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A portrait image of Tabitha Thornton-Swan © Tabitha Thornton-Swan

Tabitha Thornton-Swan, a third-year medical student at Exeter College, has been awarded the George Lewith Prize for General Practice, in recognition of her Final Honours School Research project in the department. 

The George Lewith Prize is awarded each year by the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research in memory of the late Southampton University academic Professor George Lewith. The scheme aims to raise the profile of academic primary care with medical students across the country, encouraging them to consider a career in the field. 

Tabitha's project was to investigate whether the glycaemic status of adults patients admitted to hospital can reliably predict undiagnosed diabetes, and whether this could help to identify which patients should receive a formal diabetes diagnostic assessment. Her project, which took place over a period of just a few weeks, was supervised in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences by department researchers Dr Laura Armitage and Professor Andrew Farmer.

Commenting on the prize and her experiences of a Final Honours School project in the department, Tabitha said: 'It’s great that my work has been recognised and the hard work over the last year has paid off. We’re hoping to submit the work for publication soon, and the feedback I’ve received from the SPCR will be very useful for improving the project further. This has been my first experience of academic research, and I’ve really enjoyed the year I’ve spent working with Andrew and Laura; I’m looking forward to future research opportunities and excited to see the impact our work might have. 

'I chose an FHS project with the primary care department because I wanted a research project with a clear clinical application. The possibility of a systematic review was especially exciting, because it was clear it could be wide reaching and valuable for future primary care diabetes diagnostics. Completing an FHS project over the last year has been a challenge, with everything online, but I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work independently throughout the project and to learn new skills, especially diagnostic data extraction and analysis.'

Tabitha's project was considered alongside applications from medical students from across the UK. Two prizes were awarded this year, with the winners each receiving a fully funded place to this year's Society for Academic Primary Care Annual Scientific Meeting.