Imperial at WEF and funny experiments: News from the College

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From a World Economic Forum webinar on coronavirus, to a comedic engagement programme at White City, here is some quick-read news from across the College.


Professor Neil Ferguson , Director of J-IDEA and the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis , hosted a Webinar Q&A for the World Economic Forum on coronavirus and responding to health crises.

Hundreds of leaders from global businesses, governments, NGOs and universities joined WEF’s Strategic Intelligence session to hear from Professor Ferguson about his team’s role in the coronavirus outbreak response and how J-IDEA, the world’s most advanced institute for disease and emergency analytics, responds rapidly to crises such as epidemics.

In response to questions about what businesses could do to restrict the outbreak, Professor Ferguson said: ”The key things which are relevant to business are minimising contact between people, things like enabling home working and minimising travel.”

Watch the webinar.

Rackets Cubed

At the end of 2019, the Imperial College Squash Club successfully piloted the Rackets Cubed programme. The programme was devised to encourage children to live a healthy lifestyle and inspire them to pursue a STEM career.

“We believe offering children from areas of high disadvantage the opportunity to come and participate every week at such a world class university has a significant long-term aspirational impact,” says Michael Hill, founder of Rackets Cubed. “By integrating Sports, STEM Education and Nutrition into the programs, we can impact several important lifestyle factors from a young age.”

The programme is a collaboration between IC Squash , Move Imperial , EPSRC CDT in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials , Rackets Cubed , and the St Cuthbert w St Matthias CoE Primary School in Earl’s Court.

Read more about the Rackets Cubed Programme.

Heart of the matter

Researchers have used a new technique to take a closer look at the heart’s muscle cells to investigate what goes wrong during heart failure.

‘MechanoSICM’ uses a glass pipette to study the cells at a microscopic scale and create a topographical image. Unlike standard electron microscopy this technique can be used on living cells and tissues. The team, led by Professor Julia Gorelik , discovered that the surface of the cardiomyocytes gets much stiffer during heart failure with structures known as microtubules contributing to this change. Treating the failing heart cells with drugs which manipulate the microtubules can return the cells stiffness to normal and could provide future treatments for patients.

Read more about the research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA: ’Microtubules regulate cardiomyocyte transversal Young’s modulus’ .

Funny experiment

researchers joined forces with White City residents to learn the art of comedy.

LOL-Lab , led by stand-up comedian and comedy writer, Simon Watt, aims to break down barriers between Imperial’s academics and local people.

Participants were taught how to develop their own jokes and perfect their comic timing, before performing at a charity comedy night in White City.

Professor Maggie Dallman , Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships), said: “Bringing different groups of people together is at the heart of our community programme in White City. LOL-Lab is an innovative and fun example of this. Comedy breaks down barriers and it was wonderful seeing local people and academics encouraging and supporting each other. The finale, held in a local pub, had a great atmosphere and was simply hilarious”

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Ms Helen Johnson
National Heart & Lung Institute

Madeleine Stone
Communications and Public Affairs

Stephen Johns
Communications and Public Affairs

Deborah Evanson
Communications and Public Affairs

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  • Professor Neil M Ferguson
    School of Public Health
  • Professor Maggie Dallman
    Office of the Provost


  • Department of Infectious Disease
  • College and campus

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