Ainslie Johnstone, PhD student at the University of Oxford, studies the amazing ability of the brain to reorganise and adapt after injury. In her commended 2016 Max Perutz Science Writing Award article she describes how enhancing this process could help with brain injury recovery.
On 8 January 2011 Gabrielle Giffords, a US congresswoman, was shot in the head at point-blank range. The bullet struck Giffords’ forehead on the left-hand side and travelled straight through her brain, destroying everything in its path.
Newcastle University’s Thomas Hall listens to the chatter between neurons to find signals which could help restore movement to people paralysed by strokes or spinal injuries. He describes his research in his commended entry for the 2014 Max Perutz Science Writing Award.
I visit Charlotte on a Saturday morning, arriving to the smell of fresh baking. After seeing her grandchildren, we head to the village hall for a surprisingly competitive monthly bake-off. But I’m not here just for tea and cake. A year ago, aged 73, Charlotte suffered a stroke, leaving her wheelchair-bound and with her right arm almost completely paralysed. One day she was working as a freelance architect; the next, she was unable to even write or dress herself.
But six months later, in 2034, Charlotte became one of around 200 patients worldwide fitted with a revolutionary new medical device called a ‘brain-computer interface’, or BCI.
Back at home, she shows me the scar on her scalp where doctors implanted thousands of microscopic electrodes in the part of her brain that controls her right arm — the part that was ‘disconnected’ by the stroke. Read more
Chris Lerpiniere (Image copyright: Chris Lerpiniere)
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