Successes in Scotland
The Duncan Guthrie Institute of Medical Genetics
In 1975, the charity awarded £150,000 to Professor Malcolm Ferguson-Smith of the University of Glasgow, to contribute to building a new institute for genetics. The resulting Duncan Guthrie Institute of Medical Genetics opened in Glasgow in 1980 and was the first institute built specifically for medical genetics in Europe which was an important centre for research, teaching and providing clinical genetic laboratory services. In 2012 the laboratories relocated to the Southern General Hospital, whilst maintaining all of its existing genetics testing services and becoming known as the West of Scotland Genetics Service. The Duncan Guthrie Institute of Medical Genetics continues to exist as a teaching institute at the University of Glasgow at the Yorkhill Hospitals’ site. Action is proud to have helped fund the building of the Duncan Guthrie Institute, which was an important centre for research and clinical services for over 30 years, and continues to exist as a teaching institute.
Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy
Ultrasound is used during pregnancy to monitor the baby’s development and diagnose possible problems. The medical application of ultrasound began in the first half of the 20th century, but it was during the 1950s that Professor Ian Donald of the University of Glasgow, credited with pioneering the development of obstetric ultrasound, began experimenting with the technology. Ultrasound evolved rapidly and a big leap was made with the development of real-time scanners, which could produce a moving display and allowed study of fetal movement.
Action Medical Research funded Professor Donald’s work in 1978, awarding him and colleagues at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh a grant for a real-time scanner to assess structural defects and potentially disabling conditions in pregnancy. In 1981, the charity gave further funding for a videotape recorder system – many fetal movements are too fast for meaningful analysis and the recorder enabled them to be videotaped and viewed in slow motion.
Over the years, the charity has supported over 30 ultrasound-related grants across the country, around a third specifically linked to obstetric ultrasound.
The Glasgow Coma Scale
Every year, more than 100,000 people are admitted to UK hospitals with a primary diagnosis of head injury. Around a quarter are children under 15. During the late 1960s and 70s, Action Medical Research awarded grants to Professor Bryan Jennett at the University of Glasgow to investigate head injury. As a result, Professor Jennett and colleague Professor Graham Teasdale developed the Glasgow Coma Scale.
The scale is used to assess consciousness after head injury, helping with initial assessment, subsequent monitoring and clinical decision making. A paediatric version has been developed for children and babies.
The scale revolutionised the way consciousness was measured. It has been translated into multiple languages and is used around the world on a daily basis. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that head injury assessment be guided primarily by the scale, and that ambulance crews be fully trained in its use.