The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Research, which the MRC supports, brought parliamentarians and scientists together for an event in Parliament House on June 16. MRC-funded researcher Professor Ian McKeith, Professor of Old Age and Psychiatry at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health, showcased his work at the event.
Jane Bunce spoke to him about his experience of sharing his work developing the world’s first accurate diagnostic test for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), the second most common type of dementia. His research is featured in a booklet produced for the event.
Prof Ian McKeith at the event with a representative from GE Healthcare (Image copyright: Wellcome Trust*)
Why is it important to speak to parliamentarians?
It’s important to demonstrate to the people who are responsible for funding research that it makes a difference ― that it does actually have an effect on people’s lives and healthcare. It’s also to help them put a human face to the idea of medical research, as they may not have had much contact with scientists and it helps them understand what we do.
Parliamentarians are incredibly engaged with dementia at the moment, particularly due to the Prime Minister’s Challenge, so it’s an important time for the dementia research community to be making sure parliamentarians have the right information and giving feedback. We’ve been promised a doubling in research funding [Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he wants UK Government investment in dementia research to double from £66m in 2015 to £122m in 2025] so now we need to consolidate that, and make sure it goes to the right places. Read more
We know that clinical research relies on doctors and willing patients, but what about nurses? Chris Lerpiniere is a Senior Research Nurse on the MRC-funded RUSH, ‘Research to Understand Stroke due to Haemorrhage’ project at the University of Edinburgh. Here she tells Hazel Lambert about her work, and the route she took from clinical nursing to research.
How did you become a research nurse?
My nursing experience has been within neurosciences, critical care and tissue donation for transplant. Research has always been something I have had an interest in, particularly when you see the benefits and improvement to patient care brought about by research. However my career had followed a more clinical-based route until I saw the advert for the RUSH research nurse post and realised it was an opportunity to branch out into research.
What is the RUSH study aiming to do?
There are two types of stroke: one is caused by blockages in the blood supply to the brain (ischaemic), and the other is caused by bleeding in the brain (haemorrhagic). RUSH looks at what causes haemorrhagic strokes and the best way of treating them. I work on a part of the programme called the LINCHPIN (Lothian study of INtraCerebral Haemorrhage, Pathology, Imaging and Neurological outcome). Read more
How can studying rare diseases help those with more common conditions? To mark Rare Disease Day, Ellen Charman speaks to Professor Geoff Woods about how his discovery in Pakistan of a disease in which people don’t feel pain could lead to treatments for those who experience too much.
Can you tell me about this condition, congenital analgesia?
I first came across the condition when I was in Pakistan researching encephalopathy (diseases of the brain) and I was asked to see a boy who reportedly did not feel any pain. He was doing street theatre to earn money — walking across hot coals and putting daggers in his arms, and then going to the local children’s hospital to get patched up. Sadly, before I got the chance to see him, he’d jumped from a roof to amuse friends and walked away from it, but later died from a bleed in the brain.
When I came back to the UK, I asked around and found two families also affected by the condition. At first, due to the common inclination towards risky and dangerous activities, I assumed that those with the condition had a degree of intellectual disability; however, I later found their development to be normal, but without the sense of pain to modulate their behaviour. Read more