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Students win contest with idea for battling heart disease

A team of students beat competition from schools across the country to win a national medical research contest, which was held to find ideas for tackling heart disease and also inspire scientists of the future.

Featherstone High School sixth formers triumphed in the Science at Heart competition run by the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial College London.

The six-strong team of sixth form students worked together to design a health product and submit an e-poster advertising its benefits. The aim of the competition was for each school team to illustrate a strategy for bringing hard sciences and biomedicine together to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities caused by heart and circulatory disease.

In total, 50 schools from across the country entered, many of them private. Featherstone High’s team devised a proposal for a statin patch and had to run a presentation of their e-poster and the method behind it to a panel of judges from the British Heart Foundation and Imperial College London. They were one of only two state schools to be shortlisted in the top 10, before eventually being declared the overall winners.

The first prize was £3,000 for the school, which will be spent on a STEM-related activity (science, technology, engineering and maths). The students will be meeting with Imperial College faculty members to discuss the issues raised by the poster and their presentation in more detail and will receive mentoring from them. In addition, the team will be invited to contribute to the British Heart Foundation blog.

In the picture above, you can see teacher Ms Jeyachandran (centre) flanked by the winning team of Year 13 students: Alafiya, Amitoj, Maryam, Zarifah, Amsha and Dania.

‘Such a great idea’

Headteacher Gerry Wadwa said: “We were delighted to receive another national recognition of excellence. Teams of sixth form students were required to design an innovative health product which could reduce the prevalence of heart disease seen in this country. In the finals, we were up against a field of 10 schools dominated by leading independent schools and grammar schools but, nevertheless, secured first prize of £3,000 for the design and presentation of our product to improve heart health – a statin patch. Many congratulations to the sixth form team for coming up with such a great idea and delivering an outstanding presentation and also to Ms Jeyachandran, who led this initiative.”

‘We hope this will ignite a fire in students’

Professor Dorian Haskard at Imperial College London’s British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence said: “This is a great opportunity for sixth form students to come together, think creatively, and put forward scientific solutions that could protect people from the devastation of heart and circulatory disease.”

Professor Metin Avkiran, British Heart Foundation’s associate medical director, said: “Despite the immense and complex challenges presented by the pandemic, COVID-19 has shone a bright light on the value of medical research. Science has the power to save and improve lives and it is vital that we inspire and nurture the next generation of cardiovascular researchers. We hope this competition will ignite a fire in students and encourage them to embark on a scientific career.”

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