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8 July, 2020 - 20:24 By Tony Quested

Cambridge trio helping refugee camps to contain COVID-19

Three PhD students from the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University have been awarded funding by Innovate UK to progress a software platform to help control the spread of COVID-19 in displaced communities and refugee camps.

Jennifer Ward George, Victor Parchment, and Alex Tsompanidis are creating an inventive software platform known as SOAP. 

The grant was awarded to Miniature Ltd, through which the team was able to co-author this new proposal for software that streamlines COVID-19 triage in refugee camps by standardising the clinical interview process, facilitating symptom monitoring and sorting questions according to the most probable prognostic outcome for the disease. The software will also create an early warning system that will help with containment of transmission and the efficient use of resources. 

As the UK and the rest of the world shelters at home, there are some communities unable to do so, and sadly, the UN reported that that figure hit one per cent of humanity. The team, all part of the Peterhouse College MCR (graduate student society) in Cambridge have come together to help tackle this global problem. 

Jennifer Ward George is Design Fellow for the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, and a PhD researcher in Engineering. 

Jennifer is also the co-chair of the Sustainable Shelter Group at the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, and incoming President of Peterhouse MCR. 

Her research focuses on the shelter projects and decision-making in post-conflict and post disaster displacement situations. It includes discussions with governments, international NGOs, Global Cluster Groups, and the private sector. 

Project lead Victor Parchment is CEO of Miniature Ltd, a software start-up that develops humanitarian and environmental knowledge management systems. He works at the intersection of human factors design and Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. He has been programming for 20 years, primarily in medical software and user interface design. 

Alex Tsompanidis is a medical graduate, PhD researcher at the Autism Research Centre and outgoing Secretary of Peterhouse MCR. He is studying the effects of prenatal factors in neurodevelopment. 

He previously trained as a clinician in Greece during the economic crisis, collaborated with the Harvard School of Public Health and worked as a junior doctor at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. 

With a background in Clinical Medicine, Genetics and Endocrinology, his interests extend to the integration of findings from research and clinical practice to improve healthcare outcomes. 

• Photograph courtesy – Médecins Sans Frontières

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