Department of Mathematical Sciences

Successful research into health at fourth SAMBa Integrative Think Tank

Fri Jun 24 15:58:00 BST 2016

In early June, 90 people including mathematicians, statisticians, pharmacologists, rheumatologists, clinicians, and engineers gathered in the city of Bath for SAMBa’s fourth Integrative Think Tank.

Participants at the ITTThe ITT had an amazing atmosphere all week and there was substantial collaboration and sharing of ideas throughout which lead to great results.

Problem formulation delivers results

The primary purpose of Integrative Think Tanks (ITTs) is to distil challenges presented by partners and reformulate them into mathematical problems that can be taken forward as projects for students. Our partners for ITT4 were Astra Zeneca and the NHS, primarily represented by Bath’s Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases. We also had strong representation from the University’s departments of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Health, and the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation. Participants also attended from our international partners of CIMAT, UNAM and University of São Paulo, and we welcomed further overseas visitors from the University of British Colombia and New York University.

Participants presented problems within areas of medical imaging, bio-mechanical modelling, utilising extremely large medical databases, predicting models for disease progression, treatment evaluation, efficient clinical trial design, personalised medicine, and optimising drug development processes. From this initial starting point, ITT4 has delivered two PhD projects for SAMBa students and a number of other potential PhD projects and future research proposals.

Alun Bedding, Statistical Sciences Director at Astra Zeneca said: 'The ITT was the most enjoyable week I have spent in a long time. It was a pleasure working with such enthusiastic people. The team of students and academics who worked on my problems was superb.'

ITT4 group

SAMBa-ing with local MP

On the last day of the ITT we were visited by Bath’s local MP, Ben Howlett. Ben is a champion for diversity and equality in STEM, and this was a chance to showcase the excellent progress we are making in this area. We enjoyed sharing our ideas with Ben and he enjoyed seeing a superb presentation from our student Aoibheann Brady on the progress of her group in the area of personalised medicine.

Aoibheann commented: 'The whole week was an incredibly enjoyable experience that, for me, showed exactly what SAMBa is about. I loved the problems and the general atmosphere - it was a really great collaborative effort all around.'

Special Effect collection

Participants at the ITT and members of the department of Mathematical Sciences have also generously donated £127 to Special Effect, a charity that greatly helped one of our students return to SAMBa following a life-changing accident last year. Every year we donate to Special Effect through the Flowers for Turing initiative.

Future ITTs

2017’s ITTs will include participation from Roche, Syngenta and Schlumberger. If you’re interested in finding out more about the ITT model or attending an ITT week, please contact the SAMBa Centre Manager, Dr Susie Douglas.

Read more about ITT1, ITT2, ITT3.