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Oluwasomidotun Idowu wins Elizabeth Blackwell intercalation prize

Oluwasomidotun Idowu

Oluwasomidotun Idowu

13 November 2013

Oluwasomidotun Idowu (Somi) at the University of Bristol has won the Elizabeth Blackwell Award for the most outstanding research project submitted by an intercalating medical student during 2012-13.

The £1000 prize, donated by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, was used by Somi to support his subsequent vacation research internship in Professor Paolo Madeddu’s laboratory. 

This internship was intended to finalise seminal work by Somi in the same laboratory as his intercalation. During the intercalation study, Somi assessed the characteristics of a new type of cardiac stem cells, which Professors Madeddu and Caputo isolate from the hearts of infants with cardiac congenital disease. Since surgical correction with non-biological patches is palliative and needs to be repeated as the heart grows, these stem cells could offer a new means to provide definitive solutions.

The studentship work has led Somi to demonstrate that cardiac stem cells can be expanded in culture as single clones. He also documented the ability of neonatal cardiac stem cells to differentiate in vascular cells and to acquire markers of mature cardiomyocytes.

The work is a step forward in the pathway designed by Madeddu and Caputo to use neonatal cardiac stem cells to correct congenital heart diseases. It also shows the capacity of a talented medical student to rapidly integrate in a complex translational research activity. 

INSPIRE is a national initiative coordinated by the Academy of Medical Sciences, and supported by the Wellcome Trust. INSPIRE aims to light the fire of scientific enquiry in those students who might be tempted by an academic career. The University of Bristol offers a broad range of activities, opportunities and incentives for Bristol students to engage with medical research teams.

Through this initiative, two additional medical students were awarded summer bursaries to complete their intercalation projects: Sophie Bowles supervised by Professor Saadeh Suleiman working on the Role of Catalase in controlling Mitchondrial Permeability Transition Pore Opening in Isolated Cardiomyocytes; and Abigail Shaw supervised by Dr Colin Steward working on the Analysis of Donor Chimerism and Impact on Outcome Following Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Severe Aplastic Anaemia.

The Elizabeth Blackwell Prize was awarded at an INSPIRE Showcase event on 12 November.

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