Director Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research

This was a strategic award from the Trust and was officially opened in September 2012 by Sir Mark Walport. I am the Director of the Centre. The Centre focuses on improving the lives of patients with mitochondrial disease. To achieve these strategic aims we are integrating basic and clinical research, training exceptional young researchers and addressing the public and policy engagement issues around our research. The research is focused on four main areas: mitochondrial gene expression and related diseases, preventing transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease, understanding and treating the consequences of mitochondrial disease on the nervous system and determining the role of mitochondrial DNA in common chronic human diseases. I have also been working extensively with the Trust on the public engagement and policy issues around this research. Our work on preventing transmission of mitochondrial disease has been the subject of a public consultation exercise by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and will be considered by the Department of Health in March 2013 after the HFEA reports. If this research is to lead to more reproductive choices to women at risk then it will require a change in the HFE Act.

National lead for the NHS National Highly Specialised Services for Rare Mitochondrial Diseases of Children and Adults

This service is for all patients with mitochondrial disease in the UK. The service was originally designated in April 2007 and involves 3 centres (Newcastle, London and Oxford). The service provides diagnostic investigations for patients suspected of mitochondrial disease which includes biochemical, histochemical and molecular genetic studies. We provide a multidisciplinary clinical service for our patients including medical, specialist nurse, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and welfare rights. The clinic is accessible for all patients and those unable to travel we have a telephone clinic. This service is unique internationally and highlights one of the great strengths of the NHS, the ability to focus on the best of care for all. The service also provides a wonderful opportunity to combine with clinical research since we have large cohorts of patients and the vast majority of them delighted to consent for research studies. We have a number of clinical research studies on-going using interventions such as exercise. I also have a major role in the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at UCL and Newcastle which is a translational research centre and provides the infrastructure for clinical studies as well as supporting the MRC Mitochondrial Disease Cohort.

Director, Newcastle University Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality

The Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme was launched as one of the major cross research council grand challenges. Three ‘lifelong health and wellbeing’ research Centres were funded by the BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC and MRC in 2008 and I am Director of the Newcastle University Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality. Our Centre focuses on understanding mechanisms underlying the ageing process, with a particular emphasis on the brain, and developing interventions which will promote healthy ageing. In addition, our Centre has played a very major role in capacity building in the area of Lifelong Health. One of the most important initiatives has been to develop a new research area within the Centre around exercise and activity. Funded in part by a strategic award by the MRC we have developed an exercise training laboratory and developing interventions for both normal ageing individuals and patients with several age related diseases.