Co-funded research fellowship opportunities
Dr Evan Edmond, University of Oxford
I am a clinical research fellow in Neurology with a research interest in the development of imaging biomarkers in motor neurone disease (MND). Through an intercalated degree in medical school and ongoing research alongside working as a junior doctor, I developed a skillset and interest in advanced medical imaging techniques.
MND is a progressive, fatal condition involving degeneration of the motor system in the brain and spinal cord, causing progressive weakness, speech, swallowing and breathing difficulties. At least 5000 people in the UK are living with MND, and many more bear the physical and emotional burden of their care.
My area of research is the application of cutting edge scanning techniques (magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography) to find the earliest signs of the disease in the brain and spinal cord. The support of the Dunhill Medical Trust through awarding a clinical research training fellowship in 2018 has allowed me to pursue this research. Prof. Martin Turner and Prof. Charlotte Stagg supervise this project at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford.
Finding early signs of the disease process (biomarkers) would suggest targets for treatment. Sensitive biomarkers will also help to make clinical trials of new treatments more reliable, faster and cheaper to run. More broadly, understanding MND has wider implications for a range of neurodegenerative diseases often associated with aging. A deeper understanding of neurodegenerative processes is a necessary step for the development of treatments to change the outlook in these devastating conditions.
The Association of British Neurologists has, since 2009, been organising a prestigious clinical research training fellowships scheme. These are awarded to trainees who want to study an aspect of clinical neuroscience in depth for three years and obtain an MD or PhD degree. The Trust is pleased to be jointly awarding a 3-year fellowship to Dr Evan Edmond at the University of Oxford.
This scheme is currently closed
Dr Amy Garner, Imperial College London
Total Knee Replacement (TKR) is the mainstay or treatment for knee arthrosis (wear and tear) however, it is major surgery and, in the elderly comes at considerable risk. In many cases, the arthrosis affects only part of the knee joint, however, TKR replaces the entire joint. TKR, therefore, often includes removal of healthy bone and ligaments. It is possible that by undergoing TKR, patients may be exposed to higher risks than are necessary to treat their disease.
For 40 years, a ‘partial knee replacement’ has been an alternative to TKR, but it is unsuitable when more of than one-third of the knee is worn out. A new generation of safe, effective, less invasive knee replacement is evolving, which uses two small partial knee replacements to treat only the damaged areas. This type of knee replacement is capable of addressing more widespread arthrosis than traditional sinlge partial knee replacement, but leaves healthy bone and ligaments behind. However, little is known of whether this is a safe and effective alternative to TKR.
As an Orthopaedic Surgeon in training, I am keen to understand the role of smaller, more conservative knee replacement. My PhD project at Imperial College London is contributing to this knowledge by analysing the biomechanics of these knee replacements; measuring the way people walk and how satisfied they are after the different types of surgery. We have also set up a new surgical training course to teach surgeons different knee-replacement techniques.
Together with the Dunhill Medical Trust and the Royal College of Surgeons, I aim to determine whether avoiding TKR patients may, as our early work suggests, result in better function, higher satisfaction, reduced risk and greater quality of life. By avoiding TKR, we hope that our patients may lead substantially more active lives.
The Dunhill Medical Trust has again, supported the Royal College of Surgeons in England by co-funding one Surgical Research Fellowship in support of its charitable objectives: understanding the mechanisms of ageing and treating age-related diseases and frailty. This years recipient of a 2-year surgical research fellowship is Dr Amy Garner, Imperial College London
This scheme is currently closed
Dr Chris Hardy, University College London
Dr Chris Hardy will be working with Professor Jason Warren in the Dementia Research Centre, University College London to research the relationship between hearing loss and dementia, both of which present huge health issues for our rapidly ageing population. Chris will use his funding to study hearing in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and a rarer type of dementia called progressive nonfluent aphasia, and he hopes that his research will lead to new ways to assess hearing loss in the context of neurodegeneration, as well as cognitive rehabilitation strategies that will help people living with these diseases to cope with hearing problems in their day-to-day lives
Dr Katie Smith, University College London
Following the completion of my undergraduate degree in Genetics from the University of Nottingham, I obtained my PhD from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London (UCL). Through my PhD work, I became interested in ion channels (membrane proteins that regulate electrical signalling). During my PhD I was trained in techniques to assess ion channel function, including electrophysiology and various molecular biology techniques.
In 2013, I joined the laboratory of Dr Dan Jagger at the UCL Ear Institute, as a postdoctoral researcher. Here, I became interested in how ion channels contribute to the function of auditory nerve fibres in the inner ear. I worked on projects which identified the crucial role certain subtypes of ion channels play in the fast and precise transmission of electrical signals along the auditory nerve. Through this work, we determined that the ion channels were precisely localised to small discrete regions or “microdomains”, formed by the associations of specialised support cells (“glia”) with the nerve cells.
As a Pauline Ashley Fellow, jointly funded by Action on Hearing Loss and The Dunhill Medical Trust, I now plan to pursue further research into the assembly and maintenance of microdomains in the inner ear. In particular, I will determine how they change during ageing. Recent studies from other research groups have shown that a neural dysfunction, where auditory nerve cells lose their connections to sensory cells, is a primary contributor to age-related hearing loss (ARHL), the most common form of sensory loss in older people. In order to understand more about the pathophysiology of ARHL, it will be important to determine whether microdomain disruption contributes to the neural degeneration. Through this fellowship, I hope to establish myself as an independent researcher in auditory neuroscience, which is a first step in pursuing a successful academic career.
The aim of the Pauline Ashley Fellowship scheme is to help talented young researchers make the transition from a post-doctoral scientist to an independent investigator, able to lead their own programme of research, attract funding and build a new research team. Action on Hearing Loss and The Dunhill Medical Trust are pleased to announce the award of two 2-year Pauline Ashley Post-doctoral Fellowships to Dr Chris Hardy and Dr Katie Smith at University College London.
This scheme is currently closed
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