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My first sandpit: Digital health interventions for cancer prevention

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Dr. Caroline Wright recently attended the ‘Implementing Digital Health Interventions for Cancer Prevention’ Sandpit Workshop in Potomac, Maryland. Here she describes the experience.

 Portrait courtesy of the Brown Paper Bag Ice-breaker, with thanks to Prof. Linda Bauld

What is a sandpit?

That’s a fair question, and honestly, I didn’t know either! Even while applying and eventually being accepted on to the sandpit, I wasn’t quite sure what the event would entail. With the goal of inspiring more innovative and multi- and inter- disciplinary research proposals, the sandpit concept was conceived by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in 2003. Official definitions aside, I don’t think anything can prepare you for a sandpit, it’s a challenging and difficult process; combining elements of speed dating, rapid idea generation and peer-review all in one constantly evolving process.

What did you get out of the sandpit?

It would be remiss not to mention that I was part of a research team that made a successful bid for the funding, but for me the sandpit was about so much more than that. Being given the opportunity to travel to the US, to meet inspirational researchers from across the UK and US, to play with ideas in a creative, safe and encouraging environment and to step outside of my usual research environment were all huge positives for me.

What’s the big idea?

Without giving too much away, our idea centres around challenging misinformation about e-cigarettes to improve cancer outcomes. We will be working on the project over the course of the next year, so watch this space…

Caroline Wright is a Senior Research Associate and CRUK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellow at Bristol Medical School. Her research interests include: cancer epidemiology, public health, multiple risk behaviours and education. Twitter: @DrCLWright