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PubhD Sheffield - Event #2 - Dec 2016

Wednesday 7th December

Did you want to attend our PubhD Sheffield second event but couldn’t make it? Maybe all that Christmas shopping got on top of you?! Well do not fear! We have written this cheeky little blog for you so you will feel like you were there. Here’s how it went down...

As always, we hosted our evening at Harrisons 1854 Bar, in a cosy function room that was still rocking some beautiful fairy lights and some funky retro disco lights (we guessed they must have had an xmas party over the weekend). Although these lights added an upbeat mood, we did turn them off during the talks as they were a little distracting. However, what we didn’t mind was the lovely, warming smell of mulled cider that floated throughout the evening. And we think our audience enjoyed it too, as there was many ‘teacupfuls’ had! It was heavenly J Anyway enough of setting the scene, let us tell you about the fantastic talks we had…

Our first speaker was Ben Thomas who discussed how we have an aging population that is resulting in an increasing number of long-term conditions. These conditions include the one we all know about and dread to think about – dementia. Ben demonstrated that these conditions must be managed effectively to give people the quality of life they deserve. Ben very kindly introduced us to one of his patients, ‘Alice’, who lives with early onset dementia and who he regularly speaks with to understand the struggles of living with dementia and keeping warm at home alone during the winter. Ben hopes that meeting with people like Alice and finding out their difficulties first-hand will help to further this research area, and the understanding of how we can better care for patients with dementia whilst living in their homes, where they typically feel most at ease.

Our second speaker was Gareth McCathie, who very clearly demonstrated that humans are pretty poor at healing after an injury. For example we can only repair small wounds before our bodies end up scarring instead. He gave the great example of “imagine if you chop of one of your limbs, it just won’t grow back!” Lovely thought… So of course, this means that a damaged organ cannot function as well as it did before being injured. However, many animals, including the star of the show- the zebrafish, can naturally heal themselves so well that you would never know they had been injured to begin with. This amazing ability to “regenerate” can repair damaged organs and even regrow entire body parts. Gareth demonstrated that studying this kind of advanced healing may help us to boost our own healing responses to improve or save thousands of patients’ lives. He even brought along some ‘glowing’ zebrafish pictures, which you can see below, and shared some pretty cool videos with us. You can check them out here.

A timeline of zebrafish embryo development
Zebrafish are transparent! Here we can see red-fluorescent cells inside it!

Our third and final speaker was Ciaran McInerney who works with the English Institute of Sport to figure out what distinguishes good and bad outcomes in team sports. What he wants to know is what player arrangements and tactics distinguish the outcome of a play in field hockey. Information about the location of players, along with many other variables including info on set-plays, are often used to investigate tactical behaviour. The methods typically used by sports performance analysts cannot appropriately analyse the sheer number of metrics available. Therefore in his research, he uses methods inspired by genetic analysts to estimate the influence of these combination metrics. Influential metric combinations can be formalised into potentially useful tactical knowledge. Maybe if we can get our heads round the math, we too could become a pro hockey player!

We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended - we hope you had a wicked time! Also, a massive well done to all our speakers, as they were pretty brilliant! If you would like to leave us some feedback or get involved in our future events, you can do so via the 'Contact Us' section of our webpage.

We look forward to seeing lots of you back (maybe with friends, colleagues or family members!) for our next event is on Wednesday 1st February :D

Devon and Emily :)

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