6th April – 8th April 2017

European Respiratory Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Course (Athens)

In April 2017, Arwel Jones, Alex Jenkins and Hayley Robinson, from the Lincoln Institute for Health (LIH), were lucky enough to attend the pulmonary rehabilitation course in Athens, run by the European Respiratory Society (ERS). This course covered many aspects and topics, with the overarching aim to describe the various components of pulmonary rehabilitation, as well as discuss and propose novel ways to optimise the efficacy of the programme.

The intense course was three days in duration, consisting of both lectures and workshops covering topics such as: strategies to implement and assess the efficacy of pulmonary rehabilitation, methods and tools to measure clinical outcomes, the facilitators and barriers to pulmonary rehabilitation, as well as the factors that affect behaviour change following pulmonary rehabilitation.

There was a vast array of attendees from all over the globe, with individuals’ professions ranging from clinicians, physiotherapists, social workers, researchers, etc. The interactive course encouraged attendees to report their experiences of pulmonary rehabilitation, as well as propose strategies that could benefit patients. Gaining insight from individuals with diverse backgrounds and views regarding pulmonary rehabilitation was extremely insightful and it was a pleasure to hear about a variety of scenarios and how these were dealt with. The opportunity to network with the variety of attendees was a great experience, paving the way for future collaborations and the generation of research ideas.

This course also provided Alex and Hayley with the opportunity to present their preliminary results from their ongoing systematic reviews. This opportunity was invaluable given the current stage of their reviews allowing for constructive feedback to be received from leading researchers and health care professionals within the field. The experience of presenting their work has positively influenced the research direction of their ongoing systematic reviews, as well as helping think about the research direction of their wider PhD.

Overall, the course was a rewarding experience, enhancing knowledge and providing valuable skills which will contribute to career development within their research area. Both PhD students are now well on their way with developing their final draft of their systematic reviews and are soon to be submitting their manuscript to a journal of their choice.

 

2nd September – 7th September 2016

Latest Advances in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Symposium & European Respiratory Society Congress

It’s been a couple busy of weeks for the COPD research team, with the Latest Advances in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Symposium held in London, which was attended by our very own Alex Jenkins & Dr Arwel Jones as well as the European Respiratory Society Congress, also held in London and attended by Alex Jenkins & Dr Neil Holden.

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Symposium was a great opportunity to hear about the latest research from some of the top authors in the field. Speakers included; Martijn Spruit, Thierry Troosters, Matthew Maddocks, Ioannis Vogiatzis, Carolyn Johnson, Sally Singh, Mike Polkey, & Will Mann. An impressive line-up indeed, and they did not disappoint. Some very interesting research and hypotheses were produced in the symposium leading to a vast array of questions from an engaging audience. Highlights of the key talking points from the symposium can be seen in the twitter feed shown below. Twitter proved to be a great arena in which to disseminate research to those researchers/physio’s who were not able to attend, with interest generated from this symposium. During the symposium, attention was brought to the ERS course taking place in April on Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Athens, something which Alex & Arwel are both keen to attend and are working towards. Following the symposium, the opportunity to speak with some of the presenters provided engaging discussions and debates with potential collaborations to be generated following this. All in all, it was a fantastic symposium and we would like to thank Royal Brompton & Harefield Pulmonary Rehabilitation service for hosting the event, and the speakers for some very intriguing presentations.

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Following the symposium, it was onto the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress, and a first for Alex Jenkins who was presenting a thematic poster on his masters’ work titled “Blood neutrophils responses to acute interval exercise in COPD”. This data is currently being drafted up to submit for publishing, but if you are interested in finding out more about this, please feel free to contact us. Alex found this experience integral to his professional development as he builds his portfolio and hopes to attend the next ERS Congress next year in Milan. Alex not only enjoyed the experience of presenting his research and answering some challenging questions from an interested audience, but also managed to attend some interesting presentations from other researchers within the field of pulmonary rehabilitation. Presentations highlighted the current issues that need tackling to help improve pulmonary rehabilitation as a service and also the development of new innovative methods for tackling these issues. Some highlights from the talks are displayed on our twitter feed below. As part of the Congress, there was also the annual physio’s dinner which took place in Greenwich. It was a really relaxed evening where researchers in the same field could network and share experiences/ideas from around the globe. By the end of the congress, Alex and Neil were exhausted with information overload, but it was an experience they both thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from. On to Milan, hopefully!

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29th July 2016

Hallelujah! – Ethical approval

After almost 9 months of rigorous study designing and constant redrafts of ethics applications, we are delighted to announce that ethical approval has now been provided for the CIMPRES-COPD project (see www.lincolncopdresearch.com/CIMPRES-COPD for more info). This project was the first University project to go through the brand new HRA ethics application system.

The ethics application process wasn’t exactly smooth, as anticipated with setting up a new application system. Luckily, this project was accepted for proportionate review and Research Ethics Committee (London-Bromley) granted favourable opinion for the study within 10 days without any amendments suggested. The ideal start! The HRA approval took a little while longer with several points of clarification required as is expected with the slight intrusive nature of this project. However, after a few emails clarifying these points, ethical approval was granted with only minor amendments suggested for the relevant paperwork.

As challenging as this process was, we feel this whole experience will improve our future ethics applications. We have already been utilised as a point of contact for other students going through the same ethics application process.

With this ethical approval granted, this was passed onto the University ethics board for review and this was granted almost instantly upon seeing the relevant paperwork. There were a few queries about sample storage in relation to the Human Tissue Act, but these have since been rectified in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Human Tissue Authority.

Recruitment has now commenced for this project with a positive intake from the first Pulmonary Rehabilitation cohort. Recruitment will continue for the next 18-24months with data generated being used to create a thesis for PhD submission by October 2018. We’re excited for the results to be generated for this study and prepared for any challenges that might arise from such a research study.

If you would like to find out any more information about this particular project, please do not hesitate to contact Alex Jenkins (aljenkins@lincoln.ac.uk).

 

6th July – 8th July 2016

DTA Summer School

Being part of the newly-founded Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) is a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow students from institutions across the country. All DTA students specialise in unique areas, but this alliance provides the opportunity for students to share skills and experiences to help guide each other through our PhD’s.

The first Summer School was held in July 2016 at the University of Nottingham and this was a few days away from PhD duties that I was looking forward to. It’s always nice to take a step away from your project to have a look and consider the bigger picture. Experiences gained from these events could also shape or change my PhD.

This Summer School had a distinct focus on industry-based opportunities following our PhD’s. Something I must admit, I haven’t really considered. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only student who hadn’t considered it. I had the opportunity to visit and hear from members of BioCity, a fascinating company who have identified a niche and exploited it. It was intriguing to look around their facilities and see how they work as a business as well as see how businesses have been created through their model. The Summer School has definitely added the thought of Industry work into my future plans, whether I pursue this is yet to be seen.

This Summer School also provided me with the opportunity to present an update on my PhD thus far. This allowed me to build upon my current skill set and work on presenting to different kinds of audiences. This was graded by the fellow DTA students and this has provided me with some really useful feedback to take into future presentations, especially as I have recently had an abstract accepted to present at the European Respiratory Society Congress in London this September.

A rather enjoyable aspect of the DTA Summer School is the chance to meet fellow students who have different backgrounds and perspectives. Also, the social activities that are involved are not only enjoyable, but informative. For example, the highlight of the 3 day school for me was the meal at Trent Bridge cricket ground. As a cricket fan, this was right up my street and I enjoyed it, probably a lot more than everyone else! Nonetheless, the relaxed social atmosphere created during this meal encouraged me to have more engaging discussions with students from other Universities rather than liaising with colleagues from within my institution. As a result of this, I have managed to find a common interest in my research with a fellow student. Even though he is looking into something completely different to me, we use the same piece of machinery. I am relatively new to this machinery (Flow Cytometer), where he has more experience, so he has kindly agreed to come to the University of Lincoln and assist me in my ongoing development, which to me is invaluable (and free!). So off the back of this Summer School, I am now really starting to see the benefits of being part of this Alliance and I for one am very grateful for this opportunity.

I am very much looking forward to the next Summer School at UWE in 2017.

 

12th April – 15th April 2016

Introduction to Molecular Biology Techniques, Transfections and Functional Studies Workshop

One of our current PhD students, Alex Jenkins, spent last week on a training workshop organised by The Physiological Society held at University College London exploring various techniques and methods commonly used in Molecular Biology. Having started as a PhD student in October 2015, the wonderful world of Molecular Biology is all very new to Alex and is an aspect he is working and developing on with the use of internal and external training.

Alex is due to start data collection on one of his projects (CIMPRES-COPD) in June, which is looking into the effect of pulmonary rehabilitation on inflammatory markers, and this course proved to be perfect timing for Alex’s ongoing development. Especially seeing as one of the secondary outcomes for this project is to explore the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on anti-inflammatory gene expression.

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The 4-day workshop covered the following aspects:

  • Lab safety
  • RNA extraction
  • Reverse Transcription
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ligation & bacterial transformation
  • Restriction enzyme digestion
  • DNA mapping
  • Primer design
  • Mammalian cell transfection
  • Western blots

This workshop provided Alex with the opportunity to network with other researchers from both across the UK, and the world. Alex was paired with a laboratory partner who was a lecturer from Nepal with a keen interest in developing her knowledge and skills to support the need for laboratory facilities at her Institute. The week proved tough for both, and at times unforgiving, with some experiments proving successful and others not so successful. However, the reasoning behind these unsuccessful experiments were identified and this proved very helpful for Alex on his steep learning curve. Better to make mistakes during practice than during a research experiment!

Alex will not be likely to use all of the taught techniques within this workshop, however, he found this experience and gathering knowledge of these techniques particularly useful in terms of shaping his future research ideas beyond his PhD.

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Alex thoroughly enjoyed the intensive week and would like to thank the Physiological Society for sponsoring the training workshop to make it free of charge for attendees. Thanks must also go to the demonstrators; Vanessa Lowe, Ian Evans, Alessandro Fantin, Caroline Matute & Elodie Peyric who were all absolutely fantastic throughout the workshop proving very helpful whilst creating a very enjoyable and relaxed laboratory atmosphere. Alex recommends this course to anyone wishing to further understand Molecular Biology with future courses posted on The Physiological Society website.

Going forward, Alex is hoping to undertake another training workshop held at University College London focussing on quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR).