‘Diligent, thorough, independent and a much-liked member of the team’
Northampton High School alumna, Veena Shivakumar, has gained a top prize in the prestigious 2023 Dr Falk Pharma/Guts UK Charity national awards.
Currently studying at the University of Sheffield, Veena has won the Medical Student Prize for her research project, which examined the safety and efficacy of a new form of oesophageal investigation (gastroscopy) when using a capsule rather than a camera.
The project, entitled ‘Capsule Endoscopy is Safe, Effective and Avoids the Need for Gastroscopy in a Varices Surveillance Programme: An Observational Cohort Study’, was carried out at the Academic Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, whilst Ms Shivakumar was intercalating for a BSc in Medical Research BSc in Medical Sciences. She has now returned to medical school where she is in her 4th year.
Ms Shivakumar received her award and £1,500 prize, at the annual meeting of the British Gastroenterology Society (BSG) on Tuesday June 20. The ceremony took place during a special dinner at the Hope St Hotel, Liverpool with the awards presented by the Chair of the BSG and attended by other illustrious names in gastroenterology medicine along with the CEO of Guts Charity UK.
The Dr Falk Pharma/Guts UK Charity Awards are dedicated to encouraging research and promoting patient care in the field of gastroenterology and hepatology. Since 2007 they have rewarded over 140 dedicated young healthcare professionals, including medical students, junior doctors, nurses and dietitians. This year for the first time, pharmacists have also been recognised.
Ms Shivakumar explains, ‘Traditionally, those with liver disease are screened for varices (enlarged blood vessels in the oesophagus) using an endoscopy – a small camera on a tube. However, this procedure is invasive and generally poorly tolerated.
‘Pillcam UGI is the latest generation of upper GI capsules which are used as an alternative to gastroscopy. It is non-invasive, can be performed remotely and has a greater field of vision and higher number of frames per second compared to previous models.
‘This study aimed to look at the safety and feasibility of using Pillcam UGI as an alternative to endoscopy/gastroscopy for varices surveillance as well as evaluating the impact it had on further disease management. Our study concluded that overall, Pillcam UG is a safe and a feasible alternative to endoscopy for varices surveillance.
‘Working on this project has highlighted the positive impact that new medical developments can have on both patients and hospital practice. It has also allowed me to gain a personal insight into gastroenterology and the opportunities available in this field whilst winning this award has developed my confidence in my own research abilities.’