June 2018 | Issue 36
LKCMedicine-Imperial student projects present inaugural Jenny Higham Award projects

anne 2.jpgBy Anne Loh, Assistant Director, Communications & External Relations​​


On 11 May, the six teams who received the inaugural Professor Jenny Higham Collaboration Award presented their work at the award presentation ceremony, which linked up London and Singapore. As well as celebrating their achievements, the evening's proceedings saw two overseas community involvement project (OCIP) teams win this year's award.

The celebratory event kicked off with LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best, who said in his welcome address that Professor Jenny Higham was a lynchpin in the creation of LKCMedicine. "She built the sound foundation and strong links with Imperial that we have today, and holds a special place in our collective hearts."

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Prof Best gives his welcome address to a room full of bright collaborators from LKCMedicine and Imperial

The award, which aims to encourage LKCMedicine and Imperial students to undertake joint cross-border projects revolving around community involvement, medical education and research, was made possible with the generous support from Prof Higham, former LKCMedicine Senior Vice-Dean. Prof Higham, who remains a visiting professor at LKCMedicine and is the first woman to hold the role of Principal of St. George's, University of London, donated the prize money from her 2015 Nanyang Education University Gold Award, an amount that was matched by LKCMedicine and NTU to fund the awards.

On the projects and recipients, Prof Best had this to say, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. What's exciting about research is you never know where it'll take you."

Prof Best gave the floor to the inaugural recipients, who showcased what they had achieved with the award. OCIP Davao, with LKCMedicine Year 3 student Sieow Je Shen as team lead and participating Imperial student Amruni Choudhari, presented the data gathered on their seven-day OCIP trip to Davao in the Philippines, where they collaborated with Sowing the Master's Seed Ministry to provide health screening, and English and Science education to the area's villagers. They recognised a need for targeted healthcare education, in particular with the high prevalence of diabetes. With more data, the students will be able to suggest lifestyle modifications, and provide qualitative healthcare in a sustained manner.

The project team comprising LKCMedicine Year 3 students Jonathan Koo, Ng Wei Xiang and Beverley Lim and Imperial student Dania Badran, compared patients' perspectives on primary care in Singapore and the UK by looking at accessibility, waiting time, interaction with healthcare professionals and overall satisfaction. They looked at three national surveys done by the Ministry of Health in Singapore and the National Health Service in the UK, from which they found that the former focuses on polyclinics while the latter includes general practitioners. They suggested that a precise questionnaire or survey could be created for primary care, focusing in particular on chronic disease management.

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The LKCMedicine Year 3 students presented their project on patients' perspectives on primary care in Singapore and UK to the audience

Students behind Project Songkeum, a seven-day OCIP trip to Cambodia, partnered with Build Your Future Today (BFT) Foundation to bring health education and training to two villages, targeting both children and adults with specific activities. This is an ongoing outreach project and students will work on relying less on the BFT while still working towards the same objectives. This team was led by George Lin, a Year 3 student from LKCMedicine and Imperial student Julia Graef.

The largest group of students, comprising Year 4 students Aletheia Chia, Goh Kang Shiong and recent graduate Lavisha S Punjabi from LKCMedicine and Jake Mossom, Simon Rabinowicz and Uddhav Vaghela from Imperial, explored the utility of an online portal, such as the currently available ProjectPal used by Imperial, for multi-centre research collaborations, especially student-driven projects. While technology as a matchmaking interface was found to be useful, especially across geographic distance, the outcomes are better achieved through face-to-face interaction, the students concluded.

The team comparing Team-Based Learning (TBL), Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and traditional lectures, presented their data collected from questionnaires given out to Year 1 students at both schools. They showed that TBL and PBL were comparative in student gain but lectures performed badly. The Imperial student divulged that collecting data from students had been challenging, a challenge that was not apparent in Singapore. LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Education Professor Naomi Low-Beer explained that the questionnaires were given out during TBL lessons which are mandatory and therefore made data collection easier. She added that it was good to see real data come out of it. Students on this project are Jack Teh from Imperial, and LKCMedicine graduands and newly minted doctors Joey Wong, Claudia Tong and Lee Hai Quan.

The last presentation, led by the outgoing president of Imperial College School of Medicine Surgical Society (ICSMSS), Gargi Samarth, centred on the collaboration between  ICSMSS and the fledgling Lee Kong Chian Surgical Society (LKCSS). LKCSS has been able to tap on ICSMSS' experience thus far and conducted its first surgical workshop with surgeons from Tan Tock Seng Hospital's General Surgery department last November. The two societies have ambitious plans to collaborate further with ICSMSS looking forward to any new practices suggested by their Singapore counterparts as they could be too set in their ways.

Having heard about the achievements and projects from the inaugural award, it was time to announce this year's recipients: OCIP Project Kyannmar and OCIP Project Saukya. Project Kyanmar is led by LKCMedicine Year 1 student Ian Koh and Imperial students Simran Halari, Changavy Kajamuhan, and Aran Sivapalan. Project Saukya is a project executed by a team of 13 students led by Year 2 student Tag Wan Yi with the participation of Imperial student Rami Abbass.

After the presentations and awards, Prof Higham said in her closing address, "I always believe that the power of collaboration should extend in many directions. In practice, it's not always easy. You are the inaugural cohort of the inaugural Jenny Higham Awards. We'd like to start a repository, so future students can look to you for the things that you've done. Congratulations to all of you."​