Posted Friday 9 September 2016
A researcher who is using images of the eye to predict the risk of heart attacks has been made a professor by Kingston University.
Sarah Barman is one of three professors, alongside marketing expert Jaywant Singh and large-scale computing specialist Souheil Khaddaj, to be appointed into the new role. "I'm working with medical researchers from St George's, University of London to see if it's possible to predict the risk of heart disease and diabetes by assessing the retinal vessels on the back of the eye," Professor Barman said. "In the future, maybe in 10 years or so, it may be possible that an optometrist could assess your risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as the condition of your eyes."
The research involves the development of cutting-edge computer algorithms to examine thousands of images of retinas – from a bank of 160,000 supplied by UK Biobank – and taking minute measurements of the size and shape of vessels to see whether diagnoses about a person's health can be made based on these measures. The current projects she leads are funded by the British Heart Foundation and Fight for Sight charities.
Professor Barman, who joined Kingston University in 2000 and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a registered Chartered Physicist, is looking forward to working with clinical collaborators to build upon the work already established.
Another member of academic staff who has been recognised is Jaywant Singh, Professor of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Law, where he teaches consumer behaviour and research methods. He has made several discoveries in the subject areas of branding and consumer behaviour.
His work focuses on the socio-psychological processes in how consumers judge brands, how businesses' socially responsible activities impact upon customer attitudes and how customer loyalty is affected when businesses do not meet expectations. "In my research I try to understand how and why people buy and consume goods and services," Professor Singh said. "Understanding customers and being able to appeal to them is important for businesses that, in turn, are able to provide improved products and services to their customers."
The consumer behaviour and branding expert has published extensively in top-tier journals and has won several awards for his research. He co-authored a popular textbook Consumer Behaviour: Applications in Marketing (Sage), and co-edited a specialist book, The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Brand Management (2016). Professor Singh aims to strengthen Kingston's world-class reputation for innovative consumer and branding research.
Professor Souheil Khaddaj leads the Component and Distributed Systems Research Group (CODIS) at the School of Computer Science and Mathematics. His research interests include distributed computing and service oriented technologies, such as cloud computing, advanced software engineering techniques and big data. "This appointment is not only recognition of past achievements, but also about leading innovative research and development, and creating more opportunities in the future," he said. "I hope to consolidate my research work around large-scale multidisciplinary scientific research as well as data intensive applications, advanced data management and deep learning."
Professor Khaddaj plans to expand the applied research focus of his work, creating new partnerships both in the United Kingdom and internationally. To date, he's been involved in more than 50 national and international research projects, has chaired a large number of international conferences and has authored, or co-authored, more than 200 technical papers and edited a number of books and special issues.