Big efforts, Big winners!

Sadly this has taken a year, but once again I am sharing the details of another great experience which I have been so lucky to take part in!

Winning an internal contest to attend the first student conference of your life it’s a unique feeling and would make everyone feel proud of you. But when you win a national medical engineering competition for best undergraduate student project it means you have aimed high and achieved it!

So how did I go about it?  Completely by accident!

For my third year project I am working on finding a new treatment to prevent osteoarthritis, which is a joint disease that causes agonising pain and the only available treatment to date is joint replacement prostheses.

The new technology involves treating cartilage with lithium chloride (LiCl) which is a chemical compound commonly used in clinic as a mood stabilizer to treat bipolar disorders.

Within the research group of Professor Martin Knight, the post-doctoral researcher Dr Clare Thompson, my colleague Habiba Yasmin and I conducted this research project.

The experiments involved taking pieces of cartilage from bovine joints and treating them with LiCl. After the culture period we discovered that LiCl had completely inhibited the degradation that had been artificially caused.

This was certainly a very exciting moment, surely it didn’t mean we had found a cure for osteoarthritis but we had defiantly found something which could turn into something awesome!

Circular bovine cartilage explants submerged in medium (to give nutrients), cytokine (to induced osteoarthritis) and LiCl (to prevent the disease).

Circular bovine cartilage explants submerged in medium (to give nutrients), cytokine (to induced osteoarthritis) and LiCl (to prevent the disease).

My supervisor suggested we would present the project to the 26th Annual Biomedical Engineering Student Project Competition organised by the IMechE. To be honest at first I thought: ‘’Oh… I’m already so busy why would I waste my time on this which I will never win?!?’’

Then Habiba suggested we could consider it and so I thought: ‘’why not? Let’s do it!’’

We presented the abstract and got shortlisted for the final. This involved presenting the project to the judges and all the other guests attending the event. I took the big responsibility of being the one presenting at the final. This required a lot of preparation and rehearsals during which Habiba and I spent  many late nights on Skype making sure I wouldn’t ‘mess up’ on the day!

I must say, I hadn’t been so nervous till the night before during which I only slept 3 hours and I decided that to overcome the fear of making mistakes, I would imagine speaking to an empty room.

I did so.

When I stepped off the stage after the presentation, one of the judges winked at me and whispered: ‘’Good stuff !‘’. I only smiled but with that smile my heart shouted to Habiba: ‘’OH WE MADE IT!!!’’

Myself (left), the judge who winked at me after the presentation (middle) and Habiba (right) holding the certificate and £500 check!


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