causes the return of these immune cells, where they recognise the mesothelioma and act against it, preventing it from growing so fast.


Dr Kathreena Kurian

Award : £4,975 Pilot study to Detect Brain Tumour Cells in Blood from the BRASH Brain Tumour Bank Southwest.  Kathreena’s aim is to revolutionise the methods of detection of brain tumours by simply sampling blood.  Approximately seven thousand patients in the UK develop brain tumours every year. Kathreena  is investigating whether brain cancers can be detected with a blood test since she expects them to shed cells into the bloodstream (already seen is breast, bowel and prostate cancers). This study is aiming to use a CellSearch® system to isolate and measure these tumour cells mixed-in within circulating blood.  This is a pioneering study which could potentially reduce, if not eliminate, the need for tissue biopsies or less accurate head scanning during follow-up.



Dr David Odd

Award: £4939 :  David will use his Springboard award to analyse and improve the educational issues for babies born early. Babies born early can struggle at school, and have impacts their educational and social successes, but often it is unclear why these children appear to perform less well than others. The aim of this work is to compare the educational outcome of babies born early and see if the way they perform at school, as they grow, can help us identify any specific educational needs and when the best point to provide special support may be. In particular we will also look at if the effect of going to school younger than other children has a persistent effect on your education. One important analysis will be looking to see if the population effects are bigger if you are born very early, or just slightly, as there are far more babies born a few weeks early and so any effect may be very important. 


Professor Tim Draycott

Award: £6039 : Monitoring rare events.  A comparison of four statistical process control methods. This study aims to compare four different ways to monitor rare adverse events in maternity care, such as stillbirths or babies born in poor condition, to determine which method:

  • provides the earliest warning of possible care quality issues
  • is easy to interpret for doctors, midwives, managers and maternity service users

We will compare the different methods to see which gives the earliest warning of potential care quality issues.   This study forms part of the NBT maternity research group’s programme of quality and safety studies; it builds on our previous dashboard study and will inform further research into the most effective ways to measure and monitor care quality.

Dr Helen Van der Nelson

Award : £19,880 : Intramuscular oxytocics: A multi-centre randomised comparison study of intramuscular Carbetocin, Syntocinon and Syntometrine for the third stage of labour following vaginal birth.  Helen will use her Springboard award to compare the treatments given for post-partum haemorrhage. Around a quarter of all global pregnancy and child-birth related deaths are due to excessive bleeding after child birth, or “post-partum haemorrhage” (PPH). In the UK, PPH affects approximately 10% of new mothers. PPH can be extremely frightening for women and can prolong their hospital stay, causing  them to need extra treatments including blood transfusion, and sometimes requires removal of the womb.  This study will be the first to directly compare three medicines and the overall cost associated with their use, to establish whether using a the different drug after vaginal birth is an effective and affordable alternative, and whether women who receive it are less likely to experience nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure in the immediate post natal hours. 



Dr Shona Methven

Award: £12,643 Dilemmas around Dialysis in People with Dementia: Ethical, Legal, Social and Clinical (3D Study)  If an older person with memory problems has advanced kidney disease, they have to choose between dialysis (a machine that cleans the blood, either daily at home, or three times a week in hospital) or conservative kidney management (treating kidney disease symptoms with pills and injections rather than using the machine). This is a very personal decision, since dialysis might prolong life, but it can also be very draining and lead to complications. Shona’s study aims to look closely at the decision-making process when opting for one of the available treatments for patients with memory problems. She will run focus groups of dementia patients with kidney problems and their carers, hospital and community doctors and nurses. Shona is hoping to publish and distribute the results providing the balanced views from patients and healthcare professionals about the pros and cons of treatment options.  The results will be published to provide the balanced views from patients and healthcare professionals about the pros and cons of the treatment options, which will help both family members and healthcare professionals when they have to make care decisions for patients with memory problems.

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Sonia Barnfield

Award : £16,285 Feasibility and acceptability of the use of ‘Statstrip lactate’ for assessment of fetal compromise in labour.  Sonia and her team will use her Springboard award to look at improving the test of whether a baby is receiving enough oxygen during labour.  During labour a baby can be deprived of oxygen, this can lead to life long health problems such as cerebral palsy.  In labour a baby’s heart rate is monitored using a cardiotocograph (CTG). When the CTG is normal we can reliably say the baby is well. If the CTG is abnormal, about half of babies are well (normoxic), and half may be unwell and deprived of oxygen (hypoxic). 

This project will investigate the use of lactate meters to test fetal blood samples, by checking the reliability of a handheld machine to detect unwell babies. Recording the times taken to obtain the blood sample and process the two different blood tests (pH and lactate).  This study will help the research team to design a large study in which the two methods of the fetal blood sample can be compared.