Every day, we receive fresh news from Somervillian medics and clinicians updating us on the amazing work they are doing to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

We would like to take the opportunity to share with you a series of those stories, capturing just some of the insiring ways in which our community are stepping up the challenge right now up and down the country.

The first in our series of ‘Somervillians Stepping Up’ focuses on recent graduates and alumni, including those who have interrupted their clinical training to graduate early and join the fight.

We’re especially helpful for the invaluable help of Dr Helen Ashdown in compiling this article. Dr Ashdown heads up clinical medicine teaching at Somerville alongside her work as an academic GP.

We would like to turn next to our wider community, so if you are involved in the fight against Covid19 and have any time to spare, please do share you stories with us by contacting development.office@some.ox.ac.uk.

Somerville Academics Switching Gear: Dr Sofia Cerdeira and Dr Liz Morris

Somerville clinical tutors Dr Sofia Cerdeira (Obstetrics/Gynaecology) and Dr Liz Morris (GP), who usually combine clinical and research work, have stepped up their clinical duties. Dr Cerdeira will be covering the work of doctors re-deployed to the front lines (particularly as babies will continue to arrive undeterred by the pandemic!), while Dr Morris will be seeing patients at the local COVID19 hub as part of her GP work. They have also redirected the focus of their research efforts; Dr Cerdeira will help redesign clinical guidelines for managing COVID19 patients, while Dr Morris has been helping with rapid evidence reviews of COVID19 research. They have already published guidance for clinicians helping patients with covid-related anxiety, and advice on managing patients with diabetes during the pandemic.

Thrust into the Frontline: Miranda Rogers and Calum McIntyre

Finalists Miranda Rogers and Calum McIntyre are two current Somervillians who have graduated early instead of travelling for elective, and have taken an active role in treating COVID19 patients. Calum is already working in Reading ITU as a clinical volunteer, carrying out daily reviews of COVID patients. Miranda is working at the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital in Oxford covering the usual junior doctor workload, enabling the Foundation doctors to be drafted in to the COVID19 wards.

Miranda Rogers (2014, Medicine) after receiving the news that she had graduated early while on shift

Research behind the scenes: Ellie Chen, Aaron Henry, Oliver Shotton and Stavros Dimitriadis

Final year students who could not be graduated early due to clinical rotations not yet completed have still volunteered to assist in less front-line roles. Ellie Chen has been helping Somerville alumna Dr Kezia Gaitskell with ovarian cancer research, allowing crucial work to continue while resources are devoted to treating patients. Stavros Dimitriadis is working on systematic reviews in conjunction with the cardiac team, and Oliver Shotton is working for a biotechnology company, doing research to help advise how best to use their technology to aid the detection of COVID19 to help treat people on a large scale.

Finally, Aaron Henry, a fifth-year student who also teaches pre-clinical Somerville students, has been helping to carry out a COVID19 vaccine trial and to coordinate and contribute to rapid reviews for Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, assisting tutor and Somerville alumna Dr Liz Morris.

Somerville 5th year medics Matt Zimmerman (left), Sanah Ali (centre) and Aaron Henry (right)

The importance of empathy and communication: Aaron Simpson, Sanah Ali and Matt Zimmerman

Aaron Simpson is another final year medic who has taken on a role helping to co-ordinate a new pastoral care network for junior doctors, initially at the Oxford Deanery. Under the scheme, senior and recently retired doctors will be paired with juniors for the duration of the pandemic as their pastoral adviser.

Two fifth-year students doing crucial work are Sanah Ali and Matt Zimmerman. Both based at the JR, Sanah has joined the relatives’ liaison team in ITU, a crucial line of communication for families who cannot visit their loved ones, while Matt is working on the front door of A&E, helping to stream patients into those with possible coronavirus symptoms and those without.

Thatcher Scholars stepping up: Martin Fellermeyer, Will Sargent, Malak Alshaikhali and Joe South

With his research on the immune system’s reaction to cancer cells interrupted by the crisis, second year DPhil student Martin Fellermeyer is volunteering with a biomedical charity to translate the latest Covid-19 research into German. Fellow Thatcher Scholars, Will Sargent and Malak Alshaikhali, have both set aside their planned specialty rotations (in obstetrics and immunology) to work in frontline hospitals, with Will in Ealing ICU and Malak in Tooting. Final year student and MTST scholar Joe South is also determined to do his bit; once his exams are finished, he is planning to review the latest Covid-19 literature from lockdown.

Somerville tutors: Ain Neuhaus, Ruth Corrigan, Scott Frazer and Eleanor Grant

Somerville’s clinical tutors are also stepping forward to help treat the disease. Ain Neuhaus, who received the Pickering Prize while at Somerville, is working at the Horton hospital in Acute General Medicine, while Ruth Corrigan has been redeployed to the JR’s John Warin Ward 2, an overflow ward for coronavirus patients. Scott Frazer has joined the staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Intensive Care Unit, while maintaining a research interest in using novel technology, including rapid-prototyping and 3D printing, to combat the pandemic. Eleanor Grant continues as a junior doctor holding the fort on the Neurology while other junior staff are rostered to acute medicine.

Recent alumni and foundation doctors: Grace Barnes, Vikram Nagarajan, James Goetz, Matt Evans and Sacha Burgess

Vikram Nagarajan

Grace Barnes has changed from her planned rotation to return to Acute General Medicine full-time as a junior on the COVID19 wards, while Matt Evans is working on the COVID19 High Dependency Unit at Northwick Park Hospital. Foundation doctors Sacha Burgess and James Goetz are based at West Middlesex University Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn, respectively. At the height of COVID, Sacha was giving Level 2 care to around 20 patients requiring ventilation, while James was the junior COVID lead for the orthopaedic team at Kings Lynn, managing an outbreak within his ward before succumbing to the disease himself (he’s better now). Finally, anaesthetics trainee Vikram Nagarajan has been pulled from his anaesthetics year to staff the ICU at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where he’s busy caring for fellow health-professionals affected by the virus.

In our next ‘Somervillians Stepping Up’ features, we will be exploring the work of our alumni during the pandemic. If you or a Somervillian you know has been working with our amazing health services during the outbreak, you can contact us at development.office@some.ox.ac.uk

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