Tuesday 26 February 2013
In July 2012 Adam Hexter, a current final year medical student at Barts and The London, identified that medical students generally are not aware of the student research opportunities available at Barts and The London. Therefore he became founding president of Barts and The London Academic Medicine and Surgery Society (BLAMSS), a local branch of the National Student Association of Medical Research that is supported with annual financial support from the Wellcome Trust. The Patron of the society is Professor Tom MacDonald and founding vice-presidents were Daniel Poon (currently a final year medical student) and Masseh Yakubi (currently a 4th year medical student).
The purpose of BLAMSS is to increase student awareness of and engagement in research. Numerous events have been hosted throughout this year promoting academia, such as an evening of the academic foundation programme (AFP) and events outlining the career structure of an academic doctor. The AFP is stepping-stone to an academic career and the current year 5 cohort has had several members who successfully acquired a space on these highly sought-after, competitive programmes.
Other activities that BLAMSS run include a monthly evidence-based medicine journal club (hosted by 5th year Narin Shareef) and a school outreach scheme, where the committee visits local 6th forms with the aim of educate want-to-be medical students about the role of research in evidence-based medicine. BLAMSS also provides a bridge between students and supervisors by providing a list of supervisors who offer research projects for those students who wish to become involved in medical research or audit while an undergraduate, whether this be in term-time or through a prestigious summer research scholarship.
The future of BLAMSS and medical student research at Barts and The London looks particularly bright after BLAMSS was awarded £10,000 by the Academy of Medical Sciences as part of its INSPIRE scheme. The INSPIRE scheme is a five year, UK-wide initiative to engage medical and dental undergraduates with research. Professor Macdonald and Adam (INSPIRE student representative) successfully were awarded the grant which will go towards three different activities: 2-3 medical student fellowships in mental health research; a randomised trial testing the value of text messages on adherence to cardiovascular preventive medication; and an annual BLAMSS National Research Conference.
For more information about BLAMSS and how you can get involved can be found on the BLAMSS website: www.blamss.co.uk