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A Sheffield Hallam University researcher, who was instrumental in the development of a specially designed bra to support women through breast radiotherapy, has today been recognised for her exceptional contribution to keeping the nation healthy.
Professor Heidi Probst, who leads the SuPPORT4All project, is one of the Nation’s Lifesavers – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.
These lifesavers have been named for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.
The SuPPORT 4 All project, led by Heidi and a team of health experts and designers from Sheffield Hallam, aims to improve accuracy of treatment and also help patients maintain dignity during radiotherapy.
In a unique twist of fate, after dedicating her 30-year career to improving the lives of other people going through radiotherapy following a cancer diagnosis, Heidi was herself diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.
She said: "I feel very honoured to be named one of UUK's Nation's Lifesavers. I developed an interest in breast cancer while working as a clinical therapeutic radiographer in the NHS. Treating women with radiotherapy following a diagnosis of breast cancer is something you do a lot as a radiographer. So many women have to travel that cancer journey and I wanted to improve radiotherapy for breast cancer to reduce the side effects they might develop after treatment and to improve the overall experience of having radiotherapy for this condition.
"I have been lucky to be able to undertake research in an area that I am passionate about supported by Sheffield Hallam University. I have met many women along the way who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, listening to their stories and their experiences has fuelled my drive to try to make the experience of radiotherapy better."
The MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.”
The Nation’s Lifesavers are fighting diseases, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life, supporting older people and improving our mental health and wellbeing. The selection reveals the amazing use of technology, such as drones to fight malaria, a smart glove for communicating sign language and robots helping older people.
Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Over 100 universities submitted a nomination.
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.
“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.
“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”
Research shows the public are proud of UK universities, but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep up healthy. The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen.
More information on the campaign can be found at www.madeatuni.org.uk