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i-sense funded projects

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Since the beginning of i-sense, we have been supporting new projects that promote a new culture of engagement and forward thinking initiatives between academics, the public, patients, clinicians, industry, regulators, policy makers and the media in order to complement and strengthen the expertise of the consortium. 

Initatives include a series of workshops, funds to support visiting researchers, flexible funding to leverage through partnership, and broad dissemination of our research through our website and communication channels, policy and public engagement activities. 

Here are case studies for some of our funded projects: 

Exploratory Projects round one: Early-Warning Sensing Systems for Influenza (2014)

The Exploratory Projects programme, led by Prof Rachel McKendry, was launched in May 2014 and was designed to close the expertise gaps in the i-sense consortium by bringing in new partners from collaborating institutions. These projects were intended to be short, high‐risk, new collaborations (3‐12 months), between two or more partners from the i‐sense institutions and will complement the core research programme. Outputs of these projects form the basis of additional grant applications. 

These collaborations have contributed to our mission to grow the i-sense network into a self-sustained hub of innovation and develop global early warning systems to help protect populations from the threat of a pandemic flu outbreak. 

Building and Maintaining Public Trust in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Influenza

i-sense teamed up with the Department of Philosophy at UCL and the National Centre for Infectious Disease Surveilance to provide an analysis of the key ethical and regulatory challenges for early warning sensing systems for influenza. 

People involvedJames WilsonBenedict RumboldRosanna PeelingRachel McKendryRichard Pebody, and Ingemar Cox
Collaborating institutions: UCL, PHE, LSHTM

Flusurvey: Digital health detection of influenza in the community

i-sense are collaborating with Flusurvey, the UK’s biggest crowd-sourced study of influenza, to help monitor the spread of flu in the UK more accurately and earlier than ever before.

People involved: John EdmundsRachel McKendryEllen FragaszyAndrew HaywardRichard PebodyDaniela PaolottiIngemar CoxPatty KostkovaHenry PottsAnn BlandfordMatthew Donati and Clare Wenham
Collaborating institutions: UCL, LSHTM, PHE

Carbon nanotube electrodes for sensitive and rapid influenza diagnostics

Together, with scientists from Imperial College, i-sense is exploring the suitability of carbon nanotubes as electrodes in paper-based devices for accurate, machine-readable test results. 

People involvedMilo ShafferClaudio ParoloBenjamin MillerNeal Skipper and Rachel McKendry
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Imperial College London

A Novel Sensor System for Influenza: Combining chemical sensors with mobile phones for rapid diagnosis 

In a collaboration between the Hilton, McKendry and Stevens laboratories, we will demonstrate that the influenza virus can be detected with chemical sensors and more importantly, that the level of infectivity can be quantified instantly using a mobile phone camera for diagnosis. This would enable the immediate analysis of infection. 

People involvedStephen HiltonRachel McKendry, and Molly Stevens
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Imperial College London

Exploratory Projects round two: Digital Diseases Detection - Building the Toolkit (2015/16)


Smart detection of influenza: The chemical interface between the virus and mobile phones

i-sense researchers are developing a low-cost mobile phone spectrometer, which enhances the ability of phone cameras to accurately read results on point-of-care tests for influenza.

People involved: Dr Matthew PennyDr Michael ThomasProfessor Molly StevensProfessor Rachel McKendry and Dr Stephen Hilton
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Imperial College London

HIV self testing and pathway

Apps can provide an important link between technology, a person testing for or already diagnosed with HIV, and healthcare professionals. In a collaboration between UCL and Glasgow Caledonian University, i-sense researchers are developing a user-centred online pathway for HIV, called iSHOP.

People involved: Dr Jo GibbsProfessor Ann BlandfordDr Pam SonnenbergDr Aneesha Singh, and Professor Claudia Estcourt
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Glasgow Caledonian University

Highly Controlled Nanoparticle-Antibody Conjugates for Next-Generation Point of Care Diagnostics

i-sense researchers at UCL and Imperial College London have been working together to understand the chemistry behind nanoparticle-antibody conjugation to improve biomarker detection in point-of-care tests for protein based disease biomarkers. 

People involved: Dr Vijay Chudasama, Dr Daniel Richards, Dr Chris Wood, Dr Mike Thomas, Dr Adam Creamer, Ye Wang, Dr Philip Howes, Joao Nogueira, Professor Martin Heeney, and Professor Molly Stevens
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Imperial College London

Exploiting microfluidics and printing technologies to rapidly detect MRSA in nasal swabs

People involved: Prof Kenny Delgarno
Collaborating institutions: Newcastle Universtiy, Public Health England, UCL

Developing target product profiles of point-of-care tests for influenza

People involved: Dr Peter White and Prof Andrew Hayward 
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Public Health England

A technical framework for enabeling and supporting data donors for medical research

People involved: Prof Ingemar Cox
Collaborating institutions: UCL, Imperial College London

Mobility Fellowships 

These projects offer our members the chance to expand their knowledge and experience in different dynamic scientific enviornments. 

Working with PSI on at-scale implementation of HIV self-tests

Dr Valérian Turbé, UCL

My mobility fellowship was a seven week placement with Population Services International (PSI) in Myanmar. The project I work on was focused on the introduction of HIV self-testing to the country. The project also aimed at forging links between i-sense and an NGO with experience in fieldwork and large scale implementation past the research stage. 

Empowering new leaders in Uganda 

Dr Polina Brangel, UCL

After a successful first workshop in 2015, we ran the second in a series of workshops conducted at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. The programme was designed with the aim to empower, train and teach participants about the technology used in rapid diagnostic tests for viral infectious diseases. 

Science in sunny Sydney

Dr Lucia Massi, Imperial 

My Mobility Fellowship was a five-week placement at the Centre for Advanced Macro-molecular Design at the University of NSW (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia. The main aim of the placement was the acquisition of polymer chemistry skills for the development of an enzyme responsive polymer-based platform for enabling earlier HIV detection, thereby finding a way around the need to store the enzymatic components long-term in adverse conditions.

Testing our tiny tech

By Ben Miller, UCL

My Mobility Fellowship aimed to increase the sensitivity of gold nanoparticle (AuNP) and fluorescence-based microfluidic paper analytical devices (μPADs), exploring paper membrane transparency, nanoparticle selection, and readout methods. The project formed links between the McKendry (UCL) and Ozcan (UCLA) groups with the aim of future collaboration on optical device design.