Honorary doctorate awarded to top medical education professor

One of the country’s leading medical educators has been awarded an honorary doctorate to mark a distinguished career spanning almost four decades in higher education and the NHS.

Professor Sean Hilton was honoured by the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, run jointly by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. He collected his award at the Faculty’s graduation ceremony.

St George’s hosts top UK smooth muscle researchers at inaugural meeting

Researchers from across the UK will come to London for the inaugural Frontiers in Smooth Muscle Meeting to discuss the latest developments in the field.

The symposium will be hosted by St George’s, University of London on 6 June, and will bring together experts in different areas of smooth muscle research.

Universities Week 2012

Universities Week is back. This year the theme of the week is the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.This week universities across the UK will be demonstrating how they are contributing to the Olympics – from arts and culture projects, community investment, and sport-related research, to varied forms of involvement at the games themselves.

Find out more about Universities Week.A number of St George’s staff, students and alumni will be supporting the games, many of whom will be taking up vital medical roles. Research projects at St George’s also have Olympic links and are striving to create a better sports, health or social environment that will contribute to the Olympic legacy, which has been the subject of much rhetoric around the events.Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac disease in sport at St George’s, University of London, is investigating the normal parameters of athletes’ hearts to ensure that they are not unnecessarily advised to abandon a sporting career.The pursuit of a sporting career may put the lives of young athletes at risk if they have one of a number of asymptomatic inherited heart conditions that involve structural abnormalities – abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, for example. Because of their training regimes, young athletes are more at risk of sudden death than spectators with the same cardiac conditions. Many sports people who are suspected of having this condition are advised to abandon competitive sport. Yet those features associated with sudden cardiac death are similar to the effects continuous training has on the heart.It's crucial therefore to know what are the normal parameters for an athlete's heart to ensure particular features are not erroneously attributed to a 'sudden death syndrome' heart condition, says Professor Sharma.Professor Sharma’s work has found that normal heart parameters are affected by demographic factors like ethnicity, gender and age – research completed last year found the hearts of Afro-Caribbean athletes differ from the hearts of white athletes. These are particularly important findings, he says, because previous guidelines setting out the norms to inform screening programmes were based on Caucasian hearts and did not take account of differences caused by ethnicity – leading potentially to unfair and invalid disqualification for the 20 per cent of elite athletes who are black.

Genetic mutation in African malaria parasite shown to give resistance to best drugs

Scientists have identified genetic mutations in the deadliest malaria parasite in Africa that are giving it resistance to one of the most powerful anti-malarial drugs. The researchers say their findings are a further warning that the best weapons against malaria could become obsolete.

The artemisinin group of drugs are the most effective and widely used treatments for malaria. They are most powerful and less likely to be resisted by the malaria parasite when used with other drugs as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). But the new study confirms previous suggestions that mutations in a key part of the parasite can provide resistance to artemether, one of the two most effective artemisinins.

Scientists find evidence of a biological trigger for high blood pressure

Scientists have identified what could be a biological tipping point in the development of high blood pressure, in a discovery that could one day lead to new treatment.

High blood pressure affects around one in three adults, the equivalent of approximately 16million people in the UK. People with high blood pressure are at much greater risk of heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease, and it is the main risk factor for stroke.