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Funding available for innovative projects in teaching, research and student experience

Previous successful projects from across the College have ranged from high altitude research in Bolivia to a virtual slaughterhouse simulator for vet e-learning.

Apex 5 team during the expedition

The latest round of the University’s Innovation Initiative Grants (IIGs) has recently opened and applications are invited until Thursday 29 March.

Innovation Initiative Grants (IIGs) are 100% funded by donations from alumni and supporters of the University. Applications are open to all staff and students as well as EUSA societies and EUSU sports clubs.

Every year several projects across the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine are successfully funded. Here’s a snapshot of some of the innovative projects that have been funded most recently.

The Virtual Slaughterhouse Simulator (VSS)

Scaffolding e-learning tools in the BVM&S Curriculum

Alessandro Seguino, a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health (VHP), was awarded £3,000 to evaluate the use of the Virtual Slaughterhouse Simulator (VSS) as a useful e-learning teaching tool within the veterinary curriculum.

The grant was used to fund development of the VSS scenarios, giving students an opportunity to experience a real-time interactive walkthrough of the realistic work environment within a typical abattoir.

The 3D virtual building offers various case scenarios, which enable students to enhance their problem solving abilities concerning animal welfare, hygiene and responses to disease emergencies.

The students were very appreciative of using an innovative way to teach challenging topics.

Alessandro SeguinoSenior Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health

The APEX 5 Expedition

Last summer Edinburgh students travelled to the Bolivian Andes in June on a high-altitude illness research expedition APEX 5, with the help of an Innovation Initiative Grant.

The expedition of 30 volunteers was led by a group of medical students and their experiments were carried out on Huayna Potosi (4,700m) near La Paz, Bolivia. APEX 5 follows the footsteps of four previous successful expeditions.

The purpose of the 2017 expedition was to examine the impact of hypoxia (low oxygen) on the human body. This included investigating the effect of hypoxia on the immune system and the relationship between an individual's personality and their symptoms of altitude sickness (with matched controls at low altitude.)

The grant of £3,400 helped the team to cover the cost of medical kits, questionnaire printing costs as well as insurance and transportation of their research equipment.

This project was unique in that it is part of an expedition led, organised and run by six senior medical students.

Greig TorpeyMedicine student and APEX 5 Logistics Co-ordinator
Eilidh Bruce , Professor David Sinclair and Dr Jenny Reid

BASE - Skills for Aspiring Surgeons

Eilidh Bruce, Year 6 medical student and Senior Vice President of Edinburgh Student Surgical Society and Dr Jenny Reid, Core Surgical Trainee and Clinical Tutor Associate were awarded £663 to run a half-day introductory course for medical students interested in surgery.

The grant enabled the first ever Edinburgh Student Surgical Society ‘BASE- Skills for Aspiring Surgeons’ event to take place in October 2017.

There were 50 medical students in attendance who listened to a lecture by Professor David Sinclair on surgical anatomy, followed by practical skills and surgical emergencies teaching, undertaken by a team of core surgical trainees and registrars from across the country.

With support from the Innovation Initiative Grant we were able to purchase materials to allow for accessible surgical skills teaching, that students would otherwise have to pay to experience. We simulated cyst excision using high quality wound dressings alike to the texture of real skin, and were more frugal in using edible strawberry laces to simulate tendon repair.

Eilidh BruceYear 6 medical student and Senior Vice President of Edinburgh Student Surgical Society
Attendees at the surgical skills workshop

Study of a novel gamma-herpesvirus in the European mink

The goal of this project was to gain better knowledge of a novel gamma-herpesvirus detected in the critically European mink, one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

The samples from the European minks were collected in the captive breeding center located in the northeast of Spain.

Blood and swab samples were taken from 13 adult minks for the project and samples from 8 carcasses are also being tested. The results of the study will be available later in 2018.

The Spanish population of this species was estimated at only 500 adults in 2007. The main factors causing its decline include habitat loss, infectious disease and the invasion of the non-native American mink.

This project offers better understanding of the viral diseases affecting the species both in captivity and in free-ranging animals, which has a significant conservation value for this species.

The grant of £3500 was used to fund sample shipping, sampling materials and the laboratory testing.

I would not have been able to do any of this project without the grant. I think it is wonderful we have been able to focus on knowing more about this virus.

Dr Olga Nicolas FranciscoMasters of Veterinary Science in Conservation Medicine

Related links

Find out more about Innovation Initiative Grants

Read the new Teaching Matters Apex 5 blog