Passionflash Finals 2021

The winners of Passionflash 2021 are announced!

By Charles Middleton and Nadia Patel

The Passionflash competition invaded the thoughts of many students here at Salford, with incredible prizes of up to £250 in Amazon vouchers per year group, funded by the Salford Community for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. Students from the School of Science, Environment and Engineering auditioned with a 2-minute Ted talk style video on a topic they were passionate about. Of the 30 auditions, just 18 were selected to go through to the finals – what a tough call for the judges! The finals took place on the 28th April 2021 as an exciting online event, allowing both student and staff to make the best out of a strange period in university life.

PassionFlash is likely to become an annual event that allows for development of a huge variety of skills. For more updates on opportunities like this, follow BiomedSoc on twitter @SocBiomed.

Public Vote winner

Aksa Ghulam stole the public vote with her dazzling transformation into an anatomically accurate human heart while sharing her personal story of spending her first days with a ventricular heart defect.

Level 4 winners

1st: Anna-Marie White – Bees and neonicotinoids (£250 prize)
2nd: Leanne Ashworth – Climate change (£150 prize)
3rd: Becky Owens – Lemurs (£75 prize)

Level 5 winners

1st: Adam Walker – Pleural mesothelioma, the sneaky secret assassin (£250 prize)
2nd: Aksa Ghulam – Congenital heart disease (£150 prize)
3rd: Nadia Patel – The future of gene editing (£75 prize)

Level 6 winners

1st: Michael Klunk – Extraordinary animal sounds (£250 prize)
2nd: Courtney Riley – Explaining genomics (£150 prize)
3rd: Angela Ouya – Decolonising education (£75 prize)

Missed out on the action? No worries! You can catch up on the full live event on YouTube:

Biomed book club: May 2021 update

By Megan Phillips and Marta Holowina

The Biomedicine society launched its very own book club! If you’re not already a member, it’s never too late to join. When you join the Biomedicinee society, you’ll be added to our Microsoft Teams page, where you will see all the updates about events!

Every month we will read and discuss a new book! This is a great chance to explore new ideas, ways of writing, and read books you might not have read otherwise. We might discuss controversial topics such as ethics and express our individual opinions. Being a student is a stressful experience (as we are sure you’ll know!) so reading is a great chance to have some much-needed downtime and lose yourself in a book! These fun and informal sessions are the perfect opportunity for you to meet like-minded people and explore exciting new books!

Our next book club meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams to discuss Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Keep up with our MS Teams page to find out the date of the meeting!

The book addresses end-of-life care, hospice care, and also contains Gawande’s reflections and personal stories. Being Mortal reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced.  Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. 

The ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life – all the way to the very end.

Atul Gawande

Suppose you haven’t already joined the Biomed soc. In that case, you can do this by going onto the student union website, searching for ‘Biomed society’ and filling out your membership form!  Once you’re part of the Biomed Society, you will be able to access these monthly meetings. Get ready for some discussion, debate and reflection!  We hope to see you soon!

The Biomed Book Club Bonanza

Exhilarating events: Recent and future

by Charles Middleton, Events Secretary

With a great finish to trimester 1 and 2, students have organised some extraordinary and enjoyable socials in such a short time span. The excellent collaboration between students and teaching staff have brought about several exhilarating events since the last issue of the magazine. New developments of the society have thrived rapidly by the remarkable efforts of the Biomed Soc!

The trimester one launch event brought about the true motivation and hard work from the inspirational community of the biomedicine society which initiated further successful events. Shortly after, at the Xmas Extravaganza event students and staff came together once more – and we even had our Alumni Danny Gaskin join the festive fun whilst also sharing his career story. The hard work and determination of everyone’s contributions was celebrated with lots of fun, games, and positivity throughout. Achievements were celebrated with an array of entertaining stories, a festive quiz, a scientific adventure, Christmas bingo, origami and even some exercise! The unforgettable joyful atmosphere was enjoyed with great attendance- it was a shame we were not all gathered in Santa’s grotto!

Another recent event which took place was the Bioemd Soc spring social, where students had a chance to unwind with an origami session, played entertaining games like Among Us and Pictionary, and made some amazing memories! We want to offer a warm invitation to all students to come along to one of our socials – join our welcoming and friendly group! Everyone is most welcome! You will get the opportunity to make new friends, have fun and be part of a community. You do not need to travel anywhere too, so you can enjoy the advantages of being in the comfort of your own home or accommodation!

There are plans to get involved with raising money for charitable organisations, and students are planning on even designing an online Etsy store to sell handmade items and artwork pieces. This work will be funded by the Salford Advantage fund.

New exercise classes will be starting up soon, so why not join in? “I don’t think limits”, an inspirational quote from Usain Bolt may persuade you to give it a go! Broaden your horizons! We really do have something for everyone!

We have numerous ideas and several student-led events coming up in the pipeline for you to be involved in.

We are open to new ideas and feedback! We encourage you to actively contribute to these socials and get involved with the student community – other students have given us really positive feedback and had the opportunity to make friends despite not attending classes this year, and we think it’s important to remember that you won’t get this time back – so don’t waste it.

Our next social is May/June celebrating the end of trimester 2, and for most, the academic year. Look out for the poster!

Biomedical Science Apprentices at Salford and the National apprenticeship week award 

Dr Lucy Smyth outlines the biomedical apprenticeship scheme at Salford University and announces one of its own apprentices, Christine Edgerton, as winner of the National Apprenticeship Week Award

By Dr Lucy Smyth

The government apprenticeship scheme launched in 2017 enables staff to become upskilled via 20% off the job study, while maintaining their full-time salary. This of course benefits the staff concerned but also their employers that are supporting the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of their team and developing a more skilled workforce.  The partnership between universities and employers are powerful enablers for collaboration and generating new opportunities.  Apprenticeships ensure that students are presented new challenges in the workplace as an integrated part of their study.  

The University of Salford strongly supports apprentices raising their profile in the scientific community during their learning.  One such opportunity is during the annual ‘National Apprenticeship Week (8th-14th February 2021), where high-flying apprentices are nominated for the ‘Apprentice of the Year Award’ within each school.   For the School of Science, Environment and Engineering this award went to Christine Egerton who recently completed her integrated Biomedical Science degree.  Here’s her story. 

Christine recently completed her final (3rd) year of her apprenticeship combining her study with a full-time time role based in Manchester Foundation Trust pathology labs specialising in Biochemistry and Genetic Medicine.   

Dr. Lucy Smyth, nominated Christine with wholehearted support of the apprentice academic team. Dr Smyth said: “Since joining the Biomedical Science programme, Christine has diligently immersed herself into the academic work, gaining superb marks in many of her 2nd year and final year modules. Apprentices have not had an easy journey through the pandemic. Shining through the adversity means Christine can now register with the Health Care and Professions Council, progress her career and perform the role of a fully registered biomedical scientist. Well respected by peers and staff, we feel Christine has truly deserved the award of Apprentice of the Year.” 

Dr Smyth added: “Christine’s diligent attitude in working as an apprentice through the pandemic displays her professionalism and quiet resilience, which alongside an impressive performance in the degree’s End Point Assessment shows her merit in earning the title of Apprentice of the Year. Congratulations Christine.” 

Christine’s employer (Willink Laboratory, Genomic Medicine at the Manchester Royal Infirmary), Robert Gibson, said: “Christine is a model employee. She has put a lot of hard work and effort into becoming a Biomedical Scientist. She has also had to manage her time very effectively to ensure all deadlines and objectives have been meet. Christine is an asset to the laboratory, and I am certain she will make a great success of her career as a Biomedical Scientist.” 

About the opportunities and experience of the programme Christine (pictured) said: 

“My career progression had come to a standstill due to not having a Biomedical Science degree. The apprenticeship opened up the opportunity for me to be able to study for my degree while also being able to continue to work. Salford was the most appealing as the scheme was already up and running. This meant my attendance was only required one day a week, which was a set day, during term time to attend practical sessions on campus. The advantage of this was that it enabled my employer to easily plan for my absence. The apprenticeship at Salford appeared to offer me the best opportunity to equip me with the knowledge and learning to successfully complete my degree. 

“During my (workplace-based) final year project, I developed an alternative method for the diagnosis of Gaucher disease. The laboratory currently performs a lysosomal enzyme screen that consists of 16 enzymes being tested on a 5ml EDTA blood sample; Gaucher disease is currently tested in this screen but the method used requires a large volume of sample to perform the analysis.  The method I developed requires less sample volume, which enables more enzymes to be added to the screen without the patient needing to provide more sample. 

“I think that studying as an apprentice during the pandemic has taught me to consider different ways of approaching challenges.    

“My ambition is to secure a job as a HCPC-registered Biomedical Scientist within the NHS. My workplace-based learning linked with my degree has given me first-hand experience of what is required to be a Biomedical Scientist, and I feel that I’ve gained the confidence and knowledge to continue to develop and progress my skills. I have a real sense of achievement having completed the degree and I believe it has equipped me with the tools to carve out a good career within the field.” 

A practical guide to Biomedicine career planning

Dr Sara Namvar and Aimee Pinnington share their practical guide to Biomedicine Career planning for Salford Students

By Dr Sara Namvar and Aimee Pinnington

Whilst at university it is vital that you start planning your career as early as possible. The Biomedicine academic team have prepared some guidance for you! ‘How to start planning your career’ will support you in assessing where you are up to at this moment and also provide some immediate steps you can take. ‘Building a strong CV whilst at university’ is ideally suited to first and second year students who have lost of time to get career savvy!

How to start planning your career

Building a strong CV whilst at university

Your priority must always be to achieve the best possible grades. However, extracurricular activities help you build a vast range of additional skills that not only build your CV and make you more attractive to employers, but they also make you more confident and allow you to have fun! It can be difficult to select appropriate activities both (on and off campus) to suit your career of choice.

The table below is by no means exhaustive, but maps out recommended activities to support your career of choice. In addition to these, the library, SU and careers & enterprise team offer a huge range of development opportunities. You may wish to become a student rep, ambassador at open days or mentor, which will help with all careers. Ultimately there is no right or wrong and the important thing is to get involved! You must start drafting your CV from the first year and continue developing it throughout your time at university.

Graduate-entry Medicine, Dentistry and Physician Associate careers

Dr Sara Namvar and Prof. Niroshini Nirmalan give an overview of careers as a medic, dentist or physician associate after studying biomedicine and detail the Graduate Entry Medicine Mentoring Scheme at Salford

By Dr Sara Namvar and Prof. Niroshini Nirmalan

Postgraduate students may access careers in Medicine or Dentistry either at undergraduate (more expensive) or graduate-entry (more competitive) level. Only postgraduate students may access Physician Associate studies.

Where it starts after graduating: Most students will start a 2-year Physician Associate Masters. Others may apply and secure a place on a 4- or 5-year Medicine or Dentistry course. Carefully considering finances and workload both during your undergraduate degree and beyond graduation is required.

Where you can end up: A Physician Associate, Doctor or Dentist. Your career can grow in any specialty you wish. You may also get involved with university teaching/research eventually.

Benefits of a career in this field: Working closely with patients and shaping healthcare. Being able to diagnose and treat your own patients.

Graduate Entry Medicine Mentoring at Salford (GEMMS) was established in 2015 by Prof Niroshini Nirmalan and a group of Biomedicine students with the objective of inspiring students to apply for careers in Medicine and Dentistry.

In 2019, the scheme was expanded to include post-graduate entry for Physician Associate studies with Dr Sara Namvar overseeing and co-leading GEMMS-PA. Each year as many as 30 students have taken part in elements of the mentoring scheme, with 4-5 students successfully transitioning onto Medicine or Dentistry. Many more successfully join Physician Associate courses. The mentoring for this working group is quite intense and involves close collaborative activity between staff and students with reliance upon the good will of our alumni.

Large scale events are regular and popular (e.g. Personal statement writing, mock interviews, external inspirational talks etc) attracting 100 students at a time and are usually held many times during the year. These are followed up with smaller bespoke events depending upon the needs of students at the time. Mentoring generally begins with career management support – helping students decide upon the extracurricular activities they need to engage with and providing references to hospitals for instance. There are regular personal statement workshops and personalised feedback on statements. Interview practice sessions are also a regular occurrence and often involve our valued alumni sharing their experiences. For students working towards Medicine or Dentistry, a working group of students has been established which holds regular UKCAT/GAMSAT study sessions to support preparation.

Research Careers

Dr David Greensmith explains research careers and details the Salford Biomedicine Research Careers Working Group and why student should join.

By Dr David Greensmith

Research careers are extremely varied, typically covering academic, industrial or clinical research but usually require the continuation of the academic pathway and  strong interest in a specific area of biomedicine.  These careers are competitive but are the literal advancement of science.

Where it starts after graduating: Most research-based careers start by securing a PhD position. You may need to undertake a Masters (preferably by research) first, but this is not an absolute prerequisite; it will depend on the level of research experience developed during your degree. For details see the recording mentioned later.

Where you can end up: There are many research-based careers in a huge range of disciplines. Broadly speaking, they fall into three areas: (1) Academic (undertaking research in a university setting), (2) clinical (for example working on clinical trials) and (3) industrial (product and process development).

Benefits of a career in this field: No two careers are the same and for most you will have a high degree of autonomy; you will heavily shape the exact course of the research you undertake and therefore your job. Successes mean a lot in research and can be incredibly rewarding. For example, you will publish your research and may become an internationally recognised expert in your field. You will likely travel the world to present at scientific conferences and in some cases pass on your knowledge to the next generation of undergraduate scientist.

Salford’s Research Careers Working Group (RCWG) seeks to facilitate undergraduate progression to research-based careers including Masters by research and PhD positions. I established the RCWG four years ago as a platform for students to engage with research and to mentor students through PhD applications. Since then, the scheme has developed, and we now have a dedicated Teams Site, student leads and a growing membership that forms a vibrant community of like-minded students.

The RCWG is suitable for all students at any level. As you progress through your degree, we’ll help you build a research-aligned CV through activities such as a regular journal club, dedicated seminars, discussion groups, learned society engagement, facilitated conference attendance, vacation scholarship and travel grant applications, research career events and scientific writing competitions. Then, when you are ready to apply for research-positions we will mentor you through the process.

On the 24th February, the RCWG hosted the inaugural “An introduction to research-based careers” symposium. Attended by around 40 students, I gave a brief overview of the PhD position then Dr Caroline Topham explained where a PhD can lead and considered the pros and cons of a research-based career. We were also joined by an international panel of scientists at various career stage who shared their experiences, advice and insight. The subsequent Q&A session was incredibly engaging. Don’t worry if you missed the symposium as it was recorded and can be accessed via the RCWG Teams site.

It’s also the first of many exciting events. Membership is free, and virtually all our activities are highly transferable; they will look good on any CV. As such, it’s well worth joining even if a research-based career is only one of many options on your radar.

Biomedical Science Careers

Aimee Pinnington gives an overview of the benefits of a career as a Biomedical Scientist.

By Aimee Pinnington, Specialist Biomedical Scientist, and Caitlin Owen

Biomedical Scientists (BMSs) typically work in healthcare laboratory settings and carry out tests on patient samples that will usually contribute to or determine a patient diagnosis or evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. ‘Biomedical Scientist’ is a legally protected title which requires registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. To register, BMSs must obtain a Certificate of Competence from the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), which is achieved by the completion of a Healthcare Science or Biomedical Science degree accredited by the IBMS, and the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio, which typically takes around 12 months to complete. It can be completed at an IBMS-accredited training laboratory (most hospital laboratories) either during an integrated or sandwich year placement, or after graduating and obtaining work in one. The Portfolio is general, therefore provides qualification to start work as a BMS in any discipline, regardless of the discipline worked in whilst completing the portfolio – although laboratory experience relevant to the discipline you wish to work in is of course desirable. Disciplines in Biomedical Science include Blood Sciences, Cell Sciences, Genetics & Molecular Pathology or Infection Sciences. Disciplines available vary with hospital size and speciality. For more detail on disciplines, registration, and BMS careers, visit the IBMS website:

Where it starts after graduating: Highly variable depending on opportunities available at the time and whether you graduate with IBMS Registration Portfolio or not. You may enter the lab at Biomedical Scientist (BMS), trainee BMS, Associate Practitioner (AP), or Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) level – more guidance on this is available on the Careers Hub and BMS Mentoring Teams site. You may also choose to work in the private sector rather than NHS labs, in which case progression routes can be different.

Where you can end up: Again, highly variable! You can progress through the lab ranks, going from newly qualified BMS to Specialist and then Senior BMS. Some choose to move into lab management, some into teaching like myself, some into consultancy work etc. There are lots of details available on the Careers Hub and BMS Mentoring Teams site about alternative career routes and emerging roles, for example Patient Blood Management. 

Benefits of a career in this field: Direct impact on patient care, a constantly evolving field, working with a variety of cases which helps make everyday interesting. 

Launched in January 2020, the Biomedical Scientist (BMS)  Mentoring Scheme Teams site has proven very popular, with over 80 students joining already. The aim of the site is to provide tailored support for those looking to pursue a career as a BMS after graduation, offering: 

  • Job application support, including CV/cover letter feedback and mock interview support 
  • Guidance on HCPC and IBMS 
  • Q&A sessions on careers as a BMS 
  • Meetings with BMS staff from across the country to explore different career options 
  • Access to external IBMS events (for those with e-student membership) 
  • A support hub to chat with your peers about careers as a BMS 

You can join the Teams site via BB or by email.   Take a look at the resources and recordings available and get involved today to help achieve your career goals.  

Biomedicine Careers Hub Update

Dr David Greensmith gives an update on the Salford University Biomedicine Careers Hub

By Dr David Greensmith

The “Biomedicine Careers Hub” I wrote of in the previous issue continues to grow from strength to strength. The hub (which can be accessed via the “communities” area of Blackboard) is now heavily populated with career-related resources. You will see several activity spaces, each associated with a particular high-level career area:

  • Biomedical scientist and pathology lab
  • Research-based careers and progression to PhD / Master by Research
  • Taught masters
  • Teaching
  • Graduate entry medicine, dentistry and physician’s associate
  • Biotechnology and industry
  • Microbiology and public health
  • Scientific communication, writing and outreach

Each space is managed by a member of staff who is an expert in the field and are packed full of useful and career-specific resources. Remember, each space represents a considerable breadth of distinct pathways and the list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Indeed, if you feel a certain career group isn’t represented, let us know. On the hub, you will also find general activity spaces which contain career-spanning resources such career events, placements and CV enhancing opportunities.

Remember, you can use the hub in two ways: (1) to research career options and (2) to make yourself more employable by engaging with the many extra-curricular activities that feature on the site. It’s a highly dynamic resource and will constantly grow and develop with new content so do access it on a regular basis to see what’s new.

The leads of certain career groups have established parallel MS Teams sites for further career-specific mentoring and support. To gain access to any of these Teams sites, go to the Careers Hub or simply contact the associated academic lead. These academics have given an overview of each career and its career hub in other articles.

Coffee with Caroline: Stress at University

Programme Lead Dr Caroline Topham has been hosting “Coffee with Caroline” drop-in sessions for students to discuss their wellbeing. In this article, Caroline answers some of your queries.

Programme Lead Dr Caroline Topham has been hosting “Coffee with Caroline” drop-in sessions for students to discuss their wellbeing. These sessions will resume in the new year. In this article, Caroline answers some of your queries. Have more? Email

How can I avoid/deal with stress? 

Stress can be very uncomfortable but is also very important, and the right amount of stress helps us to perform at our best. Professional athletes talk about ‘arousal levels’ and find ways to achieve optimum ‘arousal’ in order to give their best performance; if arousal levels are too low they are not focused and energised to perform, too high and they become too stressed and crumble under the pressure. 

Stress is a necessary part of life, we as human beings need it to push ourselves to achieve difficult things, but when stress levels become too high they have the opposite effect and can stop us from thinking clearly. Each of us also have our optimum state where we are most productive, for example I prefer working to a deadline and find the time pressure very helpful to focus my thoughts and motivate me. Other people hate deadlines and find the time pressure stressful and very unhelpful. 

So it helps to know yourself so you can manage your workload to meet your strengths. Think about your assessments so far this year, how did you feel about them? Did you prepare far in advance or did you leave it to the last minute? Did that work for you, or did it make you feel anxious? This will help you to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

When stress levels are so high that your usual stress relief techniques (good sleep, relaxing in front of the TV, exercising, praying, meditating, chatting with friends, whatever works for you) stop working and stress is stopping you from working and interacting with people as you normally would, then it’s time to get help. If this happens my advice is to reach out to the people around you for support if you can. That might be family or friends, or fellow students or tutors, or it may be professional counsellors and wellbeing advisors (see below). Whoever it is, sharing your anxieties can really help you to find a way forward, and it’s never too late to ask for support. 

How can I make friends if I can’t meet classmates in person? 

This is a great question, and some of you may have better ideas than me! We are all learning fast when it comes to our online lives. To start with, I would recommend joining in with programme activities such as participating in your tutorial group discussions, joining in with activities during online teaching, and going to online social events such as those organised by the BiomedSoc. Joining societies is another great way to make friends, we have our own BiomedSoc and there are many other societies hosted by the Students Union for different sports, hobbies, faiths and more. Outside of university, there are many opportunities for volunteering in your community and this can be a great way to get out of the house in a safe way too. 

How can I catch up with things if I fall behind?

If you feel you are falling behind, the most important thing to do is to speak to someone at Uni, usually your personal tutor or me as your programme leader, and we also have Del, our Student Progression Administrator (SPA – see below) who is very helpful to talk to if you are struggling. 

Catching up with missed lectures is now possible as everything is recorded, and making time to watch these lectures and do any related activities is crucial to getting back on track. Visit each of your module sites on Blackboard and identify any assessments you may have missed. Every student will get another attempt at an assessment automatically, although marks are capped at 40%. If your reasons for falling behind are due to reasons outside of your control then you can use the Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC – see below) system which allows you to apply for the opportunity to submit work at a later date without your marks being capped, so please use this if illness or other life circumstances have stopped you from completing assessments. 

It’s helpful to understand why you have fallen behind, if it’s a short term problem (e.g. short illness) then please use the PMC system to take the pressure off your current deadlines. If something in your life has changed permanently that is preventing you from studying as much as you need to, then speak to us at the university and we can advise you on the best way forward.

How can I stay positive and motivated in such challenging times? 

As human beings we thrive on variety and social contact and we get a sense of achievement from being out and about in the world. During the pandemic, it has been much harder for many of us to do this, and so staying motivated has been very difficult for lots of people. There is no magical fix for this, but there are three things which have helped me which I will share: 

  • Keep your eye on the bigger picture – what is your goal, what are you working towards? Keeping the end goal in mind can keep you on track. 
  • Stay humble – we all know people who have lost their jobs and health as a result of the pandemic, it helps me to remember that we are privileged to still be able to work and study during the pandemic. 
  • Set daily goals – I’m a big fan of setting small goals and chipping away at work a bit at a time, for example I’ll do half an hour on one task and then go and make a coffee. I’ll do another hour then reward myself with ten minutes of playing with the dog. If I finish this task by the end of the day then I will have some chocolate/ wine/takeaway (insert treat of your choice) on Friday! Try the pomodoro technique to help you to focus for short bursts of time.

Helpful links for Wellbeing

Our Student Progression Administrator (SPA), Del:
Wellbeing and Counselling at Salford:
Information about the PMC process: