Humans of Health Research series - issue 11

The Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) has published the latest edition of ‘Humans of Health Research’, which highlights researchers and patients engaged in innovative healthcare research. 

In this eleventh edition, a Trust consultant and researcher and her patient talk about research into bleeding and clotting disorders as well as their work raising awareness of the mental and physical affects of sickle cell disease. This is a group of inherited health conditions that affect red blood cells and is particularly common in people with an African of Caribbean family background. This edition also features an interview with a PhD candidate on her work developing a new type of imaging technique for brain tumours. 

Dr Christina Crossette-Thambiah, Haematology specialist registrar at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and PhD student at Imperial College London, said: “Louisa Thompson is a patient of mine who has sickle cell disease. It has been really inspiring to work alongside her on the Invisible Warrior project. It aims to raise awareness of sickle cell disease and she speaks to medical students, the wider public and schools to achieve this.

"I’ve become involved in this now to share my own story and career journey and raise awareness of the importance of blood and bone marrow donation in minority ethnic groups. It’s so important but there’s misinformation out there about the process and safety. 

“Louisa is incredible. She lives a full and beautiful life but has also experienced being bound to hospitals and healthcare professionals. As clinicians and academics, it’s time to stand with our sickle cell patients, let their voices be heard and improve education around sickle cell.”  

Louisa Thompson said: “There's a stigma around people with sickle cell and I think if people have a better understanding of what we actually go through, particularly the mental health side of things, I think people would change their perspective. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety play a big role in sickle cell. You're constantly anxious that you’re going to enter a crisis.  

“It gives me hope that people are starting to see that sickle cell – and other invisible illnesses - needs more exposure. But even now, I feel judged when I tell people I have a disability. I’ve been told ‘you look fine!’ when I don’t feel fine at all.”

The third interview is with Simran Kukran, a PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London and in the department of Radiotherapy and Imaging at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. She talks about her work on magnetic resonance fingerprinting - a new type of imaging technique - for brain tumours. 

Imperial College AHSC

Imperial College AHSC is a strategic university-NHS partnership that aims to accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into new ways to improve patient care and maintain the health of the public. Its members are Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial College London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

During the pandemic and beyond, research and clinical work led by AHSC partners has had a significant impact on a national and global scale. The AHSC’s photography exhibition showcases NHS staff from across the partnership working in a range of medical specialties and roles, alongside their patients and patient representatives.

Read the full interviews on Imperial College London's website.