UCL Careers


Researcher Hackathon with Metadeq Diagnostics

01 December 2023, 9:45 am–4:00 pm

A birds-eye view image of students sat on steps within University College London's Student Centre, Main Quad.

Sign up to this hackathon to apply your research skills to real world projects.

Event Information

Open to





Sylwia Wasiak


UCL Careers Seminar Room (4th floor)
40 Bernard Street


Researcher Hackathon with Metadeq Diagnostics (targeted at UCL PhD Students and Research Staff from across All UCL Faculties - there is no need for pre-existing knowledge of the exact research areas covered within the challenge)

Date: Friday, 1st December 2023

Time: 9.45am – 4pm (full agenda for the date will be confirmed closer to the date)

Venue:  UCL Careers, 40 Bernard Street, London WC1N 1LE

Application deadline: End of Tuesday 28th November 2023

Would you like to use your research skills outside of academia? Do you want to contribute to a real-world project that could help patients? How about developing your problem-solving, teamworking, and presentations skills? And would you like to get a non-academic experience on your CV? If so, this opportunity is for you!

You are invited to take part in our first Hackathon, specifically run for PhD students and research staffIn collaboration with Metadeq Diagnostics, you’ll work within a small group of researchers on real problems faced by Metadeq. During this day-long session, you will utilise your literature reviewing, teamworking, and analytical skills. You’ll provide your recommendations to the company, and network with industry partners and peers.

Please note: this Hackathon is targeted at UCL Researchers from across all UCL Faculties and so there is no need for pre-existing knowledge of the exact research areas covered within the challenge! In fact, in industry roles you’ll often be working outside your current niche area of research. This experiential learning session is designed for you to practice your secondary research (literature reviewing) skills, and to employ the analytical skills and creativity you have developed within academia, and which you can transfer to roles in industry.

If you would like to take part, please submit your application by end of Tuesday 28th November 2023.

Application process: please apply with an up-to-date CV and a short statement (max 250 words) highlighting why you’re interested in participating in this particular hackathon with this company, and what you’re hoping to achieve as a result of the experience. Based on your interest and application, you will be allocated to one of the groups tackling one of the 3 problems in the Hackathon brief. Please review the Hackathon brief below when preparing your application.

Please send your application to Sylwia Wasiak (s.wasiak@ucl.ac.uk). 

Hackathon brief can be found here, or below.

If you have any questions, please also contact Sylwia (s.wasiak@ucl.ac.uk).

Hackathon: Metadeq Brief

The Problem:

We would like your recommendations on:

  • PROBLEM 1: the most appropriate markers for the identification of liver macrophage and circulating monocytes in mice and humans;
  • PROBLEM 2: the latest techniques for isolating and stabilising cytoplasmic proteins from human monocytes
  • PROBLEM 3: In vivo homing patterns of transplanted monocytes in NASH murine models using IVIS® Optical Imaging "

We would like you to conduct a literature search (and any other research) to assess your assigned problem and, if appropriate, provide a recommendation for each.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (‘NAFLD’) is a “silent” disease that, if left undiagnosed, can lead to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a leading cause of cirrhosis, liver failure, liver transplant, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver biopsy is the diagnostic standard of care, but is expensive, time consuming, and carries multiple risks to the patient. Along with a deep pipeline, therapeutics are close to FDA approval, so an accurate and reliable non-invasive test (NIT), that is reimbursed and easy-to-use as an alternate to liver biopsies, will be needed to diagnose and monitor patients on therapy. 

In the U.S., >25% of adults have NAFLD (~62M), with ~20% progressing to NASH (~13M) – there is similarly proportionate prevalence in Europe and Middle East (and similar in other developed geographies, e.g. Japan).

Metadeq Diagnostics has developed a blood-based test that can accurately diagnose and stage NASH, and thus, is suggestive of being able to replace liver biopsies. Clinical data from a prospective study in 250 patients undergoing liver biopsies has been peer-reviewed and published in a leading medical journal; the study correlated two blood biomarkers with NASH activity and fibrosis in the liver.

We are now looking for further methods to correlate clinical data (in humans and in mice) with other data/biomarkers captured in clinical cohorts (retrospectively or prospectively). We are exploring the best markers for the identification of liver macrophage and circulating monocytes and the latest techniques for isolation/stabilisation of cytoplasmic proteins from monocytes.

Reading Suggestions:

  • Sheka AC, Adeyi O, Thompson J, Hameed B, Crawford PA, Ikramuddin S. Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: A Review. JAMA. 2020 Mar 24;323(12):1175-1183. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.2298.
  • Angelini G, Panunzi S, Castagneto-Gissey L, Pellicanò F, De Gaetano A, Pompili M, Riccardi L, Garcovich M, Raffaelli M, Ciccoritti L, Verrastro O, Russo MF, Vecchio FM, Casella G, Casella-Mariolo J, Papa L, Marini PL, Rubino F, le Roux CW, Bornstein S, Mingrone G. Accurate liquid biopsy for the diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis. Gut. 2023 Feb;72(2):392-403. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2022-327498.
  • Gallage S, Avila JEB, Ramadori P, Focaccia E, Rahbari M, Ali A, Malek NP, Anstee QM, Heikenwalder M. A researcher's guide to preclinical mouse NASH models. Nat Metab. 2022 Dec;4(12):1632-1649. doi: 10.1038/s42255-022-00700-y.
  • Rasmussen DGK, Anstee QM, Torstenson R, Golding B, Patterson SD, Brass C, Thakker P, Harrison S, Billin AN, Schuppan D, Dufour JF, Andersson A, Wigley I, Shumbayawonda E, Dennis A, Schoelch C, Ratziu V, Yunis C, Bossuyt P, Karsdal MA. NAFLD and NASH biomarker qualification in the LITMUS consortium - Lessons learned. J Hepatol. 2023 Apr;78(4):852-865. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.11.028. 
  • Peng C, Stewart AG, Woodman OL, Ritchie RH, Qin CX. Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis: A Review of Its Mechanism, Models and Medical Treatments. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Dec 3;11:603926. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.603926.