An A-Level student being mentored by Liverpool Hope University has won a prestigious academic award for her research into Covid-19.
Theresa Irabor is a student at Hugh Baird College South Sefton Campus, north Liverpool, studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths A-Levels.
She arrived at Hope via a Nuffield Research Placement, a project where students have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution towards the work of a host organisation.
Under the supervision of Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology in the Biomedical Health department at Hope, Theresa examined methods in which medics might fight the harmful inflammatory response experienced by Coronavirus patients.
And her work on the subject has been recognised with a ‘CREST Gold Award’ - CREST being the British Science Association's scheme for STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) project work that inspires young people to think and behave like scientists and engineers
Theresa said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be given a CREST Gold Award, something I never anticipated would happen. It has shown me how hard work and resilience can really help you to achieve something you don’t expect!
“And the Nuffield Research Placement is an amazing programme. You can get so much out of it - plus, you actually get paid - and I’d urge other students not to let the opportunity pass them by.”
Theresa’s work focused on something called ‘cytokine storms’ - hyperinflammatory complications of severe Covid-19 infections which can often lead to death.
It occurs when excessive cytokines - small proteins released by the immune system - are unleashed due to uncontrolled immune activation. These storms can quickly lead to multiple organ failure and death.
What Theresa, 20, did was to perform a review of the literature to ascertain which medication would best keep these cytokine storms in check.
Speaking about her 10,000 word report, she adds: “My research examined the work of other clinicians and investigators, what they proposed, how they tested it on critically ill Covid-19 patients, what results they obtained and what conclusions they gathered from each treatment.
“Additionally, I also discussed the pros and cons of each treatment and I suggested a treatment that could be used to improve the patient’s health and hence increase survival rates.
“If I’m being honest, it was rather daunting as I’ve never written an academic, scientific report before.
“But I’ve hopefully developed skills that will equip me well for university.”
Theresa’s mentor Dr Emeagi, who’s own thoughts have recently appeared in the national press, says Theresa’s hard work has paid dividends.
She reveals: “The CREST Gold Awards are very well respected and a great way to enhance a student’s UCAS application.
“By choosing Covid-19 as her focus, Theresa’s work is topical and thought-provoking and she’s combed through the work of other clinicians to establish her own opinions and conclusions.
“She should pat herself on the back for a job very well done and it was a pleasure being her supervising mentor.”
To find out more about the Crest Awards, head here.
To learn more about studying Human Biology at Hope, click here.