Cambridge Clinical Informatics (CCI) has recently completed its second year of assisting on Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology’s (CAST) Challenge Projects. Challenge Projects are collaborations between working scientists and the students and staff of CAST, and allow students to complete projects that promote work-based scientific skills. In 2016 Dr Lydia Drumright and Karen Hlaba assisted in coordinating and presenting a Challenge Project that included lessons about the research cycle, ethics and consent in research, research documentation, and qualitative research methodology. Students were taught how to gather and analyse their data qualitatively, and how to present it scientifically. Students also received guest talks about patient and public involvement in health research, and how a research career could progress. Some of the students additionally volunteered to participate in a separate metabolic research project with the NIHR/Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, and further volunteered to be interviewed by the CCI team afterwards. The students ended off their project with a presentation evening for their parents and some of CAST staff members, and eloquently defended their work in front of the judging panel.
In 2017 Karen Hlaba and Georgina Norris from the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Patient and Public Involvement Team taught the students how to present their work using scientific posters. The students conducted clinical trial experiments for their Challenge Project, and we were impressed with the final products presented to us. Their research questions included: whether there was a link between height and blood pressure, the effect of upper arm circumference on force exerted on a force plate, the effect of caffeine in energy drinks on heart rate and blood pressure, and the relationship between blood pressure and body mass index. We look forward to hearing more from CAST’s science programmes.
CCI’s presence on both 2016 and 2017 Challenge Projects was coordinated by Mrs Joann Leeding in her previous capacity in Communications and Patient and Public Involvement in health research with the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, and we would like to express our thanks to her. We would also like to express our thanks to CAST for allowing us to work with them. We additionally collaborated with NIHR/Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (CRF), the Trust’s work experience team, and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Patient and Public Involvement Team, and express our thanks to them.