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Neuroscience meets real-life medicine

Bringing researchers into the clinic will enable neuroscience to have real-life impact

Bringing researchers into the clinic will enable neuroscience to have real-life impact

8 September 2011

Four members of Bristol Neuroscience (BN) have won Translational Neuroscience Research Fellowships (TNRFs), which will enable them to dedicate up to six months to developing translational neuroscience research – the two-way interaction between fundamental research and life beyond the laboratory bench.

The aim of the fellowships is to enhance translational neuroscience research by bringing together scientists who may unaware of the relevance of their research to common diseases, and the doctors who identify key features of medical conditions and recognise the needs of patients in clinical settings.

Enhancing translational research is one of the key objectives of Bristol Neuroscience, which has worked alongside the Institute for Advanced Studies to establish this unique funding scheme to enable BN neuroscientists to spend time with doctors and patients in the clinic. Here they can observe medical practice, establish contacts, and make informed future plans for their research – a crucial but often insurmountable first step towards translational clinical neuroscience.

The prize winners – Professor Richard Apps and Dr Emma Robinson (both based in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology), and Dr Ute Leonards and Professor Marcus Munafo (both in the School of Experimental Psychology) – will use their fellowships to tackle childhood brain cancer, aggressive behaviour, psychiatric disorders and brain injury (see below for more details).

The fellowships are being funded by a legacy of £30,000 donated by the late Cassie Squance through the University Centenary Campaign.

BN Director, Professor Richard Apps, said: ‘TNRFs have great potential for making a real-life impact. We hope that the scheme will continue for many years to come, and facilitate more vital interaction between hospital bedside and laboratory bench.’

2011/12 TNRFs: projects awarded

Professor Richard Apps and Mr Richard Edwards

Cerebellar tumours are the second most common cancer in children. Richard Apps, an expert in cerebellar physiology, is using the TNRF to spend time with Richard Edwards and other paediatric neurosurgeons in the Institute for Clinical Neurosciences at Frenchay Hospital.

Professor Marcus Munafo and Dr Julian Walker

Marcus Munafo has established how someone’s perception of another’s emotional state can be altered through training. He is working with forensic clinical psychologists at the Fromeside Medium Secure Unit to assess whether such training is applicable to aggressive behaviour in a psychopathological context.

Dr Emma Robinson and colleagues in Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology

By observing patients in a clinical setting, Emma Robinson is looking to see how her research into memory translates into real life. She has found emotions change the way that experiences are remembered and will use the TNRF to investigate how this relates to the treatment of clinical depression.

Dr Ute Leonards and colleagues at Frenchay Hospital and the Bristol Royal Infirmary

Cognitive, attention-related disorders are highly common in children who have suffered head injury, for example from a road accident, and often last for years after the incident has taken place. Ute Leonards is seeing the effects first hand by spending time with clinical specialists as they care for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Further information

The Institute for Advanced Studies

The purpose of the Institute for Advanced Studies is to enhance research and intellectual life at the University of Bristol. It encompasses all disciplines within the University, promotes creative interdisciplinarity, and seeks to extend the public reach of the University through dissemination activities and external collaborations.

2012/13 Translational Neuroscience Research Fellowships

There will be a further round of awards for academic year 2012/13. All BN members are welcome to apply. See eligibility and application details.

Centenary Campaign

In 2009 Bristol University celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter. To mark this key milestone, the Centenary Campaign was launched to raise funds that will ensure Bristol enters its second century stronger and more successful than ever before.

See how you can donate towards research or any other aspect of the University.

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