Consultant Clinical Scientist
Dr Matthew Guy is a Consultant Clinical Scientist at University Hospital Southampton and holder of a Research Leaders Programme (RLP) award.
He is looking to use his fellowship to take his research into diabetes healthcare design to the next level, using the time to form the connections he needs with experts who can help him deliver it.
Matt initially trained in Nuclear Medicine, and more recently retrained in healthcare design. He currently leads a small team of digitally orientated clinical and computer scientists within Medical Physics at Southampton, who mainly deliver solutions for diagnostic imaging.
He started his career as an academic at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, working in the Royal Marsden Hospital. He was developing tools for a novel form of molecular radiotherapy.
Then he decided to switch to ‘the other side’ and started working for the NHS, alongside his research. He later moved on to lead clinical and scientific teams, contributing to healthcare policy, and now focuses his research on diabetes.
Driven by personal experience
Matt’s decision to switch his research focus from Nuclear Medicine to diabetes was driven by his own personal experiences at home.
“About eight years ago now my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and that then flipped me into the zone of being a patient carer,” he explains. “She was three at the time, so I was 100% responsible for her ongoing care, and Type 1 is a disease you just can’t leave alone.
“What I realised then is there are gaps being left by industry and academia in fully meeting what was being talked about in the community of patients and carers as being a real need.”
He found the technology developed to treat insulin-dependent diabetes, such as Type 1, helped treat the condition but did not always adequately consider the impact it would have on the lives of patients and carers.
He refers to sensors that continually monitor or estimate your blood glucose levels, and insulin pumps controlled by algorithms to adjust the insulin levels being delivered. While these are wonderful in many ways, he says, they bring challenges because of the cognitive load of managing that technology and the demands it brings. This can lead to things like ‘alarm fatigue’.
His experience led him to not only change his research focus to diabetes, but also to embrace healthcare design, to ensure research addresses the real problems that need to be solved.
Going for the ‘next step’
Matt applied for an RLP fellowship so that he could expand and develop his research into healthcare design for diabetes. He’s looking to use it to generate new insights and knowledge about diabetes and better understand the needs and wishes of individual patients, carers and clinical teams. Part of that process will be exploring the ‘human factor’, investigating people’s behaviour and how they interact with technologies used to support those living with diabetes.
He is looking to use the dedicated time to give his research a boost. He hopes to use his fellowship to establish technology and co-design frameworks, to avoid starting from scratch for each study setup. This will also include building a cohort of participants and connections he needs, with talented academics, healthcare professionals, and, not least, patients and carers to help.
“The Research Leaders Programme provides the space and support to pull together, in a sustainable way, this critical mass of skills and experiences that are needed across any research,” he says, and “It just gives us that invaluable push for going for that next step.”