Third place in UK Young Scientist of the Year competition for Norwich School student Katie Gaffney

The future is looking bright for a young Norwich scientist after being placed third in a prestigious national competition.

Katie Gaffney, a sixth-form student at Norwich School, has secured the success in the UK Young Scientist of the Year competition.

The 18-year-old was one of 170 students chosen from 4,800 applicants to take part in the finals at The Big Bang Fair at Birmingham's NEC.

Her project took her four weeks to complete, as part of a Nuffield Science Bursary with the rheumatology department at the University of East Anglia, based at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, looking into an alternative method for diagnosing the extent of disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Katie, who applied for the bursary following encouragement from her teachers at Norwich School, worked as part of a team researching a machine which measures the strength of patients' hands, a dynamoteter.

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The machine could potentially give the same diagnosis that the current method of assessment - four tests, including blood tests - gives. If proven, the machine could save both inconvenience and stress for the patient, as well as time and cost for the NHS.

The project stemmed from Katie's supervisor, Dr Chetan Mukhtyar, who had performed both tests on every suitable patient for the past 15 months. Her initial job was to input all the patient data into a system to start the statistical data.

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Katie said: 'This project has given me the opportunity to see the side of medicine which people rarely get to experience before university or later in their career.

'It helped me achieve a wider range of skills and receive a greater sense of what being a doctor truly entails on a day-to-day basis, as I was in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for four weeks nine to five.

'The overall process, although stressful at times, was well worth doing and enabled me to be stretched to the maximum of my abilities.'

Katie, who has gained a place to study medicine at Leeds University, was judged to be in the top five in the first round of the competition and went on to be judged again the following day by a panel including Nobel Prize winner Sir Tim Hunt, professor of biomedical materials and regenerative medicine at Imperial College London Molly Stevens, professor Jim Al-Khalili and Vivienne Parry.

Jon Gent, head of biology at Norwich School, said: 'We are thrilled by Katie's success at the UK Young Scientist and Engineer Competition. She is one of Norwich School's brightest and hardest working sixth form Biology students with a flair for Science.

'The research she carried out with the rheumatology department will stand her in great stead for her future Medical studies.'

- Have you reached a national final? Contact Local Life editor David Freezer on 01603 772418 or

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