The GE Healthcare Award for Outstanding Impact in Health and Wellbeing


Prof Harold Thimbleby and the CHI+MED project team. Dept. of Computer Science, College of Science 

“Contribution to Improvements in Patient Safety through Computer-Human Interaction for Medical Devices”

Harold Thimbleby

Approximately 10% of deaths due to preventable errors in hospitals are due to computational errors. Corresponding implications on the healthcare system are estimated to cost the NHS over £600m per annum. Research into the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) issues behind medical error has led to a changing of attitude and practice within the healthcare procurement system, and a better understanding of the need to procure safer devices for hospitals.

A substantial body of research developed by Professor Harold Thimbleby in the field of healthcare technology aims to reduce the likelihood of human error in the use of medical devices, leading to improved quality and delivery of healthcare and significant reduction in patient harm.

The research has earned global recognition, leading to strong links and research collaboration with international partners such as the US Food and Drug Administration, the leading regulator in the States, who have started to co-author papers with Swansea. As all healthcare manufacturers carefully monitor the FDA to assess forthcoming regulation, this collaboration will yield significant further impacts.

Judges’ comments:

“This research has incredible impact in terms of preventing of death and delivering cost savings for the NHS.”

“There are very clear benefits for society, industry, and learned and professional societies”

“The team’s work has undoubtedly raised the University’s profile with professional and learned organisations; the link with FDA is particularly exciting.”


Dr Sue Jordan. College of Medicine        

“Improving Breastfeeding Rates: Monitoring Medicines Administered In Labour”

Sue JordanGareth Morgan

‌‌The societal, economic and health benefits of breastfeeding include reduced: infections in infants, cancers in mothers, cardiovascular disorders (for both), and NHS costs (UNICEF UK 2012). The work improved health and welfare because, for the first time, the need to restrict doses of epidural opioid analgesia in labour and the impact of multiple medicines was identified; it helped midwives identify mothers in greatest need of additional breastfeeding support, and developed public and professional awareness of the impact of drugs in labour on breastfeeding.

The recommendations reached most midwives and students through NICE’s Intrapartum Care Guideline 2007as a result doses were lowered and breastfeeding rates improved. Identification of the association between medicines administered in labour and breastfeeding raised public and professional awareness of a health risk and engendered practice changes, including lower doses of opioid analgesics. An increase in breastfeeding initiation rates followed 2005-2010 (66.2-73.7%).

 Amy BrownAlan Watkins

Judges’ comments:

“Definite evidence of reach, with real benefits to mothers and credible claims made for wider societal and economic impact.”



Professor Gareth Jenkins and the DNA damage group. College of Medicine

“The concept of “DNA damage thresholds” benefits patients and the pharmaceutical industry”

Gareth Jenkins

The regulatory safety assessment of drugs requires investigation of their potential to induce DNA damage (genotoxicity), a key surrogate of cancer development. The DNA damage group at Swansea University provided the first data to prove that genotoxicity thresholds exist for chemical genotoxins.

Underpinning research at Swansea provided comprehensive evidence that some genotoxic drugs have thresholds for genotoxicity. This timely advance was crucial in the case of a high-profile contamination event in 2007/8 where Roche’s drug Viracept® was accidentally contaminated with the genotoxin Ethyl methanesulfoante (EMS).

Two levels of international impact resulted from Swansea’s DNA damage research: peace of mind offered to patients involved in the Viracept® case worldwide; international regulatory changes relating to low-level genotoxin contamination. Work at Swansea has had an impact on 25,000 HIV-infected individuals in 29 countries who had received an anti-viral medication (Viracept®) containing the genotoxic agent EMS.

Judges’ comments:

“Clear evidence of benefit to industry and to individuals receiving treatment, with international reach.”