Biomedical visit

The Cambridge Biomedical Campus continues to exert a supermassive gravitational pull, drawing in not only Papworth Hospital (the momentary doubt over its relocation seems to have been resolved) but also two of our students, Suguru Okami and Chikako Nishiwaki, who both paid visits to the campus on Tuesday.

This is what they saw, a sparkling, disease-free nirvana of glass and polished surfaces, with the odd bus and a handful of pedestrians making happy progress around the site; if I mention in passing that this is where my first son was born, you will suppose him to have emerged from a cloning pod:

Well, perhaps not. The site is in fact very impressive in its way, home to much of the university’s biomedical research capacity, as well as two hospitals and an increasing number of related businesses.

And they are also very generous is allowing us to arrange visits. Suguru is a pharmacist who works for Astra Zeneca in Japan (the headquarters of which will shortly be moving to Cambridge, as it happens), specialising in managing relations with key opinion leaders in the field of cardio-vascular medicine. Accordingly, he visited the School of Pharmacology and was pleased to meet Anita Chhabra, a pharmacist at the clinical trials unit specialising in oncology. They discussed among other things the ease or difficulty of signing patients to clinical trials (which as I understand it is more a question of pathology than national culture), and Suguru was shown the university pharmacy where, among other things, he was very impressed (favourably, I think) by the level of automation on display in the dispensary.

Chikako, meanwhile, was over at the Institute for Metabolic Science meeting with Dr. Hood Thabit, a specialist in endocrinology and the development of treatments for type 1 diabetes. Chikako tells me that he has pioneered a monitoring system (known as an artificial pancreas, since the pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin) which in the course of the next decade will allow patients to monitor and regulate their blood glucose level automatically, removing the need for daily self-administered injections. Chikako, who also works for Astra Zeneca (in Osaka; Suguru works in Tokyo), was able to talk to Dr. Thabit about his research, and was also shown around the Institute for Metabolic Science.


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