Discoveries: A journey through research and innovation at the CBGH Sandpit Events

The anticipation was palpable as our CBGH members gathered for our much-anticipated Sandpit Event, held at the Glassroom in Merchiston in April 2023, writes Professor Peter Barlow.

The event was a gathering of brilliant minds from different disciplines, all eager to share their ideas for groundbreaking research and collaboration. From community-based care for HIV/AIDS patients to cutting-edge advancements in treatments for disease, the event was a celebration of human ingenuity and a testament to the power of collaboration when addressing challenges around human disease.

The event commenced with Centre Head, Prof Peter Barlow addressing participants and explaining the purpose of the event, which was to stimulate new research ideas and reinvigorate existing areas of interest. Centre members then undertook “speed dating”, facilitated by Dr Samantha Donnellan, where members spent some time describing their areas of expertise to one another and looking for commonalities in problems that they would like to tackle.

Members were then asked to break out into different groups, where ideas had shown considerable promise, in order to discuss tangible future plans in more detail. Facilitated by Dr Craig Stevens and Dr Nick Wheelhouse, the groups generated an enormous diversity of ideas and areas for collaboration.  Prof Mick Rae closed the event by chairing a discussion around which ideas would gain traction and be followed up on at the second sandpit event.

At the second CBGH sandpit event, held in June, members provided updates on their exciting project ideas.  Presentations at this event included;

  • Mary Abboah-Offei – ExtraCECI: A cluster randomised controlled trial of community-based person-centred enhanced care for people with HIV/AIDS in Ghana
  • Sam Donnellan and Isabel Nyangu – The hidden pandemic: A patient perspective
  • Peter Barlow and Graham Wright – Treatment of drug resistant infections by Host Defence Peptides (HDP) via T cell therapy
  • Sharron Vass, Sam Donnellan and Fern Findlay-Greene – Investigating the effect of ‘vaping’ flavouring fluids and vapour on human lung epithelial cells
  • Kasia Siemienowicz, Amy Poole and Mick Rae – Preclinical modelling of sex-specific postnatal legacies of gestational progesterone supplementation.
  • David Mincher – The Antibiotic Task Force
  • Fiona Kerr, Martin Sharp and Peter Barlow – Assessing the impact of pollution exposure through drug prescriptions
  • Nick Wheelhouse, Donald Morrison and Aimeric Blaud – Impact of pig slurry application on heavy metal contamination and antimicrobial resistance
  • Nick Wheelhouse and Martin Sharp – Female reproductive health in veterinary practice
  • Frankie Brown, Graham Wright and Iain Gallagher – Cellular profiling of adipose tissue in UGI cancer

These Sandpit events highlighted the breadth and depth of enquiry in the Centre, and its potential to address the most pressing challenges facing human health. Each of these novel collaborative projects highlights the power of innovative thinking, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. The Sandpits proved to be not just a gathering of minds but a catalyst for future breakthroughs that will shape the course of human health, well-being and a greater understanding of disease.

Until the next Sandpit Event, we look forward to keeping you updated on how these exciting projects are progressing.