UCL News


Spotlight on... Jasmine Ho

20 August 2020

This week we meet Jasmine Ho, Clinical Research Training Fellow at the Ear Institute. Here, Jasmine chats to us about founding the PPE charity MedSupplyDrive UK, which has directed over 250,000 items of PPE to more than 500 health and social care establishments to date.

Jasmine Ho

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am currently an MRC and Rosetrees Trust-funded Clinical Research Training Fellow completing my final-year PhD in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the Ear Institute under the Faculty of Brain Sciences. I also help out with on-call shifts with the NHS when time permits. 

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

Academically, I am a thorough UCL-bred individual and have been with UCL for a total of nine years – from my years as a medical student, to my MSc and current PhD. Prior to this PhD and MSc, I was working full-time as a trainee surgeon for the NHS.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Probably founding the PPE charity MedSupplyDrive UK in a short space of time during the COVID-19 crisis. Within a week of forming, we managed to deliver nearly 10,000 PPE items and recruited more than 100 volunteers. We have now managed to direct over 250,000 items of PPE to more than 500 health and social care establishments to date.

This couldn’t have happened without our amazing team of 200+ volunteers and other pro bono experts helping out. This venture has given me so much confidence in the humanity and generosity of people when crisis hits – I am truly humbled by my experience. We managed to get charity status recently as well, so I am absolutely overjoyed with what we have managed to achieve!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

As part of the above charity, we are actively advocating for greater protection of healthcare workers in infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. As such, we have been working closely with academics – namely the UCL sustainability hub – to investigate the economic and environmental impact of single use PPE during COVID-19. This will hopefully help us as an organisation to advocate for more sustainable solutions, which will in turn allow for more PPE to be available to frontline staff.

We also have our own team of volunteer data scientists helping with data gathering and deciphering of healthcare worker deaths and its correlation with PPE policies internationally. Our aim is to write a document to governmental bodies advocating for improved PPE policies for healthcare and frontline staff. In addition to the above, we are also trying to research and collaborate with other groups looking into novel innovations which can help mitigate further PPE shortages in future. We are always open to collaborations, so we are constantly on the lookout for more people and groups to link up with.

From the PhD point of view, the lockdown had stopped many of the collaborative projects I was working on with other research groups. I am currently trying to get them back on track. These include the production of novel tissue engineered scaffold and in vivo cell therapy models for angiogenesis and wound healing. I also had to postpone my exchange with Yale University over the summer due to the pandemic. I am hoping that as things get back on track with the labs opening, I can start to produce more data to support ongoing projects. Ultimately, I am hoping for as much realistic output from my planned experiments for both PhD thesis, further grant applications and publications under such unprecedented times. If anything, my time during lockdown has taught me to have faith and resilience in things I didn’t think were possible. 

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album – Ludovico Einaudi's Le Onde
Film – It’s quite hard to just pick one to be honest. But most memorable has to be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Novel – I haven’t read a good novel in ages! But I have enjoyed the medical non-fiction novels by Oliver Sacks or Michael Crichton in the past.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Moses had the first tablet that could connect to the cloud – this one made my husband laugh so it’s a keeper!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Definitely all the lovely volunteers of MedSupplyDrive UK whom I have yet to meet in person (as we were founded post-lockdown). If celebrity guests were allowed, I would certainly have Michelle Obama, Trevor Noah and Emma Thompson amongst the VIP list. I think they would get on like a house on fire! And if she was still alive, definitely Princess Diana.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn to be happy and content with what you have, don’t be afraid to do what you love despite what others tell you and travel LOADS… before you have kids.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

That I am a mother of two (due to Asian genes, I really don’t look my age!)

What is your favourite place?

Right now, it would be a sandy Cornish beach facing the never-ending Atlantic Ocean at dawn or dusk.