Heartificial Intelligence

Can AI “see” a patient as a person rather than data?

Heartificial Intelligence is an installation at Science Gallery London that investigates the role that technology and community play in the healthcare journey of patients. This interactive installation emerged from a collaboration between TripleDotMakers, Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation Teens (ECHO) – a group of nine young people who have congenital heart conditions and their siblings – and researchers at Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering whose work explores themes of trust, bias and data in AI. Through a series of online and in person workshops, the group discussed the possibilities and limitations of AI research while capturing the process through film and photography.

In the resulting installation, visitors’ body’s rhythms become data inputs for a generative AI. Visitors can place their fingers on a sensor and watch as a series of hearts drawn by the ECHO Teens pulse in sync with their own heartbeat. An accompanying audio piece captures the groups recorded discussions, as they explore whether AI will replace the human relationship with doctors and nurses, or whether AI is simply a tool to support professionals.

Heartificial Intelligence was created by TripleDotMakers in collaboration with ECHO teens and Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering researchers. Commissioned by Science Gallery London, it has been funded by the Wellcome/ EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering and co-ordinated by Alice Taylor-Gee and Bella Spencer, in the centre’s Public Engagement Team.

A huge thank you to all the collaborators involved: Annie Woodson, Jim Dawson, Izzy Pye, Jash Patel, Elizabeth Kirsop, Brianna Kilgannon, Mary Anis, Alfie Warner, Karan Singh Panesar, Ethan Alston, Elise McCarvill, Courtney Devine-Content, Cristobal Rodero, Tareen Dawood, Tiarna Lee, Samantha Johnson, Tania Weekes.

View the behind the scenes film to see how this exhibit was created.

The exhibit is on display at Science Gallery London from June 2023 – January 2024.

Does AI care?

How might AI look after patients, or affect the expertise and empathy of healthcare professionals?

Does AI Care? is an installation at Science Gallery London that explores the concept of ‘care’ and the use of AI applications through the eyes of young adults with experience of cancer. Visitors enter a hospital waiting room, then tune into a sound piece that combines young people’s reflections on the nature of AI, cancer and care. An accompanying textile installation merges visual representations of their multifaceted experiences of care with their personal medical images – realised as blueprints – and text generated by the group.

The exhibit, part of the Gallery’s season AI: Who’s looking after me?, is a collaboration between artist Sofie Layton with young adults with experience of living with cancer, and Centre for Medical Engineering researchers who are already using AI applications in medical imaging, radiotherapy and surgery. To create the artwork, the group met for a series of online and in-person workshops where they discussed their experiences of care, cancer and AI through metaphor creation and creative exercises. Two of the young adults who collaborated on the piece, Samuel Brewis and Emma Lovatt Smith, share their reflections on their involvement. Visit SGL website to read their reflections.

The exhibit is on display at Science Gallery London from June 2023 – January 2024.

Does AI Care? was created by Sofie Layton in collaboration with young adults with experience of cancer, and Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering researchers. Commissioned by Science Gallery London, it has been funded by the Wellcome/ EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering and co-ordinated by the centre’s Public Engagement Team. Thanks to Young Lives vs Cancer for their advice and wellbeing support.

A huge thank you to all the collaborators involved: Charlie Aldred, Samuel Benson, Sam Brewis, Emma Lovatt Smith, Kate Mason, Holly Masters, Bethany Moorhouse, Heather Smith , Virginia Fernandez, Alejandro Granados and Teresa Guerrero Urbano.

CME Researchers awarded Public Engagement grant to connect public with research

Researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences have been awarded the Centre for Medical Engineering’s Large Public Engagement Grant Scheme to fund projects that will connect new audiences with their research.

The two funded initiatives are a patient workshop about the clinical care for headaches and an interactive workshop introducing children to the science of ultrasound.

Clinician Dr Matthew Lee and Professor Prashant Jha, Head of Affordable Medical Technologies received funding to develop a series of patient involvement workshops that aim to open a dialogue with people who have sought clinical care for headaches in order to provide recommendations to improve the pathway.

This was part of wider work on Health Systems Engineering and the Healthcare Workforce of the Future (HWoF) by King’s Health Partners and King’s College London.

The workshops adopted patient-centred approaches to hear participants’ experiences with headaches and treatment pathways first-hand. At present, patients are principally managed by primary care providers (GPs) who are a first point of contact for any issues or prescriptions. If there are any queries such as non-relieving symptoms or queries regarding diagnosis, they can be referred to headache clinic or general neurology clinic.

Specialists in this clinic are usually senior consultants and can provide nuanced input while instigating second and third-line treatments. Depending on improvement/outcome, patients may be followed up in this specialist clinic, or discharged back to GP.

Additionally, patients with acute presentations will attend the emergency department. Preliminary findings suggest several broad themed issues around interoperability, access, and community support, however systemic improvements in healthcare are complex and require involving multiple stakeholders.

As a clinician working in A&E, I saw first-hand the difficulties these patients faced in obtaining accurate diagnoses and relieving intervention. Many patients manage their symptoms for years, and as a result ‘bounce’ around the healthcare system. During consultations, they shared their frustrations in not getting access to the right treatments, or how long it took to see their doctors. Evidently, the system is not sufficient for the needs of patients and we wanted to explore areas of improvement to feedback into the HWoF team.– Dr Matthew Lee

Dr Antonios Pouliopoulos, Lecturer in Therapeutic Ultrasound, Research Fellow Dr Kirsten Christensen-Jeffries, and Dr Laura Peralta Pereira, Lecturer in Physics and Engineering of Medical Ultrasound, were awarded funds for the project Dancing Bubbles. It aims to engage primary school children in Southwark and Lambeth with the science of ultrasound through fun, hands-on activities with bubbles.

Through three interactive workshops, the researchers aim to demonstrate how ultrasound is not only used for imaging the body, but can also be used to treat diseases. To do so, researchers use tiny gas particles called microbubbles – tiny spheres approximately 100 times smaller than human hair.

Using ultrasound and microbubbles, scientists can safely open a certain barrier in the brain deliver drugs to the brain to treat brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumours.

The bubbles can vibrate because they have a gas core, making them compressible. When bubbles feel the ultrasound wave, they start vibrating and when injected into the blood, they travel throughout our body’s vasculature. Scientists use them to see blood vessels in ultrasound imaging and also use the vibrations to disrupt biological barriers.

The first station – “Echo Location” – will see Dr Pouliopoulos and the team discussing how some animals use sound to navigate in their environment.

Animals like bats and dolphins produce sound waves and detect their reflections, to understand their surroundings. The same idea is employed in ultrasound imaging, where we can detect interfaces because sound waves get reflected on boundaries of tissues and organs.

For the second station – “Seeing with Sound” – children will be able to use a Butterfly probe, a portable device which connects to a smartphone or tablet and users to acquire ultrasound images with their phones.

The young participants will be able to scan water buckets with hidden objects and print out a picture of the scan as a memento of their first ultrasound scan.

The third station – “Dancing Bubbles” – will involve soap bubbles and a speaker, the task being to catch the bubble and make the bubble vibrate in front of the speaker.

This mimics the process where microbubbles vibrate in the blood vessels of the brain, allowing clinicians to effectively deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier.

Our workshop is an entertaining and engaging set of activities to teach kids that bubbles are not only fun, but can also treat diseases and help us see inside our bodies. It is great to see our innovative hands-on outreach approaches in action. We hope to inspire children follow careers in STEM and engage them with our research early on!– Dr Antonis Pouliopoulos, Lecturer in Therapeutic Ultrasound, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences

The CME Public Engagement Grant Scheme is open to all staff (research, clinical and professional services) & post-graduate students from School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences and Department of Neuroimaging at the IoPPN, King’s College London. The final round of the Large Grant, which invites applications for up to £3,000, will run in Autumn. A public engagement seed fund of up to £500 is also available on a rolling basis. Further information here.

Pint of Science- Tech Me Out 2022

In May 2022, Ella-May Hards, a first year PhD student in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging, organised a series of events for Pint of Science 2022. In this blog, Ella-May tell us about her experience, motivators and learnings.

Hi, I’m Ella-May and I’m completing a PhD looking at using PET imaging in drug resistant lung cancer. Having completed a BSc in Medical Sciences with a year in industry at GlaxoSmithKline, I have a real passion for public engagement and promoting novel and exciting research. From the 9th-11th May our school hosted the annual Pint of Science event which saw 10 speakers take to the stage over 3 nights. The nights had different themes, looking at Underlying science of disease, Using Imaging to reveal disease’s deepest secrets and Unveiling the future of science: Healthtech – Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Imagination.

Do you have any former public engagement experience?
I had completed some public engagement in my undergraduate degree and on my placement year, but this was the first public engagement I have done during my PhD, and by far the biggest event I have been involved in.

Why did you want to engage the public?
My previous experience engaging school children with science gave me a real passion for public engagement and inspiring the next generation of scientists. This time I wanted to engage a more adult audience, in a more informal environment and facilitate an exciting cross talk between the researchers in our School and members of the public.

Who did you engage with and what did you do?
The target audience was adults. It was a ticketed event so it is presumed that the audience was actively interested in science and be at the very least educated to GCSE science level with limited understanding of the applications and aims of the research within the School. To make sure talks were appropriate for the audience, I did a run-through of the talks with the 10 speakers beforehand, and strongly encouraged audience participation with emphasis on the idea of “less is more”. I found on the nights the most successful talks were those with engaging activities and demonstrations.

The BMEIS Pint of Science team

What was the impact?
We had over 35 attendees on the first and third nights and slightly less on the second night around 18. Nearly 100 members of the public were engaged, with lots of questions and interaction with the speakers. The 10 speakers were asked to complete a survey type form to gain an understanding on how well organised they thought the event, how it affected their public engagement skills. Importantly, I asked speakers after the event what advice they would give future speakers, so we could create a word cloud of key points and do’s and don’ts.

Dr Sam Terry presents her research

9/10 speakers completed the survey- 8/9 speakers were very positive: “very well”, “terrific”, “wonderful and interactive” and “fun”. One speaker said “Generally good, the audience were engaged, just a pity that there weren’t a few more of them” which may reflect on the low turnout on night two.

Overall speakers rated the event was well organised however most of the issues were associated with the technology including: “For the future I think it would be important to investigate a different venue with better lighting and microphone options. The projector was quite old and would be important in the future to discuss with the school the potential to get a newer projector for the event or for public engagement events in general which has a HDMI cable which would improve the connection and resolution of the presentations.” One speaker mentioned “more could be done on advertising”. In future events it would be important to do more word of mouth spreading in pubs themselves to the target audience.

Speaking to the Kings lead officer for Pint of Science, leaving beer mats and posters in local pubs has worked in previous years and could be used in this event.

Ella-May introduces Pint of Science

How did it influence you as a researcher?
I found the event very insightful and overall, it was very inspiring to hear about the research going on in our School and how the public responded so positively to it. I learnt important organisation and communication skills which I would take forward to organising future events.

8/9 of the responses from the speaker survey were positive about the level of interaction with the audience, with experience being worthwhile for them and allowing public engagement. This is great to hear, particularly “The audience was very interactive so it was a very good first experience presenting at a public engagement event” where a first time speaker enjoyed it and found it beneficial. One speaker mentioned “It was difficult to see the audience and gauge reaction because of the spotlight/lighting” and I think in the future again it be important to assess the optimum lighting for the speakers.

Do you plan to do anymore public engagement events in future? 

Yes, I would be happy to help with public engagement in the future. I am currently taking part in the LEAP programme- a training scheme aiming to develop evaluation and consultation skills in PhD students- and look forward to supporting Pint of Science in the future as an organiser and a potential speaker.

For more information about the event, visit the website. 

To get involved in future Pint of Science events, please contact Ella-May.Hards[at]kcl.ac.uk.

Tales from the Lab film project – a peek into the lives behind the research

Tales from the Lab give a peek into the lives behind the research. Researchers Aishwarya Mishra, Sophie Langdon and Edward Waters, created films charting a day in their lives as researchers. The Mithras funded project, provides a personal perspective of research work spaces by sharing what researchers do, why and some of the challenges they’ve faced on their journey.