Shropshire Star

Asha has a nose for success

A dog with a difference has been sniffing out students at a Shrewsbury college.

Left to right with Dr. Claire Guest and Asha at Concord College were Sophie Scott, of the Shrewsbury colleges group, Jeremy Lee, Grace Loy and James Chong, all Concord College 6th form students.

Asha has been sniffing round Concord College and his visit is typical of the role Medical Detection Dogs play to help people with a medical condition experience independent living.

The cocker spaniel was ‘at home’ with students as part of a university medicine preparation programme – a first of its kind.

Fifteen 6th form students, some from Concord and others from elsewhere in this country and overseas, attended the inaugural course.

Guest speaker was Dr Claire Guest who is co-founder and CEO of the Medical Detection Dogs charity.

She spoke to students about the work of the charity, describing the two main arms of their work: detection, for example of cancer, and provision of medical alert dogs.

Richard Cowley, 23, a medical student at Cambridge University and a supporting teacher on the programme, attended Dr. Guest’s talk.

He said: “The canine sense of smell is incredibly sensitive and can detect minute changes – down to one part per trillion in patients.

“This allows them to diagnose cancer in a urine sample or alert their diabetic owner that they need to check their blood sugar.”

The intensive two week medicine preparation programme is designed to assist students who are preparing to apply to medical school in the UK.

The programme features a total of 21 guest speakers, from medical professionals such as Dr Guest to academics from top Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Students undertake two lab-based practical sessions and an MMI evening in addition to the daily programme of lectures and seminars.

One of the course students was Jerry Jaffar, a 16-year-old A level student who has completed three years at Concord College.

Jerry, said: “The course was very interesting. We were introduced to scientific terms including the scientific methods used in the course as well as finding out how we can apply the use of dogs in cancer or disease detection.

“We found this interesting in terms of how detection through dogs can be used and how this can be hopefully applied to my own studies in medicine.”