Dr Colin Begg, Chairman of FEAT’s Medical Committee, recently announced the winners of FEAT’s FEATURES Awards 2015, our first ever grant programme to fund new research into the killer condition, sepsis.

Three worthy applicants have been awarded grants to assist them in their research into sepsis.

Two headline awards of £5,000 have been granted:

– the first, The Arthur Sommerville Memorial Grant, to Meghan Bateson, a lecturer from the West of Scotland University, who wants to validate a method for identification of patients with sepsis from routinely collected data;

“The generous funding from FEAT will be used to support a study which aims to develop a measure which reliably identifies and tracks the outcomes of people with sepsis over time from data which is routinely collected. This will enable meaningful impact evaluation of large scale changes in clinical practice such as those designed to improve the recognition and management of sepsis. Such evaluations are essential to inform future advances in care. A validated method to identify patients with sepsis will also facilitate a greater understanding of sepsis epidemiology in the adult population. We are delighted and grateful for FEAT’s support which is allowing this work to progress.”

Meghan, speaking recently at our World Sepsis Day Event in Edinburgh….


Meghan Bateson WSD15 Seminar


– the second, to Dr Carrie Duckworth, from Gastroenterology Research Unit, Liverpool, who is to carry out research in her unit with regard to intestinal permeability and how this can be affected by sepsis;

“I am a Tenure-Track Fellow at the University of Liverpool with a fascination for how the intestine maintains a barrier between the gut contents and the body, yet continues to be effective at absorbing nutrients. This intestinal barrier is in the form of a single layer of cells that lines the gut and stops the passage of disease-causing bacteria into the body preventing local inflammation and systemic conditions such as sepsis. Evidence suggests that an increase in intestinal permeability occurs early during the sepsis process and is associated with multiple organ dysfunction in critically ill patients. The intestine contains ~100 trillion bacteria of many different species that are normally confined to the gut lumen. However, if the intestinal barrier fails these bacteria are able to pass into the circulation. This may result in increased bacterial load and contribute to the progression of sepsis. Carrie has recently shown that the bacterial cell wall component, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), induces shedding of intestinal epithelial cells into the lumen of the gut and that this process enhances gut permeability. This cell shedding process is regulated by the NF-κB family of genes. Carrie will now use the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust Award to explore the exciting possibility that inhibiting NF-κB may reduce the severity of sepsis by preventing the increase in gut permeability and breakdown of intestinal barrier function associated with sepsis. Pharmacological inhibition of NF-κB may therefore enhance the ‘sepsis six’ to become the ‘sepsis seven’ and could extend the ‘Golden Hour’.”


Carrie Duckworth


In addition, a travel bursary of £500 has also been given to Calum McPherson, a medical student from Aberdeen, who is undertaking research work to improve maternal healthcare – including the treatment of sepsis – in Ethiopia.

“I am a 4th-year medical student at the University of Aberdeen. I have become involved in research that aims to help pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries recognise the symptoms of sepsis, using pictograms. These are simple line drawings designed to convey a message without language or words, and there are very few locally developed and evidence-based pictograms specific to sepsis in pregnancy. With the generous support of the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust, I will travel to Felege Hiwot Hospital in Ethiopia and work with a local artist, local healthcare staff and local women to finalise an effective pictogram-based intervention. This will be piloted in the local area, and hopefully lead to improved understanding of the danger signs of sepsis and subsequently encourage earlier care-seeking behaviour.”


Calum McPherson


We have recently opened applications for our 2016 Awards, please see our FEATURES Awards page for further information.